4 Michigan A two-sport quarterback is all the buzz, but a one-sport wideout is the key man

August 13, 2000

If there's one thing minor league baseball players have plenty of,
it's spare time. So Drew Henson, third baseman for the Double A
Norwich (Conn.) Navigators (and, after a midsummer trade, for the
Double A Chattanooga Lookouts) spent many an afternoon in front
of the TV. His choice of programs was a little odd, though.
Instead of Springer or soaps, Henson watched football tapes of
Bowling Green and Rice. Because Drew Henson, infield prospect, is
also Drew Henson, Michigan quarterback.

This fall, after a two-year apprenticeship to Tom Brady, Henson
will finally take his turn running the Wolverines' offense, which
should be among the most explosive in the country. "Teams took us
for granted last year," says Henson. "We went down and played an
Alabama team [in the Orange Bowl, which Michigan won 35-34] that
was maybe the fastest in the country, and we showed them our
athletic ability."

Wide receiver David Terrell put on an especially impressive show
that night, catching 10 passes for 150 yards, a performance that
launched his 2000 Heisman Trophy campaign. The 6'3" junior can
grab whatever is thrown his way (71 receptions in '99), has
big-play skills (14.6 yards per catch last year and seven
touchdowns) and is not afraid to tell you how good he is. (Sample
quote: "I can do everything.") Like Michigan's last Heisman
winner, 1997 recipient Charles Woodson, Terrell has also played
both ways: He picked off a pass and made six tackles in seven
games as an occasional cornerback last year. Says coach Lloyd
Carr, "Our needs will be a little different, but I don't think
you can count out David playing in the secondary at times."

Those "needs" will be more on the pass rush than the pass
defense. The Wolverines lost five starters all told on the line
and at linebacker, and the greenness of the maize-and-blue D will
put added heat on the offense. Fine, says Henson: "The pressure's
not going to be on one person. We can score points when we need
to and control the ball when we have to."

Ball control is the specialty of tailback Anthony Thomas, who ran
for 1,297 yards and 17 touchdowns as a junior. He shouldered a
tremendous burden last season (no other Michigan running back had
more than 30 carries) and will benefit from the return of
sophomore Justin Fargas, who broke his right leg against
Wisconsin in the 10th game of '98. Fargas was held out of contact
drills this spring, but Carr expects to have him--and his 4.4
speed--ready by September.

Which leaves the 6'4", 218-pound Henson as the only unproven
skill-position player. Helping him make the transition will be 1)
a right arm that scouts in two sports drool over and 2) an elite
offensive line. "We've got two first-round picks on the left side
[tackle Jeff Backus and guard Steve Hutchinson], so you're not
going to get any more secure than that," Henson says.

At least Henson knows how to handle the press. In a July trade
for pitcher Denny Neagle that had an impact on the pennant races
in both leagues, Henson went from being the crown jewel of the
New York Yankees' farm system to the crown jewel of the
Cincinnati Reds'. The swap, rumored for a fortnight, put Henson
at the center of a major minor league media circus. Two weeks
before returning to Ann Arbor, he sat in the dugout in
Huntsville, Ala., and said with a grin, "It's been a memorable
summer." He'd like to make it a memorable fall.

--Mark Bechtel

COLOR PHOTO: DAMIAN STROHMEYER Henson, who spent the summer playing pro baseball, has waited two years for his chance to lead the maize and blue.

Fast Facts

1999 record: 10-2 (6-2, T2 in Big Ten)
Final ranking: No. 5 AP, No. 5 coaches' poll

Telling Number

Alltime victories for Michigan, Division I-A's winningest
school. Notre Dame is second with 767.

5 Key Returnees

RB Anthony Thomas Sr. Big Ten's leading returning rusher
G Steve Hutchinson Sr. Three-time All-Big Ten first-teamer
QB Drew Henson Jr. 52.2% passer (47 for 90) last year
WR David Terrell Jr. 71 catches for 1,038 yards in '99
T Jeff Backus Sr. Has started 37 straight games

The Book

An opposing team's coach sizes up The Wolverines

"One thing you can always count on with them is that they don't
beat themselves. They probably have the best offensive line in
the country, and Thomas is a horse in the backfield. He runs so
damn hard and always seems to be falling forward. And with
Fargas back, their running game is going to be even better. You
have to be very patient against their offense because they just
keep picking away at you, and then all of a sudden they hit you
with a big play....It will be interesting to see if Henson can
handle the pressure of being the full-time starter. He throws
the ball very well on the run and is a great athlete, but he
sometimes tries to do too much....Terrell is a bear and causes
problems everywhere. He's a coach's worst nightmare on both
sides of the ball....They've always had one of the best
defenses in the country, but I don't think they'll be as good
this year. They lost a lot of good players, especially up front;
but they always seem to have more talent than anyone in the
conference....You have to try to run on them because their
secondary is rock solid."

Strength: 23rd of 115

16 at UCLA
23 at Illinois

Oct. 7 at Purdue

Nov. 4 at Northwestern
18 at Ohio State