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March 21, 2013When he was first introduced to the media, a young Taylor Lewan was as interested in impressing with his finger mustache as he was his football skills. Now he seems to be on the fast track to becoming captain of Team 134.
By now, everyone knows that Lewan passed up first round NFL money to return to Michigan for his fifth year. He didn't expect many outside the U-M family to understand his decision - then again, he also didn't plan to be called a fool for it in the grocery store.
"An old lady saw me in Kroger when I was with my dad, 'are you that No. 77, Taylor?' I said, 'Yeah. I'm Taylor,' and she says, 'you're an idiot,'" Lewan recalled with a laugh. "'You're dumb.'"
"I said, 'I appreciate it, thank you. Go blue.' I didn't know what to say. No one is going to understand why I did what I did unless they played at the University of Michigan or have been part of this program so long. I'm so happy to be back, I wouldn't change it for the world."
His first goal isn't an individual goal, but a team goal - to bring a 43rd Big Ten title to the program, something he believes "isn't far off." He's the first to bark at someone if they're doing things wrong, some of his teammates said Tuesday, and the first to encourage his young linemates when they do something right.
He's also critical of himself, to a fault. He's an All-American, but he acts as though he's still got plenty to learn.
"I need to work on everything," he said. "Have I hit the top? Absolutely not. But this is not about me; it's about the team. Everything I do is going to help or hurt the team. A younger Taylor Lewan might do thing that possibly hurt the team, but everything is now about helping the team on and off the field. I'm going to bed earlier, keeping in shape during spring, summer, winter "
And especially in the fall, where the Wolverines will field an offensive line with three new starters.
As for what it feels like to be back at Michigan ...
"I didn't go anywhere. I went to Louisiana after the bowl game and came back here and said I was staying," he said with a laugh. "I had a talk with my dad, he picked me up from the airport and I told him I was staying. He said, 'what if gets to be March, April and you feel differently? You could be this in draft, do this. What if you regret that decision?'
"But so far, so good. I'm loving it here. I'm thoroughly enjoying Michigan and hoping to make the fans proud, coaches proud and be successful during the season."
"Kyle Bosch and Logan Tuley-Tillman have done a great job," he said. "At first it's culture shock - you're the best in high school, but everyone is just as good if not better. It's a shock, but they bought in right away. They've done a great job buying in to the program.
"The line - we've done a tremendous job competing, moving the line of scrimmage. We'll be very successful if we do it at the rate we are right now compared to past springs. Guys want to win everything - everyone is working so hard. I'm really excited for this team, 134, and 135 and 136 are going to be in good hands."
"We got a feel for it the last four games last year. He did a great job," Lewan said. "We'll all miss Denard Robinson, the legacy he left. Those are big shoes to fill. But Devin's arm strength and accuracy - I'm excited to see what he can do in the season."