The Wolverine

January 2017

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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32 THE WOLVERINE JANUARY 2017 number on it, the tale of the tape fur- ther opened his eyes. "It was something pretty crazy — it was a lot taller than I am," Charlton said. "Some people say I have that bas- ketball body [because] my wingspan is so long. I use that to my advantage, being able to touch offensive linemen without them being able to touch me. "And having the speed and size with the strength helps me a lot when I play my game." He couldn't play it for most of the non-conference season, or his senior numbers would have jumped off the page even more. Charlton sustained a high-ankle sprain in Michigan's 63-3 romp past Hawai'i, sending him to the sidelines for half of that one, along with all of the Central Florida and Col- orado contests. What was supposed to be his signa- ture season suddenly got shoved into a boot. "When I first got injured, I couldn't do much," Charlton acknowledged. "I stayed in the treatment room more than anything. They were telling me I got around 300 minutes a day of treat- ment, doing anything I could to get healthy." Charlton's discussions with Michi- gan trainer Dave Granito represented a lifeline in the process of getting back to the lineup. Even given a clear path, the setback proved frustrating. "I would talk to Dave about different things I could do every day … watch- ing the game kind of hurt me, not be- ing able to help my team," Charlton said. "So, I fought back hard to try to get back." It took a bit to get up to speed, from what doctors first projected to be a five-week injury. "They didn't give me a specific time- table at first, but then you start looking up high-ankle sprains and you think, 'Wow, I really might be out this long,'" Charlton recalled. "You miss one and it hurts, and then the next game gets worse. I was struggling watching those games." Charlton made modest contribu- tions to Big Ten-opening wins against Penn State and Wisconsin, the unlikely duo that eventually squared off in the conference championship game. The senior then really began ramping it up. He posted a pair of sacks in Michi- gan's 78-0 embarrassment of Rutgers, the first of three consecutive designa- tions as the team's Defensive Lineman of the Game. A BRIGHT FUTURE Charlton saved his best for last, with 2.5 sacks among three tackles for loss at Ohio State. He admitted, again via Twitter, that his sack numbers — like the result of the OSU game itself — fell just short. Michigan senior defensive end Taco Charlton has one last big game in a winged helmet. He'll be looking to make a statement Dec. 30 versus Florida State in the Orange Bowl. He's already made his mark, though, enough to assure there are more battles for him to join. Barring anything unfore- seen, he'll be playing on Sundays next fall. Charlton is moving up NFL Draft boards, given his strong senior season perfor- mance. He raised eyebrows as well with his effort at Ohio State, where he posted a career-high nine tackles with 2.5 sacks on elusive OSU quarterback J.T. Barrett, among three tackles for loss overall. placed Charlton among the "Stock Up" category following that effort. Here's what the website had to say about the Michigan senior: "Ohio State came out on top Saturday in a classic rivalry game against Michigan. Charlton, however, caught the eyes of talent evaluators with his performance in a losing effort. At 6-6, 270 pounds, Charlton has the size and athleticism to start on the strong side in a 4-3 scheme. "He split a double team in the first half, stretching out a run for his teammates to make the stop behind the line. Charlton consistently beat Buckeyes right tackle Isaiah Prince when he was in pass-rush mode, getting in the face of QB J.T. Barrett. The senior DE failed to bring down the elusive Barrett a couple of times in the pocket, though he worked hard to finally bring the QB down for a fourth-quarter sack. Charlton lost contain a couple of times in the third quarter against Barrett, allowing the athletic quarterback to make big runs. "He also didn't have as much success versus the left tackle as he did on the other side. But late in the game, Charlton's ability to chase down talented running back Mike Weber in the flat and make the open-field tackle raised some eyebrows throughout the league." Meanwhile, delivered an equally upbeat evaluation, citing another of the many draft evaluators with regard to Charlton. "Charlton sports the long, lanky frame and quick-twitch burst scouts are looking for in a traditional edge rusher," it said. "He typically lined up out of the three-point stance, but was occasionally asked to rush from a stand-up position, showing great agility and balance, on an overtime stunt back to the inside, for example, which helped him record his career-best third sack of the game. "Charlton, a senior, entered the 2016 season with just four starts under his belt, but he's shown marked improvement this season with his use of hands and awareness and has leapt to No. 46 overall on's board. "While the NFL team that invests an early selection (perhaps even a first-round pick) on Charlton will do so in large part be- cause of his ability to wreak havoc off the edge, Charlton's effort and speed in pursuit helped him remain effective downfield, as well. The Pickerington, Ohio, native recorded [nine] tackles in this game, nearly doubling his previous career high [five tackles] in this category." Charlton will carry with him no particularly fond memories of the nearest of near misses in Columbus. At the same time, he may have helped shape his near future with a strong contribu- tion to a defensive effort that almost put the Wolverines over the top. — John Borton Taco Stock Heating Up Among NFL Brass Charlton was projected to go No. 26 in the first round of Todd McShay's first 2017 NFL mock draft on, released Dec. 13. PHOTO BY PER KJELDSEN

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