These are the direct quotes from my interview with Ryan Van Bergen, published yesterday in the Muskegon Chronicle. A lot of quotes I obtained were not used in the article, so I thought some might be interested to hear what else he had to say:
*Image courtesy of annarbor.com
How have you maintained a sense of focus during your career while being part of an almost constant transition (maybe bring up family)?
Committed to the program, not the coaching staff necessarily. With the transition, trying to produce the same Michigan team he grew up watching. Values it highly and is doing his best to upkeep the traditions of the past.
Do you feel like your growth as a player has been stunted by playing for three different DCs in four years?
I had some minor setbacks due to technique mainly. Personal success in basic things like working hard and doing the right things. Regardless of circumstances.
Being a senior on a relatively young team, what kind of lessons on leadership has Coach Hoke provided for you (Mike/Troy) thus far?
Lead by example. Be vocal and hoo-rah kind of guy. More effective to set an example and by doing things correctly. Not his legacy, he wants the seniors to be the people who lead this team. Holding yourself accountable.
What has Greg Mattison (Montgomery) brought out in your game that you may not have possessed before?
Allows me to be more aggressive and encourages him to do so. Attack. Fundamentals and technique. Force your will upon the opponent, don't react to what they're doing.
Has the team mentality changed under a more defensive minded coaching staff? Biggest difference from years past?
It's more of a balance than before. Adjust to who we play week to week is not the mentality anymore. FORCING YOUR WILL. Physical and toughness. Stick to what we do best.
Has beating Michigan State become as important a goal for this team as beating Ohio State?
Not as emphasized as Ohio State, but losing three years in a row brings it to your attention. Close games. Huge hole in my career.
What are your personal goals this season? (Team goals being obvious)
Best leader I can be. However that falls into place.....senior class wants to be the class that gets us back into contention for the Big Ten Championship.
Hoke is killing the recruiting trail....what is it about his personality and message that has all these young players not only coming on board, but speeding up their decisions to join the team (RJS, Richardson)?
They like his down to earth and genuine guy. He's honest. We can make you great, you won't play right away. Sheer honesty. Shoot you straight regardless.
How's Denard with the new system???!
Denard is an amazing player and leader of this team. Organizes the 7 on 7s. Had conversations with him and he feels the same way about the program that Ryan does. Just as good as last year if not bigger.
Thoughts on Ohio State situation:
Beating OSU is huge no matter what, but would you have rather beaten them with Pryor (assuming he's gone) and Tressel?
Beating Ohio is beating Ohio. Always be a big game. No less significant.
How does it feel to have lost to a team that you know now was bending the rules to bring in high profile recruits?
Not personally. Can understand why other people would feel that way. Doesn't really care who they brought in, just wants to win. They beat us in football. Extenuating. No bad feelings and is hungry.
Pryor in a Michigan uniform: Your thoughts when he committed, and now?
It was a good decision for him at the time. He's going to have to deal with those decisions he made in his career. No ill will towards him personally. Might have never gotten Denard otherwise.
What he wants: Our guys to have our hard work and dedication pay off in the win column. We have bonded and been through a ton of adversity. No reason we shouldn't be productive. Could be a 10 or 11 win team and contend for the Big Ten Championship. Repeated that sentence.
You mentioned playing a brand of football like you grew up watching....who were some of the players you grew up watching that you want to emulate, D-lineman or not?
Some of the guys that i grew up watching were guys like Glen Steele and Rob Renes. I really like watching the way Steele played the game. I also remember one key thing that sold me on U of M was when Woodson placed the rose in his mouth. Everyone has seen the picture, but I saw it live and that made my mind up that Michigan was where I wanted to play. I had posters in my room and over my weight bench that said Michigan for motivation.
*Note - I asked him about the helmet stickers and unless he was messing around claimed he had no idea that Michigan ever wore helmet stickers. No idea what to get out of that.