The Wolverine

2014 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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THE WOLVERINE 2014 FOOTBALL PREVIEW ■ 163 DB "The thing I love about Jourdan is he wants to be coached — he's not a kid that goes in the tank when you get on him," Manning said. "He's self-motivated and he loves to be challenged, and that fits my coaching style. "Last year, he played a little bit for us, like Channing Stribling, and both of those guys want to get in the mix. They want to be a part of the Michigan secondary and show why they were recruited in the first place. "That eagerness to compete and eagerness to get on the field showed up in the spring with Jourdan." Lewis appeared in eight games defensively in 2013, registering two passes broken up and 17 tackles. He plays the physical, aggressive brand of football the coaches want to employ this season. "He gets his hands on you at the line of scrimmage and disrupts the timing of your route, which is something all great cornerbacks can do," Manning said. "He's working on the technique, but some of it comes naturally, to stay on his receiver's hip, and then he has those instincts to know when the ball is coming his way." Stribling played in seven games a year ago, tallying 15 tackles, and he may have evolved into a regular contributor if not for a slump midseason against Penn State and Iowa. The 6-2, 176-pounder was in position to break up critical passes in each game but watched while the ball sailed through his hands and into the possession of the receivers he defended. "He has to have a short-term memory, 'Snap and clear,'" Manning said. "You have to understand those guys on the other side of the ball are on scholarship, too. They will make catches, make big plays, and the biggest thing for him is to go back and look at those plays, like Penn State, and see why he didn't make them. "It wasn't a matter of him not doing his job because he was in position but there's another element to that, and you have to look at yourself critically — 'What could I have done better?' and attack those weaknesses. We do that as coaches all the time. "Channing has a bright future ahead of him. He has unbelievable ball skills. Being a young guy thrown into the fire, those appearances make you that much better going forward. He has learned from those plays and all of last season, and he'll be better for it this year." Hollowell saw the field in four games defensively last season and has appeared in 20 during his career. He has excelled on special teams, recording the majority of his 12 tackles on kickoff and punt coverage. "He's a heck of a special teams player for us, obviously," Manning said. "He's a guy we called on at different moments to help us get the job done defensively, and I'm sure that will happen this year. "What I love about him is he's a guy that brings his hat to work every day, and he's one of the strongest guys, if not the strongest guy, in the room and one of the fastest; he's a guy we have confidence in." While those five will start camp in the best position to compete for the two cornerback spots, redshirt sophomore Terry Richardson and redshirt freshman Reon Dawson will need big summers to enter the fray. A former four-star, Richardson has the talent, but the 5-9, 172-pounder is still aiming to increase his muscle mass and overall size. The good news is he has added 10 pounds since arriving at Michigan, and five pounds since last year. "We're not harping on him for our sake as coaches, but it's what you have to do to compete at this level," Manning said. "This is Big Ten football, you're playing big receivers and so your strength is a critical part of being able to execute your job. "He's done a better job with that and I continue to push him to put on weight. It's a long season, and what happens is over the course of a year you continually lose weight, and you want a guy that goes into camp as big and as strong as he can be so that when you get to October and November, he can still do his job." The 6-2, 178-pound Dawson was rumored to be a possible candi- date to compete at safety, but the coaches believe his skill set better suits the cornerback position. "He's a really tall, really long guy that will be an issue for receivers at some point, but right now he's still learning the position," Manning said. "It's a little new to him because he isn't a guy hat played a ton of football in high school, so he's still learning the technique and fundamentals of not just corner but football in general. "He has an unbelievable attitude and willingness to learn. I have to keep him from being hard on himself because he wants to be so good and wants to pick things up so fast. I keep telling him it's a process. 'Keep working at it and as long as you have that will and want to everything will fall into place.' "I'm sure he'll help us a lot on special teams this season as the maturation process at cornerback continues because he's a big, long kid that can really run." Someday, probably in 2015, Peppers will be an option at corner- back — unless he's a Freshman All-American safety — but for now, it appears he will start his rookie camp at nickel or safety. "He's champing at the bit to get going; he's excited and just wants to be on the football field, really doesn't care what position," Man- ning said. "In high school, he played cornerback, safety, sometimes played like a linebacker. And a kid with that skill set, he's big enough to hold up against the run and be physical, and he's a phenomenal athlete with the speed, quickness and hands to cover anyone. "He gives us some flexibility because we can throw him in there at any spot, and the biggest thing for us is figuring out where he can get on the field the quickest because you want that guy out there. "Our nickel is going to be a guy that we will blitz, and he could be an absolute stud getting after the quarterback, so we'll take that into consideration. "I don't think the debate is over with between our coaches. Coach Nussmeier wouldn't mind sliding him over there to offense, but it's going to be up to Coach Hoke and Coach Mattison, and we'll have our input on the defensive side of the ball, but the biggest thing is we all want to win football games and we think Jabrill can help us do that. We just need to figure out where he helps us the most." ❑ Sophomore Dymonte Thomas has the most experience of the group of players competing at strong safety, having appeared in three games last season. PHOTO BY PER KJELDSEN 159-165.DBs.indd 163 6/19/14 1:33 PM

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