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Michigan football players claim this season is natty or bust for the Wolverines

No one understands Michigan’s huge expectations in 2023 more than the players themselves, who claim it’s natty or bust this year.



Michigan football players
Sep 3, 2022; Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA; Michigan Wolverines linebacker Braiden McGregor (17) rushes on defense against the Colorado State Rams at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

ANN ARBOR, MI — Throughout the week, many Wolverines have made it quite clear to the media that this year’s team has one goal: win a national title. Heading into the 2023 season, Michigan football players know that this year it’s natty or bust for the boys in blue.

Michigan football plays: 2023 is natty or bust in Ann Arbor

Over the past two seasons, the Michigan Wolverines have a 25-3 overall record, a 19-1 Big Ten record, two Big Ten titles, two wins over Ohio State, two College Football Playoff appearances, and more. After getting as close as nearly anyone to winning a national championship, many Michigan football players are quite aware of the expectations that this year’s team has — in 2023, it’s natty or bust.

“Just guys buying into the program, willing to do whatever it takes to help this team get to their first national championship in I’m not sure how long,” senior cornerback Mike Sainristill said. “That’s what we want. We’re trying to set a new standard for the program and the teams to come in. Just being bought into what we want to do here and the culture we want to leave. I feel like guys want to leave legacies when they leave here. Personally, for myself, I want to be a guy that when freshmen come, (they say), ‘I want to be like Mikey Sainristil. I want to be like Blake Corum, I want to be like Trevor Keegan, Zak Zinter.’”

“We all know that we can’t get to a national championship without getting through Week 1, Week 2 so on and so forth,” Sainristil added. “But that’s the mindset I think this team has right now.”

This sentiment is shared throughout other members of Michigan’s 2023 defense as well. “The biggest takeaway is, we get to that time this year – we shot ourselves in the foot two years – not prepared the first year and then this year being prepared,” said senior edge rusher Brainden McGregor. “We just got to get there, and when adversity hits, we just got to say, ‘Whatever, just got to keep going.’ I feel like that was the biggest thing. We didn’t lose a game and there really wasn’t a lot of games where there was adversity. I think when that happened, it was like a little tough for us. But I think we’ll be prepared this year. I could go down the list of guys who have the opportunity to do that. I think the whole mindset of coming back for that fifth year is, ‘Alright, let’s put everything into this last season. Let’s put everything into a winning national championship and get to that goal.”

The Wolverines’ offense shares the defense’s ambition

The Wolverines’ massive national title aspirations are not exclusive to Michigan football players on the defensive side of the football, either.

“We’re all here to win a natty,” senior lineman Karsen Barnhart said Monday. “We’re not here to go win a Big Ten championship game – we are, but at the end of the day, we want to win a natty. Everybody wants to be great. Confidence level is through the roof. There’s so many good guys that can play here and there’s so many explosive players and players all want to win and all have a big role. I think the season we had last year and all of us having those big roles is only going to help us for the ‘23 season.”

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