LARAMIE – Miraldo Michel didn’t have his bags packed, but that was the next step.
Unhappy with his playing time, dealing with a lingering injury from his junior-college days and some family struggles, the Fort Lauderdale, Fla., product gave serious thought to leaving the University of Wyoming.
“I was mentally out of it more than anything,” Michel said. “Things weren’t going my way on the field. I was uneasy about things, and I let it get to my head, and I wasn’t being a very good teammate.
“My attitude was a big problem. I was being a little selfish, and I think that had a lot to do with the amount of reps I got.”
The 6-foot-3, 265-pound defensive end only played in one game last season. He transferred to UW in January 2011 and sat out of all drills that spring because of surgery.
Michel was listed as a starter coming out of this year’s spring practice sessions, but he primarily played with the second-team defense during the Cowboys scrimmage this past Saturday. He recorded three tackles.
There is playing time available because of the graduations of Josh Biezuns and Gabe Knapton. Both players earned second-team All-Mountain West honors last season.
“There’s a lot of competition left, but (Michel is) an explosive athlete,” UW defensive line coach Matt Rahl said. “He has some pretty good hips, and he’s a big, tough, physical player. He’s shown the last few days that he really has the explosive ability to help us make big plays.”
Michel had 40 tackles (16 solo) during his sophomore season at Ellsworth (Iowa) Community College. He also posted 8½ tackles for loss and four sacks.
Since arriving in Laramie, Michel has shown flashes of his former self. He just hasn’t done it consistently.
“It’s a matter of continuing to put it all together and continuing to improve,” Rahl said.
It’s not uncommon for players to develop poor practice habits and bad attitudes over the course of their careers, senior defensive tackle Mike Purcell said.
“It takes some guys a while to realize what they’re here for and what their potential is,” Purcell said. “I think he was just too hard on himself. When you’re hard on yourself, it makes things that much harder.”
Michel’s new approach is abundantly clear to his teammates.
“He’s hard-working and intense,” Purcell said. “You can see that during drills. He always wants to be at the front of the line, he always wants to go hard, and he wants to show people how it’s supposed to be done.”
One thing is clear about Michel: He wants to make the most of his senior year.
“I was in a really difficult situation last year, but I’m glad I stayed,” Michel said. “My family encouraged me to stay, and my coaches stuck by me and showed me that they believed in me and gave me another chance.
“I wouldn’t change any of the decisions I’ve made. I’m going to try to take full advantage of this opportunity because I don’t want to have any regrets when I leave here.”