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Published: Tuesday, 8/7/2012 - Updated: 2 years ago

Intensity key for UM in first practice

BY RACHEL LENZI
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

ANN ARBOR -- Jordan Kovacs remembers his first day of practices with the Michigan football team. Yet before he could voice that recollection, he chuckled at the thought.

"That first, first day, I was just swimming in the playbook," said the Clay graduate, who is now a senior safety with the Wolverines. "I had no idea what to expect. Obviously, I took a lot less reps, but I remember that I was just running in circles."

The Wolverines began fall practices Monday, as Kovacs and 15 other seniors began the last of their first days of practice at Michigan. It may have been bittersweet, but Kovacs wouldn't let on to any emotional aspect of it. Instead, he offered some perspective -- a byproduct of his maturity within the program.

"On Day One, you're just looking for guys to give effort," Kovacs said. "We understand that not everyone is going to be right, that it's not perfect, that guys are going to be sloppy. That's kind of what you anticipate, but if guys are going hard, it's good."

Defensive tackle Will Campbell acknowledged the sense of anxiety that came with the start of the preseason. At the same time, he also considered anticipation that comes with the end of the summer.

"Everybody's excited to see what's going to happen, how long we're going to be out there, and everybody's ready to play ball," Campbell said.

When it came to the nostalgia of that final "first day," Michigan coach Brady Hoke offered his seniors a word of advice.

"You tell them after three or four years, it doesn't last forever," Hoke said. "There's always a little difference in their approach, in a positive way."

Michigan opens its season Sept.1 against Alabama in Texas, which leaves the Wolverines with less than four weeks to collectively prepare for the start of the 2012 season.

Through the course of his post-practice media session at Schembechler Hall, Hoke continued to emphasize the fact that his team had only made it through only the first day of practice. Hoke found a few bright spots after his team's first practice session.

"We lined up right," the second-year coach said. "We didn't have too many balls on the ground and we didn't have a whole lot of penalties. Personally, I like it where it's a little chippy, when players can come out with an attitude and compete with each other."

Players practiced in helmets on Monday, and Hoke regarded the start of the preseason as a culmination of the preparation that he, his staff, and his team has done since the start of spring practices and through the course of the summer.

"The veterans are clued into most of it," Hoke said. "You tweak some things on either side of the ball during the course of the spring, and during the summer, you look at some of your opponents and maybe something somebody's doing that fits into your scheme. There's those kinds of things."

Hoke mapped out his goal for this year's team.

"I hope we're a tough football team and a physical football team," Hoke said. "We have a mental toughness in how we prepare, and we prepare at a high level to play fast as a team, which means you're confident and you're knowing what you're doing, and there's a physicalness to it because there's an intensity to it. That's what we would like to see."

Hoke said everyone reported to camp except for one Antonio Poole, a redshirt freshman linebacker from Cincinnati Winton Woods.

Poole has a pectoral muscle injury and no timetable was given for his return.

Hoke also said captains will not be named until within a week of the opening game Sept. 1 against defending national champion Alabama.

Suspended Toussaint, Clark status uncertain

Hoke said tailback Fitzgerald Toussaint and defensive end Frank Clark did not take part in team activities Monday, and Hoke did not have a time frame for their return.

Both were suspended indefinitely: Toussaint in the wake of a drunk-driving charge in July and Clark after he was arrested and charged in June on second-degree home invasion.

Meanwhile, wide receiver Jerald Robinson pled guilty Monday to a misdemeanor charge of malicious destruction, stemming from a February incident. Hoke said Robinson took part in Monday's practice.

Contact Rachel Lenzi at: rlenzi@theblade.com, 419-724-6510 or on Twitter @RLenziBlade.



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