After fighting through two very difficult seasons in Ann Arbor to start his career, left tackle Taylor Lewan and the Wolverines banded together last season under Brady Hoke and put together an 11-2 campaign. The tone that was set during that memorable season has carried over into the spring.
“Everyone’s way more excited,” said Lewan. “I know that’s kind of weird to say, but this is like the first year since I’ve been here that we’ve had major success as a program. I think it’s really cool to see the younger guys knowing that that’s kind of the standard now for Michigan football, where it has been in the past we haven’t really had that. So it’s really cool to see guys getting out there and really wanting to go out and hit and compete to try to get that job.”
Michigan’s Team 132 relied upon a strong united senior class to lead the way last season. Team 133 and every team after it will look to do the same.
“This team plays for our seniors, these coaches coach for our seniors and I think a lot of guys have been stepping up as leaders,” said Lewan. “Obviously you’re going to ask me about Ricky Barnum, Ricky Barnum is doing a phenomenal job, the whole offensive line is doing a phenomenal job from what I’ve been seeing and I’m trying to step up as a leader also.”
Part of that process is limiting the personal foul penalties that have marred an otherwise impressive career. Lewan has used the winter to take a step forward both on the field and off of it.
“I’m a junior now, this will be my third year starting if everything goes the way I want it to,” said Lewan. “I think we’ve got a lot of guys behind me and around that are looking to see what I’m going to do now. It’s no longer me learning. My freshman year I had Steve Schilling. My sophomore year I had Dave Molk teaching me things. Now I’m kind of that guy and it’s my turn to start being that leader because I know the ropes and I know what to do and that’s a huge part of my gameplan this year… lead by example.”
“When I came in here I was 17 years old… when I got here, young and now I’m 20,” Lewan added. “I’ve definitely grown up as a player, as a person… and you know the whole mustache thing is out the window. I’m here to play football. I’m not here to joke around.”
High school teammate and current Michigan senior Craig Roh has also noticed the difference in Lewan.
“Taylor has grown by leaps and bounds,” said Roh. “I can say this knowing him in high school and everything, I think he’s getting a lot more serious in all areas of his life and I think he’s really growing as a person. He’s just more responsible now, making the right decisions off the field. One example I can think of is all of these guys had to declare our majors… all of the upperclassmen… and Taylor was the first one to do it. The Taylor in high school would have been the last one and would have had to get up at 6am to run because he hadn’t done it yet, but the new Taylor is more responsible.”
Despite the changes in approach for Lewan, according to Roh the comical aspects of his teammates character still remain in tact.
“The core of Taylor is still there,” said Roh laughingly.
For more from Lewan, check out the video interview below.