SOUTHFIELD, Mich. -- Fall camp is less than two months away and Michigan coach Brady Hoke appeared loose and rejuvenated Friday morning, speaking bright and early at Sound Mind Sound Body’s football camp being held at Southfield (Mich.) high school this weekend.
Hoke took to the stage right after Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio, addressing hundreds of campers in attendance, hitting on the importance of discipline, toughness, and staying focused academically in order to find success at the college level, on and off the field.
Any fans expecting tension between the rival coaches, or any of the coaches representing a variety of Big Ten schools, would come to find that in this setting, it’s all about the kids.
“These guys are all good guys,” said Hoke. “They’re all here for the right reasons.
“Mark (Dantonio) and I have been friends for a long time, before we became the head coach at Michigan and the head coach at Michigan State. I thought he had a great presentation.”
While several coaches have a chance to make their voice heard, Sound Mind Sound Body is a unique camp, allowing high school prospects in attendance the opportunity to speak through their play on the field, potentially impressing coaches from all levels of college football and turning that performance into a scholarship offer.
“It’s a great camp for the guys because they do such a proficient job of teaching in the classroom, teaching life skills and life lessons,” said Hoke. “And I don’t know how many coaches are here, there’s a lot of them, so they’re getting evaluated and it’s giving kids opportunities that they otherwise may not have.”
Hoke on Injury Updates
Hoke once again established his position as a football coach, stating, “I’m not a doctor” when referring to the many injury rehabilitations currently in motion this off-season.
The most notable and recent injury, the torn ACL to star junior linebacker Jake Ryan, continues to provide positive returns with just over two months until the Wolverines opener on Aug. 31 against Central Michigan.
“I think he’s made progress,” said Hoke.
Prodded further Hoke added, “I think, in October, he’ll be ready.”
The loss of Blake Countess in the 2012 opener against Alabama, as well as backup quarterback Russell Bellomy going down with an injury this spring, added some extra work for the medical staff this off-season, and the rehab appears to be doing it’s job.
“Just Jake and (Russell) Bellomy, and I don’t even consider him (injured),” said Hoke. “Don’t even consider him (Blake Countess).”
Hoke added there are no new reports of injuries so far in summer workouts.
As reported earlier this week by GoBlueWolverine’s Sam Webb, redshirt freshman Allen Gant will be worked at SAM linebacker as he preps for his second fall camp with the Wolverines, adding depth at a position of need.
“He’s a rangy guy and he’s got length to him,” Hoke said. “His body has the opportunity to put weight on, just the structure and genetics of his body. I think that’s the biggest part of it and I think it’s a more fitting position for him.”
Incoming freshman quarterback Shane Morris has already been on campus for a few weeks, and the rest of the 2013 class will be joining him over the next week. Hoke says the newcomers won’t just be thrown into the fire off the bat, learning the inner workings of the daily activities a student-athlete at the University of Michigan is required to do.
“It’s a combination because they’ve got to learn it early,” said Hoke. “That’s going to be their life for four or five years. The competition part, the lifting part, the running part, whatever it might be, tied in with the academics.
“They’ve transitioned well -- last years class did -- and I think the support systems that we have from an academic standpoint and the support system from player wellness and that kind of stuff is pretty good.”
Last year’s captains, Denard Robinson and Jordan Kovacs, now off pursuing careers in the NFL, ironically both in the state of Florida, will be missed in 2013. But Hoke believes the upperclassmen returning, including junior quarterback Devin Gardner, have pushed forward in their absence.
“I think the senior class has done an excellent job,” said Hoke. “From what I hear from guys and what I hear from our strength coach about how the workouts have gone and things like that, I think it’s been real positive.”
Never looking for complacency out of his players, Hoke knows his team still has a bitter taste in their mouth after the 33-28 Outback Bowl loss to South Carolina on New Year’s Day.
“I can say it, but that doesn’t do anybody any good,” he said. “It’s when they say it; it’s when they feel it (that matters).”