FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Not every program has what Michigan has in running back coach Tyrone Wheatley.
Why? Well, Wheatley of course was a former running back himself, who starred at Michigan, played and coached in the NFL, before joining Jim Harbaugh’s staff in early 2015.
And that’s why senior running back De’Veon Smith sees it as an advantage for him, as he enters the next stage of his career following Michigan’s Orange Bowl game versus Florida State this Friday.
“Not many people get a chance to get coached by a former NFL running back, a former NFL running back coach,” Smith said of Wheatley. “He teaches us little things. He knows what to look for. What to expect. What I should work on to him personally, and then he puts me to work.”
Smith, who rushed for 850 yards and 12 touchdowns in 10 games this season, says Wheatley is more like a “big bro” than a coach, and was quite “thankkful” when talking about Wheatley's impact on his career.
“He tells me if you want to be this, this and that, then you got to do this, this and that,” Smith explained. “So just taking everything with a grain of salt. I’m tankful for coach Wheat, honestly. He’s really been a blessing to my life, honestly.”
Adding: “Coach Wheat reminds me of my oldest brother, so that’s how look at it,” Smith said. “Coach Wheat is not that old. He reminds me of one of my brothers, honestly.”
While Wheatley is the RB coach right now, Smith thinks being the headman someday is in his future.
“I think he can be a great head coach,” Smith said of Wheatley. “I don’t know if he wants to do that. But I think he would be great head coach.”
No. 5 Michigan (10-2) plays against No. 11 Florida State (9-3) this Friday at 8:30 p.m.