One of Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez’s favorite ways to describe early enrollee quarterback Tate Forcier is as a “gym rat”. But Forcier said last week that he is just now beginning to notice his improved strength.

Said Alsalah / Daily

Before coming to Ann Arbor, he said his father advised him not to lift weights on his own in order to avoid improper training.

Under Director of Strength and Conditioning Mike Barwis, that’s no longer an issue.

“Coming here, you’re lifting a 45-plate on each side — it’s kind of pathetic,” Forcier said last week. “(Barwis has) gotten me a lot stronger. You can just tell when you’re running a 40 and everything — you feel different.”

Forcier’s work ethic has extended to his attitude toward the spring game. Rodriguez said yesterday the quarterback has “been begging to be a live jersey,” meaning he can be hit during the scrimmage.

Fans are unlikely to see Forcier without the red numbers on his jersey on Saturday, though. The Wolverines have just two healthy quarterbacks on the spring roster after redshirt junior Nick Sheridan’s recent leg injury, and they can’t afford to lose another. Rodriguez said Sheridan is expected to be healthy by the start of summer workouts.

Sheridan’s return will coincide with incoming freshman quarterback Denard Robinson’s practice debut. Rodriguez said quarterbacks coach Rod Smith has talked with Robinson a couple of times per week during the spring, though teaching the offense has been “hard to do over the phone.”

As Forcier has been making news for his progress and Sheridan for his injury, Robinson has been grabbing headlines in a different state and sport.

On Apr. 1, the Florida native ran the fastest high school time in the country in the 100-meter dash (10.28 seconds), according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. He shattered the previous fastest high school time this season (10.39 seconds).

Robinson’s remarks to the Miami Herald following a race less than a week before he set the record reflect exactly what Rodriguez and the coaching staff should want to hear from a future Michigan quarterback — a relentless desire to improve.

“I was kind of disappointed in myself to run a 10.44, but I will accept that,” Robinson told the Herald on Mar. 29, when he set the second-fastest time in the nation at the time. “I was trying to run a 10.3, but there was strong wind. I’m working harder on it and expect to hit a 10.3 by states.”

He achieved his goal faster than expected, and Rodriguez’s words were consistent with Robinson’s accomplishments when the coach said yesterday that Robinson is a “sharp guy” who learns fast.

“Some guys are track guys and some are football guys, but you want the guys that can translate that speed and he’s fast on the field — that’s why we signed him,” Rodriguez said.

The marketing blitz continues: With the 38-member alumni flag football game roster tentatively set yesterday, the Michigan Athletic Department also announced three new additions to the spring game festivities in an attempt to attract 40,000 fans to Saturday’s game.

Two Michigan students will have the opportunity to kick field goals for prizes, and 40 students will hold the “Go Blue – M Club Supports You” banner before the start of the game. In addition, a pregame ceremony will honor alums who played in last year’s Super Bowl between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Arizona Cardinals.

The flag football game roster, which includes 14 former NFL players, features Markus Curry (2002-04), Scott Dreisbach (1995-98), Rick Leach (1975-78), Aaron Shea (1996-99) and Anthony Thomas (1997-2000).

Former wide receiver Ron Bellamy (1999-2002), who will be participating in the alumni game, said at yesterday’s practice that the buzz surrounding this year’s spring game is already different from when he was a Wolverine.

“I like the marketing idea, helping get the fans involved in the game, let them see what the players go through,” Bellamy said. “Every fan is interested in that, and I think that’s important to keep the interest in the game. Michigan football is going to sell itself, but I think it’s special that you’re allowing the fans to be a big part of it.”

Stand in line: Yesterday was the first of the Wolverines’ six open spring practices held indoors. But the flurries, biting wind and mid-30 degree temperatures didn’t stop the offensive and defensive linemen from running position drills outside on the turf.

And though the linemen were the only ones working on the snowy field, the offensive line was looking pretty cramped for space.

This year’s line provides plenty more options than last, and Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez has consistently said the team could potentially boast 10 solid offensive linemen this season. Redshirt freshmen Ricky Barnum, Rocko Khoury and Patrick Omameh traveled with the Wolverines last year, and all three were almost ready to play as true freshmen. Rodriguez said on Mar. 15 that redshirt junior Steve Schilling has been one of the best performers during spring ball, an accomplishment that isn’t surprising considering his role as the leader of last year’s offensive line.

Going into the end of the spring, Michigan realistically has five potential redshirt freshman offensive linemen in addition to eight returning offensive linemen who played in at least one game last year.
But yesterday, Rodriguez praised one player who doesn’t fit into either of those categories — redshirt sophomore Mark Huyge, who has yet to see game action as a Wolverine.

“He’s the guy that’s played guard, he’s played on left side and right side, and he’s practicing like he wants to take that job,” Rodriguez said. “So it’s going to be wide open.”

Notes: Saturday’s spring game won’t be the Wolverines’ last practice — their 15th and final spring workout will be next Tuesday, where Rodriguez said the team will learn strength drills to do during the summer, practice special teams and start looking at the first few opponents of the season. … A number of notable players were in green jerseys at yesterday’s practice, which symbolizes limited action, including junior wide receiver Greg Mathews, junior cornerback Donovan Warren and senior running back Brandon Minor. Rodriguez said Minor and Warren’s green jerseys were “more precautionary than anything else.” Sophomore nose tackle Mike Martin, who Rodriguez said has been “banged up” lately, also sported a green jersey during practice.

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