Roundtree tries to spur receivers

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Michigan's wide receivers have had their moments here and there in 2012. But the bright spots seem too few and far between, as the unit has accounted for only six touchdowns through four games. And while senior quarterback Denard Robinson's completion percentage is just at 55 percent, the Wolverines have stated time and time again that it's not all on him.

So senior wide receiver Roy Roundtree decided to do something about it, and starting last week during the bye, the wide receivers ran more in practice per orders from Roundtree. On every play run in practice, the wide receivers are now required to finish their routes or runs all the way to the end zone. If they don't, they run gassers after practice.

"Right now, all the wide receivers hustle to the end zone after a catch or even if a run is called, you have to run to the end zone," Roundtree said "I felt like if we don't run to the end zone, [then it's as if] it's all right to get a loaf."

However many times players loaf, that's how many gassers they run.

It's an example of why Michigan coach Brady Hoke has praised Roundtree'>s attitude and leadership this season. Despite not being named a captain and not being targeted as much as in the past, Hoke said the senior was doing a great job of being accountable and showing younger players how to be a Michigan receiver.

This drill is now helping the rest be accountable, too.

"He has really been a guy we can count on at any time," Hoke said. "Roy's leadership and commitment to his teammates -- those are things that stick out to me."

Hoke said he wouldn't have given Roundtree the No. 21 legacy jersey if it weren't for his leadership abilities. And while he wouldn't let just any player make a rule for a position group, he's happy with how Roundtree has taken a stance.

"If it were something, if he were going to beat them up or something, I think I'd probably have some influence there," Hoke joked. "But the guys know him. They know how he feels and how he goes about his daily life, and I think he expects the same from them -- which is a good teammate."

Roundtree hopes that this will help the receivers get into game shape. He underwent arthroscopic surgery during fall camp and said that he hasn't been in the kind of shape he wants, and while he felt his conditioning and speed obviously needed improvement, he understood that so could everyone else's.

On top of being in better shape, he hopes this accelerates the learning curve for growth in the passing game. Roundtree pointed out timing issues and route-running as aspects that could benefit from extra sprints, both of which have been struggles for the receivers this season.

He got the idea from last season's crop of senior wide receivers, including Junior Hemingway and Martavious Odoms, who did the same thing last year.

"Last year's seniors did that and I felt like I wasn't doing that during the season and it kind of showed through film, guys not hustling off the ball, including myself," Roundtree said. "So it's going to help us."

And as the Wolverines head into the Big Ten season with the fourth-worst passing offense in the league, Michigan hopes its added intensity and gassers in practice will help move it up in the ranks.

"It's going to be hard at practice because you get so many reps, but in a game then you'll be used to it," Roundtree said. "I felt like I had to do that after seeing us on film."