The battle for Michigan's starting weakside linebacker position raged on throughout fall camp, with senior Prescott Burgess and junior Chris Graham competing feverishly for the honor. It was Graham that eventually earned the right to be a first -stringer on opening day, but Burgess never stopped looking at himself as a starter. Rather than hanging his head, the former Warren (OH) Harding standout decided to dedicate himself on helping the team in whatever way possible by approaching each contest as if he were starting. That positive attitude and preparation paid off when he was thrust back into his starter's role when Graham went down with injury versus Vanderbilt. The duty admittedly gave Burgess a little more pep in his step last week.
"It was just a little punishment," Burgess said regarding his role as a back-up. "But I'm back. I'm back and ready to go for it. I'm back, man! I've just got to keep playing my game.. I've just got to play my game. That's it. There's nothing else to say. I've just got to play my game and play it like I know how to play."
Graham indicated that he will be available for duty this weekend and it's possible that he will go right back to being the first string WILL. Even if that happens, Burgess knows he will still play a key role on defense. At this point the 6-3 , 235-pounder is much more concerned about his unit making some necessary improvements heading into this weekend's match-up with Notre Dame. Despite a strong showing versus Central Michigan, Burgess identified one area that definitely needs some work.
"We were in there just trying to make the best of (the rain delay)," said Burgess regarding the first quarter play-stoppage Saturday. "We wanted to get back out there, but when we came back out there we let them score. In the second half we weren't going to let them do nothing. We had to shut them down and show them that this defense aint playing."
"Our coverage needs to get better," he continued. "Too many balls got behind us. That's about it. We're good against the run. We're ready for it. We're going to Notre Dame and we're going to be ready to go."
Games like the one the Wolverines will play Saturday in South Bend are special for every player, but that's especially true for the seniors. Burgess is definitely savoring the opportunity to take on one of the Maize and Blue's most heated rivals one final time.
"I'm just pumped," he said. "Last year didn't go our way, but I feel this is a totally different team than last year. We're just going to go out there and play our game like we've been doing. We just need to show them that we deserve to play on that field."