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June 24, 2009Michigan's last summer camp ends today, giving the U-M staff time to catch its collective breath over the next few weeks, but they'll never be far from their phones and computers, head coach Rich Rodriguez said today. Camp priorities have changed over the years, and so have summer responsibilities
"We've had over 2,000 young guys over the last 10 days so I think my coaches are ready for a little break here," Rodriguez told Rivals Radio's Bill King today. "But not only do you get to evaluate [players], they get to evaluate us and get to know us as coaches in an informal setting. It's really enjoyable when you spend three or four days and nights with some guys and they get to know a lot about your program just being around you. That's part of the fun of running the camps."
Kids have been particularly excited about seeing the new and improved Michigan Stadium, Rodriguez noted. The stadium has been a selling point before but is even more impressive now, adding to Ann Arbor's skyline.
Though unofficial visits are about finished until late July by design, the coaches continue to work the recruiting trail.
"It's an everyday thing, so now with e-mail, letter writing and all that a lot of kids still want to make unofficial visits to campuses, so we've got to be prepared for that," said Rodriguez. "You stay quite busy, but the next couple days is the "down time" if there is such a thing for the assistant coaches we tell [recruits] when we're not going to be there, so I hope I'm not laying on the beach and all of a sudden this guy is coming and I'm 500 miles away. [But] we always get a few surprises, and hopefully they're good surprises."
Wednesday also marked orientation for the freshmen. They'll start summer school soon, something they wouldn't have been able to do in the past.
"When the NCAA changed the rules a few years back to allow the incoming freshmen to take summer courses and get enrolled early, I thought it was a great rule," said Rodriguez. "Not only does it let them get acclimated athletically to train with 100 other guys, but more importantly academically to get to know their way around campus, to get to feel what it's like to be a college student.
"I think it's been invaluable. It's allowed a lot more freshmen to be prepared to play a little earlier in their careers, even though it still makes you a little nervous, but it's been sensational. When school actually starts in August or September, they've been around a little bit. They know their way around campus and it's been an all positive thing."
One thing that might take the most getting used to - training with strength coach Mike Barwis. Most are working out year-round regardless, but Barwis takes it to another level, usually giving them a glimpse during recruiting visits of what they can expect.
"I think it's a bit of an adjustment wherever you go, because more than anything, instead of training by yourself with a handful of guys, there are 100 other guys, some of them three or four years older than you that have been in the system for quite some time," said Rodriguez. "I think it's a shock the first couple of weeks, but soon they adjust pretty well.
"He's obviously allowed to train those guys when they show up. Now across the board, these young men across the country want to get better each and every day, so they're going to train all summer. I'm biased, but I think we have the best strength staff in the country, and Mike Barwis leads the way. He does such a tremendous job of taking them not only athletically but mentally preparing them for the next level.
"Coaches are limited, so we can't do a whole lot with them in the summer, though we can talk to them. That's why it's so important to have a great strength staff in place, and that's why I've been fortunate to have Mike for several years."
Rodriguez expects reports from veterans to begin trickling in on the freshmen in the weeks to come.
Other notes from Rodriguez:
On freshman quarterback Tate Forcier: "Tate was so proud, he came by and saw us yesterday at a whopping 190 pounds. He came in at 175 wearing a long sleeve shirt, now he's wearing a t-shirt and eventually he'll be wearing a muscle shirt. He's had a great spring, carried it over to the summer. He and a couple of those other young guys are going to have an opportunity, so we'll see what happens."
On the offense: "At least offensively we have some guys who have played. In the backfield, Brandon Minor and Carlos Brown are seniors at running back who if they stay healthy will help us. Greg Mathews and Junior Hemingway at Wide receiver, Kevin Koger and Martell Webb at tight end those guys were all playing for the first time."
On recruiting quarterbacks but only being able to play one: "What we try to do is create competition at every position. [Receiver] Martavious Odoms was good as a true freshman and we thing he's going to be even better, but he didn't have a lot of guys to compete with him. Now we have some other guys competing with him to make him better and make us better.
"Keeping the quarterback happy is a tricky thing, because you can only play one at a time. But we have a rule, if we have two or three guys we're able to win with, we're going to play them all. We were able to do that in the past with success at other stops, and guys were able to hang around and do well who bought into the system."