The NFL combine starts this Saturday, and Michigan fans will have their eyes on former Wolverines left tackle Taylor Lewan as he takes his next step. Lewan will go through his events on Saturday with the other offensive linemen (other groups working out that day are tight ends and specialists).
Lewan signed with Tom Condon of CAA and trained for the combine at IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.). I caught up with Lewan this week to discuss his training, his time at Michigan and whether he’s keeping up with the Olympics or not.
How is training going?
Taylor Lewan: It’s going really well. IMG is an unbelievable place. I’m on the best diet and working with the best coaches on anything I need as far as speed training, anything for the combine.
How different is your training now from your training at Michigan?
TL: It’s really different. My focus isn’t so much on football as it is on my speed work and my agility work, that’s what the testing is. All the stuff as far the field, that’s done. My film is out there, whatever people think I do well or badly is out there. Now my job is to prove my athleticism and how I can move as a 6-foot-7, 310-pound individual.
You stuck to your guns in believing that staying at Michigan was the right choice. What did you learn in your fifth year that’s helping you now?
TL: I think the best part of it was the film. I think I had my best year of football ever. I graded out higher than I ever had. My technique, my fundamentals were better than they had ever been. They can always get better. From a maturity standpoint I think I was ready to go last year, but just having an extra year to learn a little bit more.
Looking back at your college career, what moments stick out to you?
TL: As a whole collective thing, I made my best friends there. The ups, the downs, the going 5-7 my first year and then making it to the Sugar Bowl to beating Michigan State with a last-second field goal, beating Ohio State. Those are memories you never want to lose, those are unbelievable. I wouldn’t trade those for the world.
For the people that are getting antsy with Brady Hoke and Michigan football, what are your words for them?
TL: I think they need to watch the games and stick to being fans. If their opinions really mattered then they’d be getting paid for it. Coach Hoke is doing a great job in my opinion. [Athletics director] Dave Brandon, in my opinion, is an unbelievable man and absolutely knows what he’s doing. This program is going to get back on top and I think it’s only a matter of time, but you have to give them an opportunity to get them there. I think they’re going to do a phenomenal job this year.
You’re still playing football, but is there any part of you that’s sad that you’re not getting ready to start another spring football with Michigan?
TL: Not sad, but it’s kind of crazy to think that if you really think about it, I’m 22 and I’m unemployed. I started at Michigan for four years and it’s a crazy feeling to know that my future is uncertain. It’s crazy to know that if I had another year, I’d be playing again or have the opportunity to play again at Michigan and all that. It’s not a sad feeling. My five years there, it wasn’t what I wanted as far as a record and stuff like that, but it was a phenomenal experience and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. But I think I’m ready for this next step.
It is weird that you’re 22 and currently unemployed, no?
TL: Exactly. You go from being a captain on the Michigan football team to now, being in this weird limbo. I’m in Florida with a bunch of random guys I had never met before, training for a job. It’s unbelievable.
TL: Just stay confident. Be confident in who you are. Things aren’t always going to go right all the time. That never happens. You never have a perfect game. No one ever does. But when you do get beat or those times happen when you should’ve done something differently in a game, move on from it. Have a short memory.
Have you been keeping up with the Olympics at all?
TL: I have. [US hockey player] T.J. Oshie, he’s my new hero. He’s a true-blooded American and I love him to death. His quote about heroes that wear camo, those are the heroes, that’s unbelievable selflessness and very humbling as an athlete.
You played hockey a bit as a kid, but if you had to pick another winter sport to compete in at the winter Olympics what would it be?
TL: Curling. It’s the best sport. I think it’s hilarious. You slide blocks of ice on ice with brooms. You sweep with the brooms to make it go faster or turn or however it works. You look at it and you’re like “this is a ridiculous sport, why is this an Olympics sport?” and then you end up sitting there and watching for an hour.