Earlier this week, the Michigan Wolverines football team announced their five captains for the upcoming season: Cade McNamara, Ronnie Bell, Erick All, Mazi Smith and Mike Sainristil. All five had the opportunity to sit down with Jon Jansen on the University of Michigan’s ‘In the Trenches’ podcast to talk about their experiences and the honor of being named a captain.
Here’s what they had to say on the honor:
“I’m just doing everything I can, just to not just play my best ball, but I feel like I’m a leader on this team,” said McNamara. “Now I’ve been recognized for that and you know I’m just playing best football right now.”
Erick All stated, “It was an honor (being named captain). I got a little teary-eyed at first. Ever since (Aidan) Hutchinson and (Josh) Ross and the guys last year like (Andrew) Vastardis that were all voted captains — guys I looked up to. For having the team vote for me, they feel about me how I felt about them guys. It’s a blessing. I feel like we haven’t been more ready than we are this year to go out there and compete. We look great. I’m just so ready to get out there.”
When asked what All learned from Hutchinson and Ross, he had a glowing review.
“It’s okay to be different,” said All. “It’s okay to work hard. It’s okay to speak up when something you don’t like happens. They showed who they were on the field. They weren’t really talking a lot. They pretty much just proved themselves on the field. That’s just the type of guys who everybody looks up to.”
On his legacy in Ann Arbor, Bell spoke of his journey and how he wants to be remembered.
“I want them to remember the little kid that didn’t have no offers, wasn’t even looked at as a football player,” Bell said. “The one that really took a risk. I flipped sports and decided to play football at the last second. Coach Harbaugh stuck his neck out there and I stuck my neck out there, too. What that kid did to make the most of his time here.”
Jansen also spoke with the defensive captains and asked them what it was like to be deemed a captain of the Wolverines.
“It’s an honor to have been voted by my teammates as a captain,” said Sainristil. “I wouldn’t say it adds pressure simply because I’m not going to change what I’ve been doing because clearly what I’ve been doing is what led to my name being picked as a captain. I just need to make sure my teammates understand, as well as myself, that day in day out I’m going to continue to give it 100% in every aspect — film room, recovery, on the field, off the field.”
Last but not least, Smith jumped into the fray to talk about his experience and the pressure of being a captain.
“It was hard at first,” said Smith. “I’m not a guy that’s used to being in any type of spotlight or being acknowledged for anything. I’m not a guy who really wants to be. I kind of like being the underdog and being able to sneak up on people. When I was named that, I took it in and was really excited. Then I realized, it’s time to get back to work. It doesn’t have to be a distraction. All you have to tell yourself is you’re glad that people see you and respect what you’re doing. You’re glad that people believe in you. You’re glad that what you’re doing matters.”
The five Michigan captains, along with the rest of the team, open the season next Saturday at the Big House against Colorado State.