The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Wednesday, March 16,2011 - 7A
Strength coach Aaron Wellman Hoke begins practice
sets tone for Hoke before spring
By TIM ROHAN
Daily Sports Editor
Brady Hoke had a stern message
for anyone who underestimates
the impact of Aaron Wellman:
That'd be a mistake.
"I hope you don't," Hoke
warned. "I hope you don't."
Michigan's new director of
strength and conditioning has
been with Hoke for the past seven
years, including stops at Ball State
and San Diego State. And while
Hoke has to wait until Satur-
day when spring practice starts,
Wellman has already started the
process of transforming the Wol-
"He gets more time than any-
body to be with your players
because of the NCAA restric-
tions," Hoke said. "That guy has to
be your right hand, in my opinion.
There's not a night I don't talk to
him, wherever I am, to see how
the day went. Because he's with
the guys - he's with the kids.
"They've gotten better. (The
reports) weren't so nice early, but
they've gotten better."
Defensive coordinator Greg
Mattison described Wellman as
an "everything" guy - not just
strength or speed.
He's teaching Hoke's guys dis-
cipline and accountability before
the coaches get their hands on
them. On the first day of winter
conditioning, Wellman had the
players go through a simple run to
the line, as Mattison described it.
And Wellman made some players
repeat the drill five or six times.
That's the way Wellman oper-
ates: Do it right or go back and do
Before Mattison first met Well-
man, he had already heard sto-
ries elsewhere in the coaching
world about how good this young
strength and conditioning coach
was. So when the two of them
ended up in Ann Arbor, Mattison
MR ISSA M C LAI /D ly
Michigan coach Brady Hoke will guide Michitan in his first practice as coach this Saturday when sprint practice starts.
decided to introduce himself dur-
ing one of Wellman's weight train-
ing sessions - that was a mistake.
Wellman ignored the defensive
coordinator, as if to say, get out of
here, I've got work to do.
"I'm not gonna mess with him
anymore," Mattison said.
Hoke said that to teach account-
ability, ifasingle player is late to an
early morning workoutor run, that
player's whole group is punished.
"That's how you build men-
tal toughness, and it starts with
him," Mattison said. "I've always
believed that in college, if you have
a great strength coach that has the
same mission as your head coach
and the same mission your team
wants to play with, you have a
Hoke said he will be looking
for a few key things from his play-
ers this spring, including attitude,
toughness, effort and accountabil-
ity - all of which canbe learned in
the weight room or duringsprints.
"(Wellman) is incredibly good
at what he does," Hoke said. "Not
from just a strength and condi-
tioning (standpoint), but a mental
standpoint for your team.
"We've been able to have an
attitude (as) ateam that nobody is
going to beat us. And it's an earned
The Wolverines will start
attempting to earn Hoke, Matti-
son and offensive coordinator Al
Borges' respect when spring prac-
All three coaches have main-
tained that they don't wantto eval-
uate the players and form opinions
until they see them hit and play in
In all aspects of the game, Hoke
has preached toughness and said
he expects a certain level of physi-
cality. But how do you measure
"By practicing really hard,"
Mattison said. "You'll see an inten-
sity in our practices, the way it has
to be. And that's a key thing this
year. In the first year of a program,
if you really believe in mental
toughness and if you know that's
what we have to do then you have
to practice that way. It's too late
whenyougetin agame. Otherwise
you're goingto lose those games in
the fourth quarter when someone
Added Hoke: "I think the con-
sistency of hitting and a consisten-
cy of being physical is something
we always look for."
Good news for Hoke, he and
Wellman share similar philoso-
phies in how to prepare a team.
Since the early shakiness under
Wellman's watchful eye, the
Wolverines have already taken
the steps to understanding what
exactly Hoke wants.
"They understand that there's
an ethic that we want to have
throughout the program and how
we want to work," Hoke said. "And
how we want to show up everyday
with energy and the improvement
side of it.
"I think guys have made
improvements. We're not where
we need to be by any stretch. It's
going to be good to get into spring
football and get the football part of
it taught. At the same time, we'll
need the summer to continually
grow as ateam, with the camara-
derie and the accountability and
the physicalness of it."
trying to mold his team
By TIM ROHAN defense.
Daily Sports Editor He has stressed the impor-
tance of teaching the fundamen-
Brady Hoke is already leaving tals and technique that he wants
his mark on Schembechler Hall, his guys to be equipped with. He
just two months after taking the wants his team to play with his
Michigan football coaching job. kind of passion and style - with
Right outside of the team's his fingerprints all over the prod-
locker room is a large red and uct on the field.
white sign that reads: 2,670 - the "There's some guys who have
number of days played a lot of football in some
since Michigan NOTEB0K positions," Hoke said. "Mike
last beat Ohio Martin's played a lot of football,
State. but we have to enhance how Mike
And there are two more num- plays football. We've got to get
bers the Wolverines are paying Mike better. And that's just not
attention too. Staring them in Mike Martin, that's every guy on
the face when they enter Schem- this team - if we want to be the
bechler and again when they kind of team we want tobe, which
enter Al Glick Fieldhouse - their is a championship football team."
indoor practice facility - are It's clear what kind of team
clocks counting down the days, Hoke wants too.
hours, minutes and seconds until "We're going to hit a lot, and
Michigan's next games against then we're going to see where we
Ohio State and against Michigan are asa team," Hoke said.
State. FOUR MORE YEARS? Devin
The countdown to the start of Gardner will have to wait until
spring practice is now down to after his fourth season at Michi-
four days. And Hoke will finally gan to find out whether or not he
get a chance to see his players in will be awarded a fifth-year of
live action for the first time since eligibility and a medical redshirt
he was hired in January. for the 2010 season, according to
"Spring is always important Associate Athletic Director Dave
because it gives you the abil- Ablauf.
ity to have competition," Hoke "You keep the documentation,
said during a press conference you keep the injuries, you keep all
on Tuesday. "There's no entitle- of that information and you can
ment and you got to earn it every- forward that onto the Big Ten as
day in what you're doing. Work you go along," Ablauf said. "But
ethic, your competitiveness, your no determination is ever made
toughness, your mentality that until after that individual's fourth
you play the game with, that's year as to whether he gets a fifth
where it starts. And that's what year."
we'll start doing on Saturday." '" Hampered by a back injury
Michigan's first practice is this throughout the season, Gardner
Saturday, March 19, and the Wol- saw action in three games for
verines' first full day in pads will the Wolverines - but he was still
not be until the following Tues- eligible for the medical redshirt
day. And the annual spring game because he hadn't played in more
will be played April 16 at noon. than four of the first six games or
Between now and then, Hoke any of the final six.
will be transitioning quarterback He was listed as a true sopho-
Denard Robinson and the rest of more on the spring roster that
the offense to a new scheme, and was issued on Tuesday. Hoke pre-
he'll be figuring out which play- viously said the department had
ers he can trust to be physical on filed the paperwork.