Harbaugh, coaches host youth football camp at McDaniel
The crescendo of clapping had reached its peak, rhythmic noise surroundingJohn Harbaugh as he exhorted hundreds of football players to get even louder.
And then the Baltimore Ravens coach changed gears, asking for noclapping after previously directing them into a numbered series of claps.
While conducting the inaugural Ravens football camp at McDanielCollege along with his coaching staff Saturday morning, Harbaugh was greeted bysilence with no one falling for the break in the routine.
"I was shocked," Harbaugh said later. "All theseyears of coaching and never has a group gotten that right with no claps. It'salways a smattering of claps and somebody not paying attention. I was stunned.They really listened. Even the young kids got it right."
Addressing 400 Carroll County youth and high school footballplayers at a clinic sponsored by Under Armour that included football drills,Harbaugh delivered a message of life lessons of perseverance, teamwork, respectand having fun.
"A team is tight and tight-knit," Harbaugh said."Nothing can separate a team, not anybody on the outside or the inside.There's nothing like this great sport to learn life lessons, and one of thoselessons is hard work. We're going to have a fun day."
Huddled around Harbaugh after he wrapped up his talk, the playersfollowed his lead when he asked them: "What's our name?
And they responded, just like his NFL players:"Ravens,Ravens, Ravens!"
For Harbaugh, working with the youngsters brought him back to hisroots as a high school player who learned the game from his father, formerWestern Michigan and Western Kentucky coach Jack Harbaugh.
"There's nothing like high school players' raw enthusiasm forthe game," Harbaugh said. "I wonder if I can do this? Can I reallythrow a pass? Can I really tackle someone? One of the great things about footballis it teaches some of the most important life lessons.
"You get knocked down, you got to get back up. You drop apass, you got to go play the next play. You have a great triumph, you score thewinning touchdown. And they don't care about that on the next play. You got tocome back and do it again."
It was a receptive group of listeners, including Manchester Valleyrunning back and cornerback Michael Conaway.
The rising junior caught several passes during one-one drillssupervised by Ravens wide receivers coach Jim Hostler and secondary coach TerylAustin.
"I thought it was really great what coach Harbaughsaid," Conaway said. "He said a lot of things about teamwork anddoing the right things. It was really positive."
At first, Harbaugh thought there were some Pittsburgh Steelersloyalists attending the session because a few South Carroll players werewearing black and gold cleats.
"This is Ravens country," Harbaugh said. "It'sRavens country, all the way up into Pennsylvania. It's Ravens country anywherethere's a Ravens fan is how we look at it."
The camp featured a lot of individual instruction from the Ravens'coaches.
Whether it was offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, defensivecoordinator Dean Pees, tight ends coach Wade Harman, offensive line coach AndyMoeller, assistant offensive line coach Todd Washington, defensive line coachClarence Brooks, running backs coach Wilbert Montgomery, linebackers coachesDon Martindale and Ted Monachino, offensive quality control coach Jason Brooksor quarterbacks coach Jim Caldwell, the players got to work closely withcoaches accustomed to overseeing millionaire football athletes.
And the Ravens' coaches got an assist from over 40 area coaches toteach fundamentals.
"It's a lot of fun, and it's really cool to pull somethinglike this off," Ravens senior offensive assistant Craig Ver Steeg said."This is really well-organized, and these kids catch on fast. The timingis great. It's like being in Owings Mills. We're back in the day here."
Ravens director of player development Harry Swayne wrapped up thesession with a talk about life skills that focused on remaining motivated andbeing accountable.
"The most important thing you can have is character,"said Swayne, a starting offensive tackle on the Ravens' Super Bowl championshipteam. "You need the character to support your talent. Not everybody winsall the time, but that doesn't mean everybody can't be a champion. When I gothere in 1999, there was a defensive player who every other play would say, 'mybad, coach. I made a mistake. I won't do that again. That's on me.'
"I thought, 'This young fellow makes a lot of mistakes, wecan't win like this.' But it wasn't that he made a lot of mistakes. It's thathe was holding himself responsible for his mistakes. That guy happened to beNo. 52, Ray Lewis. You can all see Ray's talent. I'm here to tell you, he's gotjust as much character to support his talent."
The Ravens decided to shift training camp going forward to their$34 million training complex in Owings Mills after previously holding camp inWestminster each summer since their arrival in 1996 until last year followingthe NFL lockout.
Being back in Carroll County for a day brought back memories forHarbaugh.
"When you walk back on campus, you feel like we should be comingback to training camp," Harbaugh said. "The fields look great. We'regoing to miss it here."
The camp concluded with competitions in the afternoon, includingyouth football games and a seven-on-seven tournament for the high schoolplayers.
"There's some football talent there with the high schoolguys," Harbaugh said. "There's some really good players here. There'sa lot of enthusiasm for the upcoming football season in Carroll County.
"These are great kids. They're working hard and they'rehaving fun. That's what it's all about."