U-M Experiences Help Avant at NFL Combine

Once again GoBlueWolverine's NFL Anaylst Allen Trieu is down in Indianapolis at the NFL Draft Combine. Trieu will bring us reports of interest to Michigan fans. First up -- Trieu speaks with Jason Avant. Avant is not running a 40 at the combine, but that doesn't mean he's not impressing.

Looking at the landscape at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, it is easy to lose perspective. After all, this is the week when 40 times, heights, weights, arm lengths and all sorts of other measurements can make or break a young man's future. For Jason Avant, the parts to his game that have made him so successful aren't necessarily going to draw a lot of press here. But Avant impressed on Thursday with what followers of Michigan football already knew he had: outstanding character.

Measuring in at just over 6'0 and 212 lbs, Avant doesn't really stand out physically from the rest of the receiver crop here. His speed is regularly knocked by the draft world, a concern he will not alleviate this week as he will not run a forty here. But his love for the game and his work ethic were readily noticeable.

He attributes a lot of his work ethic to New England Patriots safety Rodney Harrison, who his brother introduced him to and who has been a training partner for him ever since. "[From Rodney], I know the effort it will take to become a successful pro -- just him calling me in the morning, two in the morning and saying I just did 200 sit-ups and 200 push-ups. What are you doing?" That work ethic is something Avant has also tried to pass on to other Wolverines. "Those are some things I want to leave back with guys under me," he said.

Another source of inspiration in his life was his grandmother. Avant says he would not be where he is today without her. Avant also touched on growing up on the South Side of Chicago and not having much. "Little kids aren't supposed to worry about what they're going to eat or about getting evicted." His religious beliefs and those of his grandmother were very important to him during the tougher times. "She told me the most important thing is to have faith in God," he said.

Another big growing process for Avant was going from being a high school star to not being able to play right away in college. Those early experiences helped Avant develop into the team leader he ultimately came to be. He especially remembers having to be on the bench for his first-ever college game, when the University of Washington visited the Big House, and how that helped his growth. "I started to look around at the fans, I started to look around and the team and I was sitting in the back, and I looked around and everybody was having a good time -- and that day, it truly made me realize what Michigan was about. It took me down, it humbled me. It taught me how to be a Michigan man instead of Jason Avant."

Another key part of his preparation for the next level was catching Chad Henne's lasers. "It's a good thing," he said. " If you can catch that ball, I'm pretty sure you can catch almost anything, except maybe Brett Favre."

There is no doubt Avant will always be a Michigan man. He still has regular contact with Braylon Edwards who has advised him on the pre-draft process. So will this April's Spring Game attendees be treated to Michigan's next wide receiver draftee in a bright pink shirt? "Nah," Avant said, "That's not my style."

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