Jenna Hickey/Daily. Buy this photo.

Sometimes all someone needs is a change of perspective. When a person puts themselves in a new position, looking at what’s ahead from a different angle, it can start to take on a new shape. 

That’s when it clicks.

For junior linebacker Kalel Mullings, taking snaps on both sides of the ball in fall camp became the switch he needed to start putting it all together.

“I’d go one day on defense, then the next day I’d be on offense … with the plan of being a two-way player,” Mullings said Tuesday.

Mullings, recruited as a defender, found himself playing a position at the beginning of fall camp that he hadn’t been in since high school: running back.

He took snaps in the backfield, trying to make whatever impact he could for the Wolverines. If that was going to be on offense — in addition to his time on defense and past experience on special teams — then Mullings was going to put in the work to make it happen.

But when injuries hit the linebacker room, and Mullings proved his prowess, his full time and concentration was needed on the defensive side of the ball. With his complete return, Mullings brought with him everything he learned from the offense.

“(Playing offense) was tough, but it was also helpful,” Mullings said. “Just being able to understand our offense and offensive schemes and the way offensive players think and the way their minds work from being in that position — it helped me a lot. From my blitzes, coverages, the way running backs do things affects the way us linebackers do things a lot.”

That rush of information set Mullings up for his first start at linebacker at Michigan Saturday against Colorado State, in which he notched two solo tackles. Though not needed on the offensive side of the ball, Mullings proved himself as a pure defender with a two-way mindset.

He credited his time on offense for his new understanding on defense. Practicing with junior running back Blake Corum and sophomore running back Donovan Edwards offered a new way to see the position. He observed how they hit holes, blocked in passing, ran routes and just saw the field, influencing his play at linebacker.

While Mullings also has a blossoming kinship for offense and the running back position, he also has reinvigorated his respect for defense and all its varying complexities.

“I will definitely say it is a lot easier going from defense to offense than it is going from offense to defense in my opinion,” Mullings said. “I feel like you can tell a lot of guys anywhere on the football field, ’Run a power, run an inside zone,’ and you can kind of understand what you’re doing… 

“Whereas defense, the terminology, the language, the checks, the motions, the window dressing, the things going on throughout your head, having to know what the guy beside you is doing so that you can know what you’re doing as well. I feel like there’s ways on offense that you can take those pressures off of a player.”

Now, Mullings can leverage that experience and that offensive knowledge to prove himself on the defensive side of the ball. As the season progresses, he likely won’t see snaps at running back, but everything he’s learned will stick with him:

“I definitely feel like I’ve gotten an even better grasp on the game as a whole with that offensive experience,” Mullings said. “… I feel like I’m an extremely athletic player, and just continuing to use that to my advantage is one of my strong points.”