Harbaugh feeding off ‘rewarding, gratifying’ camp tour

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
University of Michigan head football coach Jim Harbaugh shakes hands with attendee Andrew Payne after the Bishop Chatard camp in Indianapolis.

Detroit — Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh and his staff said the harried pace of their satellite camp tour hasn’t been an issue. In fact, they’ve fed off it.

Harbaugh and his assistants worked the Sound Mind Sound Body Academy on Friday at Wayne State and will hold a youth camp at Michigan on Saturday before hitting the road again for camps.

“There’s such a joy you get out of it,” Harbaugh said Friday. “St. Francis was right — in the giving you receive. Some people question it, like, ‘How you guys doing it? How you holding up? It’s got to be such a grind.’ I can’t even relate to that word grind as it relates to football and being out there with youngsters who have the same look in their eye and the same passion and love for football that we do. It just resonates so much.

“We’ve been around so many camps around different states and you see that passion and joy for football and now to come back home and to see that same look and that same passion and joy for the game of football. It’s so rewarding and gratifying. Grind? No. Grind, I have no understanding because we do what we love, this is what we love to do. We love to coach, we love to teach.”

The staff has been working the camps at a dizzying pace, and sometimes, as is often the case when they’re on the road recruiting, they forget where they’ve been and where they’re heading.

“My wife said to me, ‘Where have you been? What schools?’” Michigan defensive line coach Greg Mattison, who said he has worked 15 camps, said Friday. “I said, ‘I don’t know, I forgot.’”

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Offensive coordinator Tim Drevno has had similar conversations.

“Somebody asked me, ‘Where you been?’ I said, ‘Uh, let me think about it for a second,’” Drevno said, laughing.

If they weren’t on the road going to camps, Drevno said he would be in the office putting together installs for the upcoming season and studying opponents. But he hasn’t missed out on that, either.

“We’ll sit on an airplane and do work, too,” Drevno said. “There’s really no down time. You just keep working and multitask.”

Mattison said he did 15 camps in nine days and the responses at each camp have been consistent.

“It’s been great,” Mattison said. “It’s everything that Jim said and we wanted it to be. We’ve had a chance to work football fundamentals with so many kids, and they’ve loved it. That’s why we do this. Recruiting is recruiting. It’s really about helping kids. There are so many kids we had at these camps that would have not have done this had we not done it. That’s really what it was all for. You go to Mississippi and you come out and kids are lined up everywhere to come to the camp and then you get on a plane and you go up to New Jersey and there are 750 kids there. And it’s all organized and they’re working hard.

“It’s to get kids to stay active in football. One of our messages as we teach at each one, ‘Take what we taught you here, grab a buddy or a teammate and do that otherwise, all you do in the offseason is lift weights.’ Now you’ve got football fundamentals and it keeps them interested.”

Harbaugh is seeing the rewards for what he set out to accomplish.

“Got a wonderful text today, it makes you feel great and it’s very gratifying,” Harbaugh said. “Yeah, I think everybody is seeing the good. Not everybody, but a lot of people. The ones that count, the student-athletes, the football players who have a great joy of play football. Where else would they rather be? That’s the message that’s coming back.”