With a little more than six and a half minutes left in the fourth quarter of the Michigan football team’s win over Maryland on Saturday, Jared Wangler trotted onto the field and into the offensive huddle.
Per usual, the fifth-year senior fullback was joined by his position partner, sophomore Ben Mason. And while Wangler knew there were a variety of plays that could be run with both fullbacks, it wasn’t until junior quarterback Shea Patterson called the play that Wangler knew he was going to score.
Moments later, the 12th-ranked Wolverines broke the huddle. Patterson got the snap, and he faked to Mason while Wangler leaked into the flat. Patterson rolled out and hit Wangler near the goal line, who fell into the endzone with the ball.
“When I caught it, I didn’t really know if I was in the endzone or not,” Wangler said. “But when I saw the blue endzone, that’s just kind of when I knew. And then, obviously, I got pretty juiced up after that. I was pretty excited.”
That’s when the celebrations began. First, as Wangler said, he got juiced up, yelling into the Michigan Stadium crowd while his teammates mobbed him in the corner of the endzone.
Then he made his way to Michigan’s sideline, where he was met by all the players who have known him over the last five years, going crazy for a fifth-year senior’s first career touchdown.
Wangler’s brother, Jack Wangler, who played for the Wolverines from 2013 to 2017, had made his way down to the front row. Wangler celebrated with him, too, for good measure.
“It was awesome to see that,” said senior wide receiver Grant Perry, who played with Jared in middle school. “You know, he’s worked so hard, and it was just really happy. All the guys were really happy for him.”
Wangler’s first touchdown isn’t exactly a shocker — he has played increasingly more snaps as the season has advanced.
Still, even with the rest of the season to go, the play gave Wangler somewhat of a punctuation on a career that has been anything but routine.
Wangler, whose dad, John, is a former Wolverine quarterback, came to Michigan as a three-star safety.
Since then, Wangler has gone through the firing of Brady Hoke — the coach he committed to — a position change to fullback and even a knee injury over this past summer.
All that turmoil has driven Wangler in to work harder, to prove he belongs.
“It feeds in a lot,” Wangler said. “You know, you go through the ups and downs, you don’t quite play as much as you anticipate on, like, early on in your career. And, yeah, it’s just something that sticks to you. You really want to be out there and contribute for the team, and you’re in here busting your butt every day just like everyone else. So yeah, that’s something that plays into it.”
One of the unknown pieces of turmoil for Wangler was revealed on Tuesday via Wangler’s Instagram account.
He posted a picture of himself celebrating in the endzone with Mason, captioned, “ ‘You will never play here at Michigan’ -DJ Durkin (2015)”
Durkin is the Terrapins’ head coach — though he is currently on administrative leave — and was the Wolverines’ defensive coordinator in 2015.
“I guess it’s just something I appreciated that he did for me early on in my career, was, you know, he was tough on me,” Wangler said. “He’s a tough coach. That’s just kind of his style. So that quote just kind of always stuck with me in my head, and that’s just one of those things, like I mentioned earlier, you just have to prove people wrong. So, you know, I appreciated that, that he gave me that extra incentive.”