We'll miss you, big guy.
What did you see out of your guys from Day one?
“I thought everyone out there was excited to play … We’ve been training all summer …”
Are you coming in more confident this time around?
“I mean, it was not more confidence. I just had to step up and this was the time to do it. This is my last go-around, and I owe Michigan and these fans a lot.”
When did that sink in?
“I mean, I had to change a lot. I was talking to a lot of guys who left. It’s just been a lot going on this summer and a lot of hard work.”
What do you mean by “owing the fans”?
“Well I came in with big expectations and I didn’t live up to them. And now it’s time to play.”
Can you tell the difference between guys who prepared well and guys who didn’t?
“I think everybody prepared the same because we all owe each other to play for each other. I mean I go out there to work hard every day for the guy next to me. Craig Roh. I work hard to go out there every day even for the freshmen. I work hard every day for Willie Henry, Peewee, everybody.”
(F-bomb after the jump)
Why do you think you’re going to be better this year?
“It’s the way -- not just me -- but the whole team, the way we worked this summer. I think as far as since I’ve been here it’s the hardest we’ve worked as a team.”
But what about you personally?
“But it’s not about me, it’s about Michigan and how the team works every day.”
Brady actually said he wants you to add a few pounds. How does it feel to be underweight?
“I mean, hopefully it’s a lot easier to add them than to lose them.”
Do you have a six pack?
“No I don’t have a six pack.”
What did you weigh in at?
“I weighed in today at like 310.”
What did you do this offseason to lose the weight?
“Just got up here every day ready to work, and I knew I had to put in my all.”
What was the biggest change in your diet?
“No sweets. I tried a wheat diet for like a week but I was dead tired -- no wheat, no sweets. Switched that up, a lot more protein, a lot more hard work.”
What kind of sweets did you like to eat?
What was the hardest to drop?
Now that Mike Martin is gone, does it motivate you to work harder knowing that no one is playing in front of you at your position?
“Of course Mike Martin, third round draft pick, left some big shoes to fill. I’ve talked to him probably every day and him going through his training camp and him telling me how I have to go and what I need to do.”
Do you feel like you’re a big-game player?
“I feel as if I’m going to have to play in big games if that’s what you mean.”
How do you know if this team is as physical as Hoke wants it to be?
“I mean, today was the first day we had on helmets. To tell you the truth, the helmets -- with equipment on or without we’re still going to hit each other. That’s just the mentality he brought to this program and that’s what we’re trying to get.”
Did anyone get hit hard today?
“I mean, the receivers and DBs didn’t really hit, but us boys up front, we’re only a yard in front of each other, so we got a couple bumps and bruises, so that’s going to happen.”
How much better are you moving with the weight loss?
“I’m not all huffing and puffing anymore. I can move left and right way better. I feel a lot better out there.”
Does it ever make you wonder how you did it before?
“Yeah, pretty much. I’m not dying right now.”
Would you be dying freshman year or sophomore year?
“Yeah. Earlier, I mean, when I was heavier, I had a lot of baby fat. I’m glad that’s gone.”
Was it baby fat?
“It was baby fat.”
Did you used to dread the start of practice back then?
“Oh no. I don’t dread practice. Camp’s going to be camp. It’s going to be hard. There’s going to be adversity. You just have to find a way through it. You have to beat through the first wall.”
Will you ever be at a point where the honeybuns are not a temptation?
“Never in my life.”
Have you done any mentoring with Ondre Pipkins yet?
“Oh yeah. We have a big brother program here. We look after someone, and Peewee, I have to be his mentor. And I’ve been talking to him and getting in his head and make sure he won’t make the mistakes I did. Just come out every day and start off strong.”
Do you like being a mentor?
“Oh yes. I’m trying to make sure he gets the point before I did.”
What sort of food does he have to give up?
“Probably everything. It’s got to be more lean, more protein, less sweets, no juice. Stuff like that.”
Does he remind you of you?
“Oh no. He came in and he’s probably stronger than I was coming in. Quicker off the ball probably. He’s a hard worker. I’m surprised right now.”
Are you roommates?
“No, I’m roommates with Willie Henry.”
Which former players have you talked to?
“I’ve talked a lot to Will Heininger, the three-tech from last year, Van Bergen, Brandon Graham a lot, and Michael Martin … Will Heininger was my roommate all through the season last year and the year before so I was already close with him, and Brandon Graham was my mentor when I was here. And Mike and Van Bergen have helped me all the way through.”
Have you thought about what it’s like to be starting and actually getting real playing time in about a month?
“Well I’ve been dreading it -- well not dreading it, but it’s been in the back of my mind like, ‘F---’ … I’m sorry. It’s been in the back of my head like yeah. I’m going to be the first man to go after the centers and guards.”
Thoughts on Alabama’s offensive line?
“There’s no doubt in my mind that’s probably the best offensive line I’ll play in college. They’re great. Their double teams are fierce. I mean, that’s what we’re doing every day. Working hard and getting prepared for them and the rest of the season.”
“Sorry about the profanity.”
How does practice get chippy just with helmets?
“We’re competing. Everybody’s trying to get a spot out there, and being the first day, everybody’s coming out there with excitement and getting better.”
Was it weird that it was your last first day?
“It was. All the seniors got to meet last night, and we just told ourselves just go out there and have excitement for the younger classmen because it’s our last go-around.”
How motivated are you to make this a different year than last year?
“It’s my last year here. Being a senior leading wide receiver and coming back with the most experience, I just feel like I have a chip on my shoulder of being better every day and come first game, be ready.”
What have you learned from last year?
“A lot of things … Better route running, blocking, catching, do the tennis ball drills, and focus on what I needed to prepare myself for.”
What was the most important thing that was said at the senior meeting?
“… Coming out there with energy in the locker room and bring it out on the field. Because we know who we are in camp, and there’s going to be some days when you’re down, but being a senior, the 22 seniors that we are, we have to come in really prepared with excitement for the young guys to look up to.”
How has the move to flanker been?
“Real smooth. I’m enjoying it. Coach Heck’s throwing a lot at us, but he knows for me to get the younger wide receivers ready.”
How’s it different from playing split end?
“A lot of motions, movements. Sometimes you’ll be lined up at slot, sometimes you switch over to the X, and sometimes you’re the only receiver on the field. So it’s a lot that I need to learn.”
Are you comfortable playing flanker?
“Yeah I feel like I’m doing well.”
How do you size up Devin Gardner as a receiver?
“Devin Gardner is an athlete. He’s tall, strong, and he can play it all, and today he switched over to wide receiver from quarterback, and you could see him get fatigued, but at the end of the day I just told him you’re getting better because you’re helping the team.”
Is he a better QB or receiver?
“Athlete. Devin can throw that thing and go up to get the ball because of his height, so he’s being prepared and working through that throughout the summer.”
What do you remember about the first time watching him run routes?
“Yeah, Devin would go out there and talk smack to all the DBs and I’m just sitting out to the side being like, ‘Man, what’s about to happen?’ But he’s really learned throughout the summer from seven-on-seven and getting better at wide receiver.”
What’s going to be the hardest part about his switch from QB to receiver?
“Basically he knows the playbook, but just getting off a jam or running the right route or reading the right coverages. I feel like he did a good job of that, so being a quarterback I’m pretty sure he knows half the things that we know.”
Which DBs have caught your attention?
“… J.T. Floyd, Blake Countess, they run with the ones msot of the time. They’re always preparing me. Like I told J.T., you get me better I’ll get you better.”
Does it bother you to hear people wondering what’s going to happen now that Michigan has lost their best receiver from a year ago in Hemingway?
“Nah. Our expectations are big for wide receivers coming from Michigan. I know we lost Junior and Kelvin Grady and Tae-O last year, but we have great athletes and wide receivers as last year. They probably won’t be as big as Junior.”
“They came after class, but Amara Darboh and Jehu Chesson. Athletes, man. I was amazed what I saw today when they first practiced. I felt like they recruited two great wide receivers.”
Darboh’s a pretty big kid, huh.
“Big. I was like, ‘Man you got the size of Ricardo Miller out here.’ He’s really fast and he’s strong. That’s my roommate for camp. I quizzed him last night to make sure he was on his p’s and q’s. He just went out there today and he asked a lot of questions but he did a great job.”
What’s he like off the field?
“He’s probably quiet, but I’ve know him for a long time now. Talking to him he’s opened up more …”
“He can spread the field, you know. He’s a pretty skinny guy but he’s tall and he can run great routes. He can go up for the ball like coach Heck wants him to.”
How was your chemistry with Denard today?
“Great. Probably had five passes thrown this way and caught them all, so it was a great thing. Denard feels relaxed out there and so do I.”
Denard said timing was an issue last year at this point. Is that better now?
“You know, coming in second year under the offense, just being comfortable running the routes and reading the defenses and there wasn’t a lot of time at this point.”
Have you seen his mechanics improve?
“Oh yeah. A lot of progress. He’s following through on his throws today and you can see it as we were coming out of our routes the ball’s there on time.”
Did you watch his B1G luncheon speech?
“Oh yeah. I texted him right after, like ‘Man you did a great job even though you were probably nervous.’ I was nervous because I know he was talking about it the whole week … I told him, ‘You’re going to be fine, you speak to the media all the time.’ ”
What makes the first day a good day?
“Good blocking. First it starts with the offensive line giving me time for me to throw to my receivers.”
How much of the little kid inside you comes out on the first day?
“Oh man. Too much. I get too excited. I missed a couple throws today that I wish I wouldn’t have made, but that’s the first day of practice, and that’s what happens.”
Did today feel different to you?
“I felt really relaxed because last camp was more like I’m still trying to learn and still trying to play as fast as I can, but today I felt a little more relaxed.”
What does Devin have to learn over the next month to actually step up and help you guys in a receiving role?
“He’s a competittor, so he’s going to do whatever it takes to get to that point. I can’t tell you -- I don’t know what he can do. He’s a phenomenal athlete. When he gets out to the receivers, you’ll think he’s a receiver. He looks like he’s been playing it for years. I mean, when he plays quarterback, you can tell that he’s one of the top quarterbacks.”
Roy said Amara Darboh was impressive today. What about him was impressive?
“Yeah he had a couple catches that shocked us and he competed and you could tell that he wanted to play. A lot of freshmen are going to want to play this year and they’re going to compete.”
Thoughts on Will Campbell’s weight loss?
“Will shows off his stuff more than I do … He did it for the team, and that’s him holding himself accountable so we can trust him and respect him for that. We just have to keep working … He ran down a couple guys this spring and shocked a lot of people, so you can tell that he’s feeling better and he can run a little faster.”
You and Toussaint were a nice combination last year. Was it odd not having him out there today?
“Oh man. I mean, the team would do the same thing if I wasn’t there. We have people that step in, and those guys work as hard as he does, so those guys are ready to play and they’re looking forward to it.”
Is it hard for him not to be out there?
“Oh yeah. Oh yeah. I know it is. I’ve talked to him and he knows that he’s going to do whatever it takes to get back on the field, and I just can’t wait.”
Hoke says Rawls runs angry. What does he mean by that?
“Rawls runs angry. That’s a tough guy. When he runs the ball, you really get out of the way. That’s the kind of guy he is. He’s an aggressive runner. If he sees a guy he might just try to run him over.”
Even without pads?
“Oh yeah. That’s how you know he runs angry. Every time I see him running the ball, you have to get out of the way.”
How was the team on day one?
“I think on day one you’re just looking for guys to give effort. We understand that not everybody’s going to be right, it’s not going to be perfect, it’s actually really sloppy, and that’s kind of what you anticipate. But if guys are going hard, it’s a good sign we’ll get those corrections right.”
Any freshmen stand out to you in the secondary?
“It’s still early I think. But I think that we have guys like Allen Gant who’s going to be a very good ball player and we have some good walk-ons who came in and played as well. It’s still day one, so there’s a lot of football left.”
Who’s your roommate?
MGoQuestion: What about the receivers? Which freshmen have impressed you?
MGoBacktrack: Or receivers in general.
“Well obviously Roy Roundtree’s been playing well. That’s what we need from him as a senior leader. Guys like Amara Darboh and Jehu Chesson, those guys have gotten some action, but it’s still so early. Very early yet.”
Thoughts on Devin?
“He’s a great athlete. I feel like he can play anywhere. He could probably play my spot if he really tried. He’s a natural athlete and if they play him at receiver he’ll be pretty good. He’s taken some limited reps there, but wherever he plays he’s going to make plays.”
Did you see Thomas Gordon grow over the offseason?
“Of course. I think he’s one of those guys that made the biggest strides this spring. But we’re going to be looking forward to him making even bigger strides this offseason and into camp now. I think that he will. He made some plays today, but it’s only day one … I think he’s going to be a big time ball player.”