Being blessed certainly doesn’t mean being comfortable. Speaking with Juwann he was adamant about the work that he still needs to do before he arrives on the Michigan campus in over a year from now. “I really don’t have one aspect of my game I need to improve; I would say my game in a whole. Last year I was satisfied because it was my first year really starting. Then I went back and looked at the tape a couple of months later, and I wasn’t really that impressed with myself. There is a lot I need to work on so I can play at that second level. I need to bring everything I have to the table so I can get on the field sooner. I want to improve my all around game, run blocking, pass blocking, how low I come off the ball, quickness of my feet and stuff like that. That is just a small part of it in becoming a better all around player.” He doesn’t only have the mindset, but the work ethic is there to match it and an understanding of how he can translate his game to the next level. “I really like the explosive aspect, working on speed training and that’s one thing I feel I need to work on the most. As a college offensive lineman you need to be explosive. That’s a major thing we work on and something I take very seriously.”
The honesty of the Michigan coaching staff and the academic integrity of the school were two of the major factors that stood out on the unofficial visit. “When I got up there I had a real good time. What I was really looking for was the academic aspect of a school, and Michigan had that. I really liked the coaches and the players; they are a high intensity team, there was just a lot of really interesting things. I think Coach Hoke is a great guy, I love him, and he is really down to Earth. I got a chance to really see what he was about and what he believed in when I was out there.” Along with coach Hoke, there seemed to be a good connection with offensive line coach Darrell Funk and the unprecedented tradition of Michigan offensive linemen. “It shows you what they produce, all of the great players that have come through there. I see that aspect in myself one day. I got a chance to talk to Coach Funk. He is a great guy and I really like the way he coaches. They always have great O-lineman coming out of there, and that is something I wanted and something I know the coaches can provide for me.”
With Juwann and the recent commitment of teammate Jabrill Peppers, it seems like Michigan’s New Jersey pipeline is growing. With Rutgers joining the Big 10, a chance to play back in their home state may be an added advantage. “It’s going to be real exciting, going to be back home after being away for a little while. It will be Rutgers first year in and I will be able to have all my family there, so that will be exciting.”
Being the eighth commitment of the class of 2014, I asked Juwann if he will be joining the likes of Michael Ferns and Wilton Speight in recruiting others to the class and handing out team 135 T-Shirts. He was pretty clear that a school like Michigan recruits itself. “At the end of the day it’s always going to come down to their opinion. What I would say if you’re looking for real down to Earth coaches, who are going to give it to you the right way, and show you what you need to know to develop you into a great player, then that’s where you want to be. The players are great guys, real hard workers, just like the coaches. If you are looking for a place like that, then Michigan is where you want to be.” And Michigan is where Juwann will be, but not before a senior season in which he will look to repeat another state title and embrace the opportunity to play some national high school powerhouses. “It’s really great, coming from where this program was a few years ago, and how fast Coach Partridge and all the other coaches got us to where we are at. This year coming up, I’d say I am most excited about the first game of the season against [Baltimore (MD) Gilman, Henry Poggi's alma mater], they are going to be a couple weeks in already and we will be coming fresh out of camp. We get to play a lot of big talent around the country, and see what is out there.”
One constant through last season Juwann says, “Wearing my team issued game day Under Armour each week.” I would say with the success of this past year and the promise of things to come … don’t change that shirt.