Seniors Jake Butt, Chris Wormley, Jourdan Lewis, and Amara Darboh have been through it all at Michigan… Except the triumphs that they came to Ann Arbor for.
Butt and Wormley were officially announced as team captains by Jim Harbaugh at his weekly press conference Monday afternoon.
“We’re thrilled with the leadership on this team right now from our senior class and our younger classes. There were a lot of deserving candidates, but what a great honor to Jake Butt and Chris Wormley. I think they will represent our team very well,” Harbaugh said.
All four seniors could have opted to leave for the luxury of the NFL last spring and been drafted fairly early, but instead, chose to return to accomplish the goals they had when they first arrived as freshmen. Goals such as beating Michigan State, Ohio State, and winning the Big Ten are more attainable than ever this year.
“For me, I look back to when I first committed here. I looked at my class, the class above us, and the class below us. I really came here because I thought we would win, I really believed that I would get to be a part of some great Michigan football,” Butt said.
This year’s fifth and fourth year seniors have played a lot of football for Michigan. They have the most experience in recent memory and Lewis knows it.
“We’ve seen just about everything you can see on the football field,” Lewis said.
Leadership will be tested in a long and grueling season that will see the Wolverines travel to play at Michigan State, Iowa, and Ohio State.
With three years of college football playing experience under the belts of the likes of Butt, Wormley, Lewis, and Darboh, that should theoretically take some of the burden away from the difficult road schedule.
“A lot of us played as freshmen and sophomores. That helps us be leaders on and off the field,” Wormley said.
Building a legacy was definitely a part of the blue print when any player arrives at any school. But to leave with only a part of the script written has kept Darboh hungry for more.
“We have a lot of talented guys on our team and we have a great coaching staff. I think we have all the tools necessary to build a legacy and that’s what I think a lot of us are trying to do,” Darboh said.
So far, Butt and Wormley have gotten off to a good start in the leadership department. Butt is helping young tight ends learn the playbook and Wormley is showing young defensive linemen how to do things the right way.
“There’s evidence in many ways. I have caught Jake Butt in the act of helping the young tight ends, I have caught Chris Wormley giving advice and tips to the young defensive linemen, Rashan (Gary) and Ron (Johnson). It speaks volumes when you see guys doing it,” Harbaugh said.
Rashan Gary comes to Michigan as the No. 1 ranked high schooler in the country, but has not hesitated to soak up wisdom from the senior, Wormley.
“Everyone knew what kind of high school player he was and what he could do at the college level. Taco (Charlton) and I have been helping him along the way, mentoring him, teaching him the right ways because we are going to need him this year,” Wormley said.
In Butt’s first two years, Michigan experienced some of its lowest lows in their decorated history. A year ago in Butt’s junior campaign, a glimmer of what he expected when he committed appeared.
“The first few years, we didn’t really get that done. It was tough, we had some low times. Last year we got a little taste of what it’s like. I really believe these guys can get something special done,” Butt said.
Butt and Wormley were elected by their peers as offensive and defensive captains.
“They’re two of the hardest working guys on our team. They don’t build themselves up and put others down around them; making themselves smaller. When you do that you make yourself very big indeed in the eyes of the whole world,” Harbaugh said.
The voting did not involve coaches or true freshmen.
“The good thing about our captain voting is that it’s strictly voted on by the players; all players that have been on the team for a year. Coaches’ votes don’t count, freshmen votes don’t count. That’s why it’s such a great honor.
That taste of success a year ago may keep the engine churning during the offseason, but for new heights of success to be reached, leadership needs to be at an all-time high from all upperclassmen.
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports