Like many Wolverines before him, redshirt sophomore Jordan Glasgow is making the move from special teams standout to defensive contributor. In the words of Chase Winovich, “Jordan’s a beast.”
Glasgow, who plays defensive back when he’s not defending kick returns, walked out as the special teams captain last weekend against Minnesota, a testament to his performance the week prior versus Rutgers.
He made one solo tackle while playing safety against the Scarlet Knights and followed that up with a career-high three tackles that day against the Golden Gophers. His success has helped boost a special teams unit that is one of the best in the nation.
Michigan (4-2 Big Ten, 7-2 overall) hasn’t allowed a single kick return to go for a touchdown this season and allows an average of just 14.59 yards per return — the No. 3 best kick return defense in the country.
“We have good game setups, we have good plans every game and we have people that want to go down there and make a play, and I think that’s the most important thing,” Glasgow said. “If people run down there, think it’s going to be a touchback and slow down, it just gives the return team an opportunity.”
That’s not an issue for Michigan, though, because according to Glasgow, everyone sprinting downfield on kickoffs wants to make the big hit.
Many of those players aspire to play more consistently on offense and defense, so when they line up on special teams, that’s their time to stand out.
Redshirt junior linebacker Noah Furbush and Winovich, a redshirt junior defensive end, both spent most of their earlier years on special teams, but now play on defense full-time.
Winovich starts at his position, and Furbush rotates along with the other linebackers, but when they were sophomores, they were basically kickoff specialists.
“I knew every single thing those kick returners did,” Winovich said. “The way they set up. The way they turned. I learned a lot about scouting people from that year. It was kind of just doing everything perfect, doing your assignment and trying to make big plays.
“Going down there and putting somebody on their butt, being consistent, playing hard — showing that you’re an animal.”
Added Furbush: “Everybody has got a role on the team, and everybody’s got to do that role to the best of their abilities.”
Glasgow is doing just that. After leading the Wolverines with 12 special teams tackles in 2016, he focused this offseason on the improvements that would make him a better candidate at defensive back.
For a safety, Glasgow admits that he’s a bit slow. He made a conscious effort to become faster before this season started, focusing on all the workouts that the strength and conditioning coaches plan for the team.
“As long as you go through those, you give your entire effort and you give everything you have, you’re going to get better no matter what,” Glasgow said. “I just put all the effort I could into the plan that the coaches put together for me, and that helped develop me as a safety and defensive player.”
Now, Glasgow is in the room with the safeties. He’s starting to put stats in the pass break up column, and he’s continuing to add to his tackles total.
“Jordan does it every game,” Winovich said. “He’s been doing it. It’s one of those things, you do it for a while, and finally other people start to catch on. That’s Jordan.”