Michigan Football: Khaleke Hudson — 'There's New Energy' In The Weight Room
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While Michigan’s offense could have a bit of a revamped look this season, the Wolverines’ defense is expected to remain quite similar.
The Maize and Blue are only losing two starters on that side of the ball — defensive tackle Mo Hurst and linebacker Mike McCray — but junior viper Khaleke Hudson revealed that other players are already stepping up in their absence.
“It’s been a team effort,” he said. “[Junior defensive end] Rashan [Gary] has really emerged. [Junior linebacker] Devin Bush, [junior safety] Josh Metellus, [junior cornerback] David Long and myself have all stepped up and become more vocal as well.”
Although Hudson is certainly expected to win the starting viper job once again this season, there is still plenty of competition behind him.
“[Redshirt junior] Jordan Glasgow, [junior] Josh Uche and [fifth-year senior] Noah Furbush are all taking reps there,” he revealed. “[Sophomore] Brad Hawkins is getting reps there too, along with at rover. We switch up the positions a lot though, so you never know where we’re going to be.”
Although the Pennsylvania native had an incredible 2017 season — his 18 tackles for loss were the second-most in the Big Ten and his eight sacks were tied for third — he explained there are still several areas of his game he’s working to improve on.
“Covering, blitzing, and playing in the box [are things I want to get better],” he admitted. “I want to perfect my craft.”
Nine of the juniors from Hudson’s 2016 recruiting class are expected to be contributors on defense this fall — Bush, [defensive tackle] Michael Dwumfour, Gary, [cornerback] Lavert Hill, Hudson, [defensive lineman] Carlo Kemp, Long, Metellus and Uche — and he was asked if his class feels a bit more pressure on it to help get the team over the top.
He explained it’s not just up to his class, but the others as well.
“Our recruiting class was really good,” he recalled. “The 2017 group was awesome too. I don’t know as much about this 2018 unit, but the early enrollees we have — quarterback Joe Milton, cornerback Myles Sims and defensive end Taylor Upshaw — are looking great so far. I’m looking forward to the rest of that group arriving in in the summertime.”
Finally, just as seemingly everyone around Schembechler Hall has been doing lately, Hudson shared his two cents on new strength and conditioning coach Ben Herbert.
“There’s more energy in the weight room,” the junior insisted. “Everyone is happy to work out and just to be there — it’s a different feeling in there now.
“Personally, I feel stronger and faster. I also know more about my body now, like how I should be eating right, sleeping well and training the right way. I weigh 215 now, and played at 208 last season.
“Coach Herbert has us doing a lot of upper body stuff and new workouts we’d never even seen before. We all want to out lift each other and do more reps than the other guy. There’s a competition in there and it’s bringing out the best in all of us.”
• Chris Partridge coached Michigan's linebackers last season, but has since moved to safeties, which caused Al Washington to be brought in from Cincinnati to fill the void.
“He’s a high energy guy," Hudson said of Washington. "He cares about us and wants nothing but the best. Both he and Chris Partridge are great coaches, and I really don’t see that much of a difference between them — they both teach us very well.”
• Although he obviously focuses on the defense throughout practice, Hudson admitted he's liking what he's seen so far from the U-M quarterbacks.
“The quarterbacks are all very accurate and nice and mobile," he explained. "Going up against [junior] Shea [Patterson] in practice makes you see how smart, mobile and accurate he is — he’s looking pretty good.”
• Hudson is a bit more familiar with the receivers, and opined that he even though several of them may be youthful in age, they're not so in experience.
“They’re not in that 'young phase' anymore," he said. "They’re stepping up to the plate and making big plays. I’m looking forward to seeing them making explosive plays and long touchdowns this season."
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