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Jourdan Lewis makes presence known in Michigan spring game

The returning sophomore saw plenty of playing time last season, but will the young defensive back's role increase with an impressive spring game?

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Jourdan Lewis didn't waste any time making an impact on Saturday's spring game. In fact, it only took one play -- the very first one.

Starting over junior defensive back Blake Countess, Lewis jumped a Devin Gardner pass that was slightly underthrown and intercepted it to open the scrimmage. That play set the tone for the defensive game-plan for a unit that seemed vastly more comfortable than its counterpart. Lewis broke down the interception play after being chosen as one of the five defensive players to speak to the media after the game.

"It was just man to man and (Gardner) thought he was open," said Lewis with a laugh.

Michigan coach Brady Hoke touched on a variety of topics after the spring game scrimmage. He also shared his thoughts on Lewis.

"Jourdan is a very gifted kid," Hoke said. "He was a freshman a year ago, still a freshman now, he's a talented guy and very athletic. He's getting stronger, which helps."

Even though Lewis appears more comfortable with the defense this spring, Lewis believes it means more than knowing the defense. He said "it's about feeling the game and slowing down."

With the shuffling of defensive coaches in the offseason, so did the defensive mindset heading into this year. The coaching staff want the defense to be more physical, especially with the defensive backs. Lewis mentioned the emphasis himself over the past 15 spring practices and the impact it has made on him and the defense.

"It's huge, just getting hands on guys and trying to intimidate them," said Lewis. "That's our key point there (being physical.) That's what (Greg) Mattison is always talking about, being a physical defense."

With the nationally ranked 66th passing defense a year ago, U-M is looking for improvement. According to Lewis, the emphasis on physicality didn't seem to be there a year ago.

"I've always been physical," Lewis said. "We just didn't emphasize on being physical."

Lewis showed his physicality right from the start during the scrimmage, as he took two pass interference plays on the first drive. The second one Lewis believes wasn't the correct call.

With the summer and fall left to prepare for Appalachian State, Lewis took solace in his excellent spring performance by summing it up the best way he could.

"It looked like it was my turn today."

From the looks of it, it certainly was.

Be sure to follow Maize n Brew's Joshua Henschke on Twitter, @JoshuaHenschke.