December 12, 2013

Lewan wisecracking toward Arizona

There are no worries about Taylor Lewan going soft down the stretch. Perhaps the only Wolverine ever to reference a Richard LaGravenese film during a football press conference is staying hard-edged until the end.

Lewan, of course, is noted for quick and humorous takes on situations, delivered routinely at Michigan press conferences over the past two seasons. The fifth-year senior captain's most memorable offering answered without equivocation any worries about emotions taking over in the latter half of his final season.

"I'll worry about the emotional stuff after the season is over," Lewan said. "I'm not here to watch 'P.S., I Love You' and cry myself to sleep. I'm here to play football. So when Saturday rolls around I'm here to play a football game. It's not about me. It will never be about me. It's about the team."

Lewan reinforced that notion, in the days leading up to a return to his home state of Arizona for the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl. Michigan's football efforts in the coming weeks are still not about him, senior or no.

"I think I said before, I'm not here to go watch soft, sappy movies and do all that nonsense," Lewan noted, following Michigan's first bowl practice. "I'm here to play football."

He's done that, earning the Rimington-Pace Offensive Lineman of the Year Award in the Big Ten for the second straight season. He's the ninth Michigan offensive lineman ever to start all four years, and didn't allow a single sack this season.

Lewan chose to come back for a fifth year in a Michigan uniform, when he could have headed out for the NFL last year. Although he didn't achieve one of his primary purposes for coming back - winning a Big Ten title - Lewan insists he wouldn't change the decision.

Finishing up in Arizona will be interesting, he admitted.

"It's an unbelievable feeling," he said. "Obviously, I would rather go to Pasadena and win a Big Ten championship, but the fact that we're going back to Arizona and practicing at a school I was at for a year, and built some relationships there, and having to finish my career at ASU Stadium, where I finished my last high school game, is kind of a surreal feeling."

Speaking of championships, Lewan attended the Big Ten championship contest in Indianapolis, introduced as the winner of the lineman of the year award. Sophomore Devin Funchess was also there, having won the conference's Kwalick-Clark Tight End of the Year distinction.

Given the makeup of the crowd (Ohio State and Michigan State fans, predominately), Lewan wasn't stunned over the reaction to his introduction, although the intensity caught his attention.

"It was just weird, because they announced Devin, and there was a generic boo," Lewan recalled. "I thought, all right, I'll just get a generic boo. I didn't even hear my name it was so damn loud. There were so many boos. I guess that's a good thing. I must be doing something right, if my rivals hate me.

"It's a rivalry. Those are Michigan's two biggest rivals. Obviously, Notre Dame is done after next year. I would expect them to be upset with me being there. I wouldn't have it any other way."

As for sitting and watching the Buckeyes and Spartans play it out for the championship, Lewan demonstrated his toughness by viewing throughout.

"It was a good game," he said. "I had to be there. MSU played their heart out. I'm happy for them, but obviously I'd rather be in that game, rather than just watching that game.

"I watched the whole game. It was a little hostile, but I stayed the whole time. I powered through."

Lewan said the Wolverines are powering through as well, and healing as they prepare for the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl match-up against Kansas State. The scar in the captain's forehead remained prominent, but wasn't he wasn't bleeding like in similar meetings with the media over the final weeks of the season.

"My forehead's already looking a lot better," he quipped. "It didn't even bleed today during practice. Everyone is getting healthier, our practices are shorter, but they're intense. They're quick. Everyone's focused, with a lot of energy."

But no tears, he warned.

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