BY GENNARO FILICE
Daily Sports Editor
Published January 5, 2005
PASADENA, Calif. — Following Michigan’s 38-37 loss to Texas, redshirt junior strong safety Ernest Shazor talked about how it felt to walk off the field after not being able to stop Texas on the game’s final drive.
“It’s a part of the game,” Shazor said. “It comes with the territory. It’s a bad feeling, but you live to fight another day. We’ll be back here.”
Unbeknownst to Shazor, he’d just backed himself into a question that has been buzzing around Ann Arbor for a few months.
“Will you be back here?” a writer quickly uttered.
“I’m not sure right now,” Shazor said. “I’ve just gotta weigh my options right now.
“I’m gonna talk to (Michigan coach) Lloyd Carr and talk to my parents and see how everything is going on with the situation at home.”
The Detroit native says he’ll make his decision by Jan. 15 — the deadline for players previously eligible to apply for the draft.
Shazor — a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award (given to the nation’s best defensive back) and first-team AP All-American — led Michigan with 84 overall tackles this season. He also recorded 10 tackles for loss, snatched two picks, recovered two fumbles and forced two fumbles, including a game-winning strip in the waning moments against Purdue.
Michigan wide receiver Braylon Edwards, who faced a similar decision last year before coming back for his senior season, offered some advice to Ernest Shazor:
“Make the best decision for you and your family. Make the decision that you won’t regret.
“A guy like Ernest, his stock is high right now. He’s been here four years. You don’t know his family situation. Maybe going to the NFL might be the best thing for Ern.”
Bringing the Wood: Although the Michigan defense struggled through one of its toughest games in recent memory, it did have at least one bright spot. Sophomore defensive end LaMarr Woodley earned the Rose Bowl’s Defensive Player of the Game, recording game highs with 11 tackles (nine solo) and four tackles for loss.
For most of the year, Michigan has utilized a 3-4 defense, playing Woodley at outside linebacker. But on New Year’s Day, the Wolverines employed a 4-3 look, giving Woodley the start at defensive end, something he says was much more challenging.
“The difference is, when you’re playing defensive line, is that you’re actually going to go against a tackle every play,” Woodley said. “So you’re going to get tired because you’re battling every play. The thing about outside linebacker is sometimes you might not be going up against an offensive tackle, you might be dropping back. So you don’t have to use as much energy.”
Notes: Marlin Jackson set a Michigan record with his 39th start in the Wolverines’ secondary … Chad Henne became the first true freshman to start at quarterback in the Rose Bowl, and he tied a Rose Bowl record with four touchdown passes.