On Jan. 23, it was announced that the Michigan football team would be traveling to Italy to hold three of its 15 allotted spring practices at AS Roma’s facilities, ultimately culminating in a scrimmage that would be open to the public.
For roughly 30 Wolverines, though, their European adventure isn’t ending in Rome.
When the announcement was first made, Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh indicated that players would have the chance to participate in international internships or study abroad opportunities following the end of spring camp.
Fifth-year senior holder Garrett Moores, redshirt sophomore cornerback Keith Washington and sophomore offensive tackle Ben Bredeson will be among the group taking advantage of that chance — which offered roughly 10 countries to choose from.
A political science major, Moores will be spending two weeks in Brussels, Belgium along with some of his teammates. For Moores specifically, he will participate in a European Union program that allows him to take part in meetings with security councils, human rights watch organizations and foreign ambassadors.
“I guess you get a notepad and a pencil,” Moores said. “There’s no phones or anything. You get to sit in on meetings and kind of just experience how the EU functions. It’s gonna be great, I’m over the moon about it.”
Bredeson, on the other hand, is using the European trip as a chance to study abroad in Barcelona, Spain — making the journey with four of his fellow offensive linemen and joking that “we’re gonna be sticking out.”
Taking a trip to the Spanish city wasn’t on Bredeson’s radar until the news of the Rome trip came about, but now he has decided to spend three weeks taking classes in the Sport and Society program offered in Barcelona. His plan is to take day trips to Florence, Tuscany and Venice in the days following Michigan’s practices, before heading to Spain on May 3.
As for the social side of things, Bredeson said he’s hoping to see a FC Barcelona game and embrace the isolated experience of being abroad.
“I really just enjoy time by myself,” he said. “I just like to walk around. … Me and mom are always into this, just walking around alone. When I came on my recruiting visits here, I asked, ‘Can I just have two hours to myself?’ I just went and walked around campus.
“That’s what I’m gonna do a lot, is just walk around and see everything by myself, try to take a lot of pictures. I love taking pictures, but I always forget to take them.”
Then there is Washington — the man beating to his own drum and traveling to Buenos Aires, Argentina without any of his teammates. Instead, Washington will take part in the program with fellow students.
Similar to Bredeson, Washington is spending three weeks taking classes in the Sports and Culture program in Argentina, but said he had never thought about going overseas until the Wolverines’ trip to Rome was set in stone. His travel itinerary will be a busy one, as he will have only one day back in Detroit after the trip to Rome before hopping on another plane to Argentina.
Washington said he went to last year’s soccer match between Real Madrid and Chelsea at Michigan Stadium, and that the decision to go to Buenos Aires was partly sparked by his interest in immersing himself in a culture where the sport thrives.
And of course, the Wolverines’ European excursion can’t be completely disconnected from football, as both Bredeson and Washington highlighted how the team’s experience could potentially affect Michigan’s recruiting efforts.
“It’s definitely another example of (Harbaugh) doing something outside the box,” Washington said. “But it’s also him just trying to give us the opportunity to do something that, you know, a lot of us probably wouldn’t be able to do without being a part of Michigan football.”
Added Bredeson: “You don’t see anybody else in the country doing this. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. If a school and a football program can offer it to you, I think that’s an incredible bonus over other schools.”