When fifth-year senior Adam Stenavich committed to Michigan, he had some work to do.
First, he headed over to his local Salvation Army and discarded a lifetime’s worth of red and white clothing. After that, he returned home, where he scraped a collection of Badgers stickers off his dresser. And then came the hard part – explaining his decision to disappointed family and friends.
Stenavich wasn’t just going to college; he was preparing to join enemy ranks.
The Marshfield, Wis., native grew up 140 miles northwest of Madison, a two-hour drive away from Camp Randall Stadium. Like most residents of the area, Stenavich loved Wisconsin football. It’s part of everyday life in the Badger State.
“There’s not much going on there,” Stenavich said with a laugh. “You’ve got the Packers and the Badgers. They’re big football fans (in Wisconsin).”
Stenavich attended a handful of games at Camp Randall as a kid. The most memorable took place on Nov. 13, 1999, when he sat in the stands and watched Heisman Trophy winner Ron Dayne break the all-time rushing record.
But Saturday will be the first time Stenavich enters Camp Randall as a player.
“It’s a rowdy place,” Stenavich said. “It’s a lot like Columbus as far as the noise. – I don’t know how loud it’s going to be. It should be interesting.”
An all-state first-team selection at offensive and defensive line following his senior season in 2000, Stenavich was expected to stay home and suit up for the Badgers, who had just won back-to-back Big Ten titles and two straight Rose Bowls. When his decision came down to Michigan and Wisconsin, there seemed to be no reason for Stenavich to choose the Wolverines.
That is, until his first visit to Ann Arbor.
“I just came to Michigan and loved the place,” Stenavich said. “I liked it a lot better than Wisconsin, so I decided it was the place for me.”
And after 30 career starts, it’s safe to say Stenavich made the right choice.
The 6-foot-5, 321-pound left tackle redshirted his first season and saw limited action in his second year. But for the past three seasons, Stenavich has started every regular-season game. He currently leads the team with the most starts of any active player.
Coach Lloyd Carr referred to Stenavich as part of the backbone of the team.
“He’s an outstanding technician,” Carr said. “He takes great pride in the way he does his job. – I never have to get on Adam Stenavich because he hasn’t been practicing hard (or) because he’s been making mental mistakes.”
Stenavich’s experience has been even more important this season because of the rash of injuries on the offensive line. But for a moment last Saturday, it looked as if Stenavich would be the next lineman to get hurt. After an Eastern Michigan defender jammed a knee into his back and gave him a “little jolt,” Stenavich spent the rest of the game on the sideline. But on Monday, he assured that he was fine and could have returned to the game if needed.
But that wasn’t the only jolt Stenavich received last week.
The die-hard Packers fan heard that former Michigan wide receiver Braylon Edwards had been “talking trash about the Packer tradition” leading up to Sunday’s game between Green Bay and Edwards’s Cleveland Browns. Stenavich called Edwards and told him, “he better watch out.”
The warning didn’t help the Packers – Edwards caught an 80-yard touchdown pass and the Browns won, 26-24. But it did make one thing clear: Stenavich’s hometown pride runs deep – even if he did ditch the Badgers to don Maize and Blue.