The Michigan football team has voted Courtney Avery, Jake Ryan, Taylor Lewan, and Cam Gordon as this season’s captains. The group is noteworthy for both its size and its composition: Lewan and Gordon are the only likely starters for the season opener.

Michigan has named four captains on just three other occasions in its 134-year history.

“I think all of our seniors have done a great job of leading since we started the season in January, and the team did a great job of voting four guys who are extremely deserving of being named captains of Team 134,” said Michigan coach Brady Hoke in a statement. “They all are great examples of team leaders.”

In Avery and Ryan, the team chose leadership over playing time. Avery, a senior, has started 13 games in his career, but just recently switched positions from cornerback to safety, where his place on the depth chart is nebulous. Avery, though, has been considered a leader of the defensive backs and said becoming a captain was a childhood dream.

Ryan led the defense last year as its most explosive player but will miss part of the season healing from an anterior cruciate ligament tear. He expects to be back by mid-October.

Lewan, a three-year starter at left tackle, was a favorite to be voted captain. He was named an All-American in 2012 and surprised many by returning for a fifth year in 2013.

“As far as being an All-American last year and achieving all the things last year, this trumps it,” Lewan said.

Gordon, also a fifth-year senior who will likely start at strong-side linebacker, took a more circuitous route. He began as a receiver, then moved to safety before settling at linebacker.

Michigan also named four captains in 2000, 2008 and 2009. The team no longer recognizes James Whitley as a captain of the 2000 team after he was kicked off the team during the season following an arrest for a concealed weapons charge. As a result, the 2013 team is officially the third with four captains.

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