ANN ARBOR, Michigan — Grant Newsome is still limping from that tragic day in 2016, one that shattered the grandiose visions the former Michigan offensive lineman once had.
Newsome hoped one day to be drafted by an NFL team and walk across the stage and shake the commissioner’s hand. And he might have done that, had he not sustained an injury to his right leg. He tried to make a valiant comeback before deciding to hang it up for good in 2018.
But Tuesday, Newsome was back at Schembechler Hall – a building he has become all too familiar with in recent years – as a full-time member of Jim Harbaugh’s coaching staff. Newsome, just 25 years old, was hired in February as the new coach for tight ends, full salary and all.
“It was something that Coach (Harbaugh) and I talked about, and what my next steps in the profession would be,” Newsome said. “The coach has always been very, very good to me. He expressed the wish that, if possible, he wanted me to stay here.”
There was a time when Newsome rejected the idea of becoming a coach. He graduated from Michigan with two degrees, including a master’s in public policy in 2020, and had plans to venture into the world of politics. But as Newsome says he soon found out, “it just wasn’t for me.”
“I’ve said this before, but football is hard to stop,” said Newsome, who played in Michigan in 2015 and 2016. “Especially when I had to retire, I still felt like I had some unfinished business in the sport. I didn’t want to leave on those terms, I guess, because it felt right or wrong like a part of me stopped. And that’s not something you ever want to do.”
More: For Michigan’s Grant Newsome, a debate about football and his leg
Newsome admits he was “bitter” and “angry” during the aftermath. He was named a student assistant in 2018 and 2019, tasked with helping those tight ends, and was later promoted to a graduate assistant for 2020 and 2021. It was during that second season on the sidelines, he says, that the coaching itching really took hold.
In fact, he still remembers one particular game in Michigan’s 2019 win over Illinois, when quarterback Shea Patterson turned a zone-read play call into a 25-yard touchdown pass to finish Luke Schoonmaker on a tightrope.
Newsome had seen Schoonmaker come into the program in 2018, “two years of hard work” and saw that it paid off.
“Just to see the look on his face (after the touchdown), I think that’s when I knew this is what I wanted to do,” Newsome said. “This is what I intended to do.”
Since then, Newsome has been linked at the hip with Michigan assistant Sherrone Moore, hired in 2018 as the program’s tight-ends coach, who has since moved up to offensive line coach and co-offensive coordinator. He says Moore has helped him grow behind the scenes, and Newsome’s longstanding familiarity with the program and his age have helped him resonate with the group of current players.
“A home run,” Moore said recently. “We all knew that. We know Grant is a superstar in this business. He does a great job. Attention to detail, intensity – anything you want. And he knows the system, which makes it easy. We know that the things we say in the room are repeated by him to the players.”
His first year on the track should also be a breeze. Newsome returns two of Michigan’s starting tight ends from a year ago, Erick All and Luke Schoonmaker, along with Joel Honigford and Carter Selzer, making the position one of the deepest and most experienced on the team. The group was a big part of the Wolverines’ offensive success a year ago and is expected to be heavily involved again in 2022.
Today, Newsome says he is pain free and able to model plays and responsibilities on the field during training. It’s not the job he thought he was doing six or seven years ago, but Newsome says it’s become a labor of love.
“I hung out for a bit to see if I could ever fulfill that last little itch, and found that I love it and that this is my calling,” Newsome said. “(The injury) has completely changed my life. I think if I didn’t have that injury I would be somewhere completely different now. Whether that’s good or bad we’ll never know, but I believe everything happens for a reason. You kind of look at the whole of everything that’s happened, I’m really blessed to be where I am now.”
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