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Why Junior Colson Reunited With Jim Harbaugh on the Chargers

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Chargers second-round pick Ladd McConkey and third-round pick Junior Colson met virtually with members of the media after being selected on Day 2 of the 2024 NFL Draft.

Below are three takeaways from their media availabilities Friday night:

The Harbaugh Connection

It was only a matter of time before a Michigan player was added to the mix for the Bolts in the 2024 NFL Draft.

Colson was selected by the Chargers in the third round (No. 69 overall), bringing the first of Head Coach Jim Harbaugh's former Wolverines to the team.

And it's safe to say that Colson was hyped about the opportunity to reconnect with his former college coach.

"Everything [excites me]," Colson said. "I'm just happy to be back with him. I went to Michigan for a reason, he was that reason.

"He picked me again," Colson added. "I'm blessed and highly favored, and I can't wait to get to work for him."

Colson manned the middle of the Michigan defense for three seasons and started 39 games over the time span, becoming one of Harbaugh's most important players.

"He checks every box," Harbaugh said. "Our scouts, along with [Chargers General Manager] Joe [Hortiz] and [linebackers coach] NaVorro Bowman, who has played in this league for a long time, had him as the top inside linebacker in the draft.

"He has the size, he's a downhill backer, but he can also go sideline-to-sideline. He knows the system. A big-time competitor," Harbaugh added.

The Chargers Head Coach relayed a story of how Colson played with clubs on both hands after breaking them this past season.

"More than one-and-a-half hands were in a club for a good part of the season," Harbaugh said.

Now that Colson is in the NFL, he can't wait to continue playing for his head coach.

"What part wasn't great? You know?," Colson said. "What part wasn't great about playing for him? He's the best coach out there. He's the best coach to play for, I believe in.

"He's a winner," Colson added. "That's something that you always want to follow, you want to follow a winner, you want to be with winners. I believe that I'm with a winner right now."

Colson also reunites with his former defensive coordinator calling the plays for the Bolts now in Jesse Minter as well.

Minter's defense was the top-ranked unit in the country last season, and the linebacker was there in the thick of it all as the on-field playcaller.

The newest Bolts linebacker had high praise for Minter, who now will help him as he begins his journey in the pros.

"Playing for him was freaking phenomenal. It was phenomenal," Colson said. "He's one of the smartest guys I know, if not the smartest guy I know.

"To be able to play in that same defense, be able to play in his defense, he's been able to customize and change and create a way to being the number one defense in the country last year," Colson added. "I'm just excited to see where we can continue to grow, and then build with that."

With all the Wolverines on staff and now Colson in the fold, he joked on joining the 'Michigan of the West'.

But the goal and style of play he became accustomed to in Ann Arbor remains the same even on the West Coast.

"Michigan of the West, we just swapped out the cold for the warm," Colson said. "Other than that, nothing really changes — still go out there and win, play hard-nosed football."

McConkey ready to work

McConkey let out a sigh of relief Friday night.

"I've been waiting, I feel like it's been so long, just trying to figure out where I'm going to be at," McConkey said. "Now that it's here, it's time to get to work."

The Bolts newest offensive weapon took a long road to get to this point as a high school prospect that wasn't highly touted.

Coming out as a three-star prospect out of North Murray High School in Georgia, McConkey knew he would have to work hard every step of the way to get to his ultimate NFL goal.

"Growing up, I feel like every little kid wants to get drafted, wants to go high," McConkey said "I don't know. I knew that I could do it, and I knew that I had a good support staff around me that believed in me."

And it all came to be when he got to Georgia.

"When I got to Georgia, got the opportunity, was out there playing in the SEC against the best competition week in and week out, I was like, 'Alright, I can do this, I just need a shot,'" McConkey said. "It's something that I've always wanted to do, and then it started to come to life a little bit in the last couple of years."

The confidence that he would be able to compete at a powerhouse school and achieve his dream only continued to grow after seizing every opportunity along the way.

"Really, my true freshman year, I redshirted, didn't get to play," McConkey said. "I was on scout team, but I felt like I was killing them, I felt like I could play. But, looking back now, it was probably the best decision for me, redshirting, at the time.

"In practice, going against first-round defensive guys, when I was doing it then, I was like, 'If I get a shot, I'm going to run with it and never look back,'" McConkey added.

Joining a veteran room

Colson's virtual media session included a special guest, who was just as fired up as anybody to adding Colson.

Bowman briefly joined the call, telling Colson that he was excited to get to work now that he's on the Bolts.

And Colson couldn't agree more, as he displayed his enthusiasm for being able to learn from a former All-Pro linebacker who one of the more dominant players at his position ever.

"I'm excited, man. One of the best to ever play the game," Colson said. "I'm ready to go, let's make it happen. I'm already on my way, let's make it happen."

In addition to the knowledge and experience of Bowman, Colson also walks into a room that includes veteran Denzel Perryman, who is entering his 10th season in the NFL.

"Oh yeah, I know of him. I've watched him," Colson said. "He's a leader. He's a phenomenal player. He's been in this league for a very long time.

"To be in this league for that long, you just have to sacrifice so many things," Colson added. "You have to put in the grind. That's something that he's done. Now, it's paying off."

Being able to walk into a room with the experience on the staff and in the players is something Colson values a ton, as he is looking to learn as much as possible.

"With those guys, I'm just going to become a sponge and soak everything up, everything that they have to say," Colson said. "I'm not going to say too much right now.

Colson added: "Coming in, just watching the way that they carry themselves, watching the way that they practice, watching the way that they attack each and every day, and being able to go out there and emulate that, in a way."

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