Just last week, Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh was praising his wide receivers when he placed a young player into a surprising conversation.
“I want to see more receivers doing it, but you can see our run game going when our receivers are blocking, especially when it’s (Amara) Darboh, (Jehu) Chesson and Moe Ways,” he said. “When those guys aren’t in there, we don’t run the ball as well.”
As seniors, hearing that mantra for years, Darboh and Chesson made sense. But Ways, a redshirt freshman?
“I just kept doing my job,” Ways, the Birmingham Detroit Country Day product, said this week. “That’s Michigan. Michigan’s always been a run-first team and receivers, you’ve got to block to play. That hasn’t changed no matter who the coach was or what year it was. Coming to Michigan, they run the ball first, you’ve got to be a physical receiver. The running game opens up the passing game.”
At 6-foot-3, 205 pounds, Ways has the body to lay those blocks, but it’s the mentality and willingness to do it that has endeared him.
Ways grew up loving Michigan, and this week recalled being seven years old, enthralled by Braylon Edwards’ three-touchdown explosion in the 2004 three-overtime win against rival Michigan State.
Even when Ways was an impressive pass-catcher in high school — 106 passes for 2,218 yards and 25 touchdowns as a senior — he knew the blocking would set him apart.
“I blocked in high school, but not like I’m blocking now though,” he said. “I never really thought about it. It came natural. They put me in for a couple plays, a couple assignments, I blocked on the field every week, so things are going well.”
Though he’d like more catches — he has one — Ways understands there aren’t many players his age on the field.
“Moe has really asserted himself,” Harbaugh said. “He’s climbing the depth chart now. He’s has shown up in the play. On the down he is finding somebody to block. … The way he’s blocking we’re really impressed with.”
Contact Mark Snyder: [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @mark__snyder.
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