Michigan Football Preview 2013

2013 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Page 161 of 267

"He's getting a lot more vocal. He was vocal last year, but you see him taking that next step, too." Defensive backs coach Curt Mallory on Wilson Safety First To Grab Jarrod Wilson Is In Line A Bigger Role This Season J By John Borton arrod Wilson has the scenario seared into his memory, like every returnee in Michigan's secondary. With seconds remaining in the Outback Bowl, the Wolverines clung to a 28-27 lead against a dangerous South Carolina crew. Another play, at most two, and the Gamecocks would be forced to try a long field goal to put this one away. Instead, they went up and over the Wolverines' defense, firing a 32-yard touchdown pass with 11 seconds remaining that secured a 33-28 win and put an extra chill on a long Michigan winter. Safety Thomas Gordon insisted that play, and that game, will drive Michigan's secondary throughout the entire offseason. Wilson backs the notion, acknowledging the pain the moment injected for weeks afterwards. "I actually feel part of that," Wilson admitted. "That last touchdown, I was actually in on that play. As we watched film as a whole defensive unit, there were three DBs that actually made mistakes on the play, which caused him to catch that touchdown on us. "The secondary takes a lot of blame for that. The game was riding on us, and we just have to step up to the occasion and make the play. We didn't do that." Watching the misery-inducing bomb over and over on film, the 6-2, 196-pound sophomore safety out of Akron, Ohio, felt one sharp lesson coming back to him: Stay ready for anything. He took those words back to Michigan, into U-M's offseason workouts, and into spring football practice. He used them while playing behind Gordon for the first half of the spring drills, and again when he moved beside the fifth-year senior with the No. 1 unit on defense. Wilson remains ready for anything, and assumes nothing. He won't tell you he's going to be a starter for the Wolverines this fall. He has a chance. 160  ■  The Wolverine 2013 Football Preview "Right now, everyone is just competing, and trying to learn from each other," Wilson insisted, making certain not to get beat deep by the inquiry. "Going into week one, you never know who may be starting back there with Gordon. It's more of just learning, and Coach Mallory will put the best guy out there." Defensive backs coach Curt Mallory won't allow any of his DBs to think they've arrived, and certainly makes that point with someone coming off a steep learning curve as a true freshman. "I've seen the growth with Jarrod on some of the mistakes he made in the season to where he didn't make the same mistakes and was very conscious to improve on those things," Mallory said. "He's very aware of the things he needs to get better at, to work extra hard to do those things. I see Jarrod getting better and better every day, physically and mentally. Obviously, we're excited about the development he's had over the year." Meanwhile, Wilson isn't at all in the dark about his to-do list this summer. "Coach Mallory says sometimes I get a little high in my backpedal and in general," Wilson acknowledged. "It's staying low, staying levelheaded and becoming a better tackler. "I just want to run to the football every play, like Coach [Greg] Mattison preaches. Just run to the football and good things will happen. If I go 100 miles an hour to the ball every play, I'm pretty sure, once in a while, a fumble may pop out to me, or a ball might be tipped into my hands." Wilson's prospects appear absolutely intertwined with the "student" half of the student-athlete tag. He's learning so much in so many ways that what he'll become over the course of the 2013 season remains to be seen. "I probably learned the most from Thomas Gordon," Wilson noted. "Last season, I was his backup. I watched every single thing he did. I'd watch him during film, but also watch myself, trying to make my corrections and try to play like him. Wilson made eight tackles, including four solo stops, as a freshman in 2012, but those numbers should increase this fall. photo by lon horwedel

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