ANN ARBOR, Mich. — The Michigan football team completed its first week of preseason camp, and while practices remain closed, we’ll fill you in on what we’ve learned.
Our rundown includes a quick evaluation of running back Kareem Walker, what teammates think of quarterback Shea Patterson, and Jim Harbaugh’s kinder, gentler side as he starts his fourth year as coach at Michigan.
Here’s three things we learned about the Wolverines after their first week of spring practices:
Kareem Walker hits the field
Walker can make the most of his third spring with the Wolverines. The redshirt sophomore enrolled in January 2016 but has had an up-and-down tenure so far in Ann Arbor. This, however, could be his breakthrough year.
“He’s coming along,” running backs coach Jay Harbaugh said. “Thus far, we’ve all been pretty happy with his performance this spring. He’s competing, he’s doing the best he can and that’s pretty much all we’re looking for, each guy’s individual best. If you can reach that as an individual, you’re going to get better. And as a collective group, you’re going to get better.
“He’s a resilient guy, and I’ve been pleased with the way he’s approached the spring so far.”
Running back Chris Evans sees Walker contributing to the greater good of Michigan’s position group.
“He’s the type with a great attitude,” Evans said. “We’re all around him and as running backs, by committee, we make sure we hold each other accountable.”
This team already likes Shea Patterson
Patterson, a quarterback who transferred from Mississippi, has yet to meet with the media, but his teammates have. Their marks are high. In his first week of practices, he’s already spoken volumes to the Wolverines.
Patterson is also pushing another Wolverine to compete for the starting job.
“As long as I’ve known Brandon [Peters], I know he’s always going to step up to the challenge,” Evans said. “That’s what he’s doing so far. He’s out there making plays. He’s out there, having fun.”
Michigan also got an update on Patterson’s eligibility waiver. The Detroit News reported Wednesday that Ole Miss has submitted its response to the NCAA. The NCAA will decide on Patterson’s eligibility for 2018.
Harbaugh’s new habit could become the next trending topic on Twitter. Many identify Harbaugh as a steely, no-nonsense sort of coach who lives and breathes football. But his players are finding out that Harbaugh is refining his style, in an effort to relate better to his players and to help improve his program.
Sometimes, that means Harbaugh will reach out to someone. Literally reach out to someone.
“He’s just more personable. He wants a hug sometimes,” running back Karan Higdon said of Harbaugh. “Sometimes you’ve got to give him a hug. The guy wants a hug.”
Defensive end Chase Winovich says there’s a purpose to seeing the softer side of Harbaugh.
“This is Coach Harbaugh’s way of trying to combat that he’s the boss,” Winovich said. “He’s trying to paint this picture, I’m not saying it’s not true, because I think it is true, that he’s with us. He wants us to win, just like we do. He wants us to succeed, just like we do. He’s not just the pointer-outer, like, go here or go there. He’s in there with us. He takes criticism, just like we do, if not more, and he’s just trying to add more.”