ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Go ahead and knock on wood, Michigan football fans.
Two weeks exactly into fall camp, things are progressing for the Wolverines, and they’ve managed to stay healthy up until this point. There are two and a half more weeks until the Sept. 3 season opener against Colorado State, but if all holds, then the team should be at full strength, according to head coach Jim Harbaugh.
“Yeah, so another good day today. We’ve done some good hitting, every possible phase and situation — offensively, defensively, special teams. And there are no long-term injuries on the team so far,” Harbaugh said. “That’s something that they work at, that they take care of themselves, they take care of the team.”
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Credit not only strength and conditioning coach Ben Herbert and team nutritionist Abigail O’Connor for getting the team in peak physical form during summer conditioning, but there’s another entity that’s had an impact on this squad this fall.
According to Harbaugh, the team recently heard from all-time Olympic great Michael Phelps, who attended the University of Michigan for a time, but did not pursue a degree. In his discussion, he stressed the importance of taking care of your body, which starts with some minutiae beyond simple training.
“I just had a phenomenal presentation, talk to the team by Michael Phelps, who came in via Zoom, but talked to the team,” Harbaugh said. “Things just continue to ring in my ear and head from that talk, was crystal clear. He told us how he couldn’t wait to get into 105-pounds of ice, waiting for him in a bath. That was going to be the thing he did right after he got done with talking to our team. He talked about sleep, he talked about hydration, water, and somebody that could go anywhere in the world, do any kind of treatment known to mankind — ice, sleep, and hydration with water. Our team has an ice bath waiting for him right now. They’ve got water and then and then getting that sleep. Those are the kinds of things that they take care of themselves. They take care of the team in doing that, but really appreciate Michael Phelps for really embedding that in my mind and in our players’ mind. Talking about the world’s greatest Olympian arguably — no question about swimming and the most gold the most medals of anybody.
“So that was huge. And it was a good message right at the right time to keep our team focused and on track and healthy as can be.”
Of course, there’s still a lot of time between now and the season opener, as well as between then and the end of the season. But, if the players take care of themselves, it gives them a better opportunity to stay healthy for the duration.
As a corollary, Harbaugh was asked who has been the MVP thus far in fall camp, and the one player who missed the entire 2021 season, save for one half, appears to be not only on the mend, but playing his best football as the team readies for the 2022 season.
“Ronnie Bell has been tremendous,” Harbaugh said. “Ronnie does jump out as somebody that — he’s faster, catching the ball extremely well and he’s stronger. He’s been there every day and doing a tremendous job.”