U-M’s Lewan opts to return for senior season

ANN ARBOR — Michigan offensive tackle Taylor Lewan surprised his teammates and the Wolverines fan base and announced Wednesday that he will return for his senior year.

The All-American said he prepared for the Outback Bowl like it was an NFL game and felt he performed as well as he had in a game.

But the pull of Michigan’s tradition was too much.

“Predictions are, to some extent, worthless,” Lewan said. “Everyone here predicted me to leave – I think my dad did, too. … Most people wouldn’t understand if they didn’t play at the University of Michigan.”

His father was at the news conference Wednesday.

“You can’t assume, everyone knows what assuming means,” Lewan said.

He had a 30-45 minute conversation with former U-M tackle Jake Long, who made the same decision in similar circumstances before the 2007 season, returning and becoming the No. 1 overall pick in 2008 with the Miami Dolphins.

“We are excited as a program and a team to have Taylor’s leadership,” U-M coach Brady Hoke said. “Unless you’ve been in this football program and understand what Michigan means, you (don’t) understand what he did.”

Hoke said he was not surprised Lewan told him he was returning.

“Because this team is important to him,” Hoke said.

In their meeting, Lewan noted that “offensive linemen here stay.”

Lewan said the NFL draft advisory board told him he would be a high first-round pick.

When he told the team, Lewan said they clapped and cheered for him.

He said he will take out an insurance policy for this season to guard against major injury.

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Posted by Tribune News Services

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