Once lauded by Brian Griese as the most valuable player of Michigan’s 1997 national championship squad, former Wolverine fullback Chris Floyd was among the participants at the Griese-Hutchinson-Woodson Champions for Children's Hearts golf outing on Sunday. Floyd recently moved back to the area, giving him the opportunity to fully explore all of the changes in athletic facilities and around Ann Arbor.

“I’ve been driving around campus and with the number of buildings that are up since the last time I was here – it’s just crazy,” he explained. “You could get lost. It looks real good. I think that it’s well overdue. We should have done it years ago. I know it plays a very big part of recruiting. Kids come here and go other places, and they could see that Michigan offered a lot. Our tradition is what it is. Our tradition is stronger than what any university can show you. But this is just another added dimension. It’s a really nice place to be right now.”

Michigan’s only Doak Walker Award winner, Chris Perry played for the Wolverines from 2000-03. While blown away by the development since his time in the Maize and Blue just eight years ago, he admits to being impatient in waiting to see the finished product.

“They say there’s a recession going on, but I guess there’s no recession in Ann Arbor,” joked Perry. “They are building everywhere you look. It’s great to see them pumping money into the community. People are out here working. I can’t wait for it to all be finished. It feels like they’ve been working on it forever.

“I’ve gotten to see the progression and it’s still in the process of getting bigger and better. I can’t wait for the basketball facility to be completed and see how everything turns out.”

Former Heisman Trophy winner Charles Woodson was likewise impressed, not just by the changes in athletics facilities, but also by the development throughout the community.

“I was talking to someone earlier and there’s constructional all over this university campus,” said Woodson. “It just shows you that this university continues to grow and continues to get better over time. There’s a lot of things going on to try to make it better for the people that attend this university and for the athletes that attend this university. We’re all pitching in and lending a hand to do it as well.”

A teammate of Woodson’s in the Michigan secondary, former safety Marcus Ray admitted the value of the facilities work, but was the one player to express doubts on the matter. Asked if he wished he had such nice amenities for play and practice when he was in college, his answer was somewhat of a surprise.

“I kind of wish I didn’t,” quipped Ray. “These players are spoiled now. But time changes everything and the world keeps evolving with technology, and people keep building new stuff.  As long as Michigan keeps winning though, I don’t care what the stadium looks like. But right now, our facilities are second to none. I’m proud to see that I was a part of an era that contributed to all of the renovations that have been made.”

Former running back Mike Hart and offensive tackle Jake Long were senior teammates and captains on Michigan’s 2007 squad. While it hasn’t been long since they played for the Wolverines, they have seen great changes in that short time.

“It’s awesome,” said Hart. “It’s something that obviously was needed. Bill Martin started it and Dave Brandon is doing a great job continuing it and just making things better. It shows a lot about the guys that played here. The players are good people. The coaches are good people. And we’ve got some great alumni that give back to make those things possible.”

“It’s unbelievable,” added Long. “It’s all top notch. That’s why people are going to come here. That’s why kids are going to come play football here, because we’re the best university now we’ve got the best facilities too.”

Former head coach Lloyd Carr saw only a handful of physical changes in his time at Michigan, with the stadium construction beginning at the time of his retirement. He was equally impressed by the development he has seen.

“I feel great that our football players and our basketball players are going to come here and have the greatest facilities of anybody in the country,” said Carr. “I think it helps your program, no doubt. It makes a difference in recruiting. If you want to be the best, you have to compete in a lot of different arenas. I think we’ve done that now and there are bigger plans ahead in terms of some of the other sports … it’s exciting stuff.

“To go in that stadium, I don’t think there’s anything like it anywhere in this country. I think we’re still the biggest, but it’s not about size. It’s about the experience that people can have in that stadium. The spirit that’s inspired in there. You have so many wonderful emotional moments and you have disappointments too, but overall, what it does is bring 115,000 people together several times a year, who are all on that particular day in alignment. There’s one goal – to see Michigan win and to help Michigan win. And that’s a special thing.”

 

 
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