Expecting little more than another stomach-churning spring
practice, junior wideout Ronald Bellamy strolled into the
Michigan locker room on March 24 to find starting quarterback
Drew Henson cleaning out his locker. The rumors were true:
Henson, who had led Michigan to a share of the Big Ten
championship in 2000, was bolting to the New York Yankees'
organization for $17 million and the opportunity to become a
big-league third baseman. Oh, man, thought Bellamy, now what are
we going to do?
Henson's adieu was the final episode in a soap opera of an
off-season for the Wolverines. In January wideout David Terrell
had announced that he was forgoing his senior season to enter the
NFL draft, joining Michigan's alltime rushing leader, Anthony
Thomas, and four offensive linemen who had used up their
The decimated offense now falls heir to sophomore quarterback
John Navarre, who started the first four games of last season
while Henson was sidelined with a broken right foot. Against
Bowling Green and Rice the 6'6", 242-pound Navarre showed great
potential, throwing seven touchdown passes and no interceptions.
Savvier defenses, however, flustered him. A week after completing
only eight of 28 passes in a 23-20 loss to UCLA, he was operating
with a 14-7 second-quarter deficit against Illinois when Henson
replaced him. Henson jump-started a 35-31 victory, and Navarre
got limited playing time the rest of the year. "That was just a
taste," says Navarre of his brief stay in the limelight. "This
[season] is the whole meal."
He'll have slim pickings without Terrell and Thomas. In their
absence, Michigan will turn to sophomore tailback Chris Perry,
who rushed for 417 yards on 77 carries last year, and the
receiving tandem of Bellamy and senior Marquise Walker. "I
expect," says coach Lloyd Carr, "that the offense will get
better as the season goes along."
Navarre, who heartened Bellamy and others with a near-flawless
practice on the Saturday that Henson made his exit, has been
logging extra hours with his receivers to help expedite that
process. "Coming out of high school [in Cudahy, Wis., where he
was the state's top-ranked quarterback in 1998], I expected to
play right away," says Navarre. "Now it's time, and I plan to be
COLOR PHOTO: JOHN W. MCDONOUGH By season's end, more than one Michigan opponent may wish the Wolverines had never said Navarre.
2000 record: 9-3 (6-2, T1 in Big Ten)
Final ranking: No. 11 AP, No. 10 coaches' poll
Percentage of offense produced last year by departed Drew Henson
and Anthony Thomas.
An opposing team's coach sizes up the Wolverines Their secondary
might be as talented as any in the country, and Todd Howard is
as good a hitter as any cornerback.... Two of their linebackers,
Eric Brackins and Larry Foote, are physical and fast, and now
they're experienced seniors.... The defensive line is young, but
I know the coaches are making it a priority to get it ready....
Michigan will miss wideout David Terrell, but not as much as
they're going to miss some of the bigger guys from last year's
huge offensive line.
Strength: 24th of 117
Sept. 1 MIAMI (OHIO)
8 at Washington
15 WESTERN MICHIGAN
Oct. 6 at Penn State
27 at Iowa
Nov. 3 at Michigan State
17 at Wisconsin
24 OHIO STATE