ANN ARBOR - Fresh off of Monday's practice, Patrick Omameh looked anything but fresh.
Not afforded time to clean up before addressing the assembled media, University of Michigan's projected starting right guard offered no apologies - although some humor - for his sweat soaked Wolverine football T-shirt that surprisingly remained bright white throughout the entire chat.
"I don't know," Omameh said. "Sweating is kind of my thing."
Ironically, so is gaining weight.
An admitted "little guy" when he arrived to Ann Arbor in the fall of 2008, Omameh has added about 50 pounds to his 6-foot-4 frame. He says the weight is good weight - muscle, not fat - and that despite being in the neighborhood of 300 pounds these days, he hasn't lost any of the speed or explosion that made him an attractive recruit out of Columbus St. Francis DeSales.
"The only way I can tell I'm heavier is by stepping on the scale," Omameh said. "I still feel like, and move like, the way I did when I came in. The strength is evident when I play."
His boss has noticed.
"Patrick Omameh's in great shape," head coach Rich Rodriguez said. "It's the best I've seen him look."
Omameh, along with center David Molk and left guard Stephen Schilling, seem to have three of the five offensive line jobs pinned down. Competition is heavy at both tackle spots, with Taylor Lewan and Mark Huyge battling at left tackle, and the trio of Perry Dorrestein, Huyge and Michael Schofield doing the same at right tackle.
At this time last year, Omameh, then a redshirt freshman, was one of the guys mixed in at the tackle positions. But following weeks of pats on the back from his coaches, Omameh, in part of a widespread shift along the line, got the start at right guard in UM's third-to-final game of the year.
Not only was it his first game action at the position, Omameh had never even worked at right guard in practice. He's now a fixture there, having started those final three games of 2009 before working with the first team all spring and fall.
"Now I feel like I can play either tackle, guard, and if I can snap, center," Omameh said.
After UM's first practice of the year last Monday, an annoyed Rodriguez said that some players did not display a desired level of conditioning. If they didn't improve in that area, Rodriguez said, they would not wear the famed UM winged helmet in the Sept. 4 season opener. Apparently, the punishment was immediate. The Big Ten Network was present at Friday's practice and snapped a photo of quarterback Tate Forcier practicing in a plain blue helmet.
"There is usually more involved than if a guy's out of shape," Rodriguez said Monday. "It's more [about] if he's earned the wings."
Rodriguez said practice opportunities have been dispersed evenly between the three individuals challenging for the vacant kicking job --- Brendan Gibbons, Justin Meram and Seth Broekhuizen. Gibbons, a redshirt freshman, is the only one on scholarship.
"I was a little concerned because there were moments where we did not kick the ball as well, particularly in field goals, but today they did a nice job," Rodriguez said.
Kevin Koger was named Monday to the preseason watch list for the Mackey Award, which is given annually to the nation's top tight end. Koger, a Whitmer graduate, caught 16 passes last year, totaling 220 yards and two touchdowns. His production dipped at the end of the year.
"I think Kevin's very worthy of it," Rodriguez said, adding that he puts zero stock into preseason award lists. "I think he's a very good player. He's in great shape and we expect a good year from him, and [senior tight end] Martell Webb, for sure."
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