The Wolverines announced six captains for the 2023 season on Thursday: fifth-year nickel back Mike Sainristil, senior running back Blake Corum, senior guards Zak Zinter and Trevor Keegan, sixth-year linebacker Michael Barrett, and senior defensive tackle Kris Jenkins. But as the team’s quarterback, McCarthy was inconspicuously absent. What gives?
Rival fans will certainly jump on the maize and blue as, along with Corum, McCarthy is the face of the team, and the undisputed leader as the starting quarterback. Yet, there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation as to why he wasn’t bestowed the team’s highest honor.
“J.J. wasn’t eligible to be a captain,” Zak Zinter explained. “So, it’s only a seniors, fifth-year, sixth-year guys. So he wasn’t on the ballot this year. But he’s definitely one of the biggest leaders on our team. He knows that and we know that and he’s just as much leader as any of us.”
So, when rival fan bases start to openly question why McCarthy was not made a team captain, given his junior status, that explains why. Michigan has an abundance of senior and older leadership on this team. Other seniors who did not get the honor could have included wide receivers Cornelius Johnson and Roman Wilson, tackles Karsen Barnhart and Trente Jones, edge rushers Braiden McGregor and Jaylen Harrell, defensive tackle Cam Goode, and safety Makari Paige.
And that’s not even counting the transfers who were team captains at their previous schools: AJ Barner and Jack Tuttle at Indiana, Drake Nugent at Stanford, LaDarius Henderson at Arizona State, and Josh Wallace at UMass. There is precedence for transfers becoming captains as Olu Oluwatimi was a captain last year immediately after transferring from Virginia.