The Wolverine

March 2018

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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38 THE WOLVERINE MARCH 2018 rising talent. "What stood out for me his sopho- more year was his blocking," Smith noted. "He was sealing the edge on guys who are playing Division I foot- ball right now. They were two years older than he was. "He called me after three or four games, and he was frustrated. He said, 'They're not throwing me the ball.' So we had a talk. "I said, 'You keep blocking like that, you don't have to worry. You're going to catch the ball. You just keep blocking the way you are. You can still be No. 1 in the country blocking the way you are at tight end.' "He stayed with it and kept block- ing. As the season went on, the scout- ing reports on him started creeping up. As they started to creep up, he started to go over the top." Asked about Muhammad's college readiness as a blocker — a trait few preps bring to the next level — Smith didn't equivocate. "I can guarantee you he'll be college ready," Smith said. Muhammad received a Michigan scholarship offer in the middle of that sophomore season, delivered by assistant coach Jay Harbaugh. That opened the landscape for someone who had never given Michigan much thought before. When he discovered what awaited to the northeast, Muhammad didn't need much coaxing. "I really like the campus, and I re- ally like the people," he said. "The coaching staff and the facilities are top notch. The weather in the spring and the fall is amazing. Winter gets a little cold, but that's okay." A crucial factor involved the Wol- verines' extensive use of tight ends under head coach Jim Harbaugh. "That's mainly the whole reason why I chose Michigan," Muhammad explained. "They said they would use me sim- ilarly to how they used Jake Butt. He went on to do big things and win the Mackey Award. That's definitely a goal of mine as well." "We watch Michigan football here," Smith assured. "Him having the opportunity to play tight end at the University of Michigan was the deciding factor. "Jim Harbaugh, of course, didn't hurt. He uses two or three tight ends, and everywhere he's been, tight ends have been successful and have gotten better." According to Muhammad, the miles between Texas and Michigan shouldn't be an impediment. "It doesn't really bother me too much," he said. "I'm there to grow and excel in all phases of life, not only football and school. It's going to be an adjustment, but it will be a good adjustment, because it's the perfect school for me." A University of Texas fan grow- ing up, Muhammad also considered LSU. More than anything else, he Muhammad was part of a district championship team each of the three years he played varsity football at Ridge Point High, and he was the pro- gram's first-ever junior to be named a team captain. PHOTO BY BRANDON BROWN

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