The Wolverine

January 2017

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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20 THE WOLVERINE JANUARY 2017 "We set out a goal to be the best defensive line in the country at the beginning of this year, and I think we accomplished it." Wormley echoed those thoughts while thanking Charlton for the de- fensive end combo they became. "We set out this year to be the best D-line in the country," he said. "I think we made a strong argument for that every single week. We had a goal to be the best two ends in the country this year, and I think we also made an argument for that." Senior linebacker Ben Gedeon cap- tured the Roget Zatkoff Award as the team's best linebacker. Gedeon, like many Wolverines on defense, gave great praise to defensive line coach Greg Mattison, who stayed with Har- baugh from Michigan's previous staff. Gedeon also praised new defensive coordinator Don Brown for a system that raised the bar for everyone. "You can see why he's been so suc- cessful for so many years," Gedeon said. "We just love playing for the guy. You look at this defense. Every week this defense was challenged in man coverage by some of the best re- ceivers in the country. They stepped up to the challenge every single week. "You look at these defensive line- men. These guys were some of the best in the country. Playing behind them made life a lot easier." Sophomore offensive left tackle Grant Newsome garnered the most prolonged cheers of the evening. Suf- fering a severe knee injury against Wisconsin, Newsome battled through an extended hospital stay and wound up with two awards on the evening — the Robert P. Ufer Bequest for spirit and the Dr. Arthur D. Robinson Schol- arship Award for academics. Another characteristic came to Har- baugh's mind in describing Newsome. "I thought, who is the toughest player on the University of Michigan football team, 2016?" Harbaugh be- gan. "One name came to mind — the starting left tackle, Grant Newsome, who is a phenomenal player. "He underwent a surgery and an injury that kept him in the hospital not days, not weeks, but months. He never complained. He was a soldier. He was a rock. It was just guts and grit and determination. He's done all that and he's maintained a 3.91 grade point average. There's nobody better, no- body tougher than Grant Newsome." Newsome — who garnered the scholarship award over finalists Jack Wangler, a redshirt junior wide re- ceiver; Greg Froelich, a redshirt junior offensive lineman; Ian Bunting, a red- shirt sophomore tight end; and Matt Mitchell, a junior cornerback — of- fered appreciation for the encourage- ment he's received. "Thank you to the Michigan com- munity," he said. "It meant a whole lot to me in the hospital, hearing your words. I would receive three- to five- page letters from people I'd never met before, from Ohio, California. I can't tell you how much that meant." Speight garnered Michigan's Most Improved Player Award, Harbaugh tweaking those who undervalued the Wolverines as not having a quarter- back going into the season. "They ranked us seventh com- ing into the year, and many said we were just a hyped-up football team," Harbaugh stressed. "We were higher than what we should be, according to scribes and pundits and so-called ex- perts. They kept citing that we didn't have a proven quarterback. "Wilton Speight had a phenomenal year and improved game by game by game. He'll truly go into next year as one of the top quarterbacks in the country." Finally, senior safety Anthony Dali- monte earned Scout Team Player of the Year honors. "If I was going to pick someone to win this award, I would have picked you too," Harbaugh said." As you know, we count every practice rep the guys practice, and Anthony had the most scout team reps of any player on the team. He hardly came out for a single snap. He is the winner." The entire evening generated a win- ning, upbeat feeling among the faith- ful. There were disappointments at the end of the season, without ques- Jim Harbaugh may have elicited the largest response at the annual Football Bust when he blamed opposing coaches — who he deemed "jive turkeys" — for spreading false rumors about him leaving to return to the NFL. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL Senior Ben Gedeon was named the team's top linebacker after leading the squad with 104 tackles and ranking second with 15.5 tackles for loss. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL

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