The Wolverine

August 2021

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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AUGUST 2021 THE WOLVERINE 25 mid-1980s, these guys have champi- onship DNA and an understanding of what it takes to win for Michigan. "I like all of them, especially my new coach, Mike Hart," Haskins said. "That's my guy; I love him. He definitely knows what he's talking about. He's been in my shoes before. He definitely is a great coach, and I love Coach Hart. "He keeps it real. He's a great dude to just talk with and learn from, pick his brain … he fills the room with energy. He's exciting." He also hates losing, something there wasn't enough of on the Michi- gan sideline last year. Some of the cancers have left the program, while the remaining leadership is deter- mined to make sure anyone who didn't take losing personally a year ago has a change of attitude in 2021. "Like they always say, some of your biggest defeats become some of your most positive things in the future," Ross said. "You learn from your mistakes; you learn from every- thing you do. "One thing about last year is it was a reality check for us. Of course, it was not the year we wanted. We were losing, all that, but it was a real- ity check. We lost. The environment was not good. Everything was low; everything was bad — and there was COVID on top of all that. It was bad, and it was a tough experience for everybody … not just in the football realm, but in life." The responsibility is on all of them, he added, to let the young guys know what it means to be a Michigan football player, and last year's disap- pointments should only help. "Experiencing that, going through that was the best thing that could have happened to us, honestly, be- cause now we're in the exact position and where we want to be — working, grinding, getting better, all that good stuff," Ross said. "It's going to pay [off]." "That wasn't us at all," Haskins added. "I'm going to be honest — that was ridiculous on our part. But this season is definitely going to be different. I'm highly confident that we're going to do our job on the field, and win games and make plays. "That definitely wasn't us last year. This year is a new year, so more op- portunities this year." Starting Sept. 4 against Western Michigan, the first step on the road to what they hope will be redemption after last year's disappointment. ❏ Michigan's trio of players at Big Ten Media Days in India- napolis talked about the progress in their position groups: RUNNING BACKS Redshirt sophomore running back Hassan Haskins is the projected starter, but head coach Jim Harbaugh said sec- ond-year frosh Blake Corum is also viewed as a No. 1, and Haskins explained why. "He's definitely got some quickness to him — and the power. He's got everything," he said. Weight room pics have emerged of a ripped Corum put- ting in work after hours. Later, a video showed him working on his ridiculous footwork. "He's always been working like that. He just does that; he feeds off it — working out, doing something," Haskins said. "He's always been like that since I've known him. Not too much different." True freshman Donovan Edwards will also be out there on "day one," Harbaugh added. The speedster is a home-run threat who can break one at any time. "Donovan Edwards is going to be a good player, a great player. I can tell and feel that he's been working, grinding like everybody else," Haskins said. "He definitely can be a great player, and I've got confidence that he will. He can do the job. It's going to be exciting to watch. "Everybody we've got now is dominating. I feel like we've got the best running back group in the nation. I've definitely got confidence in them when they get in the game to do what they do. I definitely believe in all of them." LINEBACKERS Redshirt junior linebacker Josh Ross is the one starter inked in at inside linebacker, with second-year freshman Nikhai Hill-Green and true frosh Junior Colson battling be- hind him and redshirt sophomore Michael Barrett. "Mike has gained some weight, but he's still Mike Barrett — still athletic, still can move, all those traits he has," Ross said. "He's getting better, getting more used to being really inside as a middle linebacker — taking on blocks, getting off blocks. "He always had the speed, but one thing with Mike that he's really, really gotten better at is just his focus every day, in my opinion, and being dialed in." Hill-Green one of the hardest working guys he's been around, Ross added. "He has that mindset of, 'I'm a worker,' and always is about it every day and wants to get better. He's going to help us out on defense," Ross said. "He's gotten so much better. It's been a big camp for him, as far as growing and getting better. "Junior is going to be a dog — a dog. His traits are 6-2, 230ish — I don't know exactly how much he weighs. But [he's] fast, got size, young … there's so much time for him to learn and grow. And learning and growing under the great coaches we have, that's going to be a name to know in the future, for sure." DEFENSIVE LINE Some fans worry about the interior line and U-M's lack of depth, but junior defensive end/linebacker Aidan Hutchin- son isn't among them. "Inside, we have a ton of big bodies — [redshirt freshman] Mazi Smith, [sophomore] Chris Hinton, Jete [redshirt junior Donovan Jeter]," he said. "Mazi has stepped up. I've seen the most improvement in him in this spring ball … the best I've ever seen him and the best football he's played is right now. "He's going to be a really big asset for us in the season. Just watch. He's going to light it up. He's a really good ball player. He's got the frame and the body. He can do everything. He's just got to do it in the games, and then you guys will see." Hutchinson believes the depth will be just fine. He's also hope- ful second-year frosh Braiden McGregor can help on the edge. "Obviously, he came in with that knee injury. It was nag- ging him a little bit, but I think he's full go now," Hutchinson said. "Things are starting to click more for him. "His progression in his time at Michigan … I've seen improve- ment and more confidence in him as time has moved on." — Chris Balas MEDIA DAYS CONTINGENT DISH ON THEIR POSITION GROUPS

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