With the number of 10-gallon cowboy hats sported by University of Michigan assistant coaches during head coach Jim Harbaugh’s satellite camp at the Gopher/Warrior Bowl in Grand Prairie, inspiration for a country music theme song was not far away.
“Jim Harbaugh came down to Texas, looking for some recruits to steal ...”
Tuesday, Big Blue invaded North Texas as part of the Dallas Showtyme Elite Football Camp, drawing rave reviews from players, high school coaches and fans alike.
This satellite camp tour is one of the first by a northern school traveling to the south, with Grand Prairie being just one destination.
About 250 players showed up to get instruction from most of Michigan’s football staff and to show off their skills to Harbaugh, who naturally was wearing his traditional long khaki pants.
Arlington Sam Houston head coach Anthony Criss brought two players to camp to get a feel for a school outside of the Big 12.
“You could tell he’s a coach’s coach and a players coach,” Criss said. “I liked seeing that. He’s not a rock star. He wasn’t above being with the kids. He actually got in. That in itself is worth the money.”
Traveling to Michigan to camp with the Wolverines is expensive, and players were grateful that the coaching staff was willing to come to them.
“It’s expensive,” Sam Houston junior cornerback Reggie Stubblefield said. “But when they come down here it’s an easy opportunity for us to get noticed.”
The camp did more than just instruct players. Criss said he took notes and will use the instruction in his program.
The hundred or so people that filled the stands of the Gopher/Warrior bowl were not just family of the players on the field. The satellite camp gave Michigan fans in the area the chance to congregate and show their school spirit.
Current Michigan sophomore and Flower Mound native Alexis Brown made the drive from the northern Dallas suburb to get a feel for what practice might be like in “Ann Arbaugh,” as the students have nicknamed the Ann Arbor hometown of the university.
“I think it’s a great way to just show the Michigan spirit,” Brown said. “There’s a lot of people here that don’t have any players on the field that just came to support the team and support the coaching staff. I think it’s a great representation of what Michigan really is.”
She was accompanied by her mother and father, Mike Brown, a Michigan alumnus from the class of 1993. He said he sees no problem in schools holding camps in other parts of the country, because in the end, it’s not about the school.
“The fact that they get exposure to a particular university, in this case Michigan, isn’t as much a big deal as much as they get that exposure and some really good coaching,” Brown said. “I can’t see how that it’s bad for any kid.”
Despite his professional look in a crisp Michigan polo and starched slacks, Harbaugh didn’t hesitate to jump in drills and run zig-zag routes for quarterbacks. He called all the players in at the end of the camp and told them a story out of the earshot of fans and the media, which Alexis Brown wished she could have heard.
“I got close but I couldn’t hear it,” she said. “It was great to see everyone get connected with him. I think he can connect with the players. They started laughing at one point and I wish I could have been in there.”
Harbaugh did not take questions from the media that attended the camp, as NCAA rules state coaches or programs can’t use the media to promote a camp, according to an NCAA compliance official.