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July 28, 2016 - Image 12

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Thursday, July 28, 2016
The Michigan Daily — michigandaily.com


Redshirt sophomore linebacker Jabrill Peppers was put on the Nagurski and Thorpe Award preseason watch lists.
Notebook: Harbaugh, Big Ten

coaches address media in Chicago


Daily Sports Editor



coaches took the podium at Big Ten
Media Days to give their opening
remarks, but the Wolverines were
discussed in more than just Michi-
gan coach Jim Harbaugh’s Q&A

The Michigan football team

kicks off its conference schedule on
Sept. 24, when the Nittany Lions
travel to Michigan Stadium, but
the competition is already starting
to heat up.


“YET”: After Michigan plucked a
few prized recruits from the state
of New Jersey last spring (includ-
ing No. 1 recruit Rashan Gary), Rut-
gers’ and the Wolverines’ fan bases
butted heads on social media.

First-year Scarlet Knights coach

Chris Ash, who served as Ohio
State’s co-defensive coordinator
prior to arriving in Piscataway,
was asked about the fan rivalry
between the two teams.

“I’ll start by saying there’s no

rivalry with Michigan yet,” Ash
said. “They’ve done some things
that we have not been able to do,
and I think it’s great when fans get
a chance in the offseason to talk
about college football and have
fun with college football. I have a
tremendous amount of respect for
Coach Harbaugh and the job he’s

done at Michigan and the program
they’ve had for several years.”


sophomore linebacker Jabrill Pep-
pers was named on the East Divi-
sion Big Ten Football Preaseason
Watch List along with Michigan
State’s Malik McDowelll, Ohio
State’s J.T. Barrett and Raekwon
McMillan and Penn State’s Saquon

Harbaugh had nothing but good

things to say about Peppers, listing
him as a multi-threat player.

“He can play just about any-

where on a football field and be
effective,” Harbaugh said. “Put
him in a corner, put him in a safe-
ty. Put him in a nickel. Put him in
a linebacker. Ultimately probably
nickel is his best position. He can
be a returner of the punts, returner
of the kickoffs. He could be a gun-
ner. He could be a hold-up guy.
Offensively probably right now
could probably be our slot receiver
and would give De’Veon and all of
our running backs a run for their
money to be the best running back
on the team. Could be a wildcat
quarterback. Could be an outside
receiver. Can run all the reverses
and fly sweeps.

“So I think you get the picture.

He is a tremendous athlete.”


SHUTOUT: After leading the
Wildcats to a 6-2 Big Ten record

last season, Northwestern coach
Pat Fitzgerald gave a nod to Michi-
gan, which handed the Wildcats
one of its two in-conference losses.
The Wolverines shut out then-No.
13 Northwestern 38-0 at the Big
House, resulting in the Wildcats’
worst loss of the season.

“I thought (Michigan) played

outstanding,” Fitzgerald said on
Monday. “When you get on the bus
and you pop the tape on that’s the
first thing you do as a coach. You
pop on the tape and you go: ‘We
should have done A, B, C.’ But wow
do they do it well. And you tip your
hat and you move on, get ready for
the next week.”


being sidelined in spring practice
due to a leg injury, fifth-year senior
wide receiver Jehu Chesson is
expected to be healthy by the start
of fall practice, which starts on
Aug. 8.

Chesson will have some healthy

competition at the position with
fifth-year senior Amara Darboh,
who Harbaugh now believes is
Michigan’s top receiver.

“Amara Darboh, I would say

he’s our top receiver right now,”
Harbaugh said. “And as we went
through the season last year, I
thought that was Jehu Chesson.
And then Amara surged during
spring ball there, and they’re in
a very good-hearted competition
there to be our best receiver.”

‘M’ embracing a
higher standard


Daily Sports Editor

CHICAGO — For the second

straight year, Jim Harbaugh walked
into the Hyatt Regency McCormick
Place as the center of attention.

Still sporting his signature skin-

ny block ‘M’ hat despite wearing a
full suit, the second-year Michigan
football coach was the main attrac-
tion of the first day of Big Ten Media
Days, with a throng of cameras and
microphones swarming his podium
in a hotel ballroom.

Such attention is probably to be

expected given the social media
buzz that surrounded Harbaugh
since his hiring back in Dec. 2014,
but this year’s circus came with one

major difference. After a 10-3 inau-
gural campaign featuring a 41-7

throttling of Florida in the Citrus
Bowl and the narrowest of losses to
eventual playoff-bound rival Michi-
gan State, expectations are through
the roof.

“We raised the bar when we

played Florida,” said senior tight
end Jake Butt. “That’s now ground
zero. ... I don’t think we’re chasing

The Wolverines are ranked in

the top 10 in most preseason polls
released to date, with USA Today
placing them as high as third —
trailing only the final two teams
standing last season, Clemson and
Alabama. Among Big Ten foes, most
of the polls have only Ohio State
ranked ahead of Michigan, with
Michigan State and Iowa a few steps

As expected, neither Harbaugh

nor the players joining him in Chi-
cago on Monday would say they pay
attention to the hype, but none were
too shy to admit they had equally
high hopes.

“The message is simple: We want

our dreams to be big,” Harbaugh
said. “We want our goals to be lofty
— so much that people will laugh at
us. If they’re not laughing at us, we
didn’t set high enough goals. (We
also have to) understand that they
can be achieved, but they have to be
worked for. Such a simple message,
but it just might work.”

With a pair of first-team All-

Americans in Butt and senior cor-
nerback Jourdan Lewis, a wealth
of experience on both sides of the

ball and do-it-all players like red-
shirt sophomore linebacker Jabrill
Peppers, it’s not hard to see why
the bar is being raised.

“We can contend for (a cham-

pionship), of course,” Lewis said.
“We have the talent, we have the
young guys to come in and help us
out, we have the coaching staff. We
have everything in place to be one
of those programs to say we can
contend for a Big Ten or (national)

Media days are typically brim-

ming with optimism for every
team, but the Wolverines have
drawn theirs not only from their
10 wins last season, but the way
they rebounded from tough losses.
Michigan won the next game fol-
lowing each of its three losses in
2015 — the first time since 2011 the
Wolverines had completed a sea-
son without losing back-to-back

Part of the Wolverines’ resil-

iency came from their new coach’s
attitude, which the players noticed
right away.

“In past years, when we lost, one

loss would turn into two or three
losses, and everyone would be down
on themselves,” Butt said. “You
could kind of feel we were lean-
ing towards that when we got in
the locker room (after last season’s
opening loss to Utah), but Coach
Harbaugh looked at all of us and
crushed that right then and there.

“He told us he was proud of us,

he was proud of the way we played,
and that we’re gonna be just fine
going down the stretch. And we all
believed him, we all bought into him
at that point. It was such a different

After the triumph in the Citrus

Bowl, the feeling has carried over
into 2016. Though Harbaugh is 0-2
against Michigan State and Ohio
State and the Wolverines haven’t
won a Big Ten title since 2004, the
team is starting to think that their
coach — with all of his eccentricities
and his media circus — might be the
person that can bring them back to
the top.

“It’s madness, it’s genius,” Lewis

said. “It’s a fine line between crazy
and genius. You can see it — he has a
method to his madness. Everything
is calculated, everything he does is
for a reason.”

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