"Rodrick Williams Jr.'s 10-month old, 2-foot-long savannah monitor named "Kill" gets the RB some strange looks when they go for walks together."
Drake Harris is ready to put on the pads and play. [Fuller]
Redshirt freshman wide receiver Drake Harris hasn't seen game action for the better part of two years because of hamstring injuries, but the talented Grand Rapids native says he's healthy and ready to contribute this fall. This was part of a scrum, so only a few of these were MGoQuestions, and there's a little bit of overlap with injury questions.
[walked in partway through question] …do you know you’re ready?
Oh yeah. We ran 40s, that’s sprinting. We had one-on-ones, seven-on-sevens basically every day during the spring and summer, so I was basically sprinting and running every day, working.
So you’re ready to go, you think?
Oh yeah. I’m good. … I feel great. This is the best I’ve felt in I don’t know how many years. Running 40s and everything, I feel good.
So you’re planning on being a starter?
(Laughs.) I mean, that’s the goal for me, to start. I just have to take it day by day and take it from there.
Are you playing anything outside of wide receiver? Punt returns? Kick returns?
They had me playing a little bit of corner in the spring, but my primary position is wide receiver.
What’s it been like working with Jedd Fisch coming in with all the experience he has at the professional level?
It’s been great. Like you said, he’s worked at the professional level, so he’s worked with great wide receivers like Brandon Marshall. I’m learning different drills from him, different techniques, it’s helped me out a lot being a wide receiver and growing.
What’s been the biggest difference in terms of what you guys are doing in practice versus previous years?
We have four-hour practices, basically, so they’re long practices. It’s not really that much different. It’s more up-tempo, very up-tempo, all the practices. They split teams so you get a lot more reps, like for younger players, so it’s good for all of us.
It’s pretty wide open with the receivers this year. Do you think that’s helped with the competition, getting more reps in?
Yeah, for sure. Being able to get more reps and learning the plays and throwing with all the different quarterbacks, it’s good. It’s good for all of us.
I know you’re sick of getting asked about it, but how’s the hamstring feeling?
It’s good. This is the best I’ve felt in I don’t know how long. I haven’t had any problems with it for the last six months, I’d say. I’ve put on some weight and I think that’s helped a lot with it.
What are you up to?
You mentioned playing corner a little bit in the spring. It seems to be a pretty common thing with this team. What was that experience like?
It was a learning experience. I’ve never really played corner. I played it a little bit in high school but I never thought I was going to play it in college, but my primary position is still receiver. I think they were just trying me out at corner a little bit because I have length and me playing basketball, those skills translate to playing corner. It was a learning experience for sure.
While I was looking for someone to talk to one-on-one yesterday, our photographer Eric Upchurch said redshirt freshman tight end Chase Winovich, who moved from outside linebacker this spring, seemed like a great interview. He was not wrong.
How is the transition from defense to offense going for you?
At first I wasn’t sure how to think about it, and just a little hesitant. I feel like, as most people are, going to a position that you’ve never played before and weren’t recruited as going through the recruiting process—it goes through your mind, here’s what you’re going to be, and then to go through a season playing [linebacker], you’re just having a blast with it, going up and hitting people and just playing physical and the chase. I always joked, I said, “they named me Chase, they didn’t name me Block or something else.”
But as the time went on I grew to really start liking it. The practices were more fun, [I was] more engaged, more versatile, you could take mental reps a lot, it was easier to see how people break, especially Jake Butt, and just go about their business, and I started to love it. So going into camp, I’ve never been this excited to go into a camp in my entire life.
With Coach Harbaugh and his styles of camps and his history with Stanford and San Diego and San Francisco, it’s going to be a battle, man. I want to be in the trenches or in the Apache helicopter this camp, you know, shooting the machine guns. That's how I view it. Every day is going to be a grind and if I can maximize the transition from summer to camp and linebacker to tight end and have those coincide, I think the days are going to go by great.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the interview.]
“Hello, everybody. Nice to see you. Good to see everybody here. Exciting day for us. The first day of football fall camp, so…glad you made it.”
Kids Go Blue Club member question: Other than football, what is your favorite thing about being back in Michigan?
“Autumn, that is a wonderful question. Thank you for asking that question. Being with my family is my favorite thing about being back in Michigan.
“How old are you?”
“So I have a six-year-old daughter named Addie and a four-and-a-half-year-old daughter named Katie and Jack is two and a half. My son James is 18- he’ll be a freshman at Michigan. My son Jay is coaching at Michigan. He’s 26.
“And then, so seeing all my kids back here in Ann Arbor and doing some of the same things that I did when I was your age and their age- went over to St. Francis elementary school and met some of the teachers for the first grade and the kindergarten class and just walking down the hallway, seeing them in the same school that I went to. It was…it was- might have been the best moment about being back in Ann Arbor.
“St. Francis is a typical Catholic school. It’s old and it’s clean. There’s a lot of memories. Pretty neat to think that my kids are going to be experiencing some of the same things I did.
“Are you excited for school to start?”
“When does school start for you?”
I don’t know.
“How about a big smile for all the cameras? How about a big, pretty smile for the cameras. Look at all these cameras!”
There was some stuff earlier this week or a couple weeks ago about the fifth-year players. Keith Heitzman, I think, said he was asked to try-out for a spot on the roster. What’s your take on the fifth year guys? Are they given a spot? Earn a spot? How’s that work?
“Well, it’s- you know, fifth year is mutual. When it comes to a fifth year, if you have a fifth year of eligibility and then it becomes do you want to come back to the University of Michigan for a fifth year and does the football team mutually want you to come back for the fifth year.
“All the fifth-year players that were on the team were not asked to come to a try out, but in his particular case I said, and [with] a couple of the other youngsters too, I haven’t coached here before [so] couldn’t guarantee a spot for the 2015 team but could guarantee an opportunity. And that opportunity would have taken place during spring practice. Some did want to come back who were fifth-years and some didn’t. That’s about as simple as it is.”
[After THE JUMP: Harbaugh tells the football rebirth story again and you should read it because why would you not want to read that]
Previously: Kyle Kalis
Brian Cole wants to see the field this year. [Fuller]
Next up for the Media Day interviews is slot receiver Brian Cole, one of a few freshmen who was available to speak to the media, presumably because he enrolled early and went through spring practice with the team. Cole has already undergone his first uniform change. While he wore #81 in the spring, he's now rocking #41, perhaps a sign that senior walk-on tight end Michael Jocz (now the only #81) is in line for some playing time.
A couple guys have said they didn't even know it was Media Day until they walked in. How has it been with Harbaugh keeping you guys on your toes?
Oh, yeah, it's blessing us though, I'll tell you that, because he's getting all of us ready for the league, NFL-ready. He's treating it like it's the NFL, so people are just getting a better understanding of what it's going to be like if you play in the NFL.
How big of a transition is it coming from high school to this type of environment? What's been the toughest part of that?
It's very overwhelming, to be honest. It's a lot of pressure. You have your highs and your lows. To be honest, it's been hard, but it's been a good experience.
What's he got you playing right now?
I'm playing slot receiver.
I know you played a lot of different spots in high school. How comfortable are you settling into that position?
I'm still getting used to it since I never really played receiver. So my footwork, stuff like that, I'm still working on it. I like it a lot, though. I want to score touchdowns, too, so that's always fun. Catching them isn't so bad, either. I'm just getting used to it.
You guys have Jedd Fisch as a receivers coach, another guy with NFL experience. How big of a help is it to have somebody who's been there?
It's great. The whole coaching staff, they know what it takes, and having Coach Fisch, that's my dawg, I love Coach Fisch. He's always helping me. He's always on top of me about everything, too.
With you in the slot, do you expect to be utilized as a runner as well as a receiver? How do you expect to be used out there?
To be honest, I don't know. I have no idea.
So they're keeping you in the dark about everything.
How easy has it been to pick up the playbook?
Not easy at all. (Laughs.) It's still coming along. It's just the fact that, coming from high school, our playbook looked nothing like that—like, it was numbers, and that was our play. Having all this extra stuff, audibles, all these extra signs we can do, it makes it a lot harder but you gotta learn it. If I want to play I gotta learn it, so that's what I'm trying to do.
Four hour practices, it sounds like the intensity is way up; how well do you think the team has adjusted to that?
Well. We grinding. We got better every day, so things are going good with those four-hour practices. It's not hurting us too bad.
What are your expectations for this year? Do you have anything laid out?
As far as team goals, I don't know. I know, even not talking to them, I know we want to win, like, every game, and that's what we plan to do. We're going to work, have fun, and just win.
And for you personally, what are your expectations for your play this year?
I just want to play. I just want to touch the field.
This afternoon's Media Day marked the unofficial start of Michigan football season. Over the coming days we'll be posting several interviews with players and coaches—and, of course, Harbaugh's presser. First up is Kyle Kalis, who had some fascinating things to say about the new way of doing things under the new staff. Oh, and some thoughts on shirtlessness. Note: several of these are MGoQuestions, but not all or them. I'll note in other posts if I had an actual one-on-one.
What's been the biggest change for you from Hoke to Harbaugh?
Really not much has changed team-wise. It's great to know we have a coach like Coach Harbaugh. Going through spring with Coach, learning how he likes to do practice, seeing how intense he is—I think just his intensity alone drives us and makes us practice harder which in turn is going to make us a great team. Especially going into camp, it's going to be a long camp, it's going to be a grind, but we've put in the work all summer and we're ready for it.
It sounds like Harbaugh is keeping you guys on your toes. Do you guys know the schedule or...?
Oh, yeah, Coach's deal is he doesn't like us to know, he doesn't like us to be able to prepare for things. He wants us to be able to react. That's what we're doing so far. Like coming into today, we didn't even know we had media today. We walked through the door and here we are talking to you guys.
So you guys didn't know this was going on today?
We knew something was up. When we got the schedule, there was no practice today, so were like, "Oh, something's up. It's going down."
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the interview.]
The worst kept secret in Michigan football is now finally public:
Media Day uncovered another loss that had not yet come to light with redshirt sophomore offensive lineman Chris Fox bringing his playing career to a close.
A native of Parker, Colo., the 6-6, 303 pounds Fox played in one game last season, but was not introduced with the lineman on Thursday despite appearing on the roster.
An athletic department official confirmed that Fox will continue with the program as a student assistant coach. He will be moved to a medical scholarship, which does not count against the 85 scholarship limit set by the NCAA.
Fox was set to be a redshirt sophomore this fall and opens up a 2016 scholarship as a result. Michigan was already at 84 scholarship players give or take a Norfleet, so his departure opens up another slot for a walk-on.