Ann Arbor — Jarrod Wilson. You’ve heard of him, right?
More than likely, Wilson’s names doesn’t ring a bell like Michigan’s other defensive backs —Jabrill Peppers, Jourdan Lewis, Channing Stribling and Jeremy Clark.
“I don’t mind that,” Wilson said.
Recognition isn’t what Wilson is all about.
He is third on the team in tackles (27) and has one pass breakup. His counterparts? Lewis has 14 pass breakups and Peppers five. Lewis, Clark and Stribling have combined for six interceptions.
But what Wilson brings to the secondary is senior leadership and a high level of communication.
“Couldn’t do it without him,” defensive backs coach Greg Jackson said as he prepared for Saturday’s game at Minnesota. “He’s the quarterback in the secondary. He controls everything back there for us. He’s done an unbelievable job during the season of just making calls getting everybody lined up.
“That’s one thing you don’t see, is he’s making pretty much all the calls back there each and every week.”
Although his off-field demeanor is quiet and unassuming, Wilson is the talker on defense in terms of setting the secondary and getting everyone on the same page.
That, however, took time to develop.
“I can remember as a freshman, I wasn’t speaking at all,” he said.
But during his sophomore and junior years, Wilson began to assume the leadership role. He said he watched how Jordan Kovacs led.
“He was really good at communicating with everyone and understanding the defense and taking that leadership role in the back end,” Wilson said. “So I try to model myself after him.”
What this means during the game is Wilson is always alert and making sure his teammates know what to expect.
“I try to talk to whoever is back there pretty much every play, kind of expect what’s coming,” he said. “As long as we’re communicating on the same page, we’re always going to be right. On the back end, you really don’t want to bust coverages because there will be explosive plays and easy touchdowns. As a unit, we fully understand defense and trust one another better than we have ever before.”
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh spent a good amount of time during Monday discussing Wilson’s contributions, and during his weekly radio show Thursday, thanked the hosts for asking about him.
“He’s a good football player,” Harbaugh said Monday. “He’s very much a leader and does it through his own personality, but people listen to Jarrod when he talks. He’s a do-stuff right guy all the time and really enjoyable to coach and (he’s) talented. ... He (leads) in such a steady, non-show type of way, but I can assure you he’s one of the top leaders on the team.”
And, Wilson leads the old fashioned way.
“By example,” Harbaugh said. “Consistently good all the time. ... Maybe (he’s) not breaking down the guys in the middle of the huddle or getting the fans hyped by waving a towel or something like that. He just doesn’t draw a lot of attention to himself.”
Michigan at Minnesota
Kickoff: 7 p.m. Saturday, TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis
TV / radio: ESPN / WWJ 950, WWJ 950
Line: Michigan by 13.5
Records: No. 15 Michigan 5-2 (2-1 Big Ten), Minnesota 4-3 (1-2)
Series: Michigan leads 73-25-3