Don Brown knows you’ll think he’s crazy, but he doesn’t much care.
After all, he’s been around the block a time or two. In over 40 years in the profession, he’s coached All-Americans and future professionals. He’s spent his life living and breathing defensive football — and he’s one of the best around.
That gives him the license to make a determination that strays from conventional wisdom a time or two. On Monday, that particular claim came in regard to senior linebacker Jordan Glasgow.
“I’ll say this, and I might be criticized: This guy might be one of the best players in the Big Ten,” Brown said. “Watch him run and hit people. Just watch him play.”
Coming into the season, the fifth-year senior was seen as valuable versatility — a depth piece to shore up the linebacking corps. He wasn’t the starter at VIPER, the spot belonging to senior Khaleke Hudson. He wasn’t the heir apparent to Devin Bush at the MIKE linebacker spot, either. That position, the general consensus held, was going to be Josh Ross’. He wasn’t slated to be the WILL linebacker either, but he won that job anyway.
And in a personnel group defined in the early season by volatility, Glasgow remains a steadying presence. In the early weeks of the season, he’s taken that play up a notch.
In a week one win over Middle Tennessee State, Glasgow secured two sacks, matching his career total to that point. Against Army the next week, he seamlessly slotted into one of the inside linebacker spots, helping hold the Black Knights to their lowest yards-per-rush average since 2015 and their lowest total yardage since 2017.
Asked to dissect why Glasgow was accepting of a move inside, from his more natural VIPER spot, Brown initially scoffed.
“Are you serious? He had no choice, ‘You’re moving inside,’ ” Brown joked. “(Glasgow) was willing (to make the move). He’s a great dude.”
Glasgow came to Michigan a walk-on — and brother of Graham, who then manned the Wolverines’ offensive line and now plays for the Detroit Lions. His career at Michigan has been a coach’s dream — steady ascension, gradual increase in role, sudden blossom, invaluable veteran contributor. In many ways, though, he still carries the stereotypes that hang around his path. Asked after his standout opening-week performance about newfound speed, Glasgow instead shrugs it off.
“It’s difficult to say. I don’t consider myself very fast relative to the other people on the team, people that are my size,” Glasgow said. “I think that you may be exaggerating how fast I am.”
Turn to Brown, though, and he’ll entertain no such degradation.
“I mean, he’s a junkie,” Brown said. “He might be one of the funnest guys in the world to coach, because he loves it. He eats it. He drinks it and he backs it up, because he smashes everybody that moves.”
Brown then offered a quick anecdote to illustrate that point, recalling a phone call he received one night.
Coach, I’ll be available tomorrow morning at 7:20. I’d like to go over my plays.
OK, I’ll see you tomorrow to go over your plays.
I specifically want to go over my (naked bootlegs).
OK, we’ll go over the (naked bootlegs).
If anything, Glasgow’s path lends more credence to his merit, not less. He is no longer a walk-on. He is no longer just Graham’s brother. He’s shed nearly every hindrance in his path, and he’s done so on his own terms. Two weeks into his final collegiate season, Glasgow is a steadying force for a group once seen as a possible liability.
And if Don Brown has anything to say about it, one of the best players in the Big Ten.