Notebook: Lewan hopes leadership will assist young offensive line

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By Liz Vukelich, Daily Sports Editor
Published April 9, 2013

The conclusion of the basketball season means the eyes of the Michigan athletic community are on sophomore point guard Trey Burke and if he’ll decide to leave Michigan and enter the NBA Draft.

Taylor Lewan knows that feeling all too well — it’s been three months since the Jan. 9 press conference when the fifth-year senior tackle announced his decision to stay with the Michigan football program one more year instead of entering the NFL Draft.

Lewan doesn’t envy Burke’s decision at all, but now that all the attention is off his status at Michigan, he’s focusing on things a little bigger than him.

“I (stayed) for my team,” Lewan said. “Now that that’s over, my focus is Team 134 and it’s not about (how) I stayed. If I stayed and we go 3-9 then that doesn’t matter. It’s not about me, it’ll never be about me.”

Lewan’s newest priority? Nurturing a youthful offensive line in preparation for Saturday’s spring game and embracing his new leadership role.

“I’ve tried to take it to a whole new level,” Lewan said. “My big focus the last couple years has been the offensive line, and I’ve taken it to being the whole team now. It’s cool to see guys that are starting to follow.”

Lewan, though, has been reluctant to praise the line too much based off what he’s seen this spring. The unit is still struggling with the minute details, such as hand placement, and needs to become more aware.

It appears redshirt freshman guard Kyle Kalis has been making enough progress this spring to probably lock in the starting job, and he has Lewan’s full approval.

“It’s cool to see the transition from just one season doing a scout team to the spring and how much more they’ve retained just in those few months,” Lewan said. “If everybody focuses on their assignment, does their job, that’s how you win games. Everything’s a one-on-one battle.”

SPRING AWAKENING: Saturday’s scrimmage in Michigan Stadium signifies the end of spring practice and the end of the Wolverines’ first marking period, so to speak.

The players spoke of some personal goals they hope to accomplish by Saturday. But some goals are a little broader than others — in addition to his own objectives for the spring, part of senior cornerback Courtney Avery’s goals includes mentoring the younger defensive backs.

The Wolverines are blessed with enough depth at secondary to keep a healthy rotation during practices, but with freshmen constituting about a quarter of the defensive backs, there’s still a little bit of a learning curve.

That’s where Avery, and his fellow upperclassmen, come in.

“After you take your reps and you’re on the sideline, you watch your position,” Avery said. “That way you can get your mental rest, and you can help coach them. The coaches on the field aren’t going to be able to catch every little thing.”

COUNTING ON CLARK: It might only be spring ball, but Lewan is already anticipating postseason accolades for his teammates. On Tuesday, he expressed little doubt that junior defensive end Frank Clark will make the All-Big Ten team, and that’s based only on the times he’s gone up against Clark in the limited number of spring practices.

Senior defensive tackle Jibreel Black agreed and admitted he’s happy to have Clark on his side of the line of scrimmage.

“Frank’s been running the ball the best I’ve seen (since) the first play of his freshman year,” Black said. “I can see the whole D-line being All-Big Ten talent.”

NOTE: Angelique Chengelis of The Detroit News reported Tuesday that the spring game will be a situational scrimmage.