The battle for Michigan's starting weakside linebacker position raged on throughout
fall camp, with senior Prescott Burgess and junior Chris Graham competing feverishly
for the honor. It was Graham that eventually earned the right to be a
first -stringer on opening day, but Burgess never stopped looking at himself
as a starter. Rather than hanging his head, the former Warren (OH) Harding
standout decided to dedicate himself on helping the team in whatever way possible
by approaching each contest as if he were starting. That positive
attitude and preparation paid off when he was thrust back into his starter's
role when Graham went down with injury versus Vanderbilt. The duty admittedly
gave Burgess a little more pep in his step last week.
"It was just a little punishment," Burgess said regarding his role
as a back-up. "But I'm back. I'm back and ready to go for
it. I'm back, man! I've just got to keep playing my game.. I've
just got to play my game. That's it. There's nothing else to say. I've
just got to play my game and play it like I know how to play."
Graham indicated that he will be available for duty this weekend and it's
possible that he will go right back to being the first string WILL. Even
if that happens, Burgess knows he will still play a key role on defense. At
this point the 6-3 , 235-pounder is much more concerned about his unit making
some necessary improvements heading into this weekend's match-up with Notre
Dame. Despite a strong showing versus Central Michigan, Burgess identified
one area that definitely needs some work.
"We were in there just trying to make the best of (the rain delay)," said
Burgess regarding the first quarter play-stoppage Saturday. "We
wanted to get back out there, but when we came back out there we let them score. In
the second half we weren't going to let them do nothing. We had to shut
them down and show them that this defense aint playing."
"Our coverage needs to get better," he continued. "Too
many balls got behind us. That's about it. We're good against the
run. We're ready for it. We're going to Notre Dame and we're going
to be ready to go."
Games like the one the Wolverines will play Saturday in South Bend are special
for every player, but that's especially true for the seniors. Burgess
is definitely savoring the opportunity to take on one of the Maize and Blue's
most heated rivals one final time.
"I'm just pumped," he said. "Last year didn't go our
way, but I feel this is a totally different team than last year. We're
just going to go out there and play our game like we've been doing. We
just need to show them that we deserve to play on that field."