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Michigan’s Stribling doesn’t mind being overshadowed

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News

Ann Arbor — While All-America Michigan cornerback Jourdan Lewis receives all the acclaim, even after missing the first three games of the season because of a back injury, Channing Stribling continues to make contributions without any desire for recognition.

Stribling, a senior cornerback, leads the third-ranked Wolverines with three interceptions and five pass breakups this season. He had two interceptions against Wisconsin, but it was Lewis’ stunning one-handed interception that effectively ended the game that people talked about.

Michigan (6-0, 3-0 Big Ten) did not play last Saturday and is preparing this week for Illinois (2-4, 1-2 Big Ten).

Secondary coach Mike Zordich said that while the outside world doesn’t give Stribling much attention, the players do.

“He may (get overshadowed) amongst the folks, but not (by the team),” Zordich said a few weeks ago of Stribling. “If you watch the games, and if you watch practice, you’ll see Strib making plays and Jourdan making plays with the same kind of enthusiasm.

“In (the football building), everybody understands that Strib’s pretty damn good.”

Zordich said Stribling has had a “bounce in his step” that he referred to as the “Strib" walk.

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Stribling, who returned an interception 51 yards for a touchdown against Hawaii in the season opener, said if anyone is overlooking him it’s probably the media.

“But that doesn’t really matter to me,” Stribling said. “All during my life, I’ve been the third-tier, fourth-tier best player on the team. It doesn’t matter to me. I do my job and make sure the team wins.

“If the team wins, that’s better for me than individual awards. Our team knows the guys we have, and it’s never a guy who’s on scout team who’s not needed, or a guy on special teams. Everybody on our team is needed. There’s no animosity between us. I feel like being overlooked is not a big thing for me.”

The aftermath of the Wisconsin game was all about Lewis’ acrobatic interception. Lewis, though, after that game, gave Stribling credit and said he will be one of the best cornerbacks in the game this season.

For his part, Stribling said he just didn’t care that his interceptions seemed an afterthought.

“We won the game. That stop won the game,” Stribling said. “I don’t care, (because) that won us the game. Plays like that, you can’t envy anybody on the team.”

"When that plays happen, we win the game. That’s a whole team thing. It was a great play. I’m glad he did make it.”

Stats don’t lie: Michigan defense is No. 1 in nation

Stribling grew up in North Carolina as the child of military parents. That made him disciplined and selfless.

“I told mom this weekend when I was with her, ‘You never heard of me getting in trouble anywhere with anything,’” Stribling said.

“I go home to Alabama, it’s a rough neighborhood, they told me to stay out of trouble, and I said, ‘You’ve never heard me in trouble, so you don’t have to worry about it.’

“They maintained our focus on academics, sports and everything and made sure our code of conduct was perfect, making sure we didn’t get in trouble because we have their last name. We walk around with it, so we get in trouble, that reflects on them.”

angelique.chengelis@detroitnews.com

Twitter.com: @achengelis