UM fullback Jared Wangler discusses his first career touchdown Angelique S. Chengelis, The Detroit News
Ann Arbor — It has always been meaningful for former Michigan quarterback John Wangler to see his sons, Jack and Jared, wear the winged helmet at Michigan.
When Jared scored his first career touchdown, a 7-yard catch from Shea Patterson last Saturday against Maryland, John Wangler admitted he was taken by the moment. Jared Wangler, a fifth-year senior, this season started wearing the No. 5 his father wore as a quarterback from 1977-1980.
“It was really emotional,” John Wangler said. “There were a lot of ups and downs over four years, but for him to be able to do it in a meaningful game and a meaningful time, it was special.”
Father couldn't help tweaking his son, though.
“I told him, ‘Now you know where the end zone is, maybe you can visit it again,’” John Wangler said, laughing.
Wangler was mobbed by his teammates after the score, and his brother, Jack, who was a receiver at Michigan, sprinted down 30 rows at Michigan Stadium to congratulate his brother. The moment ended quickly when Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh began yelling at Jared to get back on the field for the two-point conversion.
“It was awesome to see that,” receiver Grant Perry, who has been friends with Wangler for years, said of the touchdown. “He’s worked so hard. All the guys were happy for him.”
Jared arrived at Michigan as a linebacker, has dealt with injuries, including a knee issue in fall camp, and is now a fullback. He said Tuesday night after practice he prefers not to dwell on the past but focuses, instead, on the right now with this team.
Michigan is preparing this week to face Wisconsin on Saturday in a night game at Michigan Stadium.
Like many players, Wangler has a bit of prove-’em-wrong motivation.
“You go through the ups and downs,” Wangler said. “You don’t quite play as much as you anticipate early on in your career. It’s something that sticks to you. You really want to be out there and contribute to your team. You’re in here busting your butt every day just like everyone else.
“That’s something that plays into it. I’m sure that’s for a lot of players, the need to prove people wrong because you’re always going to have people trying to doubt you and doubt your abilities.”
Wangler posted a photo of himself celebrating the touchdown with fullback Ben Mason and added this quote: “You will never play here at Michigan” –D.J. Durkin (2015)
He was referencing the former Michigan defensive coordinator who was here in coach Jim Harbaugh’s first season and currently is on administrative leave at Maryland where he has been head coach since leaving the Wolverines.
“I guess it’s something I appreciated he did for me early on in my career,” Wangler said when asked why he was compelled to write that post. “He was tough on me. He’s a tough coach, that’s just kind of his style. That quote just always stuck with me in my head. One of those things out to prove people wrong. I appreciate he gave me that extra incentive.”
Harbaugh said after the Maryland game that because of Mason’s versatility, Wangler will benefit with more opportunities.
Wangler is excited about a more expanded role and appreciates working with Mason. They complement each other well, he said.
“Ben is a one-of-a kind individual,” he said. “He’s one of my most favorite friends on the team. He really prides himself on being multidimensional. I think a lot of people originally saw him as a hard-hitter, stiffer guy, and he’s out to prove people wrong, which I love that about him. People thought I was a fast, twitchy fullback and can’t really hit, so we complement each other well. We give each other things to work on.”
And Jared has given his father a special gift.
Jared had worn No. 5 in high school, but Jabrill Peppers wore it at Michigan early and it took until this season to finally get a chance to wear it again.
“I’ve always loved wearing No. 5,” Wangler said. “It’s always meant something to me, obviously by my father wearing it.”
Michigan receiver Grant Perry on old friend Jared Wangler's touchdown The Detroit News
John Wangler was in the hospital earlier this year having knee-replacement surgery when Jared came in before spring practice to show him his new jersey number.
“It was special, especially when I was laying there with my new knee and he was excited to come in to show me,” John Wangler said. “Yeah, it’s special.”
But wearing the same number is where it ends. John Wangler never wanted his sons to feel pressure going to Michigan
“I want all the kids to have their own identity,” said John Wangler, whose daughter, Halle, played basketball at Michigan. “I want them to be their own person. But the fact he felt enough about (the jersey number) and he wanted to do it, means a lot. It does. Obviously, they’re their own kids, carved their own path. I did it my way. I want them to do it their way. it was nice he felt enough about the tradition, and that’s a lot of what makes Michigan special, the tradition.”
Jared Wangler said his father never told him or Jack that Michigan had to be their destination.
“That’s one thing he’s always been great about,” Jared said. “It’s not about what he did here. It’s about the mark you leave, the legacy you leave. And whether you have as much success on the field as he did, it’s all about making your mark and contributing to the team in some way and really enjoying yourself. He wants me to write my own story and do my own thing.”
Wisconsin at Michigan
Kickoff: 7:30 Saturday, Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor
Records: Wisconsin 4-1, 2-0 Big Ten; Michigan 5-1, 3-0
Line: Michigan by 7