- Michael Rothstein, ESPN Staff Writer
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ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Mitch McGary played football growing up and the way he plays basketball, the freshman forward sometimes looks like he has transitioned his tight end skills to the hard court.
Michigan’s football coaches have noticed.
Wolverines defensive coordinator Greg Mattison gushed about McGary on Tuesday, laughing as he said he would put him at defensive end and he would “get a lot of sacks.” Michigan head coach Brady Hoke has brought it up with McGary in the past as well.
Right now, it seems like everyone is just joking around.
“I don’t know. He said, ‘We’ve got to get you out on the football field,’ “ McGary said. “Jokingly, but I think he’s serious down deep.”
McGary played football in eighth grade and his freshman year at Chesterton High School in northwest Indiana before he said he father made him quit because he was too tall at then 6-foot-6, 190 pounds.
Now at 6-foot-10, 255 pounds, his frame is a little better suited to it. But it doesn’t mean John Beilein would consider sharing his starting center and emerging post playmaker. Although after seeing a couple of screens Saturday against VCU, the thought crossed Beilein’s mind.
Much of this new football conversation with McGary came after he leveled VCU’s Briante Weber on a screen in the first half of Michigan’s Round of 32 win over the Rams on Saturday.
Beilein, though, doesn’t plan on sharing his prodigious center with Michigan’s usual marquee sport.
“No, not going to share him, but a couple of screens he set did scare me a little bit,” Beilein said. “You guys probably are too young to remember Ted Hendricks but I talked about that with Greg Mattison.
“He would be good at that defensive end, maybe, too.”
Would McGary, a starter on Michigan’s first Sweet 16 team since 1994, consider it? He laughed, but didn’t sound like he would completely rule it out. For now, though, he clearly has basketball as a first, most important, priority.
“I don’t know. Maybe. I don’t know,” McGary said. “I still like football, but I probably want to focus on basketball, though.”
Michigan assistant coach Bacari Alexander -- McGary’s position coach -- weighed in on Twitter late Tuesday, saying there was no way his guy was going to play football, but wondered if Devin Funchess, the Wolverines’ sophomore tight end, could play some power forward.
So on it all goes.