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Michigan football national championship sets high standard for future, younger players say

HOUSTON — It wasn’t even an hour after Michigan football won its first college football national championship since 1997 and reality hadn’t quite sunk in yet. But the younger players did quickly understand, that as good as one championship is, another one last year would be sweet.

There’s a big group of Wolverines who will be moving onto the next level — linebacker Mike Barrett, running back Blake Corum, and defensive tackle Kris Jenkins chief among them. The aforementioned were all team captains, but the younger group — especially the sophomore class — knows they have a prime opportunity to keep things rolling.

Rivals will claim that this Michigan team was comprised mostly of sixth-year seniors, but so many of the players on this championship team will be returning. Yes, some, like quarterback J.J. McCarthy and running back Donovan Edwards have decisions to make. We still don’t know at this juncture whether or not Jim Harbaugh will return as the head coach. But with young stars such as tight end Colston Loveland and defensive tackles Kenneth Grant and Mason Graham returning for their junior season next year, there’s no reason why the maize and blue can’t be set up for another special season next year.

“Definitely means a lot, finally — sets a high standard, sets a very high standard for next year,” Loveland said. “Which is a good thing — we’re always trying to chase perfection. So I think it’s gonna be great. We’re gonna have to a couple of sophomores, gonna be juniors, gonna have to take a step up in a leadership role. And, I think we’re gonna do a really good job because we have great leaders to show us kind of how everything works. And just got to bring people along and bring the team along and keep that tight culture and good things will happen.”

Grant, the fellow sophomore, has a similar feeling to Loveland. But it’s not just about the leadership, about the experience. It’s also about the bond that the remaining Wolverines share and how that helps this team moving forward.

“We were national champs, and what’s greater than that?” Grant said. “But I mean, just from a coming back standpoint, I think we’re gonna stay together, definitely. I mean, like, like, (Loveland’s) family to me. He lives across the street from me. I go over his house every day. So like, that bond is unbreakable.”

Now the Wolverines are in the offseason, but the fun will keep going on until kickoff next season. The reigning national champions will host a parade in Ann Arbor on Saturday followed by a champions rally at Crisler Center. The aforementioned will both be televised on Big Ten Network.

Story originally appeared on Wolverines Wire