Michigan's starting free safety, Brandent Englemon, met with the media at Monday's afternoon press conference. What did Englemon have to say about his role on the team and what led him back to Michigan to participate in his fifth year under the Wolverines maize and blue winged helmets.
ANN ARBOR -- When Brandent Englemon verballed to the Wolverines on Feb. 2, 2003, the offer to the 5-foot-11, 205-pound safety seemed baffling to those following the recruiting class that Michigan coach Lloyd Carr brought in just over four years ago. With Leon Hall, Ryan Mundy and Prescott Burgess all committed to providing a jolt in the talent department, it was unclear how the two-star former Kentucky commitment would fit in with the rest of the class.
Now a fifth-year senior, Englemon has answered all the questions. As one of the five players left from the 2003 class, Englemon has entrenched himself in a starting role for the Wolverines at the free safety position, and it isn't the first time.
In 2005, while the Wolverines struggled through a 7-5 season, Englemon was plugged into the strong safety position as a starter for 10 of the Wolverines 12 games. In his first season as a full-time starter, Englemon provided a rock in an often times maligned secondary. As a result, returning to Michigan for his fourth year in 2006, Englemon was expected to play a significant role in the Wolverines success. He didn't live up to his expectations.
"I wasn't producing like Coach Carr wanted me to," Englemon said at the press conference. "He wasn't sure if he wanted to bring me back or not. I basically told him that if he brought me back that he wouldn't regret it. My work ethic just changed at that point. I knew that I needed to do the things that he saw that I could do."
"A year ago, Brandent did not play to his potential," Carr said. "I was very disappointed in the way he played and when he expressed an interest in coming back for a fifth year, I told him I wanted to think about that. Consequently, we had three or four discussions and I decided because he made it clear to me that it was very important to him, and that he wanted to prove what kind of player he was, I gave him the opportunity to come back.
"And this guy, if you watch the film, this guy is having a sensational year. I mean, he has made play after play, made a big tackle, caused a fumble on Saturday, he's done a great job on special teams. You know, because he has his priorities in order, this guy is something special. And he'll do some things with his life when he leaves here, I guarantee you that."
Thus far in 2007, Englemon has provided stability to the Michigan secondary. After being passed on the fall depth chart by sophomore Stevie Brown, Englemon bid his time until being plugged in for the second half of the Wolverines loss to Appalachian State. After surrendering 28 points to the Mountaineers in the first half, ASU added just six more over the final 30 minutes of play with Englemon helping captain the Wolverines secondary.
"I knew that I had a certain amount of potential that I could reach," Englemon continued. "And Stevie is going to be good once he gets a little more training under his belt, but with me having been through all the things I've been through here, I knew what I had to work on and I just went out there and worked.
"I worked on being more vocal. I worked on my conditioning and running long distances, I always hated running long distances. I knew that I needed to get consistent because I knew there was a consistency between running wind sprints and how we perform on the field."
Through six games, Englemon sits just three tackles behind linebacker Shawn Crable for the team lead with 40 tackles. His two interceptions also tie cornerback Morgan Trent for the team lead.
Against Purdue this weekend, Englemon is sure to be tested again. Boilermaker quarterback Curtis Painter and wide receiver Dorian Bryant provide one of the Big 10's best one-two punches in the conference this season. Kickoff is scheduled for noon Saturday and will be carried by the Big 10 Network.
"We get our scouting report this afternoon," Englemon said on Purdue. "We watched a little bit of film on them following the Ohio State game. We know, as a team, that they are a lot better than they showed against Ohio State."