Graduation is this weekend, and with spring ball firmly in the rearview mirror, the football program begins a stage of the offseason that becomes more weight-room and conditioning focused, with clear goals on building strength, power and speed.
"This is a fun time of the year because you really have a lot of personal responsibility," former Wolverine offensive lineman and current analyst David Moosman said. "There might be a schedule for you put together by the strength staff, but your gains will be decided by your own desire and how much you're willing to push yourself."
This time of the year could also lead to a few roster changes, as Moosman noted the guys that are on the fence about returning for another season usually wait until after finishing the semester so that credits transfer.
For those that stay put, the next few months revolve around two things - eating and working out.
"This is the time you really start to crank and things get really hard," Moosman said. "For the two strength programs I was a part of, this is where we really laid on the pounds. This is where we tried to eat more and increase our calorie intake. I was up to 12-13,000 calories per day. And I was working out to fill those calories with muscle."
Moosman didn't work under current strength and conditioning coach Aaron Wellman, but he imagines the process is similar - when he played from 2006-09, maximizing weight exercises until a 12-rep benchmark was the goal.
"Say last week I did 275-pound cleans eight times, so I want to do 275 nine times the next day or two days later, or whatever the time period is, and basically you do 275 until you get up 12 reps, and then you go back to six reps and add 10 pounds, and you gradually build like that until you hit your max weight or until you get to preseason practice," he said.
"That's what I mean about it being a personal battle. Some guys are really strong but they never push themselves to their threshold so they never get as strong as they could be. A lot of fans just think every guy is a workout machine, but some guys just aren't, and when you see who's competing and who's not for playing time in the fall, especially along the lines, you'll know who worked their butt off in the summer and who didn't."
During his career, Moosman added 15 pounds to his frame, then slimmed down some under Rich Rodriguez's staff.
"I had two strength coaches with two different philosophies when it came to weight gain," he said. "One wanted you to pack on the pounds and then turn it into muscle, and the other one wanted you to be able to run and then wanted to add weight to that so it wasn't about sheer size.
"I'm not sure what Michigan's current coach wants to do, but you definitely need the calories. I was consuming 12,000 calories and I was still unable to gain weight. There were a few times I was accused of being the smallest offensive lineman in the country, at 290 pounds. But we were losing 10 pounds a day in two-a-days. In the offseason, you almost have to gain to be five to eight pounds too big."
This is a critical offseason for the offensive line, and a unit that remains very unsettled going into preseason camp. Moosman expects it to stay that way for at least the first two weeks of practices.
"They just have to have a starting five the week of the first game," he said. "Sure it would be great to have everything figured out early in camp, but that usually happens when you have a lot of returning starters and guys in their junior and senior year.
"With this group, I think they want to keep this competition going as long as possible to keep guys continually motivated and pushing each other."
Moosman will be back in the fall to analyze the line further (and he'll stop in for some conversations this summer too) but there's one thing he'll be looking for early in camp, or one player that is - true freshman left tackle Mason Cole.
"If he ends up starting, you could say that's a testament to how hard he's worked, but I would take it as a really bad sign because it instead says a lot about where your offensive line is," he said.
"I'm not trying to take anything away from the kid, but we saw last year what it meant when we were starting a true freshman late in the season, and even if he's a guy that enrolled early, what does it say about the guys in their third and fourth year now and how they're being developed if he is already ahead of them?"
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