Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Graham Glasgow, "Walk-on"

Brendan Quinn has a piece on Graham Glasgow's role as a former walk-on turned starter that I found interesting for a couple of reasons.

For some reason, a stigma still exists vis-a-vis the notion of the walk-on and such a player's ability to contribute at the BCS level, let alone start. Often, such concerns are in fact valid. If you are Michigan, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Alabama, and so on, if a walk-on is playing, it is generally preceded by a string of negative events, namely injuries or under-performing scholarship players.

However, slowly but surely Michigan has built up a bit of a reputation as place where walk-ons can thrive. Some places, like Nebraska in its heyday, made a living from this; Michigan is not quite there yet.

With that said, after former walk-ons like Will Heininger and, of course Jordan Kovacs became useful players (in the former's case) or invaluable (in Kovacs's case), it might be time to dial down the level of concern the next time a walk-on receives hype during spring and fall ball.

Now, with Glasgow having five starts under his belt, we can add one more point to this body of data that slowly approaches confirmation of the idea that walk-ons do not imply disaster.

This process of gradual acceptance is not unlike the slow journey Glasgow described regarding his quest to see the field:
“One good performance isn’t going to change a perspective or a view of you, so you just day-in and day-out perform and maybe, like, impress the strength coaches at first and have them in the ear of the offensive line coach,” he said.
And then the line coach tells the offensive coordinator, who tells the head coach.
“It just accumulates and accumulates to the point where you can finally make a jump or get a chance,” said Glasgow, whose accumulation occurred toward the end of last year, when his play at center impressed line coach Darrell Funk.
Also, I found Taylor Lewan's quote interesting, even if he might just be saying it to lend further credence to Glasgow's move to center:
“Graham's always, since spring ball, been a lot better at center than at guard,” said left tackle Taylor Lewan. 
The offensive line has been far from perfect, but even those most cynical about the concept of a former walk-on starting at guard/center for Michigan would do well to remember that Glasgow is just a redshirt sophomore who only appeared in five games last season.

Glasgow is not David Molk yet, and he may never be. Then again, who would've thought Jordan Kovacs would turn out to be the best Michigan safety in many years after his performance against Indiana in 2009?

As unsatisfying as it may be to hear for the average fan, progress is a slow-moving thing. The same thing applies for Michigan at the guard spots, where the Brobdingnagian Chris Bryant and Kyle Kalis continue to learn the way.

The Michigan offensive line's improvement, more than any other part of this Michigan team, will determine whether or not the Wolverines can win eight games this season or 10+. Upon Glasgow's move to center, however, early returns are encouraging.

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