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September 03, 2003 - Image 12

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2003-09-03

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Wednesday
September 3, 2003
michigandaily.com
sportsdesk@umich.edu

SPORTS

12

Hungry Underwood
snatches backup 'pear'

Henson swings and
misses once again

By J. Brady McCollough
Daily Sports Editor
Ever since David Underwood
arrived at Michigan in the fall of
2001, he's never been afraid to show
his roots.
Even in Ann Arbor, which Under-
wood describes as having "a lot of
diversity" compared to his rural
home of Madisonville, Texas, the jun-
ior is proud of where he comes from.
That's because the quaint little
town, made up of 5,000 people, is a
large part of who Underwood is
today: A softspoken, simple guy; a
guy who can take something as big as
his battle for the backup running back
spot, and turn it into something as
trivial as a walk down a country road.
"Well, (a position battle) is like
when you are walking down the
street, and you see a pear tree,"
Underwood explained. "You're real-

ly hungry and that pear looks really
good. You just kind of reach up and
snatch it, and you don't let anyone
get it back from you."
Underwood reached up and
snatched the backup role in spring
and fall practice by outworking his
competition and improving each
facet of his game.
Saturday, in Michigan's 45-7 win
over Central Michigan, Underwood
made it clear no one was getting it
back. He rushed 11 times for 64
yards, a career-high total. After two
years of waiting his turn, it was a
special afternoon at the Big House
for the junior.
"Playing time was something that
I just wanted so badly, so I just went
and got it," Underwood said. "I
worked hard because I didn't want to
be in the position I was in during my
freshman and sophomore years."
See UNDERWOOD, Page 16

DANNY MOLOSHOK/Daily
David Underwood had a career day against Central Michigan, with 11 carries for 64
yards and a touchdown, securing his place as Michigan's backup tallback.

Kickoff 2003
The Michigan football team kicked its season off with a bang this
past Saturday with a 45-7 win over Central Michigan.
Tomorrow, The Michigan Daily's special football preview section,
Kickoff 2003, will be released. Here's what you can look forward
to seeing:
wAn in-depth analysis on what the big keys are for Michigan to
have a successful season.
*Feature stories on Chris Peny, who is expected to have a break-
out season in the backfield for the Wolverines, and Jeremy
LeSueur.
*Special look at the competitive Big Ten conference.
*WIl Michigan have enough offensive firepower to carry them
through the season?
And much more ...

CHRIS BURKE
Goin' to work
onsider this the obligatory
Drew Henson column for the
year.
In case you missed it on Monday,
ESPN reported that Henson - the
Golden Boy-turned rich New York
Yankees prospect-turned baseball
failure - is ready to leave the dia-
mond so he can refocus on a foot-
ball career.
After initially deciding not to
forgo his senior season at Michigan
for the NFL, Henson then stunned
everyone back in 2001, signing a
five-year contract with the Yankees
worth $17 million over six years.
The contract included a clause that
Henson give up football.
But after three miserable years in
the Yankee farm system - includ-
ing this year where he batted just
.234 in 133 games, including 122
strikeouts and 28 errors at third
base - Henson has reportedly fig-
ured out that he should explore his
NFL options.
That means giving back $12 mil-
lion in salary to the Yankees for the
next three years. That means giving
up the sport that Henson always
"dreamed" of playing.
And most importantly, that means
Henson has now quit both college
football and minor league baseball.
Or, to put it in terms Henson
might grasp easier, that's strike two.
Strike one came back when he
pulled that Barry Sanders-esque
bail on the Michigan football team.
Now Drew has swung and missed
again, bombing in the Yankees'
minor leagues.

So, if I may offer a suggestion to
Henson, here it is: You had better
take a mighty rip at the NFL
because you're down to your last
hack.
Who knows why Drew left -
maybe he did really love baseball
that much. Or maybe the promise of
a $17 million check in his wallet
was too much to pass up.
Whatever the situation was, the
can't-miss two-sport prospect is
hanging on by a thread.
The NFL's Houston Texans took a
stab at Henson in this year's draft,
claiming his rights in hopes of this
exact situation unfolding.
But, and perhaps not surprisingly,
rumor now has it that Henson would
sit out of the NFL this year, not sign
with the Texans, and then reenter
the draft next year where he would,
no doubt, be subject to receiving
more money.
By that time, Henson will be 24
years old and have been out of foot-
ball for four years. Any team taking
him would do so in hopes that the
former phenom could regain the
form he displayed in his years in
Ann Arbor.
Any team taking him, though,
would also have to hold its breath
because Henson's NFL success is
far from a guarantee.
And, whether it's fair or not, that
seems to be the legacy Henson is
leaving himself throughout the
sports world.
He left Michigan not as a great
quarterback, but someone who
deserted a Wolverine team that had
more than enough talent to make a
national title run.
He now leaves the Yankees as a
player who used to be a five-tool
future star, but struggled for three
years and doesn't want to struggle
anymore.
It's sad and disappointing how far
Henson has fallen. He's no longer
the worshiped hero he once was
See BURKE, Page 15

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