It feels like yesterday that we were all getting prepared for Michigan’s matchup with Hawaii… Oh how time flies. It’s 2017 now and with 50 days left before kickoff, here's 50 reasons why I'm excited for Michigan’s season as well as college football in general. Let’s get hyped!
1. The Death Star is almost fully operational.
Four years ago you were probably right there with me, not believing that Michigan had lost to Rutgers, Minnesota, and come up just short against Ohio State for the umpteenth time. Fast forward 3 short years and Jim Harbaugh has put the collegiate world on notice. The time for the Wolverines success is now.
Though most will disagree with my train of thought that Michigan will have its best season to date under Harbaugh this year, you can’t help but see what he has built here. He has his players on the roster. He has his system in place. He has his hard working culture in full effect. Whether or not they do succeed in their ultimate goal of winning the Big Ten and a national championship this year is debatable, but what’s not debatable that it’ll happen sooner rather than later.
2. Rashan Gary might be the best player in the country.
Rashan Gary might not even be human. He is built like a tank and has the speed of a gazelle. Whoever the opposition sends out under center is guaranteed to take a glance at Rashan every time before he snaps. You have to watch him at all times and build an entire gameplan that will attempt to scheme around him. He has all of the physical and mental tools to excel, combine that with the opportunity to be on the field all 3 downs and he very well could end the season as the best player in America.
3. The Offensive Line will be much better.
Becoming a more athletic O-Line is paramount to the team’s success in 2017-18. Even though they lost 3 starting O-Lineman, this is an addition by subtraction situation. They may not have the experience that last year’s group had, but they have more talent. While it might take most or all of fall camp for them to gel, this unit is going to be good.
4. The defense is even faster than last year’s.
Speed abounds on the defensive side of the ball, problems playing against the Spread and mobile Quarterbacks shouldn’t plague Michigan again. Everywhere you look there’s athletes and gamers, and that’s what you need to be a perennial contender.
5. Offensive weapons abound.
The 2017 recruiting class is a prime example of the offensive talent on Team 138. Just like the defense, speed is everywhere. Having guys who can run the 40 yard dash in sub 4.40 - I’m looking at you, Donovan Peoples-Jones - who can shred defenses will open things up for other Wolverine playmakers. You can expect plenty of highlights from this bunch.
6. Tyrone Wheatley Jr. could end up as the nation’s best Tight End.
Top level blocking in addition to soft hands, good route running,and crazy athleticism could very well end up with Tyrone Wheatley Jr. winning the Mackey Award, given to the nation’s best Tight End. Regardless of whether he earns that honor or not, he is still a upper tier player at that position and someone who Michigan is fortunate to have in the fold.
7. Chris Evans is the best Michigan Running Back since Mike Hart.
Chris Evans is everything you could want in a Running Back. He already had the vision, speed, and agility to be a starting caliber collegiate player. But now, with the added weight and conditioning, this is a guy who can go the distance and finally give Michigan its long awaited heir to the Hart throne.
8. Khaleke Hudson was born to play VIPER.
Speed, strength, awareness, mentality. The words I just typed describe Khaleke to a tee. Replacing Jabrill Peppers seemed like a daunting task… it's not looking so daunting now.
9. Josh Metellus can lay the hammer down.
If I was a receiver, I sure as heck wouldn't want to come across the middle with Metellus roaming back there. He will earn his fair share of game highlights.
10. The 2017 recruiting class can end up being one of Michigan’s all time best.
The 2017 class was special. When you can reel in 5 of the top receivers that says something, and they did. Signing a Tight End would’ve been nice, but it still would have been a luxury. This class checked every single box. It’s scary to think that this class is already one of the all time best at Michigan, and with the couple of 5 stars they missed on (Isaiah Wilson and Najee Harris) they could’ve been even better. But me rambling on those 2 misses is for a later date.
11. Mike McCray will end up an All-B1G Linebacker.
Mike McCray has unfortunately had to fight through adversity by way of injuries for the majority of his collegiate career. Going on his second year starting at Linebacker, in my eyes he will not only put up numbers to garner the All-B1G honor, but he will also gain national respect and attention.
12. Michigan’s title dreams are in sight.
Consistent Top 5 classes and top level player development have sped up what many thought would be a multi-year rebuild. Many will disagree with me, but in my eyes 2017-18 will be no drop off. This very well may be the year the dream is realized.
13. Greg Frey should make the O-Line great again.
Greg Frey is an offensive line genius. He turned 2 guys who almost no one recruited into NFL talent who without his help, probably wouldn’t have panned out. He has plenty of guys on the roster who fit the mold he’s looking for of an athletic lineman. If he could do what he did at Indiana out of all places, he should do even better at Michigan in his second go around.
14. Don Brown’s blitzkrieg (oops, I punned) will be tops in the country.
Year 2 under Dr. Blitz will be exciting. People tend to forget that as talented as last year’s defense was, they had such a short time to learn the intricate workings of the system. Leaders of the defense like Rashan Gary, Chase Winovich, Tyree Kinnel, and Mike McCray now have the experience and knowledge of what Coach Brown wants to confidently go out there and execute it. Although some will disagree, I don’t foresee that large of a statistical drop off compared to last year.
15. I'm pretty sure Quinn Nordin will nail a 70 yard field goal.
If you haven't seen the videos of Quinn Nordin routinely drilling 60+ yard field goals with ease, you should check it out. If the offense can get across the 50 yard line, he's probably in range.
16. Getting to play Michigan State and Ohio State at home.
If they were able to play these games at home last year Michigan State might not have come within 2 possessions, and playing Ohio State might not have come down to a controversial call (JT was short). Getting Michigan’s archrivals at home gives me confidence that they pull both of these wins out.
17. Nate Schoenle is not just a nice story, he's a baller.
Paging Jordan Kovacs. A walk-on who could very well end up starting is reason enough to root for Nate. Couple that with his precise route running and the staff’s raving reviews and we might have ourselves a gamer.
18. Khalid Hill will be featured on offense more.
As if having the nickname, “The Hammering Panda” wasn't cool enough, losing Jake Butt and others in the passing game will only increase the Panda’s role.
19. The D-Line will scare the **** out of the opposition.
Whether you're a man of God or not, you'll want to pray for whoever draws the short straw and attempts to block these guys.
20. Garrett Moores will repeat as Best Holder.
As if his consistency (and 2pt conversion against Rutgers) didn't make you like Garrett enough, his acceptance speech for last year's title won many over. Here's to your repeat, Mr. Moores.
21. The celebrities who will be honorary captains.
Whether you like the Obama’s or not is your opinion. The fact that Jim Harbaugh could potentially reel in that kind of high profile celebrity is crazy, it really speaks to the work he's done at Michigan in this short time.
22. Nico Collins and Keith Washington are from my neck of the woods, and I can't wait to see them play.
Although I was born and raised in the greater Grand Rapids area, I currently live in Alabama. Nico Collins’ former high school (Pinson, AL) is about 30 minutes from my house. Keith Washington played about 2 hours from where I live. I know some who went to several of Keith’s games and even then they raved about his speed. I'm excited to see these ‘Bama boys succeed.
23. New Nike and Jordan Brand gear will be released.
I'm a huge sucker for any new Nike and Jordan gear, and with the previews of this season’s line dropping, it looks like I'll be spending every extra dime on it. Here's a link to the images of them.
24. I make my yearly pilgrimage back home and to Ann Arbor.
Every year I make it back home to Michigan for at least 2 Michigan games. Walking down S. Main Street on a Friday afternoon to take in the sights of The Big House is always a must. Making a pit stop at Washtenaw Dairy, they have the best donuts.
25. Senior day is against Ohio State.
As we all know Ohio State is the final home game of the year at Michigan Stadium, which means that the Senior Day ceremony will be that game as well.
It’s not like these seniors (and the rest of the team for that matter) needed more motivation to beat that team from south of the border. Playing for a potential trip to the Big Ten championship game in their final act as Michigan Men gets me excited for the boxing match that these two teams are going to be in.
26. College Gameday will make its return.
Getting up at 7am on Saturday to watch College Gameday is always one of the best parts of my week. To me, nothing beats laughing at fan made signs, listening to Desmond Howard, Kirk Herbstreit, and Rece Davis’ thoughts on that weeks’ slate of games, and then seeing who Lee Corso picks as winner by donning a helmet, mascot head, or some other outrageous gag.
27. Mike Gundy’s mullet.
Hey, technically not Michigan football, but a man’s got to respect the mullet. Let's be honest, that's a grown man look. As great as the hairdo is though, I'm pretty sure a gerbil might be living in there.
28. Overhyped and over ranked teams lose early and often.
As we saw last year with Notre Dame, Texas, and Michigan State, a preseason ranking doesn't correlate to jack squat when the ball’s flying through the air and helmets hit pads. Although this year the severely overrated teams might be harder to identify right off the bat, we can expect plenty of “upsets.”
29. The B1G is the best conference in the nation.
With the amount of upper echelon coaches and talented players, the Big Ten really distinguished itself from the rest of the pack last year. They should have no problem following that up
30. Paul Finebaum’s anti-Michigan takes and tweets.
You probably hate him, and that’s fine. But isn’t it fun to see someone proven wrong? It seems like Mr. Finebaum has Jim Harbaugh and Michigan living in his head rent free. I love turning on JOX 94.5 (which broadcasts from Birmingham, AL) the Monday following a Wolverine win and listen to Pete Paul try to defend his previous biased takes.
31. Memes and gifs.
Urban Meyer crying jordan, Mark Dantonio’s disappearing act, and so many others were highlights of last season. I can’t wait to see what hilarious edits are made this season.
32. Gus Johnson calling B1G games.
Whether its his made for TV voice, knowledge of the game, and genuine excitement that you see and hear, Gus Johnson is easily one of my favorite play-by-play guys in the business. That’s why I’m thrilled that he will be calling conference games this year.
33. Reuniting with my friends in Section 18.
For the past several years I’ve bought only whatever ticket was available. Last season, though, that’s when I stumbled on Section 18 Row 11. The couple that I sat next to (season ticket holders) immediately welcomed me to their row, and even later to their house for dinner. They were instantly my favorite seat partners to date. That’s why for all of the games I’m attending this year, I made sure to buy seats on that row, right next to them.
34. Taking one of my best friends to The Big House for the first time.
One of my closest friend is turning 78 this year. He ran track on scholarship at Ohio State back in the 50’s and has always been a diehard Buckeye fan. Despite his fanaticism he is not only one of the most laid back and respectful Ohio State fans, he is one of the most laid back and respectful people you will ever meet. He has been to every Big Ten stadium except The Big House, which is why I surprised him with tickets this year. For what it’s worth, I’ll be blasting The Victors all the way up there and all the way back.
35. Brian Kelly yelling and turning red like a fire hydrant.
Kelly is easily one of the most dislikable coaches around. That’s why it brings me great joy to see him frustrated to the point of facial discoloration. It makes me feel even better that seeing him in that state is pretty much guaranteed.
36. Halftime performances from the bands.
One of the most underrated features of the college football landscape is the shows that the talented bands put on for those in attendance. Whether it’s Ohio State’s take on Michael Jackson’s moonwalk or Michigan performing a James Bond homage they always peak my interest.
37. Jimbo Fisher’s inevitable hair piece malfunction.
If you haven't seen Fisher’s new toupee be sure to check it out. I can't wait until he walks in front of one of those high powered fans and the hair piece is blown off his head, we both know that it’s inevitable.
38. Pep Hamilton’s passing game.
Stealing an assistant from the NFL speaks to the respect for Coach Harbaugh and the career opportunity that is coaching at the U of M under Harbaugh provides. Adding Hamilton to the fold should help open up the passing game and maximize the talent that’s on the roster.
39. Early season Top 25 matchups.
Alabama vs Florida State. Michigan vs Florida. Auburn vs Clemson. No matter what Power 5 conference you look at there’s great matchups early and often. Having my choice of exciting games during the first 3-4 weeks of the season has me salivating.
40. New Dabo Swinney dances.
He can dab, hit the nae-nae, and juju on that beat. Whether you love or hate him you can't help but cringe every time he cuts loose. Personally, I can't wait to see what Dabo is going to do next.
41. Trying to understand Ed Orgeron.
Is he a Cajun Hero or the Cookie Monster in disguise? The jury is out for now, but another season of Coach O’s unmistakable attempt at the English language is entertaining for all.
42. Watching the Heisman race play out.
Derrius Guice, Lamar Jackson, Saquon Barkley, and Sam Darnold are all clear candidates. But outside of those names the field is fairly wide open, it'll be fun to sit back, watch, and see how this all shakes out.
43. Pop culture icons embracing Michigan.
Big Sean, Lil’ Wayne, and The Migos. When 3 of the most well known solo rappers and groups show you love, people take notice. Some of you may not know who they are, but recruits do, and that gives Michigan yet another edge in key battlegrounds.
44. Willie Taggart starts his reign in Oregon.
Considering Willie Taggart was the first player to ever commit to Jim Harbaugh (Western Kentucky) I’ve always been partial for Coach Taggart. He has been hot on the recruiting trail and is looking like he’s building something up in Eugene. I can’t wait until Taggart and Harbaugh eventually meet up in the Padawan vs Jedi battle.
45. UAB Football makes its return.
After unjustly having the program ripped from them, the UAB Blazers are making their return. They’re a nice storyline to follow this season and a good team to follow and root for this year.
46. Getting to watch “Cordy” follow Coach Harbaugh.
Kori Reblin is not a name you’ve probably heard, but he’s one of the most underrated Michigan Football staff members. I always get a kick out of Kori effortlessly following Coach Harbaugh around, despite his boss throwing headsets and doing his best to tangle the cord on the sidelines.
47. Wearing my array of jerseys.
Over the years I’ve accumulated somewhere between 3-9 Michigan jerseys, and although I wear them periodically throughout the year, I sport them most during football season. With 50 days left before kickoff, it’s time to dust off the collection and put them to use.
48. Fans getting a premature National Champion tattoo.
We see it every year not only in college football, but in every sport almost. It’s inevitable that we see a fan get a tat that says something like “Alabama 2017 National Champions! Roll Tide!” and every time I see that I thank God that I was raised better than that.
49. The College Football Playoff.
It may not be perfect, but it’s what we need. The BCS computer system was good, but only having two teams fight for a title berth - especially when the talent is spread so much more evenly than it used to be - is a flawed idea. There’s a reason that nearly every other sporting league uses some sort of a playoff system. Whether or not the committee chooses to expand the amount of teams is up in the air, but for now we can all breathe a little easier knowing that a near flawless season isn’t required to prove that you’re the best.
50. I get to enjoy my favorite team for at least one more year.
Nothing in this world is given, we all know that. But with as crazy as this world is and as unpredictable as life is, I’m so thankful that for at least one more year that I get to sit down on Saturday’s at whenever-o’clock, lean back, relax and enjoy my favorite team, with my favorite people and know that no matter what’s going on in my life, or what’s going on around me that The University of Michigan and their Wolverines will take the field, touch the banner, and start a 60 minute battle that will require my undivided attention.
So, whether you’re 9 or 90, a former jock or a bookworm, or any other part of one side of a coin, if you’re a Michigan fan there’s a certain unspoken bond that we all have. We may not know each other but to each other, we’re a family. So this season let’s remember to keep the takes lukewarm, to not clamor for the immediate dismissal of the entire coaching staff following a loss, and to enjoy our favorite team, and our favorite school, as they represent our favorite state.