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August 18, 2013

Wolverines to vote on captains after fall camp

With one more week of fall camp before switching to game-week prep for the season-opening contest vs. Central Michigan, the Wolverines are getting closer to a engaging in a time-honored tradition.

Every year, Michigan players assemble to vote on team captains.

There are several candidates who would make terrific captains this season. Fifth-year senior offensive tackle Taylor Lewan, who shirked a big-money NFL contract to return to Ann Arbor for his final year of eligibility, is a vocal leader whom the team respects a great deal.

Fifth-year senior defensive tackle Quinton Washington is a guy who has flourished under Michigan coach Brady Hoke's watch, becoming a reliable run-stopper in the middle of the field.

Fifth-year senior safety Thomas Gordon learned leadership tactics from 2012's defensive captain, Jordan Kovacs, and has been a huge part of the young secondary's progress this offseason.

And redshirt junior quarterback Devin Gardner has evolved into a mature, commanding leader.

In the past, the Wolverines have usually elected two captains - one offensive and one defensive. But it's not a strict rule.

In 1992, Corwin Brown, Chris Hutchinson and Evlis Grbac were all named captains. In 2000, Steve Hutchinson, Anthony Thomas, James Whitley and Eric Wilson were all named captains.

In the Brady Hoke era, Michigan has had three captains (Kevin Koger, Mike Martin and David Molk in 2011) and two (Kovacs and Denard Robinson, 2012).

After practice Friday, Washington and Gardner talked about what it would mean to become a captain.

"It would mean a great deal to me," Washington said. "It would mean I did my job throughout the summer and the spring, right after the bowl game. We have been working together as a senior class to become a better football team since then. It would mean I did my job as a senior."

Washington has a level of reverence for the members of the senior classes who led him and the Wolverines the last four years - and he is honored to be able to provide that for the underclassmen now, in his final year with the Wolverines.

"All the seniors I have had have always looked after the younger guys - all of them," Washington said. "They've always been there to take care of Michigan. If you were a part of the Michigan family, the seniors are there to take care of you.

"It's an extreme blessing to be a leader on the team now. Coming in as a freshman from South Carolina, it's an extreme blessing to be where I cam now."

If Gardner is voted a captain, he would join a small group of Wolverines who were voted captains as juniors.

All of them returned to Ann Arbor to serve as captains as seniors, too. Here's a list of junior captains and the years they served as captains:

  • Jake Long (2006, 2007)

  • Steve Hutchinson (1999, 2000)

  • Jon Jansen (1997, 1998)

  • Jarrett Irons (1995, 1996)

  • Mike Mallory (1984, 1985)

  • Robert Thompson (1981, 1982)

  • Kirk Lewis (1975-76)

    "I'm the quarterback, so I am going to be a natural leader, regardless," Gardner said. "Being a captain would be great. I'm a fourth-year junior, so I am eligible for it. That would be great for me, leading my team. But I'm going to lead my team regardless.

    "I get more and more comfortable [being a leader] every day. Just being around these guys, and they're looking up to me. We're around the freshmen so much more now, and they're looking up to me. And I'm still able to be the same guy. They're looking at me like a teammate, not and authority figure. They respect me the same as such. It's great to be able to lead these guys."


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