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UM’s Sypniewski earns praise for fighting through flu

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
Michigan long snapper Scott Sypniewski (31)  gets ready to snap the football as Michigan and Michigan State face off on an extra point attempt.

Ann Arbor — Long-snapper Scott Sypniewski was so sick with the flu last week, he could not travel with the team to Bloomington, Indiana, but his father drove him there and back so he could play.

Sypniewski did have botched snap that led to a missed field goal, but Michigan special teams coordinator John Baxter praised how he played through his illness.

“That kid gutted it out for this football team, as much as I’ve ever seen a guy do,” Baxter said. “He had 103-degree temperature, couldn’t keep anything down all the way through pregame. Basically staying quarantined from his teammates because of the flu and fighting nausea, and you know the fatigue and aches that come with that.

“We had one snap that cost us a field-goal opportunity but my goodness to see that kid man up, however you want to put it, and fight for his team, it was great. Those are the life skills that are a great part of being a coach and a teacher.”

Sypniewski has been playing with a bruised thumb suffered in the Michigan State game.

Baxter: End to UM-MSU game �fluke of all flukes�

Fighting for Wheatley

Tight ends coach Jay Harbaugh has no intention of letting freshman tight end Tyrone Wheatley Jr., the son of former Michigan running back and current coach Tyrone Wheatley, move to the offensive line.

Wheatley is 6-foot-6, 291 pounds and valued in an offense that significantly utilizes the tight end.

“I like everything about him,” Harbaugh said Wednesday. “He looks good and he’s improving at a rapid rate as you would hope for a guy who’s taking on a lot of new things, being a newcomer. He’s big, he runs really well for his size. I don’t know if you’ve seen him, but he’s enormous. He’s a very fluid athlete, and he’s catching the ball well and he’s learning how to use his size to his advantage as a blocker.”

But could he move to the offensive line?

“Nah, I’m going to fight off Drev for that one,” Harbaugh said, referring to Tim Drevno, Michigan’s offensive coordinator and offensive line coach. “I don’t want Drev to get too close to him.”

Drevno recently said that 6-7, 244-pound freshman quarterback Zach Gentry currently is practicing at quarterback but left open the possibility he could make a position switch. That is something that could be approached during bowl practices.

Would Harbaugh be interested in snagging Gentry as a tight end?

“I’ll take anybody,” he said. “He’s big and fast and can catch. But he throws the ball pretty well. We haven’t talked about that at all, (but) I like big, fast guys a lot.”

Hanging with Dad

This is the first time Jay Harbaugh has been on a staff with his father, Jim Harbaugh. He did work quality control for his uncle, John Harbaugh, head coach of the Baltimore Ravens.

Harbaugh said he has enjoyed working with his father.

“(We) spend a ton of time off the field, but it’s mostly in this building,” Harbaugh said. “It’s been really fun. I didn’t really know exactly what it would be like, but it’s been great. It’s been really fun to be around him and to learn from him and watch him more closely than I ever have.”

achengelis@detroitnews.com

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