Along with its search for a new quarterback, Michigan will also be looking to find a new starting center this spring. Presumed starter Jack Miller says he's "burned out" with football and will not return for a fifth season.
Miller played in 22 games at Michigan. He started 16 times, including all of the 2014 season, when he won the team's award for best lineman of the year. Michigan confirmed Thursday morning that Miller decided to leave the team to finish his degree and "pursue business opportunities."
"Football has just run its course for me," he said. "I'm not crazy-passionate about it anymore, and this game requires a burning desire to play. Therefore I think it's time for me to move into the next stage of my life."
Miller said he had been considering ending his career for most of the past year. He had conversations with former Wolverines head coach Brady Hoke about being included with the outgoing senior class last fall, but opted to give himself more time to make a decision. He practiced with the team and its new coaching staff for the first week of spring ball, but decided while at home on spring break last week not to return to the team.
"I know that I'll miss the game, but I would miss the game whether I walked away now or had a 10-year NFL career," he said. "I wasn't prepared to stay around out of fear that I would miss it or regret my decision. My gut is telling me it's time to move on."
The coaching change did not have an impact on his decision, Miller said. He spoke with new coach Jim Harbaugh earlier this week and explained that he no longer had the drive necessary to practice every day. Miller said he expects Harbaugh and his staff to help Michigan return to its winning ways. Miller said he's looking forward to watching them.
"I would have loved to be a part of that first team to kind of turn the tide and be part of that," he said. "Unfortunately, it's not that easy. You don't just show up on Saturday and play. There's so much more that goes into it."
Miller said he plans on graduating from Michigan this semester and finding a job in finance or sales. He also is thinking about pursuing a career in politics at some point.
The Perrysburg, Ohio, native was expected to be in the middle of an improving offensive line that would have returned all five starters from a year ago. Miller served as a de facto spokesman for the group and oftentimes the entire team last fall. He would have been one of three returning seniors with starting experience on offense.
Redshirt sophomore Patrick Kugler is next in line on the Wolverines' projected depth chart at center. He made his collegiate debut last fall in the season opener against Appalachian State but did not play the rest of the year.