The Wolverine

December 2018

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Page 27 of 67

28 THE WOLVERINE DECEMBER 2018 BY JOHN BORTON J osh Metellus and his team- mates appear masters of self- motivation. From Michigan State's 2018 attempt at intimi- dation to Penn State's last-second touchdown in a 2017 blowout, the Wolverines seize on something and propel themselves to victory. The junior safety and his secondary brethren engage in a seemingly mas- ochistic ritual every week, providing more than enough mental ammo for blasting the next hapless victim. They re-watch the Notre Dame game. The nails-on-a-chalkboard begin- ning to a soaring fight song of a season seems an odd choice, on the surface. After all, it's the only dent through 11 weeks of football, a game in which Metellus spent his time in enforced spectator status. That's the point, Metellus insists. "It's motivation to give it your all the next week," he said. "In football, you've got to learn from your mis- takes, learn from the past, whether it's good or bad. That's what we learned in the offseason — don't mess up the same way twice. We look at Notre Dame like one of our mistakes during the season." Metellus has learned, in so many ways. He is tied for the team lead with three interceptions and ranks third with seven passes defended through 10 game. His 34 tackles rank fifth among Wolverines, and he's al- ways in the hunt for the football. He's part of a brotherhood within the brotherhood — three defensive starters from the same high school state championship squad. He wants more and won't settle for less. "He's playing at a high level," Michigan safeties coach Chris Par- tridge noted. "He's practicing at a high level, and that's why he's play- ing at a high level. He's seeing the game really well and seeing how we're going to be attacked really well. "He's taking command. He's way more vocal, and he's finishing plays." Now, Metellus aches to finish a sea- son. A BAND OF BROTHERS Metellus emerged out of Pembroke Pines, Fla., amid a quartet that factors heavily into Michigan's top-ranked de- fense in 2018. His former coach, Devin Bush Sr., serves as a defensive analyst on head coach Jim Harbaugh's staff. Two high school teammates — ju- nior linebackers Devin Bush Jr. and Devin Gil — are fellow starters for the Wolverines. It's a dream scenario, for a trio of prep stars that hoped to perform together on a much bigger stage. Metellus noted he thinks about the unique situation "every day, especially on game days, when we do our warm- ups. "We do our little defensive warm- up, and all the starters are out there," he continued. "We look at each other like, yeah, this is where we're sup- posed to be. It all fell into place for this exact reason, to play here at Michigan on Saturdays and do what we love do- ing — playing football. "You go out there and you know you don't want to let your brother down. We call each other brothers. We don't have the same blood, but we treat each other like we do. We grew up together, and we don't want to let each other down. "That helps us play even harder. That's extra motivation." There were actually more in the Fla- nagan High brotherhood who hoped to stay together beyond their senior- season, Class 8A state championship. Three of them pulled it off, the culmi- nation of a wish that began at the start of their high school careers. "When we were freshmen, that was always a dream," Metellus said. "We wanted to take what we did in high school and take it to the next level. We knew that was a low possibility for that to happen. But for us three to have it happen and have it be at a really prestigious school like Michigan … "We took a visit up here one time, for the first time, and we fell in love. It was a place we could see ourselves playing together. As the year went on, we were like, yeah, let's do it." FULL SPEED AHEAD Josh Metellus Rises Amid Michigan's Dominating Defense

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