There’s a hunger that permeates throughout Team 134. The Wolverines collectively make no bones about their failure to live up to a constant standard in Ann Arbor. It has been almost a decade since any player donning the winged helmet could call himself a champion, and that’s something they all take personally. For veterans like Desmond Morgan it’s a source of constant motivation.
“That’s something that we’ve kind of weighed heavy in our minds over the offseason and we haven’t let go,” Morgan stated. “Last year definitely was a disappointment and the year before, not winning the Big Ten championship obviously a disappointment. So this year is a year we really think that we’ve made some changes that we need to get it done and we’re looking forward to playing some football.”
One of those changes was sliding Morgan over to the MIKE position where he can quarterback the defense. Now in his third year in the program his comfort level is at an all-time high, but the same also appears to be true for a number of his defensive cohorts.
“Anytime you’re flying around, it means you’re confident in what you’re doing,” he said. “It means you know how things are supposed to be working. And so the faster we can play and the more physical we can play the [better off we’ll be].”
That enthusiasm has been evident throughout a camp in which Brady Hoke has frequently mentioning “hearing football.” During last Saturday’s scrimmage Michigan’s headman heard Morgan a great deal.
“I thought the other night was probably his best night of getting off blocks and not running to be blocked,” said Hoke. “We talk about how you fit a defense, and everybody has to be in the right place, but there’s different ways to get in the right place, and I thought throughout our defense – and Greg and the staff have done a great job of emphasizing block destruction or getting off blocks… and I think the kids have done a nice job with it."
For Morgan improvement is not just about his own performance, it’s also about setting the tone in a linebacker room that has no seniors. His role as a leader is one he takes great pride in, especially when he looks down at the legacy patch on his jersey commemorating former Wolverine great, President Gerald Ford.
“It’s a tremendous honor,” said Morgan. “I look at it every day when I look at it of who’s come before me at Michigan, obviously, a tremendous guy in Gerald Ford. But all of those guys played. The people they were not only on the field but off the field. Obviously a president, there’s no greater honor than wearing his jersey number.”
“It’s a tremendous honor.”