ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Mason Cole was a freshman in 2014 when Michigan went 5-7. That was Mike McCray’s redshirt freshman season. It’s a long way from five wins to being captains of a team that’s ranked No. 11 in the country and holds Big Ten title and national championship aspirations.
That’s the position Cole and McCray are in after their teammates voted them captains for the 2017 season, which gets started Saturday against No. 16 Florida at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
“I’m really excited about the opportunity and grateful for it,” said McCray, a fifth-year senior linebacker who finally got to experience an injury-free season in 2016.
“I’m honored to be elected by our teammates and our peers. I’m excited to help lead this team,” said Cole, who is expected to start at left tackle. He has started 38 straight games, playing left tackle as a freshman and sophomore before moving to center last season.
Congrats fellas! This is one of the greatest honors you'll ever receive. Go Blue! https://t.co/OdFtq7u6jj
— Jake Long (@JakeLong77) August 27, 2017
The players celebrated the selection Saturday night at a team meeting before getting together to the watch the Conor McGregor-Floyd Mayweather Jr. fight.
“It was amazing,” fifth-year defensive tackle Mo Hurst said. “We were so happy for Mike and Mason. It’s such a big honor at Michigan. We’ve had some really great captains in the past. We had some really great captains last year in Jake [Butt] and Chris Wormley, so it’s just leaving that legacy of great captains and great leaders for our team.”
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh was a captain his senior season in 1986, along with Andy Moeller.
“I felt we would get two really great captains when we voted, and we did,” Harbaugh said. “Both are Go Blue guys, both poised to have big years, both starting players and very good players at the highest level.”
The job of those captains this week is to get the Wolverines ready for a Florida team that is similar to Michigan in one aspect: It is a great unknown. The Gators haven’t announced their choice at quarterback from a three-man race between Notre Dame grad transfer Malik Zaire, redshirt junior Luke Del Rio and redshirt freshman Feleipe Franks.
Florida will be without top returning wide receiver Antonio Callaway and freshman wide receiver James Robinson, who have been suspended for the game.
Florida’s defense has been its strength the last couple of seasons. It is led by ends Jabari Zuniga and CeCe Jefferson.
“They’ve got a really talented and athletic defensive line,” Cole said. “They lost a lot of guys on defense, but these guys who are coming up, they’ve played a lot and are just really talented. They’re athletic. They’re going to be ready to play.”
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