ncaaf 4 days ago

Smartest guy on the Michigan football team? That's up for debate

MLive.com, Walker, Mich. — Aaron McMann MLive.com, Walker, Mich.

May 17--The conversation with reporters last month in France began lightheartedly.

Stephen Spanellis, Michigan's redshirt freshman offensive lineman, entertained questions about the decision to shave his long, scruffy beard in favor of a mullet-mustache look.

Then Grant Newsome walked up to the scrum and the conversation turned serious.

"Who's smarter, you or Grant?," a reporter asked the 6-foot-5, 307-pound Spanellis.

That's when Spanellis went in on Newsome, a two-time academic all-Big Ten honoree who won the Arthur D. Robinson Scholarship Award as Michigan's top football student-athlete in 2016.

Newsome graduated in three years with a bachelor's degree in American culture and plans to pursue a master's degree in public policy at Michigan's esteemed Ford School of Public Policy this fall.

"So this semester, Grant had a 4.0," said Spanellis, who boasted the team's highest GPA in 2017.

"But I still have the highest (cumulative). My (cumulative) is still 3.949, and yours is ... less."

Then Spanellis -- a history minor who was recently approved for his philosophy, politics and economics major -- set another zinger Newsome's way.

"Ay, yo, GNN, what's your (cumulative)?

" ... He doesn't want to be specific."

Either way, the two are largely considered the smartest on the team, which was touted by Michigan on Wednesday as one of its 10 university athletic teams to receive public recognition from the NCAA for its Academic Progress Rate from 2013 to 2016.

Though linebacker Noah Furbush, who graduated with a bachelor's degree in aerospace engineering, might have something to say about that, too.

On the field, Furbush returns for his final year of eligibility while Newsome waits on clearance from his doctors following a gruesome knee injury in 2016 that left him sidelined ever since.

Spanellis, however, still has three years of eligibility left. The Baltimore, Md., native played in all 13 games as a redshirt freshman in 2017, appearing on special teams and as a reserve lineman.

He played all three distinctions along the offensive line, too: at tackle as a sixth lineman, at guard and at center.

There was a scene in Amazon's Prime reality series, "All or Nothing: The Michigan Wolverines," where head coach Jim Harbaugh and then-offensive line coach Tim Drevno work with Spanellis at snapping the football.

These days, Spanellis says he feels like a natural center, a position he spent most of the spring working at. But he's also comfortable playing at right or left guard, setting himself up for a prime backup role this fall.

"I feel like I can play any of the three spots in there," Spanellis said. "I feel like I have the versatility and I showed that last year.

"I'm just going to keep grinding. Keep doing the right things. I feel like there's no reason why if I don't show up everyday and do what I'm supposed to do, there's no reason why I shouldn't get a shot to play with the starters. But we'll see."

___

(c)2018 MLive.com, Walker, Mich.

Visit MLive.com, Walker, Mich. at www.mlive.com.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

AdChoices