The Wolverine

March 2018

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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wants to win at the next level. He pointedly noted he's yet to win a championship in football, and he's eagerly seeking one. He also learned to embrace the blocking side of playing tight end, a trait that should win him fast friends on the practice fields off State Street. "That's something I take pride in," he stressed. "It makes me tougher and more physical, which is impor- tant in being a good football player." At the same time, Muhammad possesses the mobility and agility to perform as a well-rounded Michigan tight end. "He can do windmill dunks — he can do all of that stuff on a basketball court," Smith offered. "The first play of my highlight tape, I hurdled a guy," Muhammad pointed out. "It defines how I am athletic, how I have really good mechanics and coordination for my size. I'm going to continue to jump over obstacles, and become a better person and a better ath- lete." He's also not going to miss the banner on his first time out of the Michigan Stadium tunnel for a game, especially if visualization re- ally works. "On signing day, I was going through it in my mind all day, hitting the banner and playing in The Big House," he said. The incoming freshman carries the confidence and swagger of many in his class. He offered one firm declara- tion, with a special request. "WE WILL WIN CHAMPION- SHIPS!" he insisted, adding, "Put that in all caps." Smith noted his prize pupil is working overtime to back up the talk. "He's a leader," Smith asserted. "He's a bright young man — very smart, articulate, respectful. He's ev- erything you want in a young stu- dent-athlete on your campus. You won't have to worry about him not being where he should be, or being late. "He eats well, he sleeps well, he does everything he's supposed to do." Muhammad also has developed a training mantra with a clear goal in mind. "Right now, we're focused on bigger, faster, stronger, and he wants it," Smith noted. "Every day when we work out, his big thing is 'Day one ready! Day one ready!' He's always saying it." Smith acknowledged e v e n m o d i f y i n g t h e workouts to mimic what he sees colleges doing to prepare football play- ers. "Every rep, it's 'Day one ready!'" he reiter- ated. The Houston Touch- down Club Offensive Player of the Year car- ries an even greater designation, according to his parents. "His name 'Mustapha' actually means 'The Cho- sen One,' or 'The Selected,' and he truly is a reflection of that," they said on Muhammad's bio sketch for Michigan's athletic website. Smith himself has witnessed Mu- hammad's giftedness and insists Harbaugh's football team will be re- warded for its own choice. "His greatest traits are just study- ing the game and being the best teammate he could possibly be," Smith said. "The kid is always posi- tive. He doesn't have a negative bone in his body. He keeps the glass half full all the time. You do that, and everything kind of takes care of it- self." ❏ THEY SAID IT • U-M head coach Jim Har- baugh: "He jumps off the tape with his freakish ability to jump, run and catch. He was one of the top tight ends in the country." • Muhammad's personal trainer, Doug Smith: "He's always had some size on him. … He has the best work ethic in the group of guys we've had so far. I knew he would be the No. 1 tight end in the country. " They'll love him. He'll be a leader in the locker room, on campus, wherever else he needs to be." • Texas recruiting analyst Nick Krueger: "Muhammad is a very smart kid, and he's done a good job putting on mass in the right places. He has that athleticism you like to see, and I think within a couple of seasons he'll be just fine all around." Muhammad played in a pair of national postseason all-star games after his senior year — the Under Armour All-America Game and the Polynesian Bowl. PHOTO COURTESY RIVALS.COM MARCH 2018 THE WOLVERINE 39

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