Ron Bellamy ready to bring 'energy' as Michigan's new receivers coach
Just before first-year Michigan receivers coach Ron Bellamy hit send on a get-to-know-you group text to his players, he called the veteran, Ronnie Bell.
Bell has led the team in receiving the last two seasons and is the leader of the position room. Bellamy, who just led West Bloomfield High to a state championship in his 11th season as head coach, joined Jim Harbaugh’s staff at Michigan, where he played receiver, last month.
Bellamy, appearing this week on the “In the Trenches” podcast with host Jon Jansen, shared that conversation he had with Bell.
"I told Ronnie, ‘Listen. You’re the alpha in this group. You’re the old guy, you’re the most experienced guy, and you have that moxie,'" Bellamy said on the podcast. “When you turn on that film, on Saturdays (when) you watch Michigan football games, you see that he is that guy.
“And me sitting in that same room that these guys are sitting in and understanding what the expectations are for that position, I told him, ‘The torch is passed to you. This is part of the culture of Michigan football, about leadership, about dedication, about making sure you don’t have to be that rah-rah guy, but you can lead by example, do things the right way, because those young guys are watching your every move.'”
Bellamy told Bell that with younger receivers, the veteran needs to set the tone.
"That’s something that I challenged him right away, and he accepted the challenge,” Bellamy said.
Michigan was 2-4 last season and canceled the final three games because of a COVID-19 outbreak. Bellamy said he likes the talent he has inherited.
"I’m excited to get going with these guys, because they’re so ready," Bellamy said. "Last year was last year, and the guys understand that we underachieved. They are ready to erase what happened last year and play at a higher level this year.
"It’s my job to make sure every day I bring the energy. I’m challenging them to raise their game up to another level, and the expectation is I do the same thing every day. I think it’s going to be a great partnership, a great relationship between myself and our receiver corps."
Bellamy and new running backs coach Mike Hart, who most recently coached at Indiana, are among the new additions to Harbaugh’s revamped staff. They’re also former Michigan players.
‘We looked at each other when one of our meetings ended and the first thing we said was, ‘Wow, we’re coaches here at the University of Michigan,’” Bellamy said, referring to a conversation with Hart. “This is home for us.”
The timing was “perfect” for Bellamy. He said he and his family don’t have to uproot from their home in Novi, a 35-minute drive from Ann Arbor, and his kids can remain in their schools. Bellamy said he has had interest the last few years from other college programs, but he felt he had unfinished business at West Bloomfield.
“It was a no-brainer when Coach Harbaugh called,” Bellamy said. “He said, ‘Are you ready?’ I said, ‘I’m ready to come home.’”
Bellamy said becoming a coach wasn’t on his radar when his NFL career ended. Once he was done playing, he visited with his Michigan coach, Lloyd Carr, then retired, and asked what he thought Bellamy should pursue.
“And Coach Carr said, ‘You’re a football coach,’” Bellamy said. “’Football coach?’ That wasn’t in the plan. He kind of drew a plan out for me. He said, follow this path and if you do I think you’re going to enjoy this career, because it’s a career you can impact so many lives and help give kids opportunities that were presented to myself.”
After that conversation, Bellamy said he immediately went home, did some research and went on to earn a master’s degree in education, so he could teach and coach.
He was asked the biggest difference walking into Schembechler Hall now as a 39-year-old assistant coach versus when he arrived as a 17-year-old from New Orleans.
“My first day at Schem, I was worried. I didn’t know what to expect,” Bellamy said. “Now, I walked into that building with my George Jefferson strut. I was like, ‘Man, let’s go, let’s get it.’ I was excited.”
Bellamy is also determined to recruit Detroit and the state of Michigan hard. Having been on the other side as a high school coach, he said he knows the amount of talent in the area, and he has built relationships with high school coaches all over the state. It is important, he said, to keep the best players here.
“College football and high school football, there are a ton of similarities I’m learning,” he said. “One of the similarities, you’ve got to take care of home. This state is rich in football tradition, this state is rich in football history. One of my strengths, I’m bringing energy. That’s my personality. I’m real. I’m genuine. I love building relationships. What better place to do it than the state of Michigan.”