Michigan players bask in ‘brilliant’ Florida trip

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News

Bradenton, Fla. – Michigan tight end Jake Butt, who opted to remain for his final year of eligibility rather than head to the NFL, is enjoying this spring break exactly for many of the reasons he decided to stay with the Wolverines.

The Wolverines had concluded their second spring practice in sunny Florida at the IMG Academy, and Butt raved about how much fun he’s having here with his closest friends, practicing the game he loves.

Butt has from the very beginning supported Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh’s decision to bring the team here during the school’s spring break. The Wolverines will have four practices in by the time they head back to Ann Arbor on Saturday.

Harbaugh has been criticized by the SEC and ACC commissioners for having players practice over spring break instead of allowing them time away from football. The players have had non-football activities here – they went to the beach on Monday and have the option to attend the Tigers-Pirates game Wednesday. In addition, because Michigan is front-loading its spring practice schedule, players will have more time to study for exams near the end of the semester.

“I sent out a tweet how I supported this because I saw guys ripping on (Harbaugh) about how this is our free time,” Butt said after Tuesday’s four-hour practice. “But no one asked us. No one asked us how we felt about it. You would have asked me, I would have backed him up right away, and I would really would encourage it for a lot of other people.

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“This first week of spring ball, it’s tough for the younger guys. You’re learning new plays, you’re building that callous of where you’re really sore. You’re doing these four-hour practices (and) we don’t have to worry about that with classes now. All we can focus on is football. We’re out on the beach relaxing.

“It’s unbelievable because not everybody on our team is going to take a spring break to get away or anything like that. We’re away, we’re down here in Florida, beautiful territory, sun shining, not too hot, nice breeze, eating great food with our brothers. I don’t have anything negative to say about it.”

Senior tailback De’Veon Smith also said he’s enjoying the trip.

“For me, it was no big deal, really,” Smith said. “It’s football. It’s what we love. Plus, I’m on my last year, so there’s no time to be joking around going on spring break trips.”

Butt thinks more teams should have spring practice on a trip like this.

“This is great,” he said. “It’s like a free vacation with all your best friends. All of my best friends are on this team. We were just hanging out on the beach (Monday) eating wings, eating tacos. I think more teams should do it, honestly. You get to knock out four practices when you don’t have to worry about classes and studying. It’s a great idea. I think it’s brilliant by coach Harbaugh.”

He’s not concerned with the criticism.

“I’m not worried about what anybody else thinks, honestly,” Butt said. “We’re just doing what’s best for us. What everyone else thinks, that’s their opinion. They’re allowed to have their opinion. We’re just doing what’s best for us.”