Michigan Viper Khaleke Hudson, a newly elected captain, on getting the team ready for the season. Angelique S. Chengelis, The Detroit News
Ann Arbor — Being a two-time captain is a rarity at Michigan. Only 14 players have earned that distinction, so that puts Ben Bredeson in rarefied air.
Bredeson was voted by his teammates offensive captain for the second straight year, becoming the first two-time captain since linebacker Jake Ryan in 2013 and 2014 and the first offensive lineman since Jake Long in 2006 and 2007 to be voted captain in back-to-back seasons.
Carlo Kemp and Khaleke Hudson were voted the defensive captains. Quarterback Shea Patterson and safety Josh Metellus are alternate captains, Michigan revealed on Tuesday. A vote was conducted Monday among the players.
There never seemed any doubt Bredeson, the starting left guard, would earn the title again, although he said he had not given it any thought. Kemp said being a captain mirrors the way Bredeson carries himself day-to-day.
“It shows the type of player and the type of man that you’ve got here,” Kemp said Tuesday. “Ben, ever since he’s been here, just always been that way. It was kind of just like a waiting game for him to be a captain. He’s really set the example. In our class he was one of the first guys to play and even got to start his freshman year. He’s always been a leader in that manner.
“Being a two-time captain shows what he’s been preaching and what he’s been doing, and his actions, they all mean something. You don’t get to be a two-time captain by mistake. I’m so happy for him. That’s my brother. I’ve been with him since we were being recruited. It’s really special to see that.”
Hudson shared on social media in January that he had decided to return for his final year at Michigan because of “unfinished business” as a player and student, as he had assured his mother he would earn his degree. Being a captain was never an assumption.
“When I said that, just focused on the season and wanted to get better at every aspect of the game,” Hudson said Tuesday of his unfinished business comment. “This caught me by surprise. I had my head down the whole time working hard. I guess my teammates seen that and fed off that, wanted me to be the leader of the team. I’m just so appreciative.
“It’s just a huge honor to me. It makes me happy my teammates thought I’d be good enough to be captain of the team. It makes me happy because I’ve been working hard my whole life. Things like this just shows my hard work is paying off and we’ll keep working hard.”
There are debates about leadership. Are leaders born? Are leaders developed? There isn’t, it seems, a right answer. Kemp, who moved to defensive tackle before last season and is a mainstay there, said he has become a leader by watching those before him in leadership roles.
“It’s just a process and it’s taken a lot of time,” Kemp said. “You get to watch a lot of older guys and they really set the standard and you try to mimic that and pick up and try to add a little bit that you thought you could do and be successful with. It’s built over this four-year period of just working and being on scout team and getting your butt kicked every single day to finally getting to play last year and now trying to not just play this year but excel in those areas and just lead by example.
“It all starts by how you practice and getting people to believe and see what you’re doing so they can follow that as well.”
It hasn’t quite hit Kemp that he is a captain and will be forever part of Michigan history.
“It is going to be a really surreal moment to have my name there especially with some of the guys that I got to play with last year like Devin Bush, who is one of my best friends for life. We’re going to have our names together there,” Kemp said. “And there’s been countless names in Michigan history. Being recognized in this manner by your teammates, it’s a huge honor. We’ve got a lot to do and lead in the appropriate way to get things done.”
Bredeson was asked what he thinks are the qualities of a leader.
“Just someone who is always on their stuff, doing the right thing,” he said. “A good leader is someone who leads by example, and a great leader is someone who brings others along with them. I think we’ve got a lot of good and great leaders on this team, and I think that’s going to take us far.”
Bredeson was an offensive captain last season along with former Michigan running back Karan Higdon. He learned plenty that will help him lead and guide this season.
“I found leadership is a trial and error thing,” Bredeson said. “I found some things that worked, found some things that didn’t work. Certain guys you can motivate, some guys you have to put your arm around. I had some good experiences, I had some bad experiences last year. Definitely using all that to be better the second time around.”
This season he is the only captain on offense, which changes the dynamic a bit.
“It’s a little different,” Bredeson said. “Karan was very vocal, very rah-rah, emotional leader. He would always do that. We were splitting a lot of things. We had a good tag-team thing going last year. Being the only one this year, I learned a lot from him, I’ve learned a lot from (former Michigan captains) Mason Cole, from Jake Butt, Chris Wormley, (Mike) McCray.
"You pick up little things here and there. Feel confident I can do it. I don’t think there’s going to be any issues. If there is, got a lot of numbers to call. Mason Cole and I talk all the time, so I can ask him how he did it. I think we’ll be just fine.”
The captains will have plenty of opportunity to flex their leadership muscles this season. Kemp was asked what message he might deliver to the team now as the start of the season Aug. 31 nears.
“Just how important every single game is and that you don’t get the opportunity back,” Kemp said. “We’ve been so close so many times in my career here and it’s time to capitalize on those moments and really make our mark this year.”