Andrew Vastardis is the definition of a Michigan Man. The two-time team captain has been as productive in the classroom as on the football field during his tenure in Ann Arbor.
Head coach Jim Harbaugh had this to say of the sixth-year senior:
“A two-time captain and former walk-on. Andrew is a shining star and is the epitome of what a Michigan man should be. He’s extremely reliable and a tremendous teammate that has taken full advantage of every opportunity Michigan football has offered him and has given back ten-fold.”
Originally committed to Old Dominion before deciding to walk-on with the Wolverines, the “6 God” has seen it all at Michigan. Vastardis has had as many offensive line coaches as U.S. presidents (three) during his tenure. He has been a part of championship seasons (2021), rebuilding seasons (2017), disaster seasons (2020), and seasons on the verge of greatness but painfully fell short (2016, 2018). And whatever 2019 was.
The former two-star high school recruit was the No. 168 ranked offensive guard and No. 2,937 ranked player overall. For comparison, former Wolverine Stephen Spanellis looked like Quenton Nelson in recruiting comparison being the No. 32 ranked guard and No. 735 ranked player.
However, the academic standard and potential to continue his football ultimately career drew Vastardis to the north and path less traveled.
In 2016, while the team finished 10-2, Vastardis was relegated to exclusive scout team duties. But freshman Vastardis made the most of his time there and even earned Scout Team Player of the Week honors before the Colorado game.
The following year, Vastardis earned another Scout Team Player of the Week honor before the Florida game and saw his first career game action as a reserve linemen and special teams player. With this experience, the walk-on earned validation in the form of his first varsity letter.
While still playing without a scholarship, Vastardis was elevated from the scout team and entered the two-deep of the Michigan offensive line depth chart. The third-year player saw action in six games in 2018 as a backup center and right guard, earning his second varsity letter.
Although he appeared in fewer games in 2019 (five), this season was a banner year for Vastardis as he was finally rewarded with a football scholarship. Vastardis was no longer seen as the try-hard practice player who was solely an asset to raise the team GPA. He was now seen as a valuable football player for the Michigan Wolverines.
His teammates reciprocated this level of value and respect by electing him a team captain before the 2020 season. However, in what was supposed to be his year, Vastardis battled injuries and chronic uncertainty on the line of scrimmage as his fellow linemen cycled in and out due to sickness and injury.
Vastardis had waited his turn and was painfully rewarded with a 2-4 season. Had five years of hard work and sacrifice only amounted in falling short of mediocrity, let alone greatness? The former walk-on did not come this far just to come this far, so he opted to return for his sixth year of eligibility.
In 2021, the super senior was again elected a team captain and anchored perhaps the best offensive line in the history of the Michigan football program. The unit was bestowed the Joe Moore Award, given annually to the best offensive line in college football.
Led by Vastardis, the front five paved the way for Michigan’s first win over Ohio State since 2011, first Big Ten Championship since 2004 and first berth into the College Football Playoff.
Andrew Vastardis sacrificed and battled through more than anyone on this team to earn this season’s success. It was never more evident than when quarterback Cade McNamara echoed these sentiments regarding his center:
.@UMichFootball’s Cade McNamara was emotional when hugging his center, Andrew Vastardis, after their win over Penn State. You love to see this kind of passion and brotherhood. When asked if this was a playoff team if they continue to win, McNamara said, “Yes. Without a doubt.” pic.twitter.com/fggfQYRjNk— Molly McGrath (@MollyAMcGrath) November 16, 2021
An illustrious NFL future is unlikely for Vastardis, but his contributions to society will be far more impactful with his medical pursuits. This season, the 6 God’s leadership and journey were the epitome of Aubrey Graham’s song of the same title:
Nobody really likes us except for us,
Yeah, all I ever needed was the squad so that’s what’s up.
Vastardis left an indelible mark on the Michigan football program and epitomized what it truly means to be a Michigan Man.