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Garrett Moores and Ben Bredeson discuss the Rome trip and Spring Practices

While in Florence, Garrett and Ben share their thoughts about the Rome trip, spring practices and more.

Photo courtesy of Garrett Moores

The trip to Rome captured the fascination and attention of many, including some who do not even follow college football or Michigan, more so than last year’s trip to IMG Academy.

This trip was all about the experiences and team bonding. Having the chance to see the Pope up close in Vatican City and take in all the history of Italy is definitely high on many bucket lists.

For guys like Garrett Moores and Ben Bredeson, this past week turned into one of the best weeks of their lives, thanks to the Michigan football program and one donor that made it all possible.

Maize n Brew caught up with the two while in Florence before going their separate ways later this week. Over 10 players decided to study abroad after the teams Rome trip and take in more of the world. After Florence, Bredeson is heading to Spain and Moores is traveling to Munich with Alex Malzone. Others are heading off to Vienna, Iceland and Belgium before returning to Michigan.

Photo courtesy of Garrett Morres

Initial Rome Trip Reactions

Approximately 90 percent of the players have never been to Europe. Knowing all the planning and logistics that go into a trip like this with approximately 150 total was a task in itself. The two guys helped put me in their shoes after this trip of a lifetime with some of their initial reactions to their experiences.

“I feel blessed to have had this opportunity. This was one of the best weeks of my life,” Bredeson said. “Rome is one of the most historic places in human history. It was a once in a lifetime experience and alot of people will never get the chance to go there.

“It blew me away, the planning behind this trip was incredible, there were no issues; it was perfect. Couldn’t thank Coach Harbaugh and Michigan for giving me the opportunity to go. It was the ultimate team bonding experience.”

Moores agreed, a history buff in his own right, loved being able to see a place where many modern advances came out of.

“I consider myself a history buff, I love history,” Moores said. “For Rome to be considered the basis of modern civilization, I think it was cool to see all the stuff I learned about in school growing up. It was a first class trip. With the opportunity to go study abroad with your friends and go to places like this is a once in lifetime opportunity and I’m very thankful.”

Coordination of Activities and Tours

On a trip that featured so many tours and activities, the task at hand of dividing everyone up was difficult, but Moores explained how it all went.

“We were divided up in to about 10 emperor groups, everyone had an emperor name and about 15 guys per group with a coach as the leader,” Moore said. “Two emperor groups would go together on a tour and every 15-20 minutes each group would go. It ran actually pretty smooth. My group was Vespasian and Ben's was Hadrian, they made a point to teach us about our emperors which was also cool.”

Favorite Day

Bredeson says his favorite day of the trip was when the team went to the Vatican.

“The Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica, and art galleries were unbelievable,” Bredeson said. “It was cool for me to see how a Papal address goes. It was a big learning experience.”

Courtesy of Garrett Moores

“We were in the front section about 10 rows deep and had to have special tickets for that area. It was awesome,” Moores said. “There’s not a lot of stuff that’s restricted, your able to walk through the Pope’s private chapel and did not realize how detailed all the art work was there.”

Moving To Spring Practice Mode

After all of the sightseeing, tours and other activities, it was time to switch back to football mode for spring practices. Moores said the switch was not all that difficult.

“It was pretty an interesting dynamic, you’d think it would be difficult to flip the switch and go to practice after doing 14 plus hours of tours within two days,” Moores said. “I think Coach Harbaugh mentioned this after our first practice, he noticed that morning that a lot of guys flipped that switch and were locked in. After about 10 minutes it felt like a normal practice, everyone was dialed in and we got a lot of meaningful work done.

“Practicing in Italy with mountains behind you and getting the chance to interact with people that might not speak a word of English but have love for the same game you play was a cool experience.”

The Offensive Line

Bredeson is in a position to see an increase of playing time on the offensive line and had a lot of positive thoughts were he feels the group is after the spring practice.

“Everyone’s really stepping into their roles. Pat Kugler has done an incredible job all spring communicating to everyone at center, he had heck of a spring,” Bredeson said.

“So did Cesar Ruiz, made a lot of improvements, it’s his first spring ball, first set of practices in college and he’s improving while learning all the calls. John Runyan has done very well and making a lot of plays out on the field. A lot of guys got better this spring.”

Courtesy of Ben Bredeson

Future of The Kicking Game

Kenny Allen, now a member of the Baltimore Ravens, was reliable in his time with the Wolverines. Despite him being gone from the program, his presence was still felt ths spring.

“We were very lucky to have a guy like Kenny last year that could do all three, he kept us in a lot of games last year,” Moores said. “He was a good leader and helped some of the younger guys along. I think its pretty much evident how our spring went.”

Quinn Nordin, Kyle Seychel and Ryan Tice are all in the mix to kick this fall, and no player is has really separated themselves.

“How they performed this spring, any team in the country would be lucky to have anyone of them,” Moores said. “Will Hart has done a really good job and most consistent special teams guys throughout the spring.”

Courtesy of Garrett Moores

Stepping Into A Leadership Role

Garrrett was awarded the 2016 Mortell Holder of the Year Award and shared his acceptance speech back in December in a humorous video he posted to his Twitter account.

Now, he is one of the elder statesmen in the room and he is ready to be a leader of the special teams units.

“I think the leadership role has certainly come natural and I’ve had meetings with coaches,” Moores said. “They’ve expressed to me that’s one of the most important things I have to take on this year is keeping guys calm that have very little game experience and see how we do it.”

Planning of Future Trips Abroad

Anytime Jim Harbaugh and Michigan do something unheard of, everyone naturally asks what comes next.

“I think they have the future ones set out, but Greece would be cool, maybe Iceland. Rome and Italy was the perfect one, but places that guys may not necessarily have a chance to go in their life,” Moores said.

“Coach Harbaugh is kind of seen as the pioneer in college football right now. I think and hope more that college football teams would give student-athletes opportunities like this since they are limited by not able to do programs like study abroad, which kind of limits the college experience a bit and normal student life.”

Courtesy of Garrett Moores

Bredeson says the experience truly was a once in a lifetime type of thing and that these opportunities should be more readily available for college athletes and students in general.

“I’ve always wanted to go to Europe since high school, but once I started college football I didn’t have the time,” Bredeson said. “It was an unbelievable experience. Every kid should have the opportunity and hope these trips stay around for awhile and become more prevalent.”

We will see how this helps the team on the field in 2017, but at the end of the day, the opportunity to bond as men and experience new things was too good to pass up. College athletics has a way of being a one-way street, but Michigan providing an added benefit to its student athletes is positive, no matter what the naysayers do.