The Wolverine

June July 2018

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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JUNE/JULY 2018 THE WOLVERINE 19 Harbaugh insisted they would. "I spent a little over a month in Eu- rope last time, and it was probably one of the best months of my life, just be- cause I was on my own, forced to do my own thing," junior offensive guard Ben Bredeson said. "I survived, made friends, just learned how to be an adult and grow up. "This is the biggest team camara- derie event I've ever seen. It's really important to next year." FROM LIGHTHEARTED TO EMOTIONAL They weren't the only ones who ben- efited. The Wolverines had 300 open- ings for a morning football clinic on Saturday, April 28, and Magee told the media in attendance the spots filled up online in three minutes. Harbaugh drew plenty of attention, but the French players were into it from the get-go, watching the Michigan coaches demonstrate different drills through their players. There were a few Americans there, too, including a former quarterback from Northwest Missouri State now playing Division I football in France. It was a thrill for him to meet Harbaugh, and he even threw with the Michigan coach for several minutes, with Har- baugh proving he still has it. "I never lost it," he said with a grin. The players ended the three-hour clinic with impromptu games of soccer against a group of refugees. Patterson came up with some big saves in one of them to the delight of his teammates. From there it was off to the Louvre and a guided tour. They saw the heavy hitters on a three-hour tour — Venus de Milo, the Mona Lisa, Winged Vic- tory, etc. — before departing for Notre Dame Cathedral. Even in France, Har- baugh ran into some Michigan stu- dents studying abroad, and he took several minutes to speak with them and pose for pictures. New receivers coach Jim McElwain was in awe inside the cathedral, mar- veling at the experience. Several of the Wolverines took pictures, while some lit candles in the church. The long day ended with rest for the visit to Normandy on tap for the following morning, the "bucket list" portion of the trip for not only Har- baugh, but also several of the players. Bredeson, for one, is a World War II history buff, and he knew plenty about the site even before he knew his team would be heading there. They listened intently at the D-Day Museum in Caen April 29 before head- ing to the beaches where thousands of allied troops died fighting for freedom against the Nazis. It was a cold and wet Sunday morning, and an emo- tional one on the beach. A 20-minute movie they'd watched at the museum was graphic and sobering, and it set the scene. Junior offensive guard Mi- chael Onwenu stood up when it was over, but had to sit down for a minute to gather himself. "It's emotional, man," he said, while redshirt sophomore quarterback Bran- don Peters patted him on the shoulder and consoled him on the way out. The players spent several minutes in the blustery conditions overlooking the beach at Arromanches, and it was clear they understood the enormity of the sacrifice. "It put our freedom in perspective," redshirt sophomore offensive guard Stephen Spanellis said quietly. "The fate of the free world rested on this beach, and if those men hadn't sacri- ficed themselves in order for us to get this foothold, we'd probably all not be free right now. The Germans really had momentum." A visit to the American Cemetery proved just as emotional. Walk-on run- ning back Tru Wilson, whose father is a Marine, and Naval Academy grad Magee carried one of the American flags on the way to the cemetery. They folded the flag military style after the march to the statue honoring fallen soldiers, where flowers are laid — Bredeson and redshirt junior offensive tackle Grant Newsome carried a block M arrangement and placed it carefully at the base, and exchanged a nod and a quick hug afterward. "Taps" and "The Star Spangled Ban- ner" followed a short ceremony … on this day the flowers were laid to honor Thomas Howie, a 24-year-old former football player for The Citadel. The French guide explained how Howie had been a football standout, once leading an upset of Clemson. "It's truly a blessing, an honor and a privilege for our team to come here and pay our respects to those who fought so courageously, won so much for the U-M players were moved by what they learned about the beach at Normandy, where thou- sands of allied troops died fighting for freedom against the Nazis. PHOTO BY CHRIS BALAS The Wolverines placed flowers at the statue honoring fallen soldiers at the Normandy American Cemetery. PHOTO BY CHRIS BALAS

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