'Energetic' Harbaugh puts Indy campers through their paces
Indianapolis — Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh raised his hands in the air and celebrated as a high school quarterback completed a drill that required throwing a football through the goal post from a sharp angle.
"We've got a good group here!" he screamed as each successive camper completed the task.
The praise showed Harbaugh's excitement and the fervor that he hoped to generate among about 165 participants at the Bishop Chatard Elite Football Camp, the first stop on UM's nine-day "Summer Swarm Tour" of high school camps.
It wasn't quite Beyonce, the Rolling Stones, or One Direction, but Harbaugh and his staff kicked off their cross-country barnstorming tour in 75-degree heat — with Harbaugh donning his signature khakis, a Michigan sweatshirt and hat. He greeted the campers but kept the NCAA rules in the forefront, telling one player, "I can't talk about recruiting," after a quick handshake.
Throughout the three-hour camp, Harbaugh bounced from group to group, offering his insight and encouragement, prodding campers to give their best effort. He was very hands-on in his instructions, with plenty of "nice job" and "way to go" words of encouragement.
By the end, Harbaugh seemed to barely break a sweat, but was in his element with coaching football and imparting wisdom.
"Just want to tell you how fun that was for us — just to be outside with guys that like football. You're strong, you're fast and you like to play," Harbaugh told the campers. "I like being around guys like that — same kind of guy I was as a youngster.
"Nobody got hurt today — just out here playing football and having fun."
Due to NCAA regulations, Harbaugh wasn't allowed to speak to the media, to the campers about recruiting, to sign autographs, to post or retweet pictures on social media, or even to confirm that he and his staff worked at the camp.
But with the focus on football, the Michigan staff, which included offensive coordinator Tim Drevno, running backs coach Tyrone Wheatley and defensive line coach Greg Mattison, was able to begin the morning with some early warm-up drills, before moving to some agility and passing drills.
Harbaugh's unique style caught the eye of 2016 recruit Brandon Peters, a 6-foot-4 quarterback from Avon, Indiana, who committed to Michigan in April.
"He's different and he has different coaching styles, but that's OK. I can't wait until I get up there and start playing for him," Peters said. "That was the main reason I was here, to see how they coach and how they did things.
"I like it a lot. Coach Harbaugh is an energetic guy and he's going to jump around and run around; I like that a lot and it's cool to be here."
Peters said he has been working to recruit other Indiana standout players to choose Michigan, as well — and his efforts may have paid off in the Wolverines getting a commitment Thursday from 2016 running back / athlete Kiante Enis
Enis, a 6-foot-2, 200-pounder who gained 3,189 yards and scored 49 touchdowns last season, participated in Thursday's camp but announced his commitment following the camp via Twitter:
"I have decided to be a Michigan Wolverine #GoBlue," Enis wrote.
Another camper, defensive tackle Jovan Swann of Greenwood, Indiana, got good feedback about what he can improve upon, and when he met Harbaugh for the first time, he wasn't in awe.
"He actually doesn't make me nervous. Of course, he's a great coach, but he gives you a friendly, welcoming vibe," Swann said. "Talking to him is like talking to a father.
"I took out of this that the coaches are out to help you rather than analyze and critique."
Swann, 6-3 and 250 pounds, has been offered by Michigan State but not Michigan.
Harbaugh's "Swarm" is striking a chord with rival coaches because Harbaugh, the first-year UM coach, is taking advantage of a loophole in an NCAA rule that allows coaches to be guest instructors at camps. He's drawn the ire of SEC and ACC coaches, who have a conference restrictions against working at camps more than 50 miles from their campuses.
As Harbaugh looks to rebuild the Michigan program, one of the keys is reshaping the perception of the Wolverines. Since Lloyd Carr's last season in 2007, the Wolverines are 46-42, with three losing records, including 5-7 last season.
After leading UM to an 11-2 record and a win in the Sugar Bowl in his first season in 2011, Brady Hoke struggled to a 5-7 mark last year and Michigan missed a bowl.
Harbaugh hopes to get back to the glory years of his mentor, Bo Schembechler, and one of the first steps is improving recruiting. With more than 165 campers in attendance Thursday, it's a big step toward making change.
MICHIGAN SUMMER SWARM TOUR
June 4: Bishop Chatard Football Camp, Indianapolis
June 5: Prattville Elite Football Camp, Prattville, Ala.
June 6: USF One Day Camp, Tampa, Fla.
June 7: Lauren's First and Goal Camp, Easton, Pa.
June 8: Aldine Elite College Football Camp, Houston
June 9: Dallas Showtyme Elite Football Camp, Grand Prairie, Texas
June 10: Mission Viejo Football Camp, Mission Viejo, Calif.
June 11: DB Guru Football Camp, Fresno, Calif.
June 12: Sound Mind Sound Body Academy, Macomb Dakota High