The Wolverine

November 2016

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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78 THE WOLVERINE NOVEMBER 2016 BY JOHN BORTON J ohn Anes' first sip of alcohol oc- curred at a Michigan frat party, at age 17. His last — he fully intends — came two years ago, before his second citation for driving under the influence. The former U-M fullback expresses hopefulness now, a sensation he didn't experience so long ago on campus in Ann Arbor. It helps to tell his story, said Anes, whose depression drove him off the Michigan football team during the 1997 season. The East Kentwood prep star works as a distribution center su- pervisor for fire equipment manufac- turer Viking, Corp. in Hastings, Mich. Michigan fans always wondered what happened to Anes, a promising freshman back in 1996. He's telling them now. "I'm in a much better place than I have been in a long time," he said. "It's almost been therapy for me to be able to speak about this publicly. It's not easy to do." Anes appeared on the fast track at U-M, a year removed from breaking several of his dad's records at East Kentwood. The rookie took just three days to get moved off the demonstra- tion squad in the fall of 1996, filling in behind starting fullback Chris Floyd. When Floyd injured his shoulder early in the year, Anes recalled: "They called my number. They said, 'John, you're in. You've got to go.'" He did, making a no-carry debut at Boston College. A week later, in a 38-9 blowout at home versus UCLA, came Anes' time to shine — and shake. "I never scored, but that was kind of my coming-out party," Anes recalled of the 17-carry, 83-yard effort. "Those first couple of carries, I was so nervous. I did everything I wasn't supposed to do, which was hold the ball with two hands. "Right before I went in, Coach [Lloyd] Carr grabbed my jersey, and he says, 'John, whatever you do, do not fumble the football. I'll never for- get that. My eyes were probably so wide." Two games later, Anes scored against Indiana in a 27-20 homecoming vic- tory. Hearing the thunderous approval of more than 110,000, the freshman couldn't reconcile it with reality. "That was awesome," he assured. "I'll never forget it. It was second-and- one from the 1. I took the ball off right tackle and got into the end zone. I just had to take on one linebacker, and I knocked him back into the end zone. "I was just about to stand up and cel- ebrate, but before I could even get all the way up, Scott Dreisbach was right there, giving me the biggest hug I've ever had. Everybody is congratulating you. It's one of those things you never forget — your first touchdown in The Big House. "You grow up as a Michigan fan. It was a dream come true." He lived that dream throughout the season, getting into five games overall. He built on it, experiencing an excel- lent spring practice. Anes added 15 pounds of muscle, increasing his rep- etitions on the standard 225-pound lift from two, upon arrival, to 15. "I was really ready for the 1997 sea- son at that point and looking forward to getting a lot of playing time," he said. Soon enough, he wasn't looking forward at all. His focus turned ago- nizingly inward. Living on North Campus over the summer, he began to withdraw. "I started to be a little reclusive," he said. "I felt isolated. I felt alone. Some people took notice of that." Head trainer Paul Schmidt noticed, and Anes confided in him. That's when Carr stepped in. "Coach Carr said, "Let's take a ride,'" Anes recalled. "He puts me in his car. First of all, I couldn't believe I   WHERE ARE THEY NOW? Former Football Player John Anes Is Healing From Depression And Alcohol Issues The John Anes File Michigan Accomplishments: Played on the 1996 football team, rushing 26 times for 99 yards and two touchdowns … Caught two passes for 11 yards. Michigan Memory: "I came into Schembechler Hall, and it was just a normal day. I went over to the weight room, and there's Lynn Swann and Bob Griese. I'm thinking, wow, that's pretty cool. You don't expect to see celebrities in the house. "Also, in 1996, practice gets stopped in the middle. I have no clue what's going on. I'm thinking we're going to get our butts chewed. The door opens from the weight room, and some guys in black and white suits walk in. "Here comes President [Gerald R.] Ford. He walks in, gives us about a five- minute speech. We all get to shake his hand, and we all get our pictures taken with him. I still have that." Current Occupation: Distribution center supervisor for Viking Corp., Hastings, Mich. Education: Recently completed an online bachelor's degree in technical com- munication and business management through Arizona State University. Family: Has twin daughters, 8-year-olds Madelin and Mackenzi. Anes, a fullback from East Kentwood, Mich., had a promising freshman season at U-M in 1996, running for 99 yards and two scores on 26 carries. He then dropped off the team and left school. PHOTO COURTESY JOHN ANES

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