The Wolverine

November 2016

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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NOVEMBER 2016 THE WOLVERINE 37   MICHIGAN FOOTBALL though, Asiasi wasn't targeted on this particular play. The ball was supposed to go to fifth- year senior wideout Jehu Chesson, but Asiasi caught redshirt sophomore quarterback Wilton Speight's eye, get- ting open over the middle. The rest goes in the record books. "I sat down right in the middle, and Wilton saw me and popped it right to me," Asiasi said. "I turned around and I saw a whole bunch of people scream- ing. I saw my teammate Jake Butt right there, and I celebrated with him. I defi- nitely took time to look around." Butt's presence in the celebratory moment couldn't have been more fitting for Asiasi. The veteran gives plenty of input into the freshman's de- velopment at this level. "Jake's been like a big brother to me," he said, "showing me the reins of everything, teaching me the offense. He's been really helpful for me. Get- ting little tips from him, making things easier in the offense, has helped me a lot." Butt hosted Asiasi on his official visit to Michigan. The seeds planted on that trip eventually led to a National Sign- ing Day commitment that stunned and delighted close followers of Michigan football recruiting. "Taking time with him and talking to him — really getting down to the nitty-gritty with him — I really wanted to be a part of it after," Asiasi said. "The way he was acting toward his teammates and the people all around him, everybody knew him. "I really liked that about him. He wasn't really boasting about it. He was really humble about it. That's some- thing that attracted me." Fast forward back to the present, and Asiasi has started to make his own mark. Of course, he caught a little good-natured ribbing from the original target of his first collegiate touchdown. "Yeah, he told me I took it away from him," Asiasi said with a laugh, regarding Chesson. "It's all good. We got the play, and we got the 'W.'" Asiasi has experienced a number of eye-opening moments in the relatively short time he's been in Ann Arbor. On the football side, they involve the level of athlete against whom he's compet- ing. In high school, he could physically dominate at his size. Now, he's deal- ing with defenders who are every bit as big and who have been in a college weight program for three or four years, in many cases. "It's funny looking across and see- ing guys bigger than you," he said. "It never really scares me. I like a chal- lenge. Going against those big guys really challenges me and helps me get better every day. "Not only in the game, but in prac- tice, going against Chris Wormley, Taco [Charlton] and all those big guys, it re- ally prepares you for game day." Asiasi admitted that football isn't nearly as big in California as it is in Michigan, at least at the collegiate level. He said it's "crazy" getting ad- justed to the attention. His next adjustment is right around the corner: experiencing a crystalized, cold, white substance falling from the sky. "I have never seen snow in my life," he said. "I don't know what to expect. I'm kind of scared. I've never played in snow and never dealt with the cold." There isn't much that scares him. He'll likely take the snow — and the rest of Michigan's schedule — head on. "He plays fast, physical and is ca- pable of playing very nasty, weighs somewhere around 270 and still moves very well," Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh said. "He's the rare physical combination, has good football aware- ness about him; he learns well. Once I got a sense that he'd be able to pick things up fast enough to contribute, it was kind of a no-brainer he'd be part of the group. He's special." ❏ MISCELLANEOUS NOTES • Michigan rookie running back Chris Evans admits he's taken by the perfor- mances of redshirt sophomore linebacker Jabrill Peppers — so much so he's trying to replicate the Wolverine acting as a Swiss Army Knife. "I watch him every day," Evans said. "I tell him I'm going to pick something off of his game every day. Punt returns, kick returns … so that by the time he leaves, I'll have everything down. "It's amazing. Him jumping over people on that punt return — that was so crazy. … Everybody was looking at each other like, 'Wow, that's ridiculous.'" Asked what amazes him most about Peppers, Evans didn't even mention a gaudy physical effort. "He stays humble," the true freshman said. "That's what stuns me most. All he gets? I think, his mind must go somewhere else. It's crazy to see just how humble he is after all the success he gets." • The Rose Bowl B1G Player of the Week went to the Wolverines' entire defense following U-M's dominant win at Rutgers. It's an unprecedented move by the Rose Bowl Game committee, choosing multiple players to receive their weekly award. Michigan shut out the Scarlet Knights, forcing 16 punts. Rutgers managed two first downs all game, both in the fourth quarter, and 39 yards of total offense. The Scarlet Knights put up six yards of offense in the first half. Michigan's defense served up four sacks from three different players, along with countless quarterback hurries. Thirteen tackles for loss by the Wolverines kept Rutgers in terrible down-and-distance situations all night long. Asiasi made his one catch through the first six games count, tallying a three-yard touch- down grab against Penn State. PHOTO BY PER KJELDSEN

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