Harbaugh 'beyond excited' over booming DC Don Brown

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
Don Brown watches over drills Monday in Bradenton, Fla.

Bradenton, Fla. – The most distinctive voice during the first day of Michigan’s spring practice belonged to the Wolverines’ new defensive coordinator, Don Brown.

Brown was hands-on during one-on-one drills with his new players and his voice boomed instruction on Monday during Michigan’s first spring practice at IMG Academy.

This is the first time he has worked with the players since being hired last December from Boston College, where he was defensive coordinator, leading the Eagles to the nation’s top-ranked defense.

“Love him, love him, love him,” Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said Monday after practice. “Had a meeting last night and there was a nice partition between the offensive and defensive (rooms) and the paint peeled off the walls.

“He is an intense man, a ball of fire. We’re going to have the meeting room repainted because he was peeling the paint off. Very exciting watching him coach. Learned a lot of football after just one day, I did, personally. I know our players did even more. Beyond excited. Thrilled.”

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Michigan has a new linebackers coach in Chris Partridge, who moved into the role from the recruiting staff after defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin left for Maryland to become head coach. And Harbaugh’s most recent hire, Brian Smith, replaces Greg Jackson, who left for the Dallas Cowboys. Smith played for Brown at UMass and comes to Michigan from the Eagles, where he was assistant linebackers coach.

“Good man, somebody Don Brown coached when Don was at UMass,” Harbaugh said. “We interviewed three candidates, talked to others on the phone, thought Brian was the best fit. He’s a very good teacher, a heck of a good guy, experienced at the highest level”

Injury updates

Receiver Jehu Chesson and defensive tackle Ryan Glasgow are at spring practice but it’s not clear when they will be full-go.

Chesson suffered a leg injury in the bowl game, and Glasgow had surgery late last year for a pectoral injury. Glasgow missed the last four games last season. The two were doing conditioning drills together on Monday off to the side of the practice fields.

“We’ll see,” Harbaugh said. “Ryan had a procedure and Jehu had something he got in the bowl game he’s recovering from. Shouldn’t be out real, real long.”

Receiver Drake Harris missed Monday’s practice, and on Twitter he revealed he had the norovirus. He is expected to practice Tuesday.

“One-day thing sounded like,” Harbaugh said.

Transitioning to Nike

Michigan’s apparel contract with Adidas doesn’t expire until August, but several Michigan players are wearing Nike cleats during spring practice.

Michigan will be outfitted by Nike once the Adidas contract expires. A UM official said Nike shoes were purchased so players can test them “periodically through the spring.”

Play ball!

Harbaugh is expected to coach first base for the Tigers during their game at the Pirates’ McKechnie Field in Bradenton on Wednesday afternoon. He also might coach first for the Pirates, since he is friends with Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, a Big Rapids native and big Michigan fan.

“I’m excited about that, looking forward to it,” Harbaugh said. “If you’re going to do both teams, I’m going to have to learn both team’s signals.  I will take that very seriously, coaching in a big league game.”

The Michigan players do not practice Wednesday and have the option to attend the baseball game.

‘Sober, healthy, productive’

Harbaugh on the players enjoying spring break in Florida this week: “We want to be the team that has spring break in a first-class manner. That’s a goal for us. We’re going to have a sober, healthy, productive spring break.”

The players headed to the beach after Monday's practice.