Michigan’s new LT Newsome settling into role

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News

Ann Arbor — For the better part of three months, offensive lineman Grant Newsome’s head was spinning as he began to absorb the playbook and new environment.

But it didn’t take much longer to adjust.

The 6-foot-7, 300-pound Newsome jumped from the scout team to the second team after Week 2 against Oregon State, and earned a start as an extra lineman at Minnesota.

Now, he’s penciled in as Michigan’s starter at left tackle, taking over for Mason Cole, who started as a freshman and spent the last two seasons there before moving this spring to center to fill the vacancy left by Graham Glasgow.

“Mason was in a very unique situation where day one he was a starter, so it was nice I had kind of that buffer year to get that experience but at the same time be able to watch Mason, observe Mason and really get to understand the tools of the trade through him and coach (Tim) Drevno,” Newsome said Thursday.

“So it definitely was a big help having him there and having a guy there with two years of experience.”

Newsome moved off the scout team when Logan Tuley-Tillman was dismissed, and then was bumped up to the second team. By then, he had a better grasp of the playbook.

“I was fortunate that I was able to move up into the 2s when Logan left,” Newsome said.

“Just getting more comfortable with the system. A large part of it is just learning the offense because as a guy who didn’t enroll early, the first three months my head was spinning, so once I was able to understand where I was supposed to be, I was able to focus more on how to do it and how to do it well.”

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Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh thought highly of Newsome last fall.

And, during the first week of spring practice, Harbaugh said he’s been impressed with how much Newsome has handled and how well he’s done in such a short time.

“You just don’t see it very much where a freshman offensive lineman plays as a true freshman,” Harbaugh said.

“He was one that handled it very well. I truly believe that no player can make a bigger jump going from the freshman year to the sophomore year, year one to year two. We have high hopes for Grant and what he can accomplish.

“He definitely has the license and the ability to be a starter on the offensive line.”

Newsome will be the only new piece on the line. Solid line play is about chemistry and consistency, and he doesn’t believe his addition disrupts those intangibles.

He will play next to left guard Ben Braden, and guard Kyle Kalis and tackle Erik Magnuson are on Cole’s right side.

“I think it’s going pretty well,” Newsome said. “Another great part of being on that second offensive line last year, I was able to get some reps with Ben. I feel pretty comfortable with Ben. I think Ben and I work well together. I think it’s going well chemistry-wise, and I think that’s something we’ll continue to build on.”

While those three months after his arrival were challenging as he studied the playbook, he credited Glasgow and backup center Patrick Kugler with assists for easing his transition.

“I was able to pick up the mental aspect easier than some people would,” Newsome said. “I was able to sit down with Graham and Pat last summer and try to dive into the playbook before camp even started. That was a huge help. That kind of gave me a little bit of a leg up to at least have a basic understanding of the playbook.

“Obviously, the first three months were still a little bit crazy, but that was definitely an advantage having that foundation from those guys.”

Newsome, who said he had no issues burning his redshirt last season, said he’s happy he had as much experience as he had last season, because it has tempered his nerves entering this season.

Most of his nervousness stemmed from pressure he was putting on himself. Now, he feels more at ease.

“It was nice to get that over with last year, so I’m not going through spring ball saying, ‘What’s a real game like? What’s a real game like?’ ” he said. “I’m happy I was able to get that experience last year.”

The major challenge for Newsome and the offensive line is to adjust to new defensive coordinator Don Brown’s defense. Other than that, it’s now all about continuing to get reps in practice and learning as he goes.

“I feel pretty comfortable with the system,” Newsome said. “Being able to study under Mason last year and then having four guys back on the offensive line is great. It’s a huge help for me so I’m not expected to be the guy trying to tell everyone what to do, so it’s been nice to learn under those guys.”