Star Washington WR says Mike Sainristil toughest player he faced in college

The national championship game was supposed to feature the nation’s best pass offense flying high with wide receivers even the best pass defense couldn’t cover. But it didn’t work out like that.

The defense for Michigan football dominated, due to the defensive front generating enough pressure and stout coverage by the defensive backs across the board. Rome Odunze, Ja’Lynn Polk and Jalen McMillan weren’t fully neutralized, but pretty close.

One big reason was team captain and nickel back Mike Sainristil, who frustrated McMillan all day. And it’s a night he’ll never forget — in the worst way.

Appearing at the NFL scouting combine on Friday, McMillan was asked who was the toughest player he went up against at the college level and he stated Sainristil. According to Nolan Bianchi:

“He was pissing me off — he was calling out formations, routes,” McMillan said.

While somewhat diminutive in stature, Sainristil is incredibly instinctive and a willing tackler — and it went beyond the national championship game. His highlights after converting from wide receiver feature mostly timely, incredible plays — from his pass breakup against tight end Cade Stover in the end zone, to his truck stick hit against TreVeyon Henderson the following year, he played huge against Ohio State. He made two timely interceptions against Maryland in Week 12 in 2023, but in the national championship game, he came even more alive.

Here is one instance where Washington had a creative play design to get McMillan the ball but Sainristil sniffed it out.

And while this is an overthrow, who can forget the game-sealing interception. And who was Penix targeting? McMillan.

Yes, it was an overthrow, but Sainristil was in the right spot at the right time and it led to the Wolverines hosting the national championship trophy less than an hour later.


He also made a clutch open-field tackle on third down, against — you guessed it — McMillan. The Huskies’ wideout attempted to shake him, but Sainrstil wrapped him up and got him on the ground.

Though not expected to be a high-end NFL draft pick due to his measurables, there are some analysts out there who believe Sainristil has the tools that could make him a first-round pick.

Story originally appeared on Wolverines Wire