By: Will Burchfield
A lot has changed since Braylon Edwards signed his national letter of intent to Michigan from the cozy confines of Bishop Gallagher High School in February 2001.
“Oh, we got gypped,” Edwards said, after taking part in Michigan’s extravagant Signing of the Stars event on Wednesday. “I was telling (former teammate) Marlin Jackson that earlier today. I said, ‘I think we caught the short end of the stick as it relates to Signing Day.'”
But Edwards is fine with it. Indeed, as a Michigan alumni, he knows it’s for the best.
The second annual Signing of the Stars was another example of Jim Harbaugh thrusting Michigan into the spotlight. It was another chance for the program to trumpet its alumni, a trend that began in earnest in the 2016 season.
“I like it, I think you’re marketing our culture. You guys want better recruits, you guys want better football, you want a better product, and that’s one of the ways to go about doing it,” Edwards said.
But under Harbaugh, Michigan has done more than celebrate its past. The Wolverines have garnered a sense of celebrity, assuming a constant place in the headlines by attaching themselves to people like Michael Jordan and staging events like Signing of the Stars.
“The coaches, as well as the athletic department, they’ve put our school back on the map — and we’re here to stay,” Edwards said. “All they talked about last year was Michigan, regardless of what Alabama was doing, regardless of what Clemson was doing. They were undefeated schools and nobody cared about them, they cared about us. So I like that now we’ve just gotta back it up with our play on the football field.”
That’s the last and most important step in Michigan’s return to relevance, and Edwards is ready to help in that regard, too. The 2004 Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year is back on campus finishing his degree and plans to be on the field for the the Wolverines’ spring practices.
“I told coach I’m up here. I actually don’t have class on Tuesdays, Thursdays and the weekend, so whatever I can do I’ll be there,” said Edwards, who was joined by a number of his former teammates on Wednesday. “I was telling those guys earlier, we had our time in the sun. The Ian Golds and LaMarr Woodleys and Braylon Edwards and Marlon Jacksons, we had our four years.
“Now it’s time for us to give back to these kids that are here now.”