Harbaugh leaves Swarm attendees stinging with enthusiasm

Rod Beard
The Detroit News
Michigan Coach Jim Harbaugh talks with campers at the Bishop Chatard High School Elite Football Camp Thursday in Indianapolis.

Indianapolis — On a warm, sunny Thurdsay morning in June, Cordney Petty Sr. had football on his mind.

It's far from football season, but having heard that some of Michigan's football staff would be at nearby Bishop Chatard High School as part of their "Summer Swarm Tour" of high school football camps, Petty brought his 2-year-old son, Cordney Jr., out to watch the workouts.

"I knew about the satellite camps and the local prospects. It's always good to get out and see them and see how they react in camp circumstances," Petty said. "It's football in June — you can't beat that, either."

As more than 160 high school players — and even a seventh grader — went through the paces with Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh and a few of his assistant coaches, the novelty had reached expectations. The camp drew players from southern Michigan as well as a few from Ohio and one from Nebraska Thursday and shifted to Prattville, Alabama on Friday.

"This is a very nice event," Bishop Chatard athletic director Mike Ford said. "And to have this opportunity to have this type of expertise on site, with a different voice and different people to be able to instruct the kids — not only ours, but kids from all over central Indiana."

Although the idea of having satellite camps each day for eight days around the country isn't popular — some SEC coaches were angry because Harbaugh took advantage of a loophole that allowed him to be a guest at other camps — the benefits were apparent to Petty.

"It's beneficial for these local communities that have camps to allow these kids to gain the exposure," said Petty, 35. "These parents aren't always privy to the whole recruiting scene and camps, so it's good for these coaches to allow these kids to get that exposure.

"Kids don't always have the means to travel to the elite camps to allow them to get coached up and feel good because they were in front of college coaches."

Petty, who grew up in Michigan, has lived in Indianapolis since 2008 and has become familiar with the local high school football scene but also keeps tabs on the Wolverines. Although Harbaugh hasn't coached a game at UM yet, Petty is optimistic about where the program is going.

"I believe in tough, hard-nosed football and discipline and coaching players to put them in position to make plays," he said. "I was happy with things under (Brady) Hoke even though the wins weren't there, but I like the direction of making the players accountable.

"It didn't translate to wins on the field but with a new regime, there are going to be growing pains. This is Year One, and I don't have high expectations and they are still looking for players. I'm going to allow the process to work itself out."

For Harbaugh, the tour isn't about getting players for Michigan — he's not allowed to talk to the players nor their parents about recruiting — but more about instruction and coaching. He ran around on the field demonstrating drills and mixing praise and pepping up the campers to do better if they were lagging in effort.

After Thursday's camp, Harbaugh addressed the group, showing his fun side along with the serious side.

"I had a lot of fun personally; that three hours just flew by — that's the fun of football," he said. "Nobody will ever play four years of high school football and look back and say they wished they hadn't played.

"It just doesn't get said, because it doesn't happen. Football is good for you."

The Summer Swarm Tour moves to Tampa on Saturday and will hit Pennsylvania, Texas and California before winding up at the Sound Mind South Body Academy at Macomb Dakota High School on June 12.

Rod.Beard@detroitnews.com

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