The Wolverine

Sept 2023

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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20 THE WOLVERINE ❱ SEPTEMBER 2023 BY JOHN BORTON Z ak Zinter saw it coming. Peo- ple laughed at and derided Michigan football in the dark winter of 2020 into 2021, but Zinter threw off the doubters like he'd soon be tossing aside Ohio State defen- sive linemen. The then-sophomore right guard from North Andover, Mass., knew what lin- gered out there, in terms of the doubt- ers. He didn't care. When he sat down with The Wolverine to talk football for a preview issue of the impending 2021 season, he proved every bit as bold as Jim Harbaugh prior to Michigan-Ohio State 1986. Zinter put a guarantee on the table, just like his coach did long ago. "We're going to be the team to beat them," Zinter said of the Buckeyes. "Our team is going to be a household name — the team that finally broke the streak and was able to beat those guys." Now, it doesn't sound so crazy. But then? Coming off a 2-4, truncated CO- VID season in which the Wolverines appeared to be spiraling down precip- itously? Are you sure you want to say that? "Yes sir," Zinter confirmed. You mean in your career, or THIS YEAR? "Oh, this year, for sure." You know your coach said something like this once, when he was playing. "Good." It was good. They made it good. Two years later, with a pair of wins over the Buckeyes under their belts, two straight Big Ten championships, and two con- secutive playoff appearances, they want even more. Looking back, Zinter, now a senior, insists he saw and felt it coming. "It was just the dudes that we had in the locker room," he assured. "Coming out of the 2020 season, no one believed in us. We believed in ourselves. Guys like Hutch [Aidan Hutchinson] and the lead- ers of the team back then really instilled in us in the offseason that we don't want to be what it is anymore. We want to be the team that makes that change. Going into that offseason, we just worked our asses off to be able to make that change." Now they're the team that made the change, but desperately desires to fin- ish the job. Many made the decision — coming out of the ashes of the shoot- out loss to TCU in last year's College Football Playoff — to come back and give winning a national title at Michigan one more shot. Zinter makes no secret of his motivation for remaining in Ann Arbor another year. "We're really prepared," he said. "We've made it to the playoff two years in a row. You can't really get that expe- rience anywhere else. We haven't been able to cross that threshold to get [to the championship] yet, but this team, the year we've had, the level of compete that SEER AND SLUGGER Senior Guard Zak Zinter Envisions Michigan's Rise Continuing Zinter has started 30 games at right guard in his career, including 21 consecutive starts heading into his senior season. He was a consensus first-team All-Big Ten selection in 2022. PHOTO BY DOMINICK SOKOTOFF

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