Defensive line coach Mike Elston knows Ann Arbor and the Michigan football program. The same goes for tight ends coach Grant Newsome.
Both have been here before, called it home, done some growing up here. That’s why, even in new roles with new titles, neither has found their adjustments all that difficult.
It’s also why as Elston stood at a press conference on Tuesday, it was hard to see him coaching anywhere else. He was dressed head to toe in the de facto Michigan coaches’ uniform: branded Nike shoes, khakis and a maize and blue pullover. The background shared similar colors and, of course, an ample smothering of the block ‘M.’
“(Coming back to Ann Arbor) has been great,” Elston said. “(I’ve) been able to reconnect with a lot of former players and guys that I’ve played football with or coached while I was here as a graduate assistant. … It’s been really, really good.”
Newsome talked in a similarly glowing way.
“You know what those people are about,” Newsome said. “So even though I didn’t play with (running backs coach) Mike (Hart), with (wide receivers coach) Ron (Bellamy), and I missed (assistant director of player personnel) Denard (Robinson) by a couple of years, we… have that connection knowing that these guys sat in the same locker room I sat in, played in the same stadium. He’s about what I’m about.”
The Wolverines have gone to their former players to fill vacant positions as of late. They grabbed Elston from Notre Dame after he had coached there since 2010. His role now isn’t much different than it was in South Bend, where he coached the defensive line for eight seasons. His role at Michigan is the same, except now he gets to peruse the sidelines in the Big House, wearing maize and blue.
Newsome, on the other hand, wasn’t poached from another school — he’s been inside the program since 2015. He was an offensive lineman that worked his way into the starting lineup for the 2016 season. But after he suffered a gruesome leg injury against Wisconsin that year, he missed the ensuing seasons and was forced to medically retire from football in 2018.
Since then, Newsome has been a member of the staff — helping coach the offensive line and tight ends . But this year will mark the first that he isn’t a graduate assistant. He’s got a new title now, and with it, new responsibilities.
For all that is new though, there’s so much that’s the same — so many familiar faces.
Elston and Newsome both know the program that they are coaching in so well. They share so much time around the Michigan football program and, as Newsome alluded to, even the people around the building who they may not know, they know.
Newsome tried to put into words what it means for the players to have guys like himself and Elston on staff, guys who know Michigan. He voiced it well.
“You’ve got a coaching staff that knows what it’s like to be you and truly has your best interests at heart,” Newsome said. “Because for them, it’s not just a job.
“It’s their home.”