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2021 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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84 ■ THE WOLVERINE 2021 FOOTBALL PREVIEW football. He earned snaps in the opener at Minnesota, and experienced his first home game the following week. "Running out of the tunnel, jumping up and hitting the banner — it's something you'll never forget, the first time you do it," Zinter said. "This year, it's going to be even better. When there are 110,000 fans screaming when you run out of the tunnel, it's going to be a little different experience. I'm excited about that, but that's one thing I'll never forget." He's hoping for an entirely different ex- perience in the game that followed the leap. U-M crash-landed against Michigan State, starting a downward spiral in a COVID- corrupted year. "I hate losing," he assured. "There was a lot of hurt after all the games we lost. I've been using that for fuel all along. I don't like seeing the record we had last year, and I'm going to do everything in my power — and I know the entire team feels the same — to have a great record this year." Zinter enjoyed a breakthrough in the week following the disappointment against the Spartans. He made his first start, at right guard, in only game three of his true fresh- man season. The moment marked another door-buster in a debut season for the newcomer. "It meant everything," he said. "I'd been dreaming of that moment since I can re- member. I always had dreams of playing college ball at a high level, and just jogging out on the field for that first drive, with the guys next to me. It's a surreal feeling. "It's something I'll never for- get — a once-in-a-lifetime expe- rience. I'm glad to have done it with the guys around me." Seeking Something Special Zinter sounds exceptionally enthused about those around him heading into the 2021 campaign. He sees a major leap forward coming from an offensive line combining battle-tested experi- ence and talent. "We have Stubes [redshirt junior right tackle Andrew Stueber] — he's a dog," Zinter praised. "He's a really good player for us at tackle. We've got [redshirt sophomore Ryan] Hayes, a great left tackle. [Red- shirt freshman] Trevor Keegan had a really great spring as well, fighting for that left guard spot. "We've just got a lot of guys who are trying to fight for the starting five in the offensive line, which I think is great. Compe- tition pushes every one of us, every day in practice. No one's slacking off. Everyone's trying to do their best." Zinter will be one of them, but he doesn't get too detailed about the interior offensive line. That's because, like Gattis and new offensive line coach Sher- rone Moore have noted, Zinter could end up at either center or guard. He's not lobbying, either way. "Coach Moore and the coach- ing staff are going to put the best five out there," Zinter stressed. "Wherever they need me, I'm going to be the best player I can. "I don't have a preference. I like guard, and obviously played it last year. But I also played center freshman year of high school. I do have some experience going back. I don't mind either, really." He worked at both during spring ball, and continued to do so heading into summer's voluntary drills. Most of all, he's working with his linemates to fashion a wall that can become both irresistible force and immov- able object. "Everything starts up front," he said. "If we have a great game, the team is going to have a great game. It comes back to that part of finishing, being nasty." Zinter has the versatility to line up at either center or guard for Michigan this fall. PHOTO COURTESY U-M ATHLETICS

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