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Published: Tuesday, 8/10/2010

UM coach Rodriguez appoints permanent captains

BY RYAN AUTULLO
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

ANN ARBOR - For the first time under coach Rich Rodriguez, University of Michigan's football leader will navigate the season with permanent captains at his side.

At the request of the program's senior class, Rodriguez has appointed two captains for the upcoming season, the UM coach said last night following the Wolverines' first practice of preseason camp. It was revealed later in the evening via press release that seniors Stephen Schilling and Mark Moundros will be Rodriguez's first full-time captains.

This information is pertinent because it breaks Rodriguez tradition while reverting back to UM tradition. In 2008, his first year at the helm, Rodriguez drew the ire of some alumni and fans of the program when he bucked a UM mainstay by not naming permanent captains and instead awarding the honor on a game-by-game basis. That arrangement was done, in part, so that many Wolverines could beef up their resume with the honor.

Schilling, the starting left guard, and Moundros, who is jumping sides from fullback to linebacker, earned the distinction based on a team vote.

Two other nonpermanent captain spots will be awarded prior to each game. If there are any worthy candidates, Rodriguez said he will name two additional permanent captains at season's end.

"I thought it was a pretty neat concept and I thought if we had the right two guys to vote on it would be a good thing," Rodriguez said.

Although "quite a few" players arrived to camp in good shape and a "handful" in OK shape, Rodriguez said some others showed a lack of conditioning Monday. Rodriguez wasn't the least bit happy about it, evidenced by him opening his news conference by calling out those players - though not by name.

"If they don't [improve their conditioning] they will not have the opportunity to wear the winged helmet on Sept. 4 [in season opener against Connecticut]," Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez hinted that none of the culprits was freshmen because "our expectations for freshmen for their first session at this level is never going to be very high from a standpoint of being ready physically."

Rodriguez added that the offensive and defensive lines, along with slot receiver Kelvin Grady, appear to be in good shape.

Rodriguez did not expound greatly on the quarterback situation, playfully dodging an inquiry into which of the three - sophomores Denard Robinson and Tate Forcier, and freshman Devin Gardner - took the first snap with the No. 1 offense.

Media members were denied access to Monday's session, and that ban is not expected to be lifted all season.

"It's a secret," Rodriguez said. "We had four quarterbacks and four centers lined up, and they all took first snaps together."

Last week, UM's student publication - The Michigan Daily - quoted senior Troy Woolfolk questioning Forcier's commitment to the program. Rodriguez neither confirmed nor denied Woolfolk's accusations that Forcier was absent for several voluntary offseason workouts. Rodriguez also did not criticize Woolfolk for speaking out.

"I'm glad our seniors are taking some ownership and leadership of this team," Rodriguez said. "They want everybody to work as hard as they have, and I don't blame them for that."

Rodriguez was impressed with the punting Monday of freshman Will Hagerup, who was one of the highest rated recruits nationally at his position.

"Will Hagerup, I think, will be what we thought," Rodriguez said. "He's got a very powerful leg. He's a good athlete. If he progresses like we think, he should be the guy against UConn."

Rodriguez was generally pleased with the newcomers as a whole, noting that he didn't see them make "a lot of big, major mistakes."

"I'll watch the film tonight and tell you better, but I think it's a sharp group from a football standpoint," he said.

More than at any other position, Rodriguez is looking for freshmen to help at safety.

Contact Ryan Autullo at:

rautullo@theblade.com

or 419-724-6160.



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