When Adam Kraus went home last Thanksgiving, his hometown of New Orleans wasn’t like he remembered it.

Steven Neff
Adam Kraus has started every game at left guard for Michigan this season. After struggling with injuries last season, the redshirt junior has helped a revamped offensive line make holes for 1,000-yard rusher Mike Hart. (emma nolan-abrahamian/Daily)

Hurricane Katrina had ravaged the landscape of the city as well as the now redshirt junior’s house.

“I was prepared a little bit from the news,” Kraus said. “Nothing can really prepare you for the way it really is. It’s total devastation. It was quite a sight.”

His parents – who originally evacuated to a small town outside of Jackson, Miss. – are now living in a rental home, which a friend of Kraus’s parents are leasing to them. And that’s where the Kraus family enjoyed their Thanksgiving dinner.

While Kraus’s house may not be in fit living condition, his family’s life has basically returned to normal. His sister, who spent a semester last year enrolled at Michigan, has gone back to Tulane. By end of the month, his family should be moved back into the house – which has been rebuilt by contractors.

Kraus’s dad even went to the Monday Night football game to watch the NFL’s New Orleans Saints play their first game in the city since the hurricane.

“My dad was at the game, and he said it was unbelievable,” said Kraus, who watched the first quarter on TV.

And Kraus has returned to Michigan with a starting role. Playing both guard and center last season, Kraus anchors the left guard position on an offensive line that blocks for the third-best rushing attack in the Big Ten.

Running back Mike Hart has already rushed for more than a 1,000 yards and recorded seven games of at least 100 yards behind the rebuilt Michigan line, which was oft-injured last season. With the same five men in the trenches for all eight contests clearing the way for Hart, Heisman talk has started circling around the junior.

“That’s great if he is,” Kraus said. “I take pride in the fact that he’s running that well and getting all that mention. It’s definitely a credit to the rest of the guys on the team, the way that everybody’s been playing.”

The running game has returned to form after floundering last season, but Kraus knows that the offense needs to get off to a better start in the Wolverines’ first few drives of the game.

Against both Penn State and Iowa, Michigan struggled to move the ball on its opening drive. The Wolverines didn’t score in the first quarter in either game and went three-and-out on their first two drives last Saturday.

“It’s evident that when you get off to a fast start, you get control of the game,” Kraus said. “It’s a lot easier for us to be able to go in there and score on the first drive.”

After coming to Michigan as a tight end, the 6-foot-6 lineman switched positions. Last year, he beat out Mark Bihl for the starting center position. This season, Michigan coach Lloyd Carr has kept Kraus cemented in the left guard spot – right next to All-America left tackle and roommate Jake Long.

“I think (Kraus) stepped in there and he came back in great shape,” Carr said. “He’s done an excellent job.”

It’s easy to get overshadowed playing next to the 6-foot-7 giant that is Long, but Kraus doesn’t mind.

With the talent Long brings to the field, he’s happy just lining up next to him. He’ll even admit he’s having a pretty good year on his own.

“I’m doing OK,” Kraus said. “I have a lot room to improve; you can always get a lot better. But I’m playing well.”

Notes: Chad Henne, Mike Hart, LaMarr Woodley and Lloyd Carr were all named finalists for awards yesterday.

The Maxwell Football Club Advisory Committee named Henne and Hart as semifinalists for the Maxwell Award for Collegiate Player of the Year. Woodley and Carr were named semifinalists for Chuck Bednarik Award for the outstanding defensive player of the year and George Munger Award for college coach of the year, respectively.

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