Redshirt sophomore lineman Graham Glasgow started his career as a walk-on, but was awarded a scholarship before this season. (John T. Greilick / Detroit News)
Ann Arbor — He sounds like a hard-knocks character, a guy who had to overcome a great deal to reach the point of success many would envy.
Well, maybe it hasn’t been that dramatic.
But Graham Glasgow has that walk-on-to-riches story.
Glasgow arrived at Michigan in 2011 as a walk-on from Aurora, Ill., with a resume that included references from former Michigan linemen Kurt Becker and Dick Caldarazzo.
Two years later, he’s a starter on the offensive line, at left guard the first four games and now the Wolverines’ center, and he was awarded a scholarship before the season.
In a number of ways, he has overreached what even his coaches thought attainable.
“He’s a kid who’s a self-made lineman,” Al Borges, Michigan’s offensive coordinator, said this week of Glasgow. “When he came here, I wasn’t sure he’d ever play here, but he’s worked his tail off and he’s earned everything he’s gotten.”
There is no stigma to being a walk-on, not in the least, but there is an added effort required just to be noticed.
“A walk-on kid, he has to get your attention,” Borges said. “That’s unfortunate about being a walk-on kid, is to get in the lineup, he has to get a coach’s attention, because we’re always looking at the guys we recruited first.
“It’s a credit to a walk-on kid who gets in the starting lineup because he’s done something to get you thinking he can play.”
Glasgow started doing that something in the weight room. He said he has always worked hard on a day-to-day basis, because one solid showing isn’t going to change a coach’s perception.
Once he made an impression in the weight room, word passed to the offensive line coach Darrell Funk and to Borges about what Glasgow was doing.
“It just accumulates and accumulates to the point where you can finally make a jump or get your chance,” Glasgow said, saying he started to get that chance toward the end of last year. “Spring ball was when things started to get rolling, fall camp is where it started taking off.”
Michigan coach Brady Hoke, who works with the offensive scout team in practices to prepare the first-string defense, started to notice Glasgow in practices last year.
“You could see that he has the ability, he had strength, he was competitive, he was tough,” Hoke said.
Glasgow, who credits fifth-year senior tackle Taylor Lewan for guiding him since he stepped on the field and also talking him up to the coaches, offers versatility. He moved to center for the Minnesota game last Saturday after starting the first four games at left guard. Chris Bryant moved into the starting lineup at left guard. Glasgow had been practicing at center with Jack Miller, the starter the first four games, since preseason camp.
Glasgow adds size at center. He is 6-foot-6 and 305 pounds, about two inches taller and 15 pounds heavier than Miller.
Transitioning to center wasn’t that much of a transition.
“Just getting the technique things down again, the snapping, the stepping, making the calls, grasping the game plan more fully,” Glasgow said, adding he’s practicing at guard every once in a while but feels more comfortable at center. “I’ve played more center over the past year. When I first got here as a tackle, moved to guard and then this time last year I started playing mainly center, basically no guard. I started playing guard basically in camp again, so I’m used to (playing center) more.”
After his first start, Glasgow said he took a step back, caught his breath and took in how far he has come since arriving at Michigan.
He also knows he will never let go of the fact he is a walk-on who has worked his way into the starting lineup.
“There’s always that,” Glasgow said. “It’s not a mentality, but you always need to work hard even if you’ve been given something. That’s how I feel — even if you are given something you need to still prove them right and not just mess up and make bad mistakes.”