The Wolverine

2013 Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Unfinished Business Taylor Lewan Returned For His Final Season To Win A Title And Leave His Own Indelible Mark A By Michael Spath horde of reporters descended on redshirt sophomore Jack Miller at the conclusion of a Michigan practice this spring. Miller was gregarious, smiling, bantering with his interviewers over their treatment of past Wolverines and the relationship he'd like to enjoy with them. Miller's introduction to the U-M press corps was not unlike the first time fifth-year senior left tackle Taylor Lewan engaged the media, and there, in the background of his younger teammate, stood Lewan, beaming with the pride of a father figure. "I wasn't worried about what Jack would say because he's a smart guy, but I remember four years ago I didn't know the right things to say and I sort of came across as all about myself," Lewan said. "But it's not about you, and while some of the questions leave you no choice, I want the guys to be thinking to themselves, 'How does this answer reflect the best interest of the team?' "I was happy for Jack. He put in the work this spring to really make himself better and to compete for a starting job, and getting some headlines is a reward, but I think by me standing there, I'm serving as a mentor to him, and reminding him that he can enjoy this moment but he also has to keep it in perspective." Lewan might be one of the most interesting personalities that has ever worn the winged helmet. In addition to grabbing the spotlight off the field with his tandembicycle adventures and emceeing Michigan's Mock Rock event — a song-and-dance fundraiser featuring U-M varsity athletes — Lewan bought a pig (at least according to his Twitter feed) this May. However, the Scottsdale, Ariz., native has also matured greatly, growing into a ferocious leader for the Wolverines. "Taylor is going to stay Taylor — you can't change me, but there is a time and a place," Lewan said. "My dad used to tell me that, but it didn't really hit me until recently. "When I'm in our football building I need to be a leader and a role model because I have all eyes on me to see if I do the right thing or the wrong thing, and these guys need to know what the expectations are for a Michigan Man. "I want to win a Big Ten title and that's all I think about. I wake up in the morning asking myself, 'What do I need to do today to make that happen? And how can I get the younger guys to understand that?' I can't slack off for one second. I can still have my fun, but it's time to be serious in the weight room, in film study and on the practice field. "I have a job to do, and if I'm goofing off and not giving everything I have, then I'll look back at the end of my career with regrets, and these younger guys we need are going to think it's OK to act the same way, and it's not. There is a time and a place for Taylor to be Taylor, but it's not when there is a mission to be accomplished." It Was An Easy Decision A 2012 first-team All-American and the Big Ten's Offensive Lineman of the Year, Lewan was a projected top-10 pick in this year's NFL Draft, so when he stepped to the podium Jan. 9, almost everyone in the room expected he would declare for the pros. Instead, Lewan shocked the media and the fans when he decided to return. Six months later, he's even more confident he made the right choice. "I've always felt 100 percent, but after the NFL Combine, and then the draft passed, people stopped asking me about it, and I could just enjoy my decision," he said. "I am so excited about where I'm at, the team we have and the chance we have to win a Big Ten title. "Bo Schembechler said 'Those Who Stay Will Be Champions' and I've never felt stronger about those six words in my life. I know that if I take care of business the way I intend to then I'm going to have opportunities after my career at Michigan is over with, but that isn't what drives me. I 116  ■  The Wolverine 2013 Football Preview Despite being projected as a top-10 pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, Lewan opted to return to U-M to try to win a Big Ten championship. photo by per kjeldsen want a Big Ten championship for this team, this coaching staff, the students and the fans, and for myself." Lewan waited eight days after the Maize and Blue's bowl loss to South Carolina to make his public announcement, and his decision did not come as a surprise to his teammates and coaches. "He wants to win a championship. He wants to be a captain," offensive coordinator Al Borges said. "He said it pretty succinctly at his press conference I thought when he said, 'Have you ever played football at Michigan? Then you know why I'd want to stay.' "He loves it here and he knows it's something he can only do once. When it's done, it's done. Pro football will be there.

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