Michigan football coach Brady Hoke insists his team is filled with “unbelievable” leaders.
But they can’t all be captains, so Hoke won’t name those until after the regular season.
Until the postseason, the team’s seniors will rotate as representatives for the coin toss. After the Ohio State game on Nov. 29, Hoke will announce Michigan’s captains.
“We’ve had unbelievable leadership throughout the team, and we’ve talked about how if you’re good enough, you’re old enough (to be a leader),” Hoke said. “I think there’s 18 fourth- and fifth-year guys that we will have represent the team at the coin toss.”
The policy is similar to former coach Rich Rodriguez’s system in 2008 and 2009. Those years, Rodriguez nominated captains on a game-to-game basis contingent on performance and leadership during that week’s practice.
The Wolverines have selected permanent captains in every other season since the program’s inception in 1879.
This year’s policy contradicts Hoke’s stated beliefs in 2011, his first season as Michigan’s coach. In a video interview with MGoBlue.com, the coach stressed the importance of traditional captains.
“I think it’s so important to define who the leaders of that football team are,” Hoke said. “It’s going to be those kids making those votes, and I think it’s important to have those captains in place.”
But quarterback Devin Gardner feels he’ll be a de-facto captain regardless of his official status. The fifth-year senior explained that some of the younger players called him “captain Gardner,” and he had to ask them to stop.
“I’m going to be looked at as a captain because of the position I play,” Gardner said.
DEPTH CHART RELEASED: Monday morning, the Wolverines released their depth chart for Saturday’s season opener against Appalachian State.
However, the offensive line — perhaps the team’s biggest question mark — still hasn’t been solidified.
The depth chart lists freshman Mason Cole at left tackle, sophomore Erik Magnuson at left guard, junior Jack Miller at center and sophomore Ben Braden at right tackle. Senior Joey Burzynski or sophomore Kyle Bosch will start at right guard.
Sophomore Kyle Kalis, who missed part of fall camp with a back injury, is listed third on the depth chart at right guard. Hoke said Kalis is fully healthy and could start Saturday.
Elsewhere on the offense, sophomore Derrick Green is listed as the No. 1 running back ahead of sophomore De’Veon Smith. Junior Devin Funchess, sophomore Jehu Chesson and junior Dennis Norfleet are the starting wide receivers, while junior A.J. Williams is the top tight end.
Senior Frank Clark, sophomore Willie Henry, sophomore Ryan Glasgow and senior Brennen Beyer form the starting defensive line.
Freshman Jabrill Peppers will start at nickel and return punts.
‘WOW’ FACTOR: Peppers is just a freshman, but he may be Michigan’s most athletic player.
At least that’s what Gardner suggested Monday, explaining that Peppers and Funchess are the two most skilled Wolverines.
“I kind of get pissed a little bit, because I’d like to think I was the top athlete,” Gardner laughed. “These guys are pretty elite.”
Funchess also praised Peppers’ instincts and football intellect.
“He made plays in camp that I was like, ‘Wow,’ ” the receiver said.
NOTES: The Wolverines haven’t been told the NCAA’s ruling on running back Ty Isaac’s eligibility this fall. Isaac, who transferred to Michigan in the offseason following his freshman year at Southern California, is seeking a hardship waiver to play this season. Otherwise, he would have to sit out the year before competing in 2015. … Sophomore safety Delano Hill, who broke his jaw before the start of fall camp, will visit the doctor Monday to determine his status for Saturday’s game. Hoke said Hill hasn’t been ruled out to play against Appalachian State, though he isn’t listed on Monday’s depth chart.