Livonia — Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh is not oblivious to criticism from Wolverines fans on social media and said some have harped on his season as though it was, he said, “the ending of the world.”
Harbaugh, in wrapping up the annual football banquet Tuesday night, said his players and coaches strive “to be winners.” On that note, All-American defensive tackle Maurice Hurst was voted by his teammates the Bo Schembechler Most Valuable Player.
Michigan is 8-4 this season, Harbaugh’s third as head coach, and are preparing for the Outback Bowl on New Year’s Day against South Carolina.
“I know you want the best for us,” Harbaugh told the crowd at the Laurel Manor Tuesday night. “We’ve got to improve. We’re going to win all of our games, that’s what we’re striving for.
“We talk about social media, and we talk about the ending of the world, basically. I don’t see it that way, I really don’t. The criticism wears people out or something about it. I see the stuff on social media where they criticize you or tell you that you’re not good enough, that you should have done this, or you should have done that — it reminds me of how I grew up. I used to get that criticism from my family, from my dad, my father — ‘You’re not good enough. ... What were you thinking when you threw that interception?’ We use it for motivation."
Harbaugh drew laughs when he compared social media criticism to his family. He concluded saying he wants his players to be well-rounded.
“We want you to get your education, we want you to get your degree, we want you to represent Michigan in a first-class manner,” Harbaugh said. “But they also expect us to win. They expect us to be the best, they expect us to be great.”
Hurst, who headlined a long list of players honored at the banquet, finished the season with 59 tackles, including 13 1/2 for loss and five sacks. He also was voted the Defensive Player of the Year.
Mike McCray, voted a team co-captain, and fullback Henry Poggi won the Robert P. Ufer Bequest, given to the players who demonstrate “the most enthusiasm and love” for Michigan.
Linebacker Devin Bush, a second-team All-American, won the Zatkoff Award for the outstanding linebacker, while fellow sophomore defensive end Rashan Gary was awarded the Richard Katcher award as the team’s top defensive lineman. Senior Mason Cole, who will make his 51st career start in the bowl game to tie the all-time starts record at Michigan, won the Hugh Rader Memorial Award as the top offensive lineman.
Leading rusher Karan Higdon was named the team’s Offensive Player of the Year, while Jordan Glasgow was the Special Teams Player of the Year.
Mike Wroblewski was the Arthur Robinson Scholarship Award winner, and Stephen Spanellis had the team’s top grade-point average with a 3.968.
There were a number of new awards given at the football banquet. Defensive end Chase Winovich was awarded the Blue Collar Award, while fullback Ben Mason was awarded as the Toughest Player. Freshman receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones was voted Rookie of the year.
Tight end Zach Gentry was the Most Improved Player on offense, while safety Tyree Kinnel was most improved on defense. James Foug, who handled kickoffs, was named Most Improved Player on special teams.
Freshman quarterback Dylan McCaffrey was the Scout team offensive player of the year, while James Offerdahl earned the award for defense and Jake McCurry for special teams.
O’Korn ready to watch Peters lead
Fifth-year senior quarterback John O’Korn was honored with the rest of the seniors Tuesday night and said he’s looking forward to watching redshirt freshman Brandon Peters lead the offense next season.
Peters will be competing with freshman Dylan McCaffrey, as well as early enrollee freshman Joe Milton, and potentially Ole Miss transfer Shea Patterson, who announced Monday he will be coming to Ann Arbor. It is unclear whether Patterson will be allowed by the NCAA to play immediately next fall.
“I’m so grateful for all my experiences of the past few years,” O’Korn said. “There’s a lot on my mind right now. I think looking back at my time at Michigan, we accomplished a lot as a team. I accomplished a lot individually, but one of the things I’m most proud of is being a part of the quarterback room. Just being around those guys every day, there’s a lot of competitive spirit and so much talent in our room.
“A lot of us have been through hell and back, but we’ve never wavered in our support of each other. That’s something I’m so proud of. I can’t wait to see Dylan and Alex (Malzone) and Wilton (Speight) and (Michael) Sessa go on to do great things. I’m so excited to watch Brandon lead this team next year.”
Isaac will play bowl
As Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh introduced senior running back Ty Isaac and asked if he will play in the bowl game. Isaac nodded that he would.
Isaac missed the last three games with an injury. He has 561 rushing yards, third-best on the team. He scored two touchdowns this year.
Center Patrick Kugler could be a graduate assistant at Michigan next season, Harbaugh said after introducing him at the bust. If so, Kugler will have to do some facial grooming.
“You have to shave that beard,” Harbaugh said, laughing.
MICHIGAN AWARD WINNERS
Bo Schembechler MVP: Mo Hurst
Dr. Arthur D. Robinson Scholarship Award: Mike Wroblewski
Top GPA: Stephen Spanellis
Robert P. Ufer Bequest: Mike McCray and Henry Poggi
Roger Zatkoff Award: Devin Bush
Richard Katcher Award: Rashan Gary
Hugh H. Rader Memorial Award: Mason Cole
Offensive player of the year: Karan Higdon
Defensive player of the year: Mo Hurst
Special teams player of the year: Jordan Glasgow
Toughest player award: Ben Mason
Blue collar award: Chase Winovich
Rookie of the year: Donovan Peoples-Jones
Most improved player (offense): Zach Gentry
Most improved player (defense): Tyree Kinnel
Most improved player (special teams): James Foug
Scout team player of the year (offense): Dylan McCaffrey
Scout team player of the year (defense): Jameson Offerdahl
Scout team player of the year (special teams): Jake McCurry