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Posted on Mon, Jan 2, 2012 : 9:13 a.m.

Michigan's Ryan Van Bergen, and his illustrious hair, finishes career as de facto captain

By Kyle Meinke

NEW ORLEANS — Ryan Van Bergen's name won't be found anywhere on the Schembechler Hall wall that honors past Michigan football captains.

That doesn't make him any less of a team leader.

The Whitehall, Mich., native is a fifth-year senior who has become an imposing force on the Michigan football team's defensive line. He has 41 tackles, and his 12 tackles for loss lead the team — four more than anyone else.

He has a team-high five sacks, four pass break-ups, three quarterback hits, three fumble recoveries and one fumble forced.

Yet, his biggest impact isn't a stat at all. It's his leadership.


Ryan Van Bergen and "Flow."

Van Bergen is not a captain, but that's because coach Brady Hoke wanted just two of them. The team went with as many as three only because tight end Kevin Koger and center David Molk were within one vote of each other.

Still, there was Van Bergen, only another vote or two away, a technicality he hasn't allowed to diminish his role as a team leader.

"I still felt a tremendous amount of responsibility for leadership, so Coach Hoke treats me like a captain," he said. "The fact I won’t be on the wall doesn’t make a big difference to me. I just want to be a leader on the team."

Van Bergen was one of two players to speak to the media each week this season, and became a team spokesman on many of the most difficult subjects. He became a face of the program, and one that people have begun to recognize.

He said he heard chants of "Go Blue!" every time he walked down Bourbon Street, the hub of New Orleans nightlife, even though he often wasn't wearing Michigan gear.

Of course, it also could have been "Flow" — the pet name he's given his long, blonde hair.

"Everywhere I've been, if I've been out on the streets, someone has come up to me and given me the 'Go Blue,'" Van Bergen said. "I think it's the hair. The thing about being recognized is most people can do it only straight on.

"But, with Flow, you've got the profile and even the back, too. It's kind of a 360-recognizable."

Kyle Meinke covers Michigan football for He can be reached at 734-623-2588, by email at and followed on Twitter @kmeinke.



Mon, Jan 2, 2012 : 11:13 p.m.

and a sensitive man he was. i'll not forget him questioning the return of those ex-football players who had seemingly abandoned the program in the rodriguez years -----where have they been the last three years? we wear the same helmet they wore. i am certain we are all pleased that he and his cohorts had this season to remember.

Terry Star21

Mon, Jan 2, 2012 : 7:56 p.m.

Thank you Ryan, for everything ! I echo Laurie's very fine post above - it says it all ! MgoBlueForTiM...........keeping the M tradition with Van Bergen

Laurie Miholer-Zachritz

Mon, Jan 2, 2012 : 2:43 p.m.

Ryan Van Bergen is a natural spokesman for the team because he is smart, articulate and funny. What other football player would refer to Iowa's pink locker rooms as having a certain "feng shu,i" let alone even know what that means? He's THE captain of the heart of the team and his name won't be forgotten, whether that's written on any wall or not. Thanks for the great quotes Ryan, and for your stellar contributions to Team 132. GO BLUE!