The standards have been set for the juniors on Michigan’s roster. Since their arrival on campus, they have only known seasons of beating Ohio State, winning the Big Ten championship, and going to the College Football Playoff. Now, it’s ingrained in everything they do; it guides their work ethic, and with each passing day, they work to ensure that this upcoming 2023 season matches — and surpasses — those standards.
An added component exists solely for the offensive line. For two years running, they have been the recipients of the Joe Moore Award. They lock and reload talent because every guy coming up is ready. Players like Giovanni El-Hadi, who took his freshman year as it came, seeing little action but working hard every day, are now entering their third year on the team. The junior left guard joined Jon Jansen on In the Trenches this week to talk more about his journey since arriving to Michigan and the goals he and his team hope to achieve this season.
Transitions and patience
As with most freshmen on any roster, it’s difficult to go from being the best of the best on their high school team to having to sit the majority of their first year of college. For El-Hadi it was no different. “It was something new to me. I understand when you get to college, it’s hard,” he shared, “I understood that, but it didn’t sit right with me. It kills you inside when you don’t get to see the field.”
On top of that, El-Hadi came in with the intention that he would be playing right tackle, like he had for the majority of his football career prior to arriving at Michigan. That all changed when Sherrone Moore came to him and told him he’d be a left guard. Recognizing that it was in the interest of his team, El-Hadi rose to the challenge. “Coach Moore was like ‘you are going to left guard’ and I was like ‘Ok whatever the team needs’, so I grinded,” he said, “I had a lot of injuries when I came in, it was a lot, but I was grinding my way through it.”
Most of El-Hadi’s freshman year was him working through injury and not getting the chance to see a lot of in-game action, but that shifted his sophomore year. From work on special teams, to making starts, he had made a massive jump from his first season. Through it all he had no nerves because it was finally his moment. “It was surreal. I don’t really get nervous, I don’t know why, but I felt ready,” he shared, “It was my opportunity to shine. I couldn’t be thinking like that, all I could think was just play football.”
A lot of that also hinges on the eagerness to succeed and willingness to have patience for his chance. For El-Hadi, games consist of being ready both physically and mentally so at any moment he can step in. Luckily for him, his desire to get better and play at the next level, he always is. “When I am on, I have my helmet ready. I’m jumping ready to go in there,” he explained, “For me I stay loose, jump around. Mentally, I said before it’s my opportunity to shine. Whatever I can get. This is what I have dreamed of, it’s everything I know.”
All that effort exists across the board, and Michigan has the hardware from the past two years to prove it. El-Hadi has been on the team for its back-to-back Joe Moore Awards. According to him, a lot of the o-line’s success is due in part to offensive linemen coach Sherrone Moore. “To be honest, with Coach Moore it’s not that hard [to hit expectations]. We have a standard and we keep that standard,” he explained, “The o-line runs the team, that’s what we always tell each other and pride ourselves on. We are everything to the team, so whenever we are strong our team is strong.”
The ultimate prize
With summer in full swing, but fall camp looming ahead, El-Hadi shared his main focus of continuing to be someone people can rely on while still chasing his own goals. With tight competition for those starting spots and playing time, El-Hadi knows there is no love lost, because they are all chasing similar dreams. “At the end of the day, we know it’s a job. We play football for fun, but we all have dreams to go to the NFL and support our families,” he explained, “So at the end of the day, it’s whoever wants it more. I am going to train every day until I get it to show Coach Moore and the guys out there that they can rely on me.”
Through all the success Michigan has had the past two years, there is still one thing that the team and fans alike are itching for. The wins over Ohio State and the Big Ten championship rings are all sought after prizes, but one still eludes the Wolverines. To reach that goal of making the National Championship and winning it all is on everyone’s mind. But for the 2023 Wolverines, it’s a goal they hope to deliver. “[To do that] we can’t get comfortable. All we know is that we are champions, we have these accolades, but we can’t get comfortable, we have to keep grinding,” El-Hadi shared, “We have to keep everyone at a high standard, keep doing everything to the best of your ability, and keep putting your heart on the field.”