The Wolverine

2014 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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146 ■ THE WOLVERINE 2014 FOOTBALL PREVIEW the rehab sessions, all did stuff together when the team was practicing, and it really kept our spirits up just to have that close-knit group that was going through similar things. "Everyone was working toward the same goal — to be able to come back the next sea- son, and so we pushed each other." Wormley was one of the first to go down, suffering his injury in an afternoon session on the very first day of two-a-days. A month later, in the 2012 opener, Countess blew out his ACL in the first quarter of Michigan's loss to Alabama. He turned to Wormley for help. "When I got hurt, he had just had his sur- gery so it was nice to ask him, 'How long were you down? How are you feeling after surgery?'" Countess said. "I also had an MCL strain and he didn't have that, so it was a little different, and I would always ask the trainers, 'Well Wormley didn't have to do this so why do I?' "It was nice to have somebody ahead of you in the recovery process with the same exact injury so you know what to expect every step." Game days were the most difficult be- cause the five were de facto cheerleaders, but even that they bonded over, standing close together on the sidelines in using each other's energy to rally the Wolverines. While working back physically may seem strenuous, the challenge to recuperate men- tally and emotionally was greater. Wormley didn't speak to a team psychologist, but he found comfort and confidence in the shared experiences with his injured teammates. "Mentally you're drained. Physically you're exhausted," he said. "You're on crutches for the first four weeks and those guys are there for you, know what you're go- ing through, so when you're having a tough day those guys would pick you up, and then if I saw Blake having a tough day or Chris, I'd say something to encourage them. "Having that support system in place was key because we all made sure that we were in good spirits and working hard to get back. "Hearing where they were at in terms of their mental confidence would help boost me. I really don't think I would have made it back as quickly and as strong as I did with- out those guys." Following In The Footsteps Of … Josh Williams (1996-99) Why Williams: Like the native Texan, Chris Wormley enters his redshirt sophomore sea- son playing the three-technique defensive tackle position next to a nose (in Williams' case, classmate Rob Renes). The player at the three-tech is asked to be more of a play- maker and Williams was, recording seven sacks and 11 tackles for loss in 1997. Williams was noted for his incredible burst after the snap, using that quickness to split gaps and hit the ball carrier before he could even take two strides. That is a physical trait that Wormley shares, while they also share similar frames, with Williams 6-3, 270 pounds going into his redshirt sophomore campaign and Wormley measuring 6-4, 292. What it could mean: It's far too presump- tuous to guarantee that Wormley will have the same impact in his second season that Williams did, but the Toledo native is ahead of the Texan in one regard, having appeared in 13 games and tallying 4.5 tackles for loss in his redshirt freshman year. Williams played in 11 games but had just 13 total stops on the year, none behind the line of scrimmage. Williams benefited greatly from the pres- ence of Renes inside, and dominant defen- sive ends in Glen Steele and James Hall, not to mention linebackers and defensive backs that didn't give quarterbacks many places to go with the ball, and it remains to be seen if Wormley will have the same assistance from his fellow defenders. Overall: The potential is there for Worm- ley to follow the career arc of Williams, to emerge as a key playmaker for U-M this fall, and to develop into a leader for the defense down the road. It's not a sure thing, and caution is required when comparing any current Wolverine to a former standout, but there are enough similarities for fans to be hopeful. — Michael Spath In Michigan's 43-40 quadruple-overtime loss to Penn State last season, Wormley posted a sack and two tackles for loss, and he also was able to play without a brace on his right knee for the first time in more than a year. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL "He worked really hard not only to come back from the injury but to become a better player, stronger, smarter about the defense while he was rehabbing. To see it pay off was really special for all the guys because we know exactly what he went through." BLAKE COUNTESS ON WORMLEY 144-147.Chris Wormley.indd 146 6/19/14 1:14 PM

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