When Michigan fifth-year senior linebacker Carl Diggs was eight,
he sat down on the edge of his grandmother’s bed with his
older brother, Grover, to watch Ohio State and Michigan battle it
out. At the time, Grover was a devoted Buckeye fan, and Carl
watched and listened as Grover argued with the calls and cheered
when Ohio State made a big play. Slowly, Carl began to feel
something for the boys in maize and blue.

Janna Hutz
Senior Andy Mignery, who hails from Hamilton, Ohio, grew up in a Buckeye-friendly family, but now his brother and his father support the Maize and Blue. (TONY DING/Daily)

“Something just came over me as I was sitting on that
bed,” Carl said. “My brother was arguing, so I just
started rooting for Michigan.”

Since Carl has become a Wolverine, Grover has converted, and
Carl says his brother bleeds blue just like everyone else close to
him.

Carl said that even though he is from Warren, Ohio, he knew
early on that he would play for Michigan over Ohio State, if the
opportunity presented itself. It was Diggs’ elementary school
gym teacher that initially put him on that path.

“He had a pen that played the Michigan fight song, and I
really liked it,” Diggs said.

The decision to come play for Michigan wasn’t easy for the
other Wolverines from Ohio like it was for Diggs, though.

Senior Andy Mignery, a native of Hamilton, Ohio, said his father
and brother were both huge Ohio State fans, and he became familiar
with the rivalry at a very early age.

“I knew all about the game because he was a big fan and a
high school football coach,” said Mignery of his father.

As a kid, Mignery says he enjoyed the competitive spirit of the
rivalry and didn’t favor one team over the other. But
eventually, he had to make a decision, and it couldn’t have
come at a better time: the Monday before the Michigan/Ohio State
game of his senior year in high school.

“It was tough for (my father) when I committed, but he was
really supportive of my decision,” Mignery said. “Now
he’s a big Michigan fan, and he won’t go back to the
Buckeyes when I leave here.”

And sometimes, ties to a state can get a little too personal, as
was the case following last year’s game when senior defensive
lineman Grant Bowman’s family was harassed in Columbus by
Buckeye fans at the game.

Bowman grew up just 10 minutes away from Ohio Stadium, and he
says his parents have a large Michigan flag flying outside their
house year-round. Bowman’s parents weren’t sports fans,
and he says they would probably never have watched a football game
if it wasn’t for he and his brother’s love for the
sport. Even though he grew up so close to the Horseshoe, Bowman
says he actually loved watching Notre Dame rather than the
Buckeyes, but when the Michigan/Ohio State game came around, he
would root for Ohio State.

But when the recruitment letter came from Ann Arbor, Bowman had
no trouble switching allegiance to the team he grew up
disliking.

Even players who grew up in Michigan felt the heat of the
rivalry from the Ohio State end. Center Dave Pearson grew up in
Brighton, but his parents were big Ohio State fans. He said he
started cheering for Michigan just to be different from his
parents.

Injury update: Lloyd Carr said yesterday that sophomore
defensive back Jacob Stewart, who was injured against Illinois,
will not be available this weekend, but should be ready to play in
the bowl game that Michigan participates in. Carr also said that
Marlin Jackson felt very good after coming back against
Northwestern, and should be ready to play a much larger role this
coming weekend.

 

 

 

 

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