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October 10, 2008 - Image 12

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4B - Football Saturday - October 11, 2008

October 11, 2008 - Football Saturday - 5B

"UM's Sam McGuffie flexible, reliable"
- Detroit FreePress
"McGuffie has plenty to say on field"
- The Ann Arbor News
"Wolverines' McGuffie graces YouTube -
again" - Toledo Blade
.Each of those headlines appeared
in the last three weeks, but
freshman running back Sam
McGuffie doesn't like his fame
one bit.
"I hate articles about me," McGuffie said.
"I don't know why."
"It's just one more thing to me where peo-
ple... think they know me better and stuff if
they read about me instead oftalking to me."
The self-described "shy guy" spoke mat-
ter-of-factly and didn't sound like he was
complaining.
"I guess I just want to try to be me,"
McGuffie said. "If people don't like it, I don't
know what to tell them. Sit and talk to me, I
guess. Give me a chance."
FOOTBALL BEGINNINGS
McGuffie loves playing football. He loves it
for the usual reasons - the competition, being
part of a team, the honor of representing his
school. But he has another reason, too.
"It's just an escape from everyday life," the
Cypress, Texas native said. "You kind of get
stressed out with school a little bit. School
and beingin a constant schedule, whenyou're
playing in a game, it kind of takes you away
from that. You don't have to worry about
everything that's going on in the world."
McGuffie competed in gymnastics when
he was about 10, and started playing football
in fourth grade as a quarterback. That year,
his team basically ran three plays - quarter-
back sweep right, quarterback sweep left and
quarterback up the middle.
McGuffie said football was an escape in
the fourth grade too, but he didn't want to
elaborate.
At Cy-Fair High School, McGuffie made
the varsity team as a sophomore and took
over the starting running back spot midway
through that year.
He started hanging out with junior team-
mates Travis Bradshaw and Corey Chance,
who took McGuffie with them wherever they
went. McGuffie often spent entire weekends
at Bradshaw's or Chance's house, but they
rarely came over to his.
"Sam, he didn't really have the greatest
life at home, I guess," said Bradshaw, who
now plays safety at Rice. "And he really didn't
have that really great family support, I guess
you could say."
Bradshaw said he didn't know specifics
about McGuffie's family situation, admit-
ting he was speculating a bit. But he saw how
happy McGuffie was on the football field and
knew it was more than a distraction.
"The kind of gifts he has," Bradshaw
said, "that probably has something to do
with it."
At the highest level of high school
football in Texas, McGuffie rushed for
3,121 yards (8.7 yards per carry) and 44
touchdowns his junior year. Michigan
running backs coach Fred Jackson first
watched him at non-contact practice
as he prepared for a playoff game that
year.
"You could see the quickness and the
balance and the ability to make some-
body miss, those kinds of things, see him
catch the ball," Jackson said. "Stuff you
see him do here pretty good, he was good

at that then." "I'm just tired of all the flipping and all
McGuffie's supreme athletic ability that junk," McGuffie said. "Anything that
made him a four-star recruit, according shows up on the internet, I'm not for. I kind of
to rivals.com. McGuffie's dad ran track learned my lesson from that stuff."
and his mom was a gymnast. Jackson But there was no avoiding it now. All his
called him a combination of the two. teammates wanted to see him in action, and
McGuffie verbally committed on a were challenging his ability to match Graham
local Houston TV show the July before and Demens. McGuffie felt he had to comply.
his senior year. With Notre Dame, Mich- McGuffie jogged back a bit, then ran and
igan, Southern Cal, Texas A&M and front'flipped over 5-foot-9 freshman receiver
Florida hats on the table in front of him, Terrence Robinson. He also did a 360 back-
the host of the show told him to make flip.
his choice. Many recruits take hats or "Sometimes, I'm really surprised (he did
shirts away until their college choice is it) because he's a no-nonsense guy," redshirt
the only one left. But McGuffie's only freshman defensive end Ryan Van Bergen
nod to the dramatic was a slight pause said. "That's the first time I'd ever seen any-
before picking up the blue hat with a thing like that.".
maize block 'M'. McGuffie just wanted to blend in with his
Not long after that, Jackson first sat freshman teammates at Michigan, but his
down with McGuffie. fame and YouTube clips beat him to Ann
"A lot of people say he was quiet," Arbor.
Jackson said. "But when I got to talk to "We heard of him jumping over people,"
him and got to meet him stuff like that, Van Bergen said. "But on the defensive side of
after a period of time, he became a per- the ball, (we thought,) 'We'll wait and see if
son you could carry on a great conversa- he can jump over a college defender."'
tion with because he likes to talk about There was a feeling out period for McGuff-
football." ie off the field, too. He has always had a very
Near signing day in February, McGuff- calm demeanor. When he was younger, his
ie was talking football with California mom called him a "little old man."
coaches. He visited Berkeley and was "He never has been a real talkative kid,"
very impressed. said Ed Pustejovsky, McGuffie's high school
"I really liked (Cal's) offense," coach. "He's quietjustby nature, I guess."
McGuffie told the Houston Chronicle. McGuffie's teammates say he has opened
"And (California) coach (Jeff) Tedford up a bit since he arrived in Ann Arbor. But
was a great guy. I haven't met too many that hardly means he's talkative now.
people like him in my life. Plus, Califor- "When he first came, he was completely
nia was beautiful. I had never been there quiet," Graham said.
before, and it's a great place." For McGuffie, opening up means he some-
Michigan had changed coaches, hir- times joins in conversations. He won't ignore
ing Rich Rodriguez, who brought in the someone talking to him, but he's rarely the
spread offense. The night before signing first person to talk.
day, McGuffie still wasn't sure how he Van Bergen initially didn't care much for
fit in. McGuffie when they first met.
"I thought I was going to have a heart "I thought he was being quiet to give off
attack and die," McGuffie told the kind of a cocky attitude," Van Bergen said.
Chronicle. "I couldn't sleep all night." But he just had to watch McGuffie practice
He skipped his high school's signing to change his mind.
day ceremony to continue to think about "I just noticed when he was making peo-
his college choice, according to the ple miss in practice, scoring touchdowns, he
newspaper. That afternoon, McGuffie wasn't celebrating," Van Bergen said. "He
talked to Chris Lathrop, his high school just jogged back and stood next to coach
teammate who signed with Texas A&M. (Jackson), waited to go in again. I just real-
"He told me, 'My heart wants to go one ized the kid wants to play football. He doesn't
way, and my (head) is telling me to go another need to talk.
way,' " Lathrop told the Chronicle. "Everybody celebrates a little bit. But Sam,
McGuffie ended up sticking with Michigan the most I've seen out of Sam was like a fist
and sent his letter of intent that evening, after pump in the air - one quick one, then back to
Rodriguez had received letters from most of normal Sam."
the class. A fist pump would be nothing compared to
In June, McGuffie arrived in Ann Arbor what Van Bergen and the rest of the team saw
and began taking classes and working out in August. Rodriguez introduced the "Gong
with the Wolverines. Show" to Michigan this year. Freshmen do
performances-skits, singing, imperson-
ONE OF THE GUYS? ations.
McGuffie, fellow running backs Michael
The Wolverines had just finished their Shaw and Michael Cox and Bryan Wright,
speed and agility drills one day this summer. who is in charge of offensive quality control,
Junior defensive end Brandon Graham and were assigned to the same group. In a show
freshman linebacker Kenny Demens were concocted by Wright, they danced in spandex
doingbackflips. girdles.
The other players wanted to see what "They were definitely doing some kind of
McGuffie could do. He just wanted to start shake-pop thing that would have some eye-
seven-on-seven drills. brows raised around here," Van Bergen said.
A search for "Sam McGuffie" on YouTube '"(McGuffie) came out of his shell for that."
returns more than 175 videos. The videos are McGuffie didn't like the idea of the act,
immensely popular - one has more than 2.5 but he went along with it because Wright, a
million views. Fans, players and coaches have coach, was behind it. McGuffie is still uncom-
all seen them. They feature McGuffie flip- fortable talking about it.
ping over players, leaping defenders, making And that was just in front of his teammates
astonishingcuts and running with incredible and coaches. Outside the program and his
breakaway speed. close friends, a simple greeting is all he said
But McGuffie wants to escape the fame of he wants.
the videos. "I don't really like the attention, to tell you

the truth," McGuffie said. "People probably hours to Ann Arbor just to make the game.
see me out around campus and stuff, and And McGuffie's dad, a Lapeer, Mich.
they'll say 'Hi' to me and stuff. That's fine. native, has been in Michigan since the Miami
That doesn't bother me. I have a conversa- (Ohio) game. McGuffie looks forward to the
tion. It's just, I usuallytry to go the other way unbiased assessment of his play he gets each
sometimes when cameras are around or peo- week from his dad.
ple want to do interviews and stuff because I But his parents' visits haven't completely
don't have much to say, usually." erased his homesickness.
"I miss Texas," McGuffie said. "When
THE LEGACY HE'S FULFILLING you're born and raised in Texas, of course
you're going to miss Texas. I miss my family
Michigan's last running back, Mike Hart, most of all. I miss my friends, my best friend.
loved to talk. As much as he's remembered You know, it's just like any other kid would
for great games on the field, he's perhapsbest miss their family and their friends and just
remembered for his words - guaranteeing being in their own bed, in their own warm
victory over Notre Dame, calling out Stan- bed, watching cartoons or whatever on Sat-
ford coach and former Wolverine Jim Har- urday mornings."
baugh and describing Michigan State as the That sounds more like the thoughts of a
Wolverines' "little brother." "big kid" than a "little man," which is quite
McGuffie's football does the talking. appropriate, considering McGuffie's post-
His stardomcomes and goeswith his num- football plans. McGuffie has told Jackson he
bers. McGuffie has looked excellent at times wantsto work with children after football.
(Notre Dame) and like a freshman at others "I don't think he like attention at all,"
(Wisconsin). Jackson said. "With little kids, I think he
"I'm just trying to do my job and just try- likes signing autographs and hanging out
ing to help the team," McGuffie said before with little kids. He don't want to be in posi-
Michigan played Wisconsin. "And if that tions where he's around situations that he's
means taking a role, then so be it. But I'm just uncomfortable in. He likes being around lit-
trying to do what I can to help my team at this tle kids and making them laugh and making
point." them smile."
How's this for raising the expectations McGuffie doesn't want to be remembered
McGuffie has for himself? The last two run- just for his YouTube videos, and his play at
ning backs who had more attempts as a true Michigan is giving fans more to remember.
freshman, and played a full four years, set the But he also wants to be known for more than
program's all-time rushing record. The first football, a challenge he hasn't yet publicly
was Anthony Thomas, who was a freshman met.
in 1997. The most recent was Hart, a "Hopefully, one day when all this football
freshman in 2004. stuff's over, some people can look back and
"He knows what he say, 'You know what? Sam was there for me
has to do out there," if I ever needed anything,' " McGuffie said.
Hart said. "And "That's kind of howI want to be remembered
he's not cocky, but - not anything else."
he's confident and
knows what he's
got to do to get
out there and play.
He'sgotconfidence
in himself that he
has the talent, and
that's exactly what
you need."
Of Michigan's
top five running r
backs, McGuffie
is the only to
stay healthy this
year. That may
be a little bit of
luck, but it also
stems from his
blue-collar football
attitude.
"Just doing everything hard in practice
- that's what keeps you injury free,"
McGuffie said. "Because you go half-
cocked in practice, then you're going
to go half-cocked in the game.
When you're going half speed,
that's when you're liable to get
injured, because either you're
out of shape, or you're not used
to running alot."
THE LEGACY HE WANTS
McGuffie admits he's homesick.
"Sam will just plain tell you," Jackson
said. "'Hey Coach, I'm homesick. I'd like to
go back to see my mother.'
McGuffie's mom planned to come in for
the Utah game, but she was bumped from her
flight a couple times. She ended up flying to
Dayton, Ohio and driving more than threeu J

You saw the YouTube videos and heard the hype when he
was recruited. But freshman running back Sam McGuffie
wants to focus on football.
By Dan Feldman I Daily Sports Editor
Top photo: Zachary Meisner/Daily
Right photo: Rodrigo Gaya/Daily

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