With help from Brady Hoke, Michigan's Jibreel Black is 'starting to love' defensive tackle
ANN ARBOR -- Few players in America get one-on-one position tutelage every day from their head coach.
But at Michigan, a handful of players absolutely do.
Since moving from defensive end to defensive tackle in the spring, Michigan defensive lineman Jibreel Black has slowly but surely picked up the nuances of his new spot on the field -- thanks in large part to his position coach:
"That's great," Black said. "I know a lot of student-athletes across the country who play football, but for the head coach to coach (individually with me) every day, to have him in my corner, that's great.
"Sometimes you forget he's the head coach, he's (your position coach) and then he just pops back."
In Greg Mattison's defensive scheme, Hoke has taken on the role as the position coach for the team's interior defensive tackles. It's his personal specialty, and it's something he's done everywhere he's been a head coach.
Black says being able to work closely with Hoke every day has allowed him to get much more comfortable with his new position, something that wasn't as easy as it sounded early on this season.
"Early in the year, with my production, I thought it (all came along) kind slow," Black admitted. "But as the year's gone on, I'm starting to get the hang of it. Get the feel of it. And I feel like it's just going up.
"I'm starting to love it. In spring ball, it was kind of rough. But I'm really starting to fall in love with it."
Black has always been hindered at his new position due to a lack of size. As of now, he's only weighing in at 275 pounds. But according to Hoke and Mattison, that's just fine.
They didn't move him inside because they thought he could hit the 300-pound mark (the stature his brother, Larry, currently has at Indiana), they moved him there because his speed and quickness allows Michigan to do different things inside throughout the course of a game.
"I judge a lot by practice, I work with him and grade him every night," Hoke said. "He's using his strengths, his quickness. He's got some quick-twitch to him. You've got to really express that to him and verbalize it. Use your strengths. His brother Larry plays at Indiana and is 300-some pounds. Larry's a big old cat. Jibreel doesn't have that, but what he does have is a quick twitch to him.
"And if he's fundamentally sound with it, he can be very good."
Black is just one piece of an inside puzzle that had plenty of question marks entering the season. But through eight games, most of those questions have been answered.
Black has combined with Quinton Washington and Will Campbell to produce 57 tackles, five of which have gone for a loss.
"I feel like we've answered a few of those questions," Black said. "But we've still got a whole lot of work to do."