ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Falling behind the depth chart and a shoulder injury last season put linebacker Mike McCray behind the times in regards to development and seeing the playing field.
Now, heading into the 2016 season, McCray is looking to put the past behind him and finally get a chance to make an impact this season. Despite the naysayers mentioning the linebackers being a bit of a weak spot -- for right now -- on this defense, McCray thinks the U-M defense could build on last season and become even better than they were.
As far as the linebackers go, don't worry about them he says.
"I think the defense is going to be really good," McCray said. "We had a great defense last year but I feel like we could be a lot better this year. For the linebackers, I feel like the inexperience doesn't matter, we've got a lot of young guys and a lot of athletes at linebacker. We will be perfectly fine."
After suffering from a shoulder injury last season, McCray finally feels 100% healthy. It was frustrating missing an opportunity to develop on the field with a new coaching staff, but McCray has an excellent support system around him that has kept him grounded throughout the process.
"It was frustrating but then again I have family and friends that kept me focused," McCray said. "Now I feel mentally stronger and it's going to help me in the longrun. God has a plan for me, just last year the injury, the setback, I feel fine now."
McCray will also have two new position coaches, yet again, coaching him this season in defensive coordinator Don Brown and linebacker coach Chris Partridge. Though Patridge is responsible for the linebackers, McCray says that the Brown certainly has his say on how the linebackers will be coached this season.
"Coach Partridge and Coach Brown are two great coaches," McCray said. "They bring knowledge to the game and I'm learning a lot so far. I look forward to learning even more. (Brown) is really hands on, they both work together with all of us. You've got three different linebackers, you've got the MIKE, WILL and the SAM so they both work together."