Remember football? Remember fun?
Football is currently scheduled to take place in the fall with a modified schedule and player safety guidelines. But what if it doesn’t? What will distract us as we tell our children, “Just go ask your mother?” What excuse will we have to drink beer at 10:00 a.m. without College Gameday and Lee Corso’s inimitable ramblings? Does one go apple picking on fall Saturdays to fill the time?
These thoughts have consumed me over the last several months and to combat this depression and boredom, I came up with an exercise. Pick any seven former or current Michigan Wolverines and describe them in a backyard football scenario. There are no rules and the roles of players are only limited by your imagination.
Why seven? Why not eight? How about three? Seven just works. So, let’s go.
Dylan McCaffrey - Automatic Quarterback
A soft breeze ruffles the bangs of a 6-foot-5 swagger rich young man with enough confidence to steal your girlfriend and her mom. Run DMC, as he’s known to the initiated, is a laid back sniper with the ball, but has no interest in stepping outside of his comfort zone.
Why struggle at corner when you can claim all of the glory at quarterback and put forth far less effort? Given his injury-prone past, Run DMC will settle for scrambling and dicing up the opposition, which in this case, happens to be everyone.
Zach Charbonnet - The First Pick
Have you seen The Longest Yard? Not the good one, but the one with Adam Sandler. The rapper Nelly plays a supporting role as an all-universe running back named Earl Megget who is the Barry Sanders of Texas penal football. Charbonnet is the Earl Megget of backyard football, not because of size (Charbs is almost two Meggets), but because of the game-breaking ability.
Zach Charbonnet is an elusive freight train who can cause havoc on both sides of the field with his athleticism and size. Pulling a Mike Ditka in backyard football for Zach Charbonnet is still a more prudent team-building than anything the Houston Texans do.
Devin Gardner - Former Glory Guy
“THIS IS WHY YOU CAN’T BEAT OHIO STATE,” he barks at all of them.
An unclaimed, sharp voice from a gaggle of players shouts: “Settle down, Nojima.”
*Gardner stares into the distance longing for another Notre Dame night game.*
While the senior citizen on the field at 28, Gardner is a sneaky pick for backyard football because of his height and positional versatility. While at times he will struggle, when the lights are brightest, especially at night, Gardner has a high-pressure gear that no one else on the field has reached.
If his team begins struggles, expect an assertive, “Just give me the damn ball,” barked at Dylan McCaffrey.
Ben Mason - Uncomfortably Serious Guy
Ben Mason treats himself like a pissed off car salesman scolding his disappointing, un-athletic son when he strikes out in tee ball. Ben Mason stares at his hands after a fumble like he might cut them off for betrayal. BEN MASON… Okay, I’m done.
Mason is a workout warrior that has earned everything in life by working harder than those around him. This determination will not be exclusive to sanctioned NCAA football and neither will his two-way playing ability.
While Mason will take blocking more seriously than anyone ever should in backyard football, he might also have a costly fumble, or be the catalyst for a fight when he loses his cool. Ben Mason is a wild card, but guys like him can swing games by owning a supporting role.
Nico Collins - Jump Ball Guy
Arguably top pick worthy here, Collins earned the nickname Nico Suave with smooth body control and effortlessly snagging 50-50 balls. On a shortened field, however, Collins’ vertical abilities are limited.
To compensate, Collins will call for the ball by pointing to the sky in hopes of a jump ball to “Moss” someone on every play. While deadly near the endzone, it becomes increasingly more annoying watching Collins continually point to the sky like Steph Curry after a free throw.
Defensively, Collins will operate as a ball-hawking safety longing for an opportunity to snag one out of the air. Pointing to the sky this time to bait McCaffrey into testing his defensive prowess. Collins is far from a heavy hitter, but Channing Stribling proved fear of contact doesn’t stop production.
Andre Seldon - Smack Talker
At least once a game, someone will point at Seldon and scream, “Man, he started it!” Without a doubt the smallest guy on the field, Seldon can break down men twice his size by sharp words and a fierce game.
A dog of a competitor, Seldon is the type of guy that would trash talk his grandmother in a game of Monopoly if it made her second guess buying more hotels. Any competition is a matter of pride to Seldon, a one-on-one opportunity to prove his superiority.
Unrestricted, unfiltered backyard Seldon will either take out a player with coverage or with conversation. He may have started it, but most times he finishes it too.
Aidan Hutchinson - 50-percent Guy
Hutch could easily go full-on “I’m all out of bubblegum” John Nada and blow up the game with his fearsome combination of strength and size. But, to prevent any decapitations or dismemberment, Hutch chooses to operate at 50% effort.
Standing at 6-foot-6, 280 pounds, 50 percent Hutch is still a frightening sight. Somehow still only 19, Hutchinson’s high school coach John Filiatraut described his versatility the best: “Aidan would probably be the best player on our team at eight defensive positions and eight to nine offensive positions.”
I would describe what I expect Hutch to do in this game, but a shorter list would be to name what he cannot do.
End of list.
What scenarios would you explore in backyard football?
Is Ambry Thomas a sleeper wildcat quarterback? Do German & Gemon Green rotate out without anyone noticing? When does Joe Milton show up and make things interesting with Run DMC? Would Denard Robinson tie his shoes?
Sound off in the comments!