Dec. 24, 2012
The University of Michigan football team touched down at Tampa International Airport at 1:35 p.m. EST on Sunday (Dec. 23). The Wolverines begin their bowl trip with a four-day stretch in Clearwater before moving locations to their official bowl hotel in Tampa Bay on Dec. 26 in preparation for a match-up with South Carolina in the 27th annual Outback Bowl on Jan. 1 at 1 p.m. EST.
"This is an exciting place to be," said head coach Brady Hoke at the arrival press conference held at the team hotel. "The hospitality we'll have here in Clearwater and then in Tampa is going to be exciting. It is fun to be at a good bowl game, and to play a great opponent is even more challenging."
Upon arrival in Clearwater, the Wolverines hit the practice field at Bright House Field, the spring training home of the Philadelphia Phillies, for a short, unpadded practice. The squad got acclimated to the Phillies' complex during a chilly workout that ended shortly after 7 p.m.
"It was a good night coming out here, kind of chilly from what I've heard about Tampa, but it was a good night in starting our preparation," said senior defensive lineman Will Campbell. Every time we step on the field there is a plan -- we came here to win a game, this is a business trip. We can have fun when we need to."
U-M began day two of preparation for the Outback Bowl with 8:45 a.m. meetings on Monday (Dec. 24) before departing for Bright House Field for an 11 a.m. practice. The Wolverines wore pads for the first time while in Clearwater and worked out for nearly an hour and 45 minutes in the midst of on-and-off rain showers.
Following practice, several players met with the media before the team boarded buses back to the hotel for a beach party hosted by the Sheraton Sand Key. Players, the student and support staffs and families enjoyed Clearwater Beach and the Gulf of Mexico during the two-hour get-together while eating hamburgers, hot dogs and other cookout style food. Some players and families enjoyed the pool, while others participated in beach games such as cornhole and horseshoes. Volleyball was the game of choice for many players, including senior Denard Robinson, who teamed with defensive end Frank Clark to challenge a squad featuring kick returner Dennis Norfleet, offensive lineman Joey Burzynski and defensive back Delonte Hollowell.
The team will not practice on Christmas Day but will hold an evening Christmas party for the travel party. The Wolverines will hold their third practice at Bright House Field on Wednesday (Dec. 26) at 11 a.m. before moving their preparations to Tampa Bay.