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Published: 8/29/2006

Woodley: unfinished business

Senior defensive end LaMarr Woodley wants to restore the Michigan mystique and approach his potential. One of his goals is breaking the team record for sacks in a season - 12. Senior defensive end LaMarr Woodley wants to restore the Michigan mystique and approach his potential. One of his goals is breaking the team record for sacks in a season - 12.
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ANN ARBOR - Not only did Michigan have a subpar season last year, so did LaMarr Woodley.

Neither the Wolverines nor Woodley lived up to the hype.

Woodley briefly considered entering the NFL draft - he was projected as a possible second-round pick - before deciding to return for his senior season to take care of some unfinished business.

Woodley not only plans to get his degree in liberal arts (he is 18 credits shy), he is intent on helping restore some of the missing mystique to Michigan's program.

A year ago, the Wolverines lost three home games for the first time since 1994, and they didn't have a single player chosen on the first day of the NFL draft in April.

Woodley, meanwhile, was slowed by a cracked bone in his forearm and started just eight games. He made only 48 tackles, but led the team with seven sacks and 16 tackles for loss.

"I have a lot of stuff to prove, and so does our team, so that's why I came back," he said.

Woodley's career has been solid, but not great since he arrived from Saginaw High School in 2003, where he was rated as one of the top linebackers in the country.

The 6-foot-2, 268-pound Woodley still has the talent to be a first-round pick in the NFL, but he has struggled with injuries and inconsistent play.

Michigan is 26-11 during his tenure - the Wolverines lost five games last year after losing six the previous two seasons combined. They have captured two Big Ten championships during Woodley's watch, but are 0-3 in bowl games.

Woodley has a few huge holes in his resume as the Wolverines prepare for their opener Saturday against Vanderbilt.

"I want to win a bowl game and be an All-American player," he said. "I want to be remembered as part of the great Michigan tradition."

Woodley has the ability to get to quarterbacks by using his speed from the outside at end, or with power rushes from the inside at linebacker.

Although he only has 12 career sacks, Woodley has set his sights on breaking David Bowens' single-season school record of 12.

"I look at the record books here and I see guys from 1890 whose names are still in there for sacks they had in a game," Woodley said. "I want to be remembered for something like that and get my name and picture up on the wall at Schembechler Hall."

He gave everyone a peak at his enormous potential two years ago as a sophomore, when he finished with 70 tackles and was named defensive MVP of the Rose Bowl after collecting 11 tackles against Texas and fleet-footed quarterback Vince Young.

Woodley has earned his teammates' respect. He was named one of the Wolverines' captains.

He is being hailed as the leader of a leaner - and hopefully - meaner Michigan defense that allowed eight running backs to rush for more than 100 yards last season.

"We need LaMarr to be a dominant player, there's no sugarcoating that," said first-year defensive coordinator Ron English, who replaced the embattled Jim Herrmann. "He has to make big plays, be consistent and stay healthy for us to be successful."

Woodley will have to produce numerous big plays this season to get his picture up on the wall alongside Michigan's other greats.



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