Brady Hoke upholds Taylor Lewan's character in recent ESPN.com interview

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Expected to be a top-ten selection in Thursday's NFL Draft, Michigan coach Brady Hoke defended his former offensive lineman Taylor Lewan in a recent interview with ESPN.com.

With the NFL Draft a mere days away, NFL teams and scouts are busy spending their final hours looking over their big board of draft prospects and dissecting each player inside and out.

Taylor Lewan, who is a projected first-round pick, will be spending his last days wondering whom he will start his professional career with. He will also have to worry about whether his alleged off-field issues will haunt him in the draft.

However, Lewan does have a staunch defender of his character who has made his thoughts public recently.

His old college coach.

Michigan coach Brady Hoke defended Lewan in a recent interview with ESPN.com and more specifically, his character.

"The only thing I know off the field is the incident where he allegedly punched a guy after the Ohio State game, and it hasn't been proven that he's done that,'' Hoke said in the interview. "For me, he's never had an issue. Until the truth comes out, I think people are always going to assume.

"Look, I've been doing this long enough: People are going to have an opinion. Sportswriters are going to have an opinion and have a story written beforehand. So, don't worry about that. Worry about being the kind of person you need to be. With Taylor, his visits up to [C.S.] Mott Children's Hospital and the things that he's done in this community probably don't get publicized as much. It's always the negatives that might be out there or the allegedly that's out there.''

Lewan is due in court on May 19 for an arraignment hearing from a Dec. 1 incident where he allegedly was involved in an early-morning fight the night after the Ohio State game last season. He is expected to be charged with one count of aggravated assault and two counts of assault and battery.

During the NFL Combine in February, Lewan denied his involvement in the incident during his media session at the podium.

"I went over the Ohio State incident once before: I wasn't in any fight of any kind,'' Lewan said at the combine. "I was actually breaking something up and some guy said that I slugged him, but that's not who I am off the field. That's not the kind of person I am.''

Lewan also denied in February being involved in the alleged sexual assault case against expelled Michigan kicker Brendan Gibbons. He denied any allegations that he threatened the alleged victim. The case was closed in 2009 without any charges.

It is a relative unknown if Lewan's draft stock takes a tumble during the first round due to the allegations surrounding him. However, the Atlanta Falcons with the sixth pick in the first round appear to be a potential landing spot for him.

Joshua Henschke covers University of Michigan football for Maize n Brew. You can follow him on Twitter: @JoshuaHenschke
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