For the last four years, Zak Zinter has been the star offensive lineman for the Michigan Wolverines. At this point, it’s hard to remember a time when NFL scouts and fans alike were not gushing about Zinter’s potential and abilities at the next level. Zinter was a unanimous All-American in 2023 and one of only two players to anchor the offensive line for the last three years; the other was Trevor Keegan.
Keegan, the oft-forgotten “other” guard, was equally important to the line’s sustained success and continuity over the last three seasons. The fifth-year left guard was never an All-American, but was a three-time All-Big Ten selection (first team, coaches, 2022; second team, coaches, 2023; second team media, 2022-23; honorable mention, coaches and media, 2021) and filled a role that Zinter could not.
According to Wikipedia, an “Enforcer is an unofficial role in ice hockey. The term is sometimes used synonymously with ‘fighter,’ ‘tough guy,’ or ‘goon.’ An enforcer’s job is to deter and respond to dirty or violent play by the opposition.” Trevor Keegan was Michigan’s enforcer on the offensive line.
Behind Keegan’s sly smile and relaxed sense of humor is a player in love with violence. A player who thrives on the nastiness of the trenches and who will do anything to interrupt the opposition’s pursuit of his teammates — even after the whistle, to an extent.
“The Game” in 2021 changed everything for the Wolverines. It was more than just a win over the rival Buckeyes. It was a win that represented overcoming ten years of failures and shortcomings and finally closing one of the darkest chapters in the history of Michigan’s storied program. And if one moment in that game signified a changing of the guard and that this wasn’t just the “same old Michigan,” it was Keegan standing up for his teammate.
Michigan wide receiver Roman Wilson and Buckeye corner Cam Brown got into a skirmish on the backside of a play. The two were already jostling on the ground and when Brown tried to get up, Wilson trapped Brown’s foot between his arm and body to make it more difficult/irritating to stand up. Brown responded by ripping Wilson’s helmet off and chucking it 10 yards.
Like a shark smelling blood in the water, Keegan, quickly followed by right tackle Andrew Stueber, flew to Wilson’s aid and confronted Brown. However, Keegan did not punch, push, or even lose his cool when confronting the Buckeye. Instead, Brown pushed Keegan in the facemask and reassured the officials why only one team would be penalized in this instance. But Keegan’s presence alone personified that Michigan was going to stand its ground for the first time in ten years and not be pushed around by Ohio State.
The old cliche of being “your brother’s keeper” is something for someone else to write. Keegan is more like the older brother you get to kick the local bully’s ass. To paraphrase Zach Randolph, Keegan was there to “bully the bully.”
On the next play, Michigan ran a counter to Keegan’s side for a touchdown to put the Wolverines up 28-14. Unbeknownst at the time, that touchdown was enough to win the game (although the Wolverines would add 14 more points for good measure).
Despite being an enforcer, Keegan never hurt the team. The 2021 example is a rare case of even being able to recognize it so clearly, but play-in and play-out, big No. 77 can often be spotted subtly sticking up for one of his teammates.
Keegan will always be the “other guard” when mentioned with Zinter, who was one of the best to ever don the maize and blue. But Keegan left a legacy of never backing down — a legacy that was vital to the Wolverines winning three Big Ten titles and a national championship. Keegan was the toughest in a room full of tough guys and the one who vehemently drew a line in the sand against Ohio State that ended a ten-year drought. Every team needs an enforcer; every team needs a Trevor Keegan.