With the resurgence of Michigan football over the last two years, the nicknames have slowly come out of the woodwork. The Hammering Panda. Dr. Blitz. Ghost Peppers. Butt Stuff. Well, maybe not that last one.
Still, to continue this rich tradition, it’s come down to me - the absolute worst person you could imagine at making up nicknames - to hand out some more. I may not have gotten everyone to call Doctor Octopus “Señor Cephalopod,” but I’ve got the winners right here.
David Long: “Hollywood”
This one was easy. He’s from Hollywood, for one. And he plays like it, too, with excellent speed, great leaping ability, and the swagger and ability to go toe-to-toe with all the best receivers.
Jordan Glasgow: “1971”
That’s it, I’m done with all these Glasgows walking on and blowing us all away with their ability. And when I say ‘done,’ what I really mean is I wish it continued until the end of time.
I like the nickname ‘1969,’ first off, because it’s a year that was synonymous with work ethic and throwing convention out the window - creating the motto, “Those who stay will be champions,” along the way. For the few who don’t know, that was Bo’s first season in Ann Arbor, and it was a huge rebuilding season where players quit the team in droves because of Schembechler’s very different style - neither he, nor his players, were going to be outworked by anybody, and he quickly whipped the team into shape. Talent, starting experience, previous accomplishments - all that stuff didn’t matter as much as hard work.
The Glasgows have embodied this spirit, and Michigan fans have understandably adored their work ethic and the success that followed. So, to tie these threads together, I’d retroactively give Graham and Ryan the nicknames “1969” and “1970,” and baby Jordan gets “1971” until he leaves town.
Zach Gentry: “Veneno”
What’s the most obvious thing you can possibly do when handing out nicknames? Take a super-athletic and powerful tight end and name him after a Lamborghini. I particularly like “Veneno” (pronounced, ‘Beh-nay-no’) because it’s Spanish for “venom.” Also, the car looks like this:
I was hoping Gentry was an old Spanish name, but alas, it’s French. Damn French.
Donovan Peoples-Jones: “The Surgeon”
I swear these write themselves. DPJ is possibly going to be a surgeon one day, just like his dad who graduated from Michigan’s medical school. In the meantime, he’ll have to settle for carving up opposing defenses.
Maurice Hurst: “Godzilla”
Nobody assumes Maurice Hurst will be anything but Godzilla-like this year, so I won’t rehash it further.
Instead, I’ll share some hilarious Godzilla fun facts - like, for example, did you know that there’s a Zillah, Washington, and a church there has been referred to in print by the name “Church of God - Zillah” since before the monster’s inception in the early 1950’s? They drew attention to it in the year 2000 by erecting a wire-frame statue of the monster with a sign that shares congregation times or other messages.
“I’m not really sure the denomination likes being affiliated with a big lizard... but so far they’ve been pretty cool,” said Reverend Gary Conner.
Here’s another one: in 1992, a $39,000 Godzilla suit was stolen and then lost at sea before it washed up on a Japanese shore, absolutely terrifying the woman who found it. And in “Jurassic Park: The Lost World,” one of the scared L.A. residents running away from the T-Rex could be heard saying in Japanese, “I left Japan to get away from this!!”
I feel like I had originally been talking about football, but basically what I’m trying to say here is - Maurice Hurst can do all those things as well.
Tyree Kinnel: “Butterfly”
I like this nickname for Tyree for a number of reasons. It’s an ode to Muhammad Ali’s “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee,” and that’s a good set of traits for any free safety. It also references how we got to know him in the first place: those crazy, spread-eagled punt blocks that he pulled off early in the season.
You could also reference the Butterfly Effect, if you really wanted: any little thing that a free safety with that kind of speed does will have an effect on the opposing offense.
And finally, it’s just a cool nickname.
Bryan Mone: “The Mailman”
I’m going back to the well of players’ home states for this one. Mone was originally a Utah boy, and he grew up during a time and place when “delivering the mail” sounded like a boss thing to do. Also, this is neither here nor there, but I had a poster of Karl Malone in my bedroom growing up, and I can assure you that he was awesome.
On the downside, though, I’m on a bit of a streak now of stealing nicknames. Hideki Matsui, the New York Yankees slugger during the 2000’s who tore up the Red Sox on numerous occasions, was also called “Godzilla.” Maybe I should stash Ty Isaac as “The Terminator” even though he does look a lot like Arnold Schwarzenegger in running back form.
Kareem Walker: “Zugzwang”
Zugzwang is a German word, and it’s one of my favorite words I’ve ever come across. It’s a chess term that refers to one player being at a disadvantage and needing to make moves that will in some ways hurt their own situation. The direct translation is “compulsion to move.” I think this term works well for Walker’s running style and how dangerous he could be when he combines his size and speed at the college level.
Quinn Nordin: “Ricky Gervais”
He’s arrogant. He’s brazen. He might be British. And he gets off of planes when he’s committing to Penn State. I don’t know why, but Gervais just seems to fit.
Either way, Nordin definitely needs some nickname. Not many punters have a lot of swagger or personality (Pat McAfee excluded), and I’m not about to call him Quinn Nordin for four years.
Mike McCray: “Nutmeg”
I wasn’t going to call him M&M - there’s a little too much innuendo there, and M&M’s have a bad reputation in the run game - but Nutmeg works from a gustatory perspective, it’s a cool name, and it has a tip of the hat toward the various properties and effects on the body that nutmeg has. Basically, it’s got some bite, but it helps out your core and internal organs and keeps things running smoothly. McCray can do the same for a defense.
Brad Hawkins: “Batman”
Always be yourself. Unless you can be Brad Hawkins, who is secretly Batman.