Taylor Lewan is staying put.
In a surprise and welcomed twist, Michigan redshirt junior left tackle Taylor Lewan has decided to return to Ann Arbor for his senior season citing “unfinished business” despite his favorable draft grade given by NFL Draft Advisory Board.
After being named an Associated Press First Team All-American, first team Big Ten and Rimington-Pace Offensive Lineman of the Year, Michigan redshirt junior Taylor Lewan announced Wednesday evening he would be turning down this April’s opportunity to be drafted into the NFL, instead deciding to return for one more season anchoring the Wolverines offensive line, following the same path as former Wolverine and No. 1 pick in the 2008 NFL draft, Jake Long.
“I was in Louisiana after the bowl and I talked to him on the phone for 30 to 40 minutes,” said Lewan.
“Everything he said about why he stayed went through my head countless times. I had the same mindset going into this thing.”
Michigan coach Brady Hoke, who also spoke on Lewan’s decision Wednesday, said this sends a “strong message” to not only his teammates but the history of offensive linemen at Michigan.
“Offensive linemen here -- they stay. And there's been a tradition of that with Jake (Long), (Jon) Jansen, Hutch and all those guys. I think that's all something that's part of it because of the depth of the linemen that have played here and to be a guy that's mentioned with those guys is important.”
Lewan, asked several times how he came to the decision to return, said he thought long and hard but in the end he knew what he wanted.
“There was really no doubt in my mind at the end of it,” said Lewan. “I had to come back to the University of Michigan.”
Lewan was seen as a lock to be drafted in the first round of April’s draft and after a strong performance in the Outback Bowl, against possibly the best defensive end in the entire country in Jadeveon Clowney, the Arizona native likely would have slid into the Top 10 when all was said and done.
GoBlueWolverine will have video from the announcement in the coming hours.
"I am excited to return for my senior season. I always said I would evaluate things and make the best decision for me, and that's exactly what I did.
"I came here four years ago as a kid from Arizona and had goals but mostly individual goals. I wanted to play my freshman year. I wanted to be an All-American left tackle. I wanted the opportunity to get to the NFL. I've done those things.
"But in these four years, I have realized it's so much more. There aren't words to describe what this great university, the program and its people mean to me. This is a special place, the legacies, the expectations, the responsibility of wearing the No. 77 jersey, the fans, the great coaches and teammates. It's an honor to be a part of this tradition and family, to wear that winged helmet and to play in the greatest stadium in the world, and I'm not ready for that to end.
"I want to graduate. I want to improve to be an elite left tackle. I want to stand out there with my family on Senior Day. I want to get my 'M' ring. I want to lead some of these young offensive linemen. These are all things I would have been giving up if I left.
"This program has come a long way in my time here; won 11 games, won a BCS game, and even though our record didn't show it, I feel we made strides in the right direction this year. But we still have work to do, I still have work to do, and I'm going to spend every day working to do my best, to improve and to help Team 134 reach its goals. I know Team 134 has what it takes to win the Big Ten championship, and I want to be here for it."
"To come back, to want to be a leader of this team, to improve, I think that tells you a lot about Taylor. He's done a lot for this program, and I'm glad he feels there is unfinished business. I'm happy for him, and I'm looking forward to getting started with Team 134."