ANN ARBOR — Roy Roundtree took advantage of the Michigan football team’s bye week. Not in the customary way that some of his teammates took advantage of that down time.
Instead of kicking back and taking a few rare moments to relax and take a break from the weekly ground, Roundtree ran, and ran some more.
Sidelined during preseason practices after he underwent arthroscopic knee surgery in the first week of August, Roundtree returned to the Wolverines’ lineup in time for its season opener Sept. 1 against Alabama.
Yet he didn’t feel he was in the same shape he was in when he began fall camp. After Michigan’s 13-6 loss Sept. 22 at No. 9 Notre Dame, Roundtree returned to campus and asked Michigan’s strength coaches for extra conditioning.
“Now, I’m getting back into shape,” said Roundtree, who has eight catches for 72 yards and a touchdown in four games this season. “Not where I was at. But I’m getting there.”
The Wolverines (2-2) open their Big Ten Conference schedule at 4 p.m. today at Purdue, where Roundtree originally committed to play college football in 2007 before he made an 11th-hour decision to sign with the Wolverines in February of 2008.
Michigan still maintains its goal of winning a conference title.
“It’s zero-zero right now,” Roundtree said, referring to Michigan’s conference record. “Now we know where our mind is set, where we want to get to and what’s our goals.”
Instead of preparing for a Saturday game, Roundtree believes the temporary schedule change gave the Wolverines some perspective in preparation for resuming their schedule.
“In this bye, we just learned a lot of things,” Roundtree said. “Getting back in shape. Coach had us come in and run extra, and I feel like it’s just going to help us adjust to the game. Instead of being tired out there, we’ll be more in shape.”
Roundtree’s initiative is something that’s trickled down to the rest of Michigan’s receiving corps. After Michigan’s loss to Notre Dame, the fifth-year senior pow-wowed with the rest of Michigan’s receivers and issued an edict: Any slacking off or loafing in practice, and you’ll be required to do extra running to make up for the lack of effort.
“All the wide receivers, we’ve got to hustle to the ball and to the end zone after a catch,” Roundtree said. “Even if a run is called, you’ve got to run to the end zone. I feel like if we don’t run to the end zone, then it’s alright to loaf. And how many loafs, then that’s how many gassers you have to run.”
In making that decision, Roundtree fell back on the example Michigan’s receivers set last season, and his own less-than-stellar example.
“I felt like I wasn’t doing that during through the season and it kind of showed, through film,” Roundtree said. “We’ve got to put that back in through practice. Even though it’s going to be hard, in practice, because you get so many reps, in a game you’ll just be used to it. I feel like we had to do that. Because seeing us on film, man, it was terrible.”
That kind of initiative has stood out to Michigan coach Brady Hoke.
“He’s been a guy who you can count on any time, whether it be on special teams, whether it be when a team run whatever it might be,” Hoke said. “Roy’s leadership and his commitment to his teammates, those are things that stick out to me.”
Contact Rachel Lenzi at: email@example.com, 419-724-6510 or on Twitter @RLenziBlade.