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Michigan’s Big Guys Get the Bag

As the recipients of this year’s Joe Moore Award, the Michigan O-line will be the first group in history to receive a postseason honor that launches an NIL program for its winners.

The big men of the offensive line are among the most important players in football, and now, thanks to The Foundation for Teamwork and the Joe Moore Award, the best in the college game are about to reap the benefits.

At a ceremony that took place last week in Ann Arbor, this year’s Joe Moore Award was presented to the front nine at the University of Michigan. But this year, the Wolverines’ award will look a bit different than those that came before.

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Yes, it’s still the biggest trophy in college football, registering at 7-feet and 800 pounds. But in addition to the heavy hardware, the Michigan O-line has also earned an NIL deal. Aaron Taylor, CBS football analyst, two-time All American, and co-founder of the Joe Moore Award, explained the move and how they hope to serve as a model for other major awards for student-athletes.

“We have seen the great amount of exposure that both winners and finalists of all the major college football awards receive throughout the years, but the actual and immediate benefit from winning the award typically goes to the presenter, not the presented,” he said in a statement. “We want to begin to change that dynamic with the growth of NIL for these athletes, and the Joe Moore Award is proud to be what we believe to be the first of the major awards to begin a program, which will have long-lasting benefits and a financial upside for our winners”

This year, the Wolverine offensive line earned some custom artwork, which will be used for an exclusive apparel line.

In return, the linemen will receive all of the proceeds and earmark a portion to benefit two charities of their choice: The Seal Legacy Foundation and The AthLife Foundation. The Joe Moore Award will also match the charitable donation, up to $10,000.

While the university is no stranger to major sponsorship deals, student-athletes are finally able to cash in on their own. As Taylor indicated, this blend of postseason accolades and name, image, and likeness potential is thought to be the first of its kind, and presents a potentially replicable model for many major awards in college sports in the future.

Michigan’s Winning Team

  • OL Coach: Sherrone Moore
  • Starting O-line:
    • Guard/Tackle, Karsen Barnhart (2 starts)
    • Guard, Chuck Filiaga (4 starts)
    • Left Tackle, Ryan Hayes (13 starts)
    • Tackle, Trente Jones (1 start)
    • Left Guard, Trevor Keegan (10 starts)
    • Right Tackle, Andrew Stueber (13 starts)
    • Center, Andrew Vastardis (13 starts),
    • Right guard Zak Zinter (11 starts)
    • Honorable mention to TE Joel Honigford, a converted O-lineman
  • Rushing Yards: 223.8 (10th Overall)
  • Passing yards: 228.1 (66th)
  • Sacks Conceded: 10 (3rd)
  • Tackles for Loss: 27 (1st)

The offensive line has its work cut out for it this week, as it heads into the Orange Bowl against the Georgia Bulldogs and their No. 2 defense. A Michigan win would bring the Wolverines one step closer to their first National Championship since 1997.

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About The Author
Bernadette Doykos
Bernadette Doykos
Bernadette Doykos is the Senior Director of Editorial Strategy at Boardroom. Before joining the team, her work appeared in ELLE. She previously served as the head of evaluation for a nonprofit where she became obsessed with systems and strategy and served as the curator of vibes and extinguisher of fires for the design thinking firm Stoked. She is constantly plotting a perfect tunnel ‘fit and a playlist for all occasions.