October 11, 2013

Gordon: freshmen require patience

More than a few folks panic when highly heralded freshmen don't automatically come out piling up big numbers in their first fall. Thomas Gordon doesn't. He just smiles.

The fifth-year senior safety will be the first to tell you he didn't garner all the recruiting chatter that so many do. That hasn't stopped him from entering this year as a three-season starter, after starting four games as a redshirt freshman.

So when somebody asks him about a frosh like defensive back Dymonte Thomas, Gordon is quick to remind that Thomas, like any freshman, is in a learning mode. That doesn't mean he's not contributing, Gordon noted.

"He's all over the place," Gordon praised. "He's a key guy on all our special teams. We depend upon him heavily on special teams. He's a high-energy guy, and Coach likes him. He's going to be a guy who makes plays in the future."

He'll certainly receive more opportunities in the secondary, Gordon noted. For now, he's getting better daily by watching those who have been there before.

Gordon noted it's no different for any of the rookies.

"They've just got to be patient," Gordon said. "A lot of them come in here, like many students that come to Michigan, with big expectations. They want to play early. All of them have to learn to just be patient and understand, everybody here is just as good as you. He's just got to learn, your time is going to come."

Asked if he was impatient as a freshman, Gordon smiled broadly.

"Yeah, definitely … but I wasn't as highly touted as they were," he said. "I was only a two-star, so…"

Gordon then broke out laughing. The smiles quickly vanish, though, when the task of corralling a higher-profile freshman comes up for discussion. Penn State's Christian Hackenberg doesn't have the luxury of learning at a moderate pace.

He'll be in the sights of Michigan's pass rushers tomorrow night, with the bright lights on and huge expectations swirling for a Homecoming crowd. The true freshman quarterback having a huge game represents Penn State's best chance of taking down the Wolverines at Beaver Stadium.

Gordon knows it's Michigan's job to remind him of his newness to the Big Ten.

"We've just got to be disciplined in our reads," Gordon said. "He has a real strong arm. They have a great receiver in [Allen] Robinson. We've got a tough task this week, but we're going to prepare like we do every week and come ready to play.

"As a DB, when you know they're going to put the ball in the air, you get real excited. That's the goal this week - we're going to try to take out that phase of the game for that team."

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