ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The obvious connection didn’t initially enter Michigan coach Brady Hoke’s mind as he went through his selection criteria for who would wear the No. 48 jersey of former United States President Gerald R. Ford.
Sure, Hoke has a lot of players from the Grand Rapids, Mich. area on the roster. But he didn’t look at that as something which mattered when honoring one of Michigan’s legendary players and certainly one of its most successful after football.
It just worked out that way.
Hoke said he gave sophomore linebacker Desmond Morgan the No. 48 jersey because of what he does, not because of where he is from.
“It was very easy to choose Desmond because of his character and his integrity,” Hoke said. “Because of how he comes every day in our building, in the classroom, in the community. He’s a great kid.
“Really, the Grand Rapids connection didn’t really have a whole lot to do with it. When I felt I was going to do it with Desmond, then it kind of clicked in.”
Morgan is from Holland, Mich., about a half-hour southwest of Ford’s hometown of Grand Rapids.
“I’m quite honored and privileged to represent a former Michigan player,” Morgan said. “He was a standout person and player and on top of that, President of the United States. It’s such a great honor and I’m going to wear it proud.”
It also means two of the four Legends Patch jerseys given out belong to sophomore linebackers. Jake Ryan switched his jersey number earlier this season to No. 47 in honor of Bennie Oosterbaan.
This was something Ryan and Morgan, who could conceivably be anchors of the Michigan defense for the next two-and-a-half seasons, had already discussed.
“Having 47 and 48 as linebackers is pretty cool, being lined up with each other,” Ryan said. “Desmond definitely deserved it and he’ll definitely represent the jersey.”