6B - The Michigan Daily - FOOTBALL SATURDAY - September 21, 2002
The Michigan Daily - FOOTBALL SATURDAY
Q . _ f ._
& Bennie the
Michigan captains Victor Hobson and Bennie Joppru have the same
job but very different app
M ichigan captain Victor
Hobson has never been much
for bringing attention to him-
self. Luckily, his mother, Audrey, has
always taken care of that for him.
Since Victor was playing Pop Warner
football as a kid, she has kept every tro-
phy, newspaper clipping or internet
article that even mentioned her son's
"We keep a scrapbook of every-
thing," Audrey said.
That's probably because getting
Victor to glorify himself is like try-
ing to convince a criminal to confess
"He never has talked about himself,
the whole time he's been playing ball in
school," Audrey said.
The linebacker is the chosen leader
of more than 100 guys, and he can't
think of one pet-peeve that gets under
his skin. Even when his defensive
teammates dance or celebrate after a
big hit - something Hobson refuses to
do - he takes a passive attitude.
"I've always had coaches that tried
to instill the 'act like you've been
there' (attitude)," Hobson said. "That's
just me. That's how I play. I'm not a
showy kind of guy. I'm conservative in
what I do."
But predictable? No.
Senior defensive end Dan Rumishek
remembers one time in practice when
defensive tackle Norman Heuer missed
the play call in the huddle. The offense
was hurrying up to the line, and then,
something incredible happened.
"I'd never heard the man yell before,"
Rumishek said. "He's got that deep
voice. Everyone was in silence, like
'Was that Vic?'"
It might not have been the same
Victor Hobson. Safety Cato June is
convinced that Hobson has a multiple-
"Vic definitely has two sides to him,"
said June, who has roomed with
Hobson for three straight years. "When
that switch goes off, he's a different
person. I'll be like, 'Man, what's wrong
with this dude, he's like crazy or some-
"That's why I don't think he's human.
He's quiet and then he's all crazy."
June gets to see the Hobson that
not many people get a glimpse of. He
also gets to hear him - whether he
likes it or not.
"Vic is the biggest snorer in
America," June said. "I can promise
you that. I swear, my aunt was over one
time and she thought we had a bear in
"I'm just amazed that a human can
snore that loud. Just watch him, let
him be bored for a minute, and he'll
Hobson's "sleeping disorder" has
given him quite a reputation on the
team. Nobody wants to room with him
on road trips.
"I am used to it, I can fall asleep,"
June said. "I've been hearing him
through the walls at the house, but
everybody else is like, 'No, I'm not
rooming with Vic, I'm not rooming
with Vic.' (Former linebacker Larry)
Foote used to complain all the time."
But Hobson doesn't let his quirks
keep him from accomplishing his
goals. He's a preseason All-America
candidate in just about every publica-
tion, and coach Lloyd Carr firmly
believes he can be one of the top line-
backers in Michigan's history.
THE FAMILY MAN
Saturdays. Hobson grew up infatuated
with the "Fab Five," and always wanted
to go to Michigan to play basketball.
"He and all his friends always said
they were going to Michigan when
they saw the Fab Five," Audrey said.
"They were going to be the next bas-
But Victor's father, Matthew
Hobson,-said that his son never owned
a pair of baggy block 'M' shorts.
"He's not too much for fads,"
Matthew said. "The different styles that
kids wear, like the braids, baggy pants,
shorts, you probably won't see him
Victor may not have been the king
of style, but he found something to
wear every day, nonetheless. The
New Jersey native never missed a day
of elementary school or high school.
His mother has the certificates to
Audrey also knows a thing or two
about attendance, as she's never
missed a football game at Michigan
Stadium during Victor's five years on
the team. That's just how the Hobson
"I'm close with both my parents,"
Victor said. "I guess my mother is the
opposite of my father. I get my person-
ality from both of them, but more so the
laid back attitude from my father."
Matthew had plenty of time to rub
off his quiet, simple personality on his
son when he'd drive 30 minutes each
day to pick Victor up at football prac-
tice. Victor and his father were never
really emotional with each other.
Matthew would let Audrey handle all
the mushy stuff. He concentrated on
discipline, school and making sure
Victor learned at a young age to "not be
Matthew checks up on Victor, even
now, to make sure he's still on the
"I see coach Carr and his other
coaches, and I see how he's doing,"
Matthew explained. "It's always a posi-
tive comment. He respects other people
and doesn't create problems."
Audrey has always won Victor's
devotion with her home cooking, espe-
cially his favorite dish: Hamburger
casserole. She always has something
ready for him and his teammates after a
tough game. In fact, it's become a
gameday tradition at the house June
and Hobson share in Ann Arbor.
"Marquise (Walker's) mother and
Todd Howard's mother used to help
me," Audrey said. "A lot of the people
left. Whoever comes, whatever we
have, you're welcome. It's like family''
And that's just the way Victor likes it.
Tight end and fellow captain Bennie
Bennie Joppru and his older brother J.J.
had a love-hate relationship. Separated
by three years in age and a galaxy in
maturity, Bennie and J.J. always seemed to
know exactly how to push each other's buttons
during their early childhood years. And they
always ended up scrapping somehow.
"Bennie was more of the jokester and would
take a poke at his more serious brother and run
away from him," said Sheldon Joppru;
Bennie's father. "Bennie couldn't beat his
older brother, but he was always good at cheap
But one day Sheldon decided enough was
enough. He bought boxing gloves for each of
his oldest sons and told them to settle their
arguments in the living room with a few
rounds - while their mom, Kay, anxiously
watched with disapproval.
"We used to fight like cats and dogs," said
J.J., 25, who played football at Arizona. "I was
always his biggest fan, but his harshest critic."
J.J. was also Bennie's mentor, and fiercest
opponent. Bennie remembered one time while
playing an imaginative baseball game of
"greatest catches" - where each brother
would toss the baseball ahead of the other so
they could make spectacular diving grabs -
when he led J.J. too far with a throw - right
smack into a tree.
Was it on purpose? "Maybe a little subcon-
sciously," Bennie said with a grin.
Bennie may have been the practical joker in
the family, but was as focused as a doctor per-
forming brain surgery while playing baseball,
basketball, football - and even hockey as a
Growing up in Wayzata, Minn., where hock-
ey was as big as the Beatles, Bennie became a
"rink rat," spending nearly 10 hours each day
on a local outdoor pond playing "boot hockey"
with kids nearly twice his age. Bennie said he
even played against some of the stars of the
famous Disney movie "The Mighty Ducks,"
which was shot at the same arena he played in.
And whenever Bennie played, he'd be the
"Kids in high school would call Bennie
when he was like eight years old to play -
because he could play goalie, and play it well,"
Kay Joppru said the reason Bennie played
goal was because he scored close to 100 goals
while playing hockey at age 6 - and his coach
forced him between the pipes to keep him off
"He was so driven and motivated," said Kay.
"He had so much energy, like a motor that
would never stop running."
Bennie still has that same energy, the same
smirk on his face - and admittedly, the same
immaturity he had when he fought his brother
at home. Now, as captain of the Wolverines, he
said he's taking major steps in trying to grow
up, learn from his past mistakes and fulfill his
potential at tight end for the Wolverines.
"I realize there's a time for partying and fun
and a time for being serious," Bennie said. "I
may have not always felt that way, but what
happened this spring put things into perspec-
tive for me."
Joppru said he was surprised to still be play-
ing for Michigan, much less earn the sacred
honor of being named captain by his teammates
He didn't know if his friends, teammates and
coaches ,had forgiven him for his admittedly
"immature" act of getting arrested after fight-
ing with Michigan wrestler Mike Kulczycki
outside Rick's American Cafe this spring.
Kulcycki said the event was "blown out of pro-
portion," but both were still suspended from
their respective teams.
Bennie, always one to scout out newspapers
each day, found himself on the front page,
which he said caused a ton of embarrassment to
himself, his family and his team.
"He was so devastated that he'd do something
so humiliating to himself and embarrassing to
his school," said Kay. "It was something totally
opposite from his nature and definitely a low
point in his life."
Kay would know. Bennie said he shares a
"special relationship," with his mother - one
that cannot even be described in words.
Kay calls it telepathy.
"If things aren't going right, I can have a cer-
tain feeling as soon as that's happening," Kay
said. "It's kind of scary and I don't necessarily
like it but that's how it is."
Kay said she woke up abruptly at around 1
a.m. the night of Bennie's arrest, with a weird
feeling in her stomach. She and Sheldon were
staying at a hotel on campus near the police
department, and they rushed to the station when
they heard the news.
His parents flew back to Minneapolis that
next morning and arrived home at 4 p.m. Less
than an hour later, Kay said Bennie called ask-
ing for help and for her to come back.
"Just wanted to be there for him," Kay said.
"He definitely was realizing he wasn't doing
the right things. He was in party mode and real-
izing that wasn't getting him anywhere."
Kay spent nearly 10 days at Bennie's house,
where he lived alone. They watched movies,
went out to dinner and reflected a bit. Kay said
Bennie was too ashamed to go outside and did-
n't want to see anyone.
"I tried to cook some meals for him, but with
the very few pots and pans in his house it was
kind of difficult," Kay said.
A CHANGED MAN
Now Kay said there's not much junk food in
Joppru's house. Dramatically altering his diet is
just one of the many ways Kay said her son has
changed his life since the incident.
"It was a real awakening," Kay said. "He
changed his sleeping habits, he changed his eat-
ing habits. He did everything he needed to do to
become stronger, mentally and physically."
Joppru's new summer routine started with a 6
a.m. run every morning, followed by workouts
and more workouts. He didn't go out as much at
night, and if he did it was watching movies
instead of bar-hopping. That was if he had enough'
energy after so much exercise and so little food.
"When his younger brother Chris and I came
Michigan captain Bennie Joppru looks ahead at a Washington defender h
Joppru has beceome a vital part of Michigan's offense since the game a
But Carr is lucky to1
sporting the winged
Joppru remembers one time in two-a-
days that Hobson knocked him out for
a few seconds.
Notre Dame quarterback Carlyle
Holiday has probably been having
nightmares ever since last Saturday's
Irish victory. Hobson hit Holiday with
his "signature move" at least two times.
"The move," as June tabbed it, consists
of a lift of the victim, then a drive into
the turf and a crash landing by the 6-
foot-1, 243-pound linebacker.
"It's funny because I know every
time he makes a tackle he's going to lift
them up and then drop them down,"
June said. "That's an intimidating thing,
when people on the sidelines see him
"I tell him he was made like six years
ago because he came in as a freshman
and he was just as big. I was like, 'Man,
this guy's a robot.' I haven't seen him
bleed or nothing."
Bear, robot, whatever he is, Hobson
is living up to his preseason billing. He
leads Michigan with 21 tackles, four
tackles for loss and three sacks through
But more importantly, as Rumishek
puts it, "he's one heckuva leader." Of
course, with Hobson, that's usually by
example. Linebacker Zach Kaufman
said he has learned more from
Hobson's ability to dissect tape of
opponents than anything else.
"He'll tell you what to watch for, and
most of the time, it happens," Kaufman
All that time in the film room should
have made Hobson a stud at NCAA
2003, the new college football game for
PlayStation 2. But June says Hobson's
game needs refining.
"I beat him all the time, and he gets
all mad and tries to wrestle me and
stuff," June said.
And what if he uses the signature
move next time?
"I've got a bat in my room," June
said. "I'm not worried about it."
That's good. Hobson's never been
one to create a worry.
to visit him in August, he had nothing there to
eat that was junky - not a cracker, potato chip,
candy. Not even any bread," Kay said.
When coaches and teammates came back this
summer, they also noticed the "new Joppru."
"I was talking with (backup quarterback)
Spencer Brinton and he said 'I've never seen a
guy run the mile-and-a-half like I saw Bennie
Joppru run when our team reported back,"' Carr
said. "Bennie is a guy who really committed
himself in the summertime to his conditioning."
Said assistant coach Fred Jackson: "He
became more of a student of the gaige. He
watched film at all hours of the day and studied
our new offensive system until he knew what
every position player did on each play - not
just the tight end."
While it was no surprise to Bennie's team-
mates that he was elected captain, along with
linebacker Victor Hobson, it sure stocked
Joppru and his parents.
"We were having guests over the day he
found out, and his brother answered the phone
and yelled at us on the deck that Bennie was
captain," Kay said. "I said, 'Yeah, right."'
Joppru has proved the selection to be a solid
one so far this season. He's stepped up on the
es for 80 yards a
Not bad for
returning to the
"He was on
tell-you his ,pric
the chance to co
tion. I think he
he's well on his
person and how
Yet Joppru st
out of the locke
onto the bus to :
"I didn't fee
Two days late
still visibly upse
let his emotions
"I just hate to
Victor Hobson tackles Washington wide receiver Charles Frederick.