After hearing about Steve Breaston’s onfield exploits in practice for the better part of a year, Michigan fans finally got a chance to see for themselves last season the electricity he brings to the field. Capable of taking any ball he fields the distance, the western Pennsylvania native is looking to make even more of an impact this season. Whether he is able to do that will depend in large part on his health…and despite his sleek frame, he was surprisingly durable last season. Still, he is looking to improve in that area and the yellow Lance Armstrong bracelet he and a number of other players are wearing symbolizes his dedication toward putting forth maximum effort to that end. “I got it (the bracelet) lifting with my trainer Mike Gittleson because if you work out with him you have to lift strong because he is going to push you,” Breaston said. “It’s going to make you better though. Lance Armstrong is a great endurance athlete…probably one of the greatest endurance athletes of all time. That links to football because you need endurance to go through a 12 game season in the Big Ten.”
The importance of his regimen became even clearer when a stress fracture sidelined him for much of the summer. As a precautionary measure he has even been limited a bit in practice. Even though he was forced to watch from the sidelines for much of that time, Breaston indicated that there were/are still very valuable things that can be weaned from merely observing. “Since I got here I’ve always watched the other receivers,” Breaston said. “This my third year playing receiver so I’ve been watching Jason, Braylon, and the guys and looking at their route running, paying attention to the plays, and staying in it mentally. You don’t ever want to lose the mental part of the game because you don’t want to be too far behind when you get back out there.”
As a devastating runner from the QB position at Woodland Hills High School, he was rarely on the receiving end of a pass. Because of that, honing his skills as a receiver has been Breaston’s primary focus since he began his Michigan career. ” Ever since I got here I’ve been working on route technique and catching the ball,” Breaston said. “Getting on the machine and catching 100 balls, catching balls from the QB’s, running good routes… I just try to get everything crisp.”
While receiver is a position he has had to adjust to, being a returner definitely hasn’t been! He had Michigan’s first return for a touchdown in almost a decade when he turned in a 69-yard jaunt versus Indiana last season. He also set Michigan season records in punt returns (45) and yards (619) and notched another score against Illinois. The Big Ten’s co-freshman of the year relishes being back on that island and actually looks forward to the possibility of adding returning kicks to his resume. “That’s something I want to do,” Breaston said of returning kicks. “It’s a fun thing. You’re in your own little world out there. There are really no designed plays other than return left or return right. But it comes down to you being face to face with the defender doing what you want with him to make him miss. Returning a punt you can move laterally and do a lot of shaking. You still have to hit the hole, but you have to make a lot of people miss. Returning a kick is really about hitting the hole and staying close to the sideline.”
The prospect of Breaston having the ball in his hands a few more times per game is extremely exciting. He lit up at the mere mention of the possibility himself. However, when asked what excited him most about the upcoming season, it had nothing to do with long touchdown runs by #15. “I love the defense,” Breaston said. “They’re just flying around out there and making plays. I’m very excited about what they can do this year! They have a ton of potential and a lot of talent and I think they can accomplish a lot.”
The defense just might be stellar this season, but it’s still safe to say that Michigan fans will be drawing excitement from watching Stevie B too!