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January 9, 2013Will he stay or will he go? Michigan redshirt junior offensive tackle Taylor Lewan, projected as a high to mid first round draft pick by many, will make his intentions known tonight in a 6:00 press conference at the University of Michigan's Junge Center.
There's been plenty of speculation that he plans to forego his final year of eligibility for a shot at the NFL.
"Lewan's size, length and athleticism already put him among the best players in the country at his position - but his nasty streak (both as a run blocker and pass protector) and potential for growth are what NFL offensive line coaches, scouts and general managers most appreciate," NFL.com draft analyst Chad Reuter wrote in August.
That was before Lewan, who played through bumps and bruises much of the year, more than held his own against outstanding South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney in the Outback Bowl.
Lewan earned All-America honors from Walter Camp, the Associated Press, ESPN.com, SI.com and CBSSports.com (second team). He was the Big Ten Rimington-Pace Offensive Lineman of the Year and an All-Big Ten first team (coaches and media) selection, as well as the Hugh R. Rader Memorial Award recipient.
He has started 28 straight games for the Wolverines.
"It's easy to understand why Lewan plays with the toughness and attitude he does," Reuter wrote. "His father, Dave, walked on at Minnesota as an offensive lineman despite suffering a collapsed lung before arriving on campus. Unfortunately, his other lung collapsed during his sophomore year, ending his career before he could take his game to the next level.
"Taylor will not only fulfill his father's dream, but he'll be among the top prospects at his position."
Lewan said during Outback Bowl festivities he had an idea what he was planning to do.
"I'm almost positive I know what I'm doing, but at the end of the day, this bowl game doesn't have to do with what I'm doing," he said.
"I've talked to my coaches; I've met with a guy like [associate athletic director] Greg Harden. He's been a part of this program for so long, he and I used to meet a lot. One of his biggest things is I have to be more independent in my decisions I make, and it's been a lot on me.
"At the end of the day, it's my life - it's what I have to do, and sometimes what's best for you is not always going to make people happy, whether I stay or go."
ESPN's Mel Kiper projected Lewan the second offensive tackle taken, behind Central Michigan's Eric Fisher, and the No. 13 prospect overall on his big board in December. That was before Lewan's solid showing against Clowney.
"I went up to him after the game and said, 'You're one of the best defensive ends I ever played against,' and he looked back in my eyes and said, 'You're the best tackle,'" Lewan recalled of Clowney. "... That's a great compliment, but none of that matters because we didn't win the damn game."