Were you surprised to be named captain yesterday ... "I mean, it's not something you go into expecting to get. It is just a great honor, and it makes you feel real proud that your teammates think that highly of you to elect you to such a prestigious position on the team."
Since you are not a vocal guy, do you have to crank it up a little now that you are a captain ... "I mean, I am not really that vocal off the field. I just try to just let my actions speak for themselves off the field and on the field. I feel that at times I can get vocal, if necessary, but other than that I am just going to be myself."
Is it going to be easier being a captain on the defensive side of the ball this year since you have so many guys around you that have been through it ... "Yeah, it does make it a whole lot easier that there is a lot of experience on the defense. There is a whole lot of seniors, and we have been together for a while so we all know what to expect of each other and we are all pretty much leaders in our own way. So that makes it a whole lot easier on me."
Are there previous captains that you will try to emulate ... "You always look up to those captains. I mean, we have always had great captains here at Michigan since I have been here. But I mean that the key is just to be yourself because that is why you were elected captain. You can look back at what those other great captains did, but you have to be your own man."
When you think of the word leadership, what does it mean to you ... "A leader is just basically an individual just being yourself or taking a role and just taking a stance on what you believe in. I think that is something we've done as seniors as a whole, and in doing that we try to help the younger guys each day to get better. We know what they are going through in camp, we've been there. It might seem like it was a while ago, but we have all been there so we try to help them and just try to get the team going and make sure that everybody is on the same page."
Does having a captain at your position last year help you since you were close to them ... "Yeah, it does. Since I have been here the linebackers have always had great leaders. They might not have all been captains, but last year we had Eric Brackins, but I always had people to look up to like Sam Sword, Dhani Jones and Ian Gold. So we have always had leaders, I mean, but captain is just a name given to the people that were elected, but there have always been leaders in our huddle."
Were you a captain in high school ... "I was the captain of my high school team."
Are there any interesting things we might not know about that as captains you guys are responsible for ... "I don't think so. I mean, as a senior class we all have to make sure that everybody is doing what they are supposed to and so forth. We just have to be the vocal ones, we have to be the most vocal since we are the captains."
Fifth-Year Senior Tight End Bennie Joppru
Were you surprised to be named captain yesterday ... "I wasn't expecting it all, it was a complete shock to me. It is such a great honor to have, and I couldn't ask for anything better to happen to me."
Why a complete shock ... "Just because of the turn of events in the off-season, and I didn't know if my teammates had forgiven me or not. I knew how the coaches felt about it, but I didn't know how that was going to affect my view among my teammates. But obviously it didn't affect them enough."
What did you learn from your offseason experience and have you been able to put that to use in any way in terms of just getting ready for the season, maybe more motivation, anything like that ... "Yeah, I didn't want to have any regrets, so I think that I maybe worked a little bit harder this summer, and I just wanted to try and put everything behind me because it embarrassed me, it embarrassed my team, my family and the university. I just want to make everyone proud that follows the university."
So you feel like the coaches had moved past it, but you weren't sure about the players ... "Yeah, being allowed back on the team, it made me feel like the coaches had the trust in me that I could be responsible and be a member of this team. But as far as your teammates, you have a lot of teammates, you never know how everybody feels or is going to react to it. You know, certain situations."
Have you heard things from other guys or just the vote is enough ... "I have heard enough from before, but the vote really put the nail in it for me. I think that I am just moving forward. Now it's in my past completely."
Are there previous captains that you will try to emulate ... "I think the one common theme among all of the captains in the past has been the way that they have reached out to the younger guys. It has been something that I have always done anyways just to make it seem like more of a family around here, and just reaching out to the younger guys has been a common theme that all of the captains have done."
Being a captain, what might you do differently to provide leadership ... "As far as changing things, I don't think Victor or I need to change anything because we have a whole different group of leaders. We have fourth-year seniors, fifth-year seniors and everyone leads in their own way. Besides Victor and I, we have a whole fourth- and fifth-year class of leaders that are pretty much captains in their own right. I think we have a great group of leaders for this team."
Does having a captain at your position last year help you since you were close to them ... "I became pretty close with Shawn Thompson and Bill Seymour and the rest of the guys at my position. Shawn was a good leader that led through his actions. He was a great leader and I learned a lot from him, and I learned a lot from Bill, too. You know they were just a bunch of other guys that lead the team and that's what they did."
Were you a captain in high school like Victor ... "I was too."
Was there a lot less responsibility ... "Yeah, all we had to do was pose for pictures for that. That's all we did for that."
Do you each get your own room on the road now ... "I don't know, but it sounds good though."
Since the quarterback takes charge of the huddle, what might you provide in the captain's role ... "As far as in the huddle, not to much, but maybe on the field, a little encouragement here, a little encouragement there, just the usual thing that any player would do to pick up their team. But as far as in the huddle, the quarterback is in charge."
Contact: David Ablauf, Jim Schneider (734) 763-4423