After 60 straight days of waking up before 6am to run the Michigan Stadium stairs, Adrian Arrington woke up on Saturday with a different, and happier task. Rejoin his teammates for the annual Carr's Wash for Kids benefiting Mott's Children's Hospital.
This was the first time in several months Arrington was allowed anywhere near the team. Following a spate of off-the-field incidents, Carr came within a hair of booting Arrington from the team, instead banishing him from spring practice with a one-more-screw-up-and-you're-gone warning.
Arrington lived in Carr's doghouse the last two seasons. Missing the Alamo Bowl for a violation of team rules and going through a widely publicized tussle with his girl friend that nearly landed him in the slammer, Arrington was not the model citizen we'd expect a young man in his position to be. Hell, he wasn't even the malcontent with the sense to keep a low profile. He was just plain, old-fashioned dumb.
Following the dismissals of Eugene Germany, Chris Richards, and Carson Butler for a string of embarrassing off-field incidents, Arrington's return to the team was not a foregone conclusion. If anything, the dismissals made it more likely Arrington was finished in Ann Arbor. Carr had no problem parting ways with the insanely talented Carson Butler following his participation in a St. Patty's day beat down of a student he didn't even know. Germany was another repeat offender, but his transgressions were more along the possession and use lines, and nothing as serious as battery. In fact Germany was penciled in to contribute serious minutes on the defensive line this winter. Not anymore. He received his walking papers after a third citation for possession.
Which brings us back to Arrington. 6am. Every day of the week. With Carr or a member of his coaching staff watching him, yelling at him, letting him know all he had to do was quit and it would be over.
I got nowhere else to goooooo!
After 60 days of banishment and sprints up and down Michigan Stadium, Arrington will be allowed to rejoin the team for summer workouts. Even so, Carr made amply clear Arrington wasn't off the hook yet.
In short, one screwup and he's still gone. Apparently Arrington is aware of this. After late night partying got him in trouble, Arrington has learned to stay in on a Friday night and take it easy. After minor in possession and driving while impaired allegations were leveled, Arrington appears to favor Gatorade over Old Style.
No Longer the Breakfast of Champions
If Arrington is able to keep his nose clean he stands to make a considerable amount of money in next year's NFL draft. While not a first or second round pick, a strong year at Michigan could raise him into the third round and all but guarantee him a roster spot in the pros. His return would also make a potent Michigan offense much more deadly by taking the pressure of the No. 2 slot off of Greg Matthews and providing Henne with another proven target over the middle of the field. His return would also add much needed depth to the wide receiver corps. While Michigan is stocked with talent at the wings, it's raw and most of it hasn't seen the field yet. The return of Arrington's 40 receptions, 544 yards and 8 touchdowns will allow Carr and DeBord the luxury of easing the younger players into situations where they can succeed rather than throw them to the wolves.
Still. As Carr said. It's all up to Adrian. By all accounts as nice a young man as you'll meet. Smart. Bright. Talented. Seemingly everything to gain and seemingly the brains to realize it. However, as happens with many bright people, you never realize what you have until it's taken away. The fortunate ones earn a second chance and learn from their mistakes. The ones that don't, well, they disappear.
Arrington put in the time to earn his second chance. We can only hope the time he put in taught him there won't be another.