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Steve Clinkscale says Mike Sainristil’s ‘doing veteran things’ for Michigan’s defense

Expect to see more of Sainristil on defense this week.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 10 Hawaii at Michigan Photo by Steven King/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Mike Sainristil’s a captain on the 2022 Michigan Football team, and the reasons why are obvious when you put on game film. Sainristil plays with aggression and max effort.

Sainristil’s leadership and work ethic have helped him make a smooth transition from wideout to now playing predominantly on defense for the Wolverines.

“He’s doing veteran things,” Michigan co-defensive Coordinator and defensive backs coach Steve Clinkscale told the media on Wednesday. “He’s out there anticipating the issues and doing a very good job of disguising and in understanding what they’re trying to do to attack us.”

Sainristil isn’t just doing a good job, he’s someone Clinkscale called a “coach on the field”.

“He’s also doing things that make him great at times, when he could do his job and do someone else’s job, but making sure his job’s taken care of. You see him do that, really, with his effort.”

Sainristil played on offense and defense in high school, so his instincts on defense have already been there for a while. Head coach Jim Harbaugh had the idea to move Sainristil over to defense this offseason, an idea that Sainristil was behind and Clinkscale is now very happy about.

“Definitely always starts with the head coach. Nobody’s gonna make that move without the head coach,” Clinkscale said. “Sometimes we bring it up, sometimes he sees it, and with Mikey, he saw it. He came to me about Mikey, and it was the best decision that we’ve made in secondary thus far.”

Clinkscale called Sainristil someone with unbelievable passion and effort, who wants to be the best DB on the team and in the nation. Expect Sainristil’s snap count to keep going up and up for Michigan as the season rolls along.

“It’s really just his drive and his personality, his mental makeup. He’s already a leader, and he’s gonna continue to be great in that role — but I continue to see him getting more of a role at corner, especially this week. You’ll see, he’s got a lot of upside. He’s very fast, very strong, always physical.”

Sainristil’s bread and butter may end up being at nickel, but he’s been able to do it all in practice, bouncing to the outside and wherever he’s asked to line up.

“Mikey can play nickel and corner, and the slot receiver. We always give him the opportunity to do those situations in practice,” Clinkscale said.

Last month Sainristil shared a practice story from the 2021 season when he was at wideout.

“Last year, I was joking around with coach Clink and coach Mike MacDonald saying, ‘Put me on defense.’ Even the Ohio State week, I was saying, ‘Put me on defense,’.”

A year later, Sainristil is on Michigan’s defense and he will be suiting up on defense against Michigan’s biggest rivals.

Defensive coordinator Jesse Minter said this offseason that Sainristil “plays with a level of toughness and maturity”. Sainristil’s approach should serve him and Michigan’s defense well in the months to come.