Michigan's Taylor Lewan stuns with decision to return for senior season
ANN ARBOR -- Everyone thought Taylor Lewan had played his last down at Michigan.
His dad, Dave, thought he had played his last down at Michigan.
Lewan, though, isn't done.
The junior All-American left tackle announced Wednesday he will turn down certain NFL riches to return for his senior season with the Wolverines.
"A lot of people had questions about whether I was mature enough to go to the NFL right now, and if you play football, and you have a mind-set to play football, you don't like to hear any criticism," Lewan said. "With the game I played (against South Carolina), I think individually I played one of my best games I have in my career, and proved to myself I could go to the NFL and be successful.
"But when you go to a place like Michigan, the tradition here and everything it has to offer, what Coach Hoke has brought into my life and all the things he's done for me, along with Coach Funk and Coach Borges ... When you really go into detail about it and think and take the time to sit down, turn your phone off and think to yourself about all the things that are best for you, there was no doubt in my mind I have to return to the University of Michigan."
Lewan said the NFL Draft advisory board told him he would be a high first-round draft pick, and that weighed into his decision. But, ultimately, he couldn't turn down the opportunity to complete "unfinished business."
Win a Big Ten title.
"My 2009 class, quote-unquote 'was possibly responsible for helping bring Michigan back to national relevance and going to the Sugar Bowl and Jan. 1 bowls,' but that's never the goal here.
"The goal here is Big Ten championships, always and forever, and that's what I'm here to do."
Lewan said he spoke for 30-45 minutes with former Michigan left tackle Jake Long, who was an All-American as a junior but elected to return for his senior season. He became a No. 1 overall draft pick.
"Everything he said about staying at the University of Michigan went through my head countless times," Lewan said.
Ultimately, that played a pivotal role in Lewan's decision.
"Offensive linemen, here, they stay," coach Brady Hoke said. "There's been a tradition of that, with Jake and (Jon) Jansen and (Steve Hutchinson) and all those guys. I think that's part of it, because the depth of the linemen who have played here and to be a guy who is mentioned with those guys is important."
Lewan told his teammates of his decision during a meeting about 20 minutes before the announcement. Their reaction?
"Everyone here predicted me to leave -- even my dad thought I was going to leave," Lewan said. "But it was my decision.
"It was a no-brainer at the end."
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