Josh Ross is a Michigan LB Junior Colsons' starting quarterback

Josh Ross is a Michigan LB Junior Colsons' starting quarterback ...

Junior Colson began receiving some sage advice from the coaches he works with on a daily basis during his college career.

Mike Macdonald, Michigans first-year defensive coordinator, was just getting his bearings around him this spring when he advised the true-freshman linebacker to pay attention to the team s senior line backer, both with life as a college coach and his new players.

Coach Mac was like, Follow Josh Ross, Colson recently told reporters. Thats what I did during spring ball and fall camp, I just tried to shadow him. All the little moves that he does, Im like, Ill steal that before you leave. I want to take that.

The 6-foot-2, 225-pound Brentwood, Tenn., native has played early and often in his first year appearing in all six games as a backup inside linebacker during Michigans 6-0 start and rise up the college football rankings. Hell be replaced by Ross or redshirt freshman Nikhai Hill-Green, another underclassman charged with increased playing time under the new coaching staff, and has 20 tackles, a pass breakup and fumble recovery.

Ross, the fifth-year senior who opted to stay at Michigan for one more season, has aided Colson in navigating the process.

Midseason grades: Jim Harbaugh, Michigan and Jim Hatbough both receive high marks for their run game and defensive turnaround.

Hes a smart dude, and I try to pick up on every tiny nugget he drops. You'll notice me just following him everywhere. Im like, OK, where are you going next? If he walks, I'm going, 'Where are we going?'

Hes an awesome man. Hes taken that leadership role to the next level, he said.

Colson, a four-star prospect, was recruited to Michigan by the previous defensive coordinator, Don Brown, who wanted to mold him into 'a viper', the hybrid linebacker/safety role popularized by Jabrill Peppers. But when Brown was fired during the offseason, it set off a series of changes that included the coaching staff as well as omitted the viper position and required Colson to learn he new style of play.

Colson said, They didnt have to convince me. I just wanted to help in any way that I could. Even if they put me in a corner, Id be like, OK. Itd be different, but Ill do it. Just as long as Im able to contribute in any way.

Colson has gotten on the field earlier than usual thanks to his improved IQ and a lack of depth at inside linebacker. The job may be difficult for a younger player since the responsibilities are vast to begin with and require he or she to guard against the run and the pass, as well as reading opposing defense and communicating with the front and back ends. Not everyone can do it, not even effective.

More: Faster? Maybe. Josh Ross is playing faster and smarter than ever, and LB Josh Rosen is doing just that.

Colson was already physically well ahead when he enrolled at Michigan in January, head coach Jim Harbaugh has stated. Harbaugh recently stated that he doesnt look like a freshman.

Ross recently stated, Thats a guy wholl be elite if not already right now." Hes still got learning to do, still has growth to accomplish, but hell be playing football for him. Playing great football. Super-athlete. And hes only going to get better with time.

Colson has made five tackles in two games this season, including Michigans recent victory over Nebraska, and he made a crucial fumble recovery in the Sept. 25 win over Rutgers. Slowly, hes getting his feet under him and playing with confidence at inside linebacker a group already razor thin when it comes to experience. But, according to Colson, hes been growing fast and a lot of it comes from Josh Ross.

Hes been here for a long time. Hes done a lot of things; heve seen dozens of pictures, Colson said. The good and the bad. And Im just trying to pick up on those things.

Colson smiled and said, Im right here, man. Youre not getting rid of me.

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