CHICAGO -- Michigan might be considered a favorite in the Big Ten this season, but that matters little to Wolverines coach Brady Hoke.
He saw what happened a season ago, when most considered Michigan as a few years away from contending for the Big Ten. The Wolverines, of course, won 11 games and played in the Allstate Sugar Bowl.
“I think we were picked fifth in our division a year ago,” Hoke said. “I think the 1997 team, I think preseason was picked right inside the top 25 by a lot of people. And that ended up being a pretty good football team.
“We don’t put too much stock in that. It’s like anything in life, it’s not where we start but where we finish.”
Where Michigan finishes, though, might have a lot to do with its start. The Wolverines open with the defending national champions, Alabama, on Sept. 1 and close out the non-conference schedule by traveling to Notre Dame for a night game.
By the end of September, Michigan could have an idea if it is going to have a chance at the national title race along with the Big Ten championship race.
“When we’re playing the reigning national champion, they’re a terrific football team and they’ve done terrific things,” Hoke said. “We’re excited about the opportunity to go into a great venue, different venue, obviously, and go line up and see what happens.”
Darboh could get time
One area Michigan is definitely looking for freshmen to contribute is at wide receiver, where the Wolverines lost Junior Hemingway, Martavious Odoms and Kelvin Grady to graduation.
“He’ll have opportunities,” Hoke said. “He’s a guy we feel strongly about. He’ll compete.”
Michigan not recruiting Penn State players
While the Wolverines flipped a Penn State recruit this week, don’t expect the Wolverines to go after any current Nittany Lions players.
Hoke said while his staff scanned the Penn State roster, they aren’t going to make a play for anyone.
This and that
Michigan released its media guide Thursday and the numbers 47, 48 and 87 were not among those given out to current players. Those are the same three numbers which are being brought back into circulation this season after being retired in honor of former President Gerald Ford, Bennie Oosterbaan and Ron Kramer. ... Quarterback Denard Robinson and offensive tackle Taylor Lewan were among the 10 Players To Watch by the Big Ten. ... Among other number changes, Devin Gardner switched from No. 7 to No. 12 and Drew Dileo went from No. 26 to No. 9.