The Wolverine

February 2024

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Page 27 of 67

28 THE WOLVERINE ❱ FEBRUARY 2024 BY ANTHONY BROOME M ichigan captain and starting right guard Zak Zinter's season came to an unfortunate end in the 30-24 win over the Ohio State Buck- eyes on Nov. 25, but his injury served as a rallying moment for the team en route to its 15-0 season and national title victory. Zinter spent the final three games of the season rooting on his team and helping mentally prepare them for what was ahead. His broken leg was surgically repaired, paving the way for a healthier football future. "It's the best worst-case scenario," Zinter told The Wolverine in December after the Big Ten Championship game. "Nothing's wrong with my knee. I know there were some things out there like I tore my ACL. My knee is completely fine. My ankle is 100 percent fine. I just broke my tibia and fibula in my leg when the guy fell into me. "I'm very fortunate that all the liga- ments and everything are good in my leg. They put a steel rod and a couple of screws in there. I'm super thankful and super fortunate that it was nothing worse. I'm going to come out of this like nothing ever happened, and the tita- nium rod in my leg's stronger than the bone that used to be there. I've been told I can never break this leg again." Against Ohio State, Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh was serving the last game of a Big Ten-imposed three-game suspension and watching from home. Zinter said shortly after he arrived at the hospital, Harbaugh was there for support. A photo made the rounds on social media of Harbaugh with the Zinter fam- ily, and the Michigan captain recalled the photo and the events that led up to it. "A lot of people were thinking it was 4 a.m. and whatnot," Zinter said. "It was 4 p.m. It was right after it hap- pened. So, he left the house or wherever he was watching the game and he was at the hospital before the game was even over. As soon as it happened, he got in the car and headed there to meet me, and it was super special. "A lot was going on, a lot going through my head. They had just got done cutting all my gear off and it felt like I was getting taken apart. [Then it was like] one of those movie scenes where you get there and 50 people are waiting for you. They got the X-ray ma- chines moving in. There's just a lot go- ing on, and then to see [Harbaugh] come around the curtain and be there for me was super special. Being there support- ing me and that he had my back and the boys also had my back … they're finish- ing the game and everything was going to be all right, and I was gonna be back better than ever. "I had no idea [Harbaugh was there]. No one knew he was coming and neither did my parents. I'm not sure if someone had told him that I was headed there. I'm sure everyone knew I was probably headed to the hospital at that point, but none of my family or anyone had contact SILVER LINING Zak Zinter's 'Best Worst-Case Scenario' Ends In National Title Win In his U-M career, Zinter appeared in 45 games with 42 starts along the offensive line. His team- leading streak of 33 consecutive starts ended after he broke his leg against Ohio State this year. PHOTO BY DOMINICK SOTOKOFF

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