“He got that dawg in him,” is a popularized phrase that is presently as much a part of a sporting event as blaming the officials. Once a game, you either hear it, say it, or read it. It is inescapable. Even Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh defined it during the 2022 season.
“A dawg is a disciplined athlete with grit.”
Grit being the keyword here — a dawg could be further defined as a player who is a voracious competitor; a player that is going to do anything and everything in their power to win. Keeping that in mind, I applied anecdotal science, the eye test, and came up with the top five definitive dawgs from the Michigan Wolverines.
1. RB Blake Corum
Every time Blake Corum steps on a football field, he is the shortest player out there. Standing at a modest 5-foot-8, Corum is a dawg amongst trees, but this has never limited his abilities on the gridiron. Corum is tenacious, a bowling ball that could either spin around you with finesse or run through you with ungoverned velocity.
Over the last two seasons, Corum has rushed for 2,415 yards and scored 31 total touchdowns. Widely regarded as the best running back in the country despite his diminutive stature, Corum is the 68-inch embodiment of a dawg.
2. LB Junior Colson
On the In the Trenches podcast last season, Junior Colson offered this before the Penn State game:
“It doesn’t matter the opponent, to be honest, we want to impose our will. I feel like that’s all of our mindsets — that’s definitely my mindset. I’m not really all that big on last year’s game. It’s just mostly imposing our will. Being able to dominate and see the light come out of their eyes. You see a light just fade away, their smile kind of die down.”
Excuse me, what? This has to be one of the most metal quotes I have ever read from a current player. No notes, all dawg.
3. DB Mike Sainristil
Switching positions in college football is difficult. More often than not, players will switch during their formative first two years on campus and perfect their new position by the third or fourth year. Or you could be Mikey Sainristil, switch positions twice, and perfect each one.
Recruited as a corner, Sainristil switched to receiver as a freshman in 2019 and proved to be too valuable to redshirt. Mikey spent the next few seasons reeling in acrobatic catches until last off-season when something changed. The Michigan defense had a void at defensive back and Sainristil was bumping his head on the ceiling of his potential at wide receiver.
Sainristil switched to defensive back and took to his old position like a shark in the water. Mikey excelled playing the nickel corner and was responsible for the single-most spectacular defensive play of the 2022 season.
Entering his final year in Ann Arbor, Sainristil has already won Michigan’s team prize for offensive skill player (2021, co-winner) and defensive skill player (2022), proving that his comprehensive football acumen makes him a rare dawg on either side of the ball.
4. RB Donovan Edwards
Roughly two months ago, it was revealed that Donovan Edwards tore his patella tendon in Week 2 last year against Hawaii. Edwards only missed two games and returned to score a touchdown against Iowa in Week 5.
Already playing with a torn patella and two screws in his right hand, Edwards broke his thumb against Nebraska. Only missing one game, Edwards returned to rush for over 200 yards against Ohio State and seal Michigan’s first win in Columbus since 2000.
Edwards only had two functional limbs against Ohio State, Purdue in the Big Ten Championship, and TCU in the College Football Playoff. Despite his limited appendages, Edwards averaged 173 rushing yards over the three-game stretch and added three scores as well. DAWG!
5. DT Kris Jenkins
There is just something about Kris Jenkins that is deceptively terrifying. Jenkins is the rare combination of personality and physicality like crossing Wayne Brady with Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones.
This bubbly game-show host facade merely serves as a thin veneer for the competitor underneath. Jenkins – known as “The Mutant” for his freakish feats of strength and athleticism in the weight room – plays with a loud, impactful style that is intoxicating to teammates.
“I try to bring that type of energy every single day,” Jenkins said at Big Ten Media Days. “Some can say I’m hyped up, some can say I’m crazy, but I just try to bring that excitement, bring that juice.”
Every other player on this list came to Michigan as an actualized dawg. Jenkins came as a 265-pound pup and will leave as a first-round pitbull whose bark is only exceeded by his bite.