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Michigan linebacker Devin Gil said he does all he can to be with two-year-old son Jeremiah Angelique S. Chengelis, The Detroit News

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Ann Arbor — The start of the football season was the one and only topic on Monday at Michigan, but for little Jeremiah, wrapped comfortably in the arms of his father, linebacker Devin Gil, he was probably more focused on his new Paw Patrol birthday gifts.

Gil, who will play a major role in the defense this season that opens Saturday night against Middle Tennessee State, spoke about the improved speed on defense and replacing a guy like linebacker Devin Bush, but Jeremiah, who turned 2 on Monday, stole the show. Gil tries to spend as much time with his son as possible.

“Sometimes it gets limited,” said Gil, who gave him the Paw Patrol items this morning for his birthday. “When I do get to spend time with him, I make the most of it. Coach tries to work with me and helps me out so I can see him. That makes things a lot easier.”

Certainly it’s difficult juggling academics, football and fatherhood, but Gil and his girlfriend make it work with some assists from family. Gil’s family is in Florida and they visit as much as possible.

“It gets hard at times,” Gil said.  “I’ve got family support and them helping me and checking up on me and making sure everything is good. It could get hard at times, but I know what I’m doing it for. It’s for him, so I’m going to keep pushing.”

While Gil spoke to reporters, Jeremiah quietly sat in his arms and occasionally curiously looked at the crowd. He was an angel the entire time and waved and said "bye" when they left.

“He does have his little terrible two moments,” Gil said, smiling.

Former Michigan running back Karan Higdon also is a father and Gil said he picked up tips from him. But the bottom line is he’s doing everything he can in school and football because of his son, for his son.

“It motivates you in another way that’s indescribable,” he said.

Gil has made a jersey number change this season from No. 36 to No. 8 — receiver Ronnie Bell also wears the number.

“I just felt different in it when I put it on,” Gil said. “That different was a good feeling. It felt like it brought another personality out of me, the personality I’ve been looking for on the field.”

What’s that personality?

“A killer,” Gil said, smiling.

Little Jeremiah knows his dad when he sees him on television while watching games.

“His mom tells me he points at the screen when he sees me,” Gil said. “I feel like he’ll be a lot more attentive to the screen (this year).”

achengelis@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @chengelis

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