The Wolverines will be receiving their COVID-19 booster shots on Wednesday, hoping to prevent a COVID-19 outbreak ahead of the College Football Playoff. Becca Mahon/Daily. Buy this photo.

As COVID-19 cases continue to spike and the prevalence of the highly contagious omicron variant surges, the Michigan football team is taking heightened precautions to ward off a potential outbreak ahead of its clash with Georgia on Dec. 31. 

“It’s a growing concern of ours,” graduate student offensive tackle Andrew Steuber said. “ … I think everyone understands the gravity of the situation. To have an outbreak now would be devastating to a lot of people. Understanding the concern there is a big thing so we’ve taken the proper precautions.” 

Michigan departs for Florida on Saturday, ahead of its New Year’s Eve clash with the third-ranked Bulldogs in the College Football Playoff. This Wednesday, the Wolverines have a “full-team booster shot” session scheduled, per Steuber. Michigan began the season boasting a 99% vaccination rate. 

According to Steuber, no player has missed a practice this season due to COVID-19. 

Last year, Michigan’s season ended due to a merciless COVID-19 outbreak that spurred three cancellations, including The Game. A year later, the same threat persists, although circumstances are different: the Wolverines themselves have more at stake, and there are more initiatives they can take to ward off a potential outbreak. 

Beyond receiving booster shots, players have begun to re-emphasize mask wearing and social distancing around the building. Some are even beginning to take their meals to go as a means of avoiding large group settings. 

“My parents always told me when I was young: When you want something that’s different, you have to make sacrifices,” junior defensive tackle Chris Hinton said on Dec. 14. “And as a team, we’re in a position that only four (teams) from the country are in. We have to make sacrifices.

“(Whether that’s) doing something different on the weekend (or) wearing masks around the building, we for sure have to be cautious about COVID with it being on the rise, so that way we have everybody strong for Dec. 31.” 

COVID-19 outbreaks have spurred a rash of cancellations across both professional and collegiate athletics in the last week. Pertaining directly to the Orange Bowl, the first COVID-19-related shoe appeared to drop Tuesday evening, when news broke that Bulldogs’ backup quarterback J.T. Daniels entered quarantine after testing positive. 

Other unspecified members of Georgia’s quarterback room were placed in close contact protocol and have yet to test positive. It’s unclear if Stetson Bennett, who has drawn the past nine starts under center for the Bulldogs, is among them. Daniels, meanwhile, is expected to clear protocol in time to play in the Dec. 31 matchup. 

If anything, though, the news out of Athens should serve as a cautionary tale for the Wolverines. They certainly seem to think they’re abiding by the proper precautions to prevent an outbreak themselves.