8B - The Michigan Daily - Kickoff 2003 - Thursday, September 4, 2003
TURNING THE CORNER
Jeremy LeSueur's career has been full of misfortune and
mistakes, but the fifth-year senior is always looking forward
BY COURTNEY LEWIS DAILY SPORTS EDITOR
The Michigan Daily - Kickoff 2003
Power of three
Can Navarre, Perry and Edwards become Michigan's offensi
By Naweed Sikora
Daily Sports Editor
t was there before they arrived,
and it will be there after they're
gone. They don't know who
started it, but they believe in it. The
members of the Michigan secondary
have a saying, a mantra: Go to the
"It's a mentality you have to have
as a defensive back, because you
might get burned this play, but you
~have to have your head ready and
play the next down," safety John
Shaw said. "If you don't know it,
you have to learn it, because if you
sit there and dwell (because) you
got beat on this play, you're going
to get beat again."
Nobody on the secondary knows
that better than Jeremy LeSueur.
*Nobody has struggled with the
credo more, and nobody has relied
on it more. For LeSueur, those
aren't just words to play football by;
they're words to live by.
Beginning his fifth and final sea-
son at Michigan, the veteran corner-
back is one of the leaders on the
defense. He's coming off his best
. year, one in which he solidified his
role as a starter. He recorded a
career-high 52 tackles and his 583
kickoff return yards set Michigan's
single-season record. In the 2003
season opener last weekend,
LeSueur grabbed his third career
"He's going to be a guy that will
have some postseason honors if he
has a season like he's capable of,
because he has tremendous ability,"
head coach Lloyd Carr said.
That's the kind of player LeSueur
was expected to be coming out of
Holly Springs High School in north-
ern Mississippi. But it has been a
long road to get this point, and it's fair
to say he has taken the scenic route.
In 1999, the talented 6-foot-1 cor-
nerback was a cocky kid whose sea-
son ended on a fluke injury in
practice. LeSueur tore his ACL and
was forced to redshirt. He lost some
of his confidence after that, and he
lost more as he struggled through
the following season. LeSueur was a
highly-touted recruit and his first
two years were disappointing. But
his lowest moment came in his third
In the final minutes of Michigan's
2001 matchup with Michigan State,
LeSueur all but handed the game to
the Spartans when he committed a
blatant personal foul on Michigan
State receiver Charles Rogers. The
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Spartans won on a last-second
touchdown and the fans and media
blamed LeSueur. One columnist
called the play a "brain freeze," - a
comment that LeSueur took person-
ally because his younger brother
Jeremane is mentally disabled.
His struggles on the field contin-
ued, and in the offseason, he was
arrested for soliciting a prostitute
and subsequently suspended from
the football team.
Of all of his problems - on the
field and off - LeSueur said the
aftermath of the 2001 Michigan
State game was the toughest thing
to deal with and that "people didn't
understand" how hard it was. He
admitted that it stuck with him for a
"You never forget that, but
you've got to learn from it,"
LeSueur said. "There's nothing you
can do about it so you have to move
LeSueur's teammates and coach
say they've seen him change a lot
since his freshman year. They
describe him as a much different
football player and a much different
"He had some adjustments to
make, and he had to learn how to
compete," Carr said. "He had to
learn how to compete every day."
LeSueur's teammates attest that
he has done that. Cornerback
Markus Curry said the two things
that stand out about LeSueur now
are his toughness and his competi-
tiveness, and receiver Tyrece Butler
has seen those qualities first-hand
while practicing against him.
"He hates to lose battles," Butler
said. "To get a pass caught on him
- he hates that. We worked over
the summer, one-on-one. Like, I run
a route and he's, 'Hey Tyrece, if I
play this way, will I stop you?' Or,
'What can I do to make myself bet-
Butler added that that is a big dif-
ference from the LeSueur who
"came in with a lot of attitude as a
TE LESUEUR FILE
Position: Cornerback/ kickoff returner
Height: 6-foot-1 Weight: 202 lbs.
Year: Fifth-year senior
Jersey No.: 21
Hometown: Holly Springs, Miss.
In the opener: Last Saturday against
Central Michigan, LeSueur had three
tackles and a 27-yard interception. He
also returned a kickoff 28 yards.
Breakout year: In 2002, LeSueur
started seven ga:es and recorded 17
more tackles than he had in 2001.
College football is by no means a three-man game. It takes
the effort and contributions of each player out on the field to
build a championship-caliber team. But sometimes, having a
fearless quarterback, a powerful running back and a big-time
receiver could prove to be all a team needs.
Michigan hasn't had a dominating combination like that
since 2000, the days when Drew Henson, Anthony Thomas and
David Terrell roamed the Big House field, terrorizing Michi-
gan's opponents in the air and on the ground. The trio com-
bined for more than 400 yards of offense per game in what has
been tabbed as one of Michigan's strongest offenses in history.
The Wolverines haven't beaten Ohio State since that 2000
season. In that game, Terrell caught five passes for 99 yards
and scored two touchdowns, Thomas ran for a difficult 60
yards on 29 carries and Henson threw for 303 yards and ran for
Probably no player has developed as
much over the past three seasons as
John Navarre. Marked as a preseason
Heisman Trophy candidate, Navarre
has taken major strides - and abuse - to be
in a position to lead the Wolverines.
"Development-wise, when I was young and
inexperienced, I used to try and get on by raw tal-
ent," Navarre said. "Once I grew into the system,
I realized that there is much more than that. Once
I matched up the mental part of my game with the
physical, things started working for me, and I was
able to do my job consistently and do what's
expected of me as a Michigan quarterback."
After his sophomore season in 2001, in
which Navarre struggled to finish with a 53
percent completion rate, many people ques-
tioned his composure and versatility in the
pocket. His decision making in pressure situa-
tions came under fire, as did his ability to look
off receivers and read the defense well. Of
course, following Drew Henson would be .,
difficult for any quarterback.
Last season, under the tutelage of new quarter-
backs coach Scot Loeffler, Navarre proved he had
the ability and drive to improve, as his stats
increased across the board. And with Perry slowly
emerging as a solid option in the backfield,
Navarre had more time to move in the pocket and
follow through on his passing attempts.
"He has been absolutely instrumental in my
development in the last two and a half years," said
Navarre of Loeffler. "We work hard. We study
film and the offense just as hard as anybody. He
has been a great help and a great friend."
Navarre averaged 20 more passing yards per
game last season, finishing the season on a very
high note in the Outback Bowl where Michigan
defeated Florida 38-30. Navarre threw for a
career-high 318 yards and one touchdown in
Brimming with confidence, Navarre will not
only bring talent his talent to the table this season,
but experience as well.
"Navarre, make no mistake, is tough mentally,
physically, and he's talented and smart" Carr said.
"I don't know what else you need."
With the powerful offensive line Michigan
could boast this season, as well as strong perform-
ances by Edwards and Perry, Navarre could bring
the Wolverines back to the top of the Big Ten, and
possibly the nation.
Veteran cornerback Jeremy LeSueur hopes to make his last season his best. After
a tumultous start to his career, he has earned the respect of his teammates.
a touchdown with just
ter to secure the win in
Over the past two se
signs of development
Braylon Edwards bei
three?" Each has show:
capability to lead a sta
the year Michigan's of
style of 2000?
But dropping the attitude and
playing hard all the time have not
been the biggest lessons of
LeSueur's Michigan education.
"How to handle adversity, being a
man, just growing up and just tak-
ing on life - that's the best thing
I've learned," LeSueur said.
Butler, another fifth-year senior,
said even though he likes to tease
his classmate about his lingering
Mississippi accent, LeSueur has
come a long way from the "country
boy from Holly Springs (who had)
never seen much."
"He was almost like a little kid,
but now he's grown up into a man,"
Butler said. "He's a Michigan man,
and everything he does, he thinks
first. He's a guy I like."
It was Jeremy LeSueur the boy
that let down his teammates and
embarrassed himself and the pro-
gram. It is Jeremy LeSueur the man
that Curry called a leader on the
team and Jeremy LeSueur the man
that the coaching staff relies on in
big games and on crucial plays. For
a while, it looked like LeSueur's
career would be defined by one bad
play, so having the trust of his
coaches means a lot to him.
"That's a really good feeling. You
always want to have the coaches
behind you and know everything is
Like the rest of the secondary,
LeSueur likes to look forward rather
than backward, but when he does
think about his career, he doesn't
dwell on regrets.
"I never thought it would be
easy," he said. "You know, you
never know what the future holds
and everything (happens) for a rea-
son, but you learn from it and you
move on. I'm glad I came here, and
I'm glad I made that decision. I just
learned from it."
LeSueur certainly couldn't have
predicted the challenges of his first
four years, but he does picture an
ideal way for his last year to play
"Just getting to the mountain -
the national championship. Just tak-
ing it one game at a time, winning
each game, and it comes down to
that game. Yeah, it would feel real
good. Just learning from what
you've been through and just com-
ing out at the end on top."
LeSueur is still pretty far' from
the summit - the Wolverines have
played just one game - and it's a
rather imposing mountain. But then,
Jeremy LeSueur knows something
about long, hard climbs.
that if I
in the c
other a I
in the ba
There is no player whose success is more cru-
cial to the Wolverines this season than Chris
Perry. Since the departure of Anthony Thomas,
The Wolverines have lacked any sort of a running
game, and without that option, the overall offense
has suffered. In 2000, Thomas rushed for 1,733
yards - an average of 144 a game - and scored 18
But Perry is ready for a big season. Like
Navarre, the running back is com-_
ing off a solid Outback Bowl per- "I think we
formance, where he set a
Michigan bowl record with four
Perry says the offensive line has
improved greatly over the off sea-
son, and it will be up to him to
for a big
Perry on Nav
"Everybody up front knows what they are doing
and I am better at reading defenses. So, it really
depends on how I run the ball."
Perry, like Navarre and Edwards, has been both
brilliant and unstable over the past two seasons.
His inability to find the holes and make the right
move led to several frustrating drives for the
Michigan offense. In the past two seasons, Perry
averaged 3.8 and 4.5 yards per carry, both less
than Askew's averages for the
we all poised two seasons. But as Askew
began to be used mainly as a
year. blocker last season, Perry
varre, Edwards emerged as the top rusher.
and himself Carr says that Perry's speed,
strength and footwork are what
set him apart and make him an
outstanding all-around football player.
"He's developed into a complete football play-
er," Carr said. "He's smart, he's very smart, and
he's competitive. He's a big, strong guy who has
wonderful feet, and I really like him."
Another important aspect of Perry's game is
that he understands his role in the offense and
knows what he can do for his teammates. He
says that if he can run well, it will allow
Navarre and Edwards to have outstanding sea-
sons along with him.
"I think we are all poised for a big year," said
Perry of Navarre, Edwards and himself. "Navarre
is coming into his third year as a starter and Bray-
Ion is coming off a great year. I'm coming off an
okay year. We are all ready to go out there and
prove once again that we are very good players."
make things happen on the ground.
"I think the reason we can be better this year is
because the line is more experienced," he said.
Michigan has lacked a formidable quarterback/receiver/running back combination since the departure of
Terrell, Thomas and Henson. Can Navarre, Edwards and Perry help the Wolverines regain their offen-
sive fluidity of 2000?
2000 Leaders 2002Leaders
Anthony Thomas: 1,733 yds., 18 TD, 144.4 ypg Chris Perry: 1,110 yds., 14 TD, 85.4 ypg
David Terrell: 1,130 yds., 14 TD, 94. 2 ypg Braylon Edwards: 1,035 yds., 10 TD, 79.6 ypg
Drew Henson: 2,146 yds, 18 TD, 238.4 ypg John Navarre. 2,905 yds., 21 TD, 223.5 ypg.
B.J. Askew: 902 yds,, 10 TD, 75.2 ypg
Marquise Walker: 1,143 yds., 11 TD, 95.3 ypg
John Navarre: 2,453 yds,, 19 TLS, 202.9 ypg
Chris Perry: ?
Braylon Edwards: ?
John Navarre: ?