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January 11, 2013

Friday Thoughts: Lewan's potential legacy, other musings

Michigan All-American tackle Taylor Lewan surprised many with his decision to stay at Michigan for his fifth year - and also took another step toward securing an elite legacy among offensive linemen.

First, though - recognize anyone in the picture on the right? If not, you should - one of them is a sixth grade Trey Burke, one of the nation's top players and probably the country's best point guard.

This photo, from the No. 6 (nationally!) Virginia Beach AAU team, also features a few more familiar names. Michigan State guard Travis Trice, former U-M football player Chris Rock and Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller were also on the squad.

A few, obviously, have gone on to bigger and better things.

As for Burke, a future NBA standout - it still says here he's the best pure point guard in Michigan history, understanding the list includes greats such as Rickey Green, Gary Grant, Rumeal Robinson, Daniel Horton, etc.

Pete Elliott remembered

One of the harder parts of writing a Where are they Now? feature on our more seasoned subjects is when the subjects you get to know through a one-hour phone conversation pass away. We recently lost Merv Pregulman, an outstanding player from the early 1940s. In the last few days it was Pete Elliott, a 1940s standout.

For Elliott, a football All-American and basketball all-conference selection and scratch golfer who earned a record 12 varsity letters at Michigan in the three sports, it wasn't a coin flip that determined his fate, but the luck of the draw. Coming out of Naval Air Force V-5, then V-12 training at a small school in Parkville, Missouri near Kansas City, Elliott and his classmates were sent three separate ways to continue their training.

One group, Elliott recalled, headed to Notre Dame. Another was sent to Evanston, Ill. and Northwestern while the last group went to Michigan. If they'd been drawing straws, Elliott recalled, he wanted the one pointing to Ann Arbor.

In his first year at U-M, Elliott made an immediate impact in the Michigan backfield, rushing for 319 yards and passing for 393, scoring four touchdowns. In every year since, from the 40s to the present, he's added to his resume as one of the school's finest ever representatives.

Elliott enjoyed a long and successful career coaching, including head coaching jobs at Cal, Illinois, Nebraska and Miami (Fla.) and as an NFL assistant to Bud Wilkinson in St. Louis before accepting the job as executive director of the NFL Hall of Fame in 1979, a position he held until 1996.

"I couldn't have been happier," Elliott said in 2006 of his time at Michigan. "It worked out as one of the great things that happened in my life. My wife had come from Ann Arbor and went to school there. Put all those things together, and you realize fate is an amazing thing."

Mr. Elliott will be missed.

Denard Robinson will be an asset in the NFL

Not sure of the team or position, but expect Denard Robinson to enjoy a solid NFL career. The graduating Michigan quarterback will play receiver in the Senior Bowl (and probably some running back), but will he be an Antwaan Randle-El type at the next level? Percy Harvin?

Time will tell, but here's hoping he ends up with a team like New England that values character as much as skill. It wouldn't shock, in fact, if the Patriots (or another top organization) took Robinson a bit higher than projected once they get to know him through the interview process and during the combine.

Another frosh flashback …

This one featured in a recent article found in a university magazine. Freshman big man Mitch McGary wasn't just a talented basketball player, apparently. He could also ride a unicycle with the best of them - and he was a snazzy dresser, to boot (see right).

Lewan takes one more step toward securing his legacy

Finally, for the last word on Taylor Lewan and his decision, visit The Fort, TheWolverine.com's premium message board, here: Taylor Lewan.


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