The Wolverine

February 2018

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 27 of 75

28 THE WOLVERINE FEBRUARY 2018 BY CHRIS BALAS T he last day underclassmen could declare for the NFL Draft was Jan. 15, and it proved to be a good day for Michigan. Of the four draft-eligible Wolver- ines who could have realistically de- clared — redshirt junior defensive end Chase Winovich, junior running back Karan Higdon, redshirt junior defen- sive tackle Bryan Mone and redshirt sophomore tight end Tyrone Wheat- ley Jr. — only two even considered it before deciding to come back for one more season. Winovich, the Big Ten leader in tack- les for loss this season (18) and a first- team All-Big Ten selection (media), went back and forth for several weeks with his decision before opting to re- turn for his fifth year, and he offered insight in late December into how dif- ficult a time he was having. "There are so many pros to both, but there aren't a lot of cons to either deci- sion," Winovich said. "Michigan's been so great to me. It's not about the money. … It's about opportunity. The NFL's been a dream of mine." He then spoke of seeing a team manager suffer a broken arm in prac- tice when he wasn't even playing. He asked reporters (hypothetically), "What would you do if you were in my position?" In the end, several factors weighed into his decision to stay, from poten- tially being a team captain to compet- ing for the Big Ten title that's eluded the program since 2004. "Those who stay will be champi- ons. After much deliberation, I have decided to forego the NFL and come back to Michigan for one last season," Winovich announced via Twitter Jan. 3. "It's my absolute honor to represent this university for one more season af- ter everything it has done for me. "Time to work." Higdon, meanwhile, told The Orlando Sentinel before the Outback Bowl he was also flirting with the idea. "Most definitely, I'm eligible," Hig- don said. "It's a discussion I'll have with Coach [Jim] Harbaugh, and I'll make a decision from there." He and his family had been having those conversations, he added, starting after U-M's game with Ohio State. "We've definitely talked about it. I was strictly focused on this game and whatever happens, happens," he said of the 26-19 loss to South Carolina. Higdon gained 65 yards on 17 car- ries in the game, finishing six yards short of the 1,000-yard milestone last accomplished by a Michigan running back when Fitz Toussaint eclipsed it in 2011. The millennial mark is one of many goals he'll have to shoot for as a senior now that he's chosen to return. TWO SURE THINGS Among those who have no choice but to leave because they're out of eli- gibility, only a pair — defensive tackle Maurice Hurst and offensive lineman Mason Cole — are considered locks to get drafted. Most project Hurst as a first-round pick after a season in which he notched 60 tackles (13.5 for a loss) and five sacks, earning consensus first-team All- Big Ten and All-America honors. In December, ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay had him going to New Orleans with the 28th pick, noting the franchise needed depth and versatility on the defensive line. Another expert,'s Chris Trapasso, had the 6-2, 280-pounder headed to Detroit, which is reportedly on the verge of hir- ing New England defensive coordina- tor Matt Patricia to be its next head coach, at No. 20. "The Lions stay close to home with the Michigan product," Trapasso wrote in his Jan. 15 projection. "Hurst could have entered the 2017 NFL Draft, and he probably would have gotten picked in one of the first three rounds. Instead, he stayed in school and fine-tuned his Prepping For The Pros Chase Winovich And Karan Higdon Opt To Stay; Maurice Hurst And Mason Cole Will Add To U-M's NFL Contingent After leading the Big Ten and tying for 12th nationally with an average of 1.4 tackles for loss per game, Winovich will return for one more year in Ann Arbor. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of The Wolverine - February 2018