Older Michigan Players Seeking to be Role Models for Younger Wolverines

Older Michigan Players Seeking to be Role Models for Younger Wolverines

Football

Older Michigan Players Seeking to be Role Models for Younger Wolverines

ANN ARBOR, Mich — Back in the day, when a prominent Michigan player graduated, there was no question that whoever was stepping in would be just as good — if not better.

That came, in large part, from the standard set by the players who have come before.

Now that the Wolverines have somewhat found their footing under head coach Jim Harbaugh, and are back to (mostly) beating the teams they’re supposed to, that practice has become the norm once again.

With the 2018 season fast approaching, and with only a week left in fall camp, older players are doing what they can to make sure their voices are heard, and help those who need it most — the more inexperienced players who need that extra boost to help them become great.

“I realized I’m the older guy in the room,” senior wideout Grant Perry said. “I’ve put it upon myself – if I’m not going to be vocal, then who’s going to be vocal? Jehu was vocal with me (and) he’s doing pretty well now, so I’m just gonna do what he set – follow the trend.”

Perry isn’t the only one, of course, nor is he the oldest of the Wolverines’ leaders.

Cornerback Lavert Hill might only be entering his third season with the team, and it may feel like yesterday that he chose a block M hat over a green and white one on Signing Day in 2016. But he’s not just a starter, but a star now in the Michigan secondary, and he knows that comes with extra responsibilities.

Hearkening back to the era just before him, Hill recalls the leaders of Michigan’s past top-rated pass defense making sure he knew the ropes before he took the field.

“I consider myself a leader in the secondary,” Hill said. “Because I have been a little in the spring. Just talking to them about any questions they may have. Teaching them as Jourdan (Lewis) and Channing Stribling taught me. Carry on the tradition. Just out there like that.”

Third-year tight end Sean McKeon might not be as much of a household name, with only one year of playing experience under his belt, but that doesn’t take away from his position as a leader, either.

In 2017, McKeon led the team with 31 pass receptions, and he has a pivotal redshirt year where he got some experience as well.

Now, he’s looking out for Mustapha Muhammad and Luke Schoonmaker — the two true freshmen tight ends. But, he’s not alone in that regard.

McKeon says that it’s a group effort among the older tight ends to help the younger generation rise to the top. He, Zach Gentry and Nick Eubanks are all imparting their wisdom and knowledge to help the two new players get to where they want and need to be.

“They look good,” McKeon said of the two true freshmen. “Obviously, it’s a little hard to come in and learn the offense in two weeks. They’re doing a good job, they’re learning fast. You can just see that they’ve got a lot of raw talent. Me, Zach and Nick are really trying to help them out, teach them the little things. They’re going to be good.”

How it’s going?

So, what are some of the aforementioned players’ progress reports on the younger generation?

Grant Perry gave updates on several wide receivers and how they’ve come along, Lavert Hill shared how Ambry Thomas is doing, and Khaleke Hudson gave an update on VIPER Michael Barrett.

Grant Perry on Oliver Martin

“Really well,” Perry said. “He’s playing more confident. More vocal as well. He was more of a quiet guy last year, just trying to figure out what to do. I can tell that he’s picked up the playbook a lot, and he’s become a more vocal guy as well. Explosive guy, too.”

Grant Perry on Donovan Peoples-Jones

“You’ve gotta kinda crack him open,” Perry said. “Last year, he was kind of a quieter guy. But, like I said, the camaraderie is a lot better, and he’s definitely spread his wings a lot. So it’s good to see that.”

Grant Perry on Ronnie Bell

“He can jump out of the gym,” Perry said. “He goes and gets the jump balls. He’s explosive, too. Really fast, good hands. And he’s picked the playbook up really well, really fast. You tell him something and he does it right. That’s good to see.”

Lavert Hill on Ambry Thomas

“His footwork got a little better,” Hill said. “He got more confidence because he’s been out there a lot. And just playing with him in high school, I know what he can do. So he can just go out there and be confident, and do what he does.”

Khaleke Hudson on Michael Barrett

“He’s real good,” Hudson said. “He’s very athletic. He’s a young player right now, he has a lot to learn. You can see he’s going to have a great future. He’s fast – I think he played quarterback in high school. He has some versatility to himself. He’s going to be a good player.”

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