Tuesday, May 29, 2001- The Michigan Daily - 9
The Brinton file:
Weight: 220 pounds
Hometown: Hemet, California TemeculaValley High School)
Family: Father Merrill, mother Kalle, older sister Rachael
(Graduate student at the University's School of Social Work),
older sister Emily, twin older sisters Sarah and Rebecca, and
younger sister Eliza (unior at BrighamA
San Diego State: Won 4-of-6
games as thefirst truefreshman to
start for theAztecs in1997. Finished,
the season with six touchdowns and k
10 interceptions. He completed 45- M
percent of his passes.
Injury: He suffered aseason-ending
injury in the second game of his sophomore season. He strained
ligaments in the thumb of his throwing hand when he inadver-
ntly struck a helmet.
issionary: He traveled to South Africato serve and preach
to the Zulu people fortwo years. He retumed to Americain April.
Wolverine: Coach Lloyd Carr offered Brinton ascholarship
without ever actually seeing him face-to-face. He enters the
season without awell-defined role,
Education: He is currently enrolled in LSA, but he is unde-
cided about his major He hopes to one day earn an MBA in
B nternational Business,
s: Why didn't Brinton just return to exactly pleading for his return.
an Diego State where he could have "We weren't going to take him back
een a starter from Day One? The after his mission," San Diego State head
nswer can be found on any fall Satur- coach Ted Tollner said. "We were going
lay in Ann Arbor - the unparalleled in a different direction after that."
ollege football atmosphere. Ironically, Brinton was hoping to
Coming from Southern California, attend Ohio State University when he
Irinton was looking to go to a place came out of high school.
vhere football is king. He was one of four quarterbacks out
"On the west coast people would ask, of California that the Buckeyes were
What are you going to do: the game or recruiting.
each?' and a lot of people took the Head coach John Cooper offered all
e ond offer there," Brinton said. four scholarships, and said that the first
In addition, San Diego State wasn't two return callers would be chosen.
Brinton was not home and he was the
last to call back.
WELCOME TO THE BIG HOUSE
After the long trek back to Califor-
nia, Brinton spent just three days at
home before flying to Ann Arbor.
On the last day of April,.Brinton and
his parents arrived at Metro Airport in
Detroit. But it was late, and Brinton was
in bed before the city of Ann Arbor
could make an impression.
Classes began at 9 a.m. for Brinton,
who is taking Psychology 305 this term.
The class allows Brinton to help,
.befriend and advise youths in Detroit. It
enables him to continue the life of serv-
ice he led on the mission.
But the football itch woke Brinton
early, and he ran to Schembechler Hall
to meet the coaches at 8 a.m. He didn't
have time for a grand tour. But no soon-
er was his class over than the Brinton
family found itself standing on the field
at Michigan Stadium.
This was the encounter with tradition
that Brinton had been waiting for.
"This is the dream,' Brinton said. "I
just looked up at all the rows and rows
going up. I got chills."
BUT CAN HE PLAY?
As the first true freshman to start at
San Diego State, Brinton was 72-of-162
for 1,097 yards and six touchdowns,
with 10 interceptions. The numbers
aren't jaw-dropping, but the Aztecs
went 4-2 with him at quarterback after
losing their first five games.
An injury to senior Kevin McKech-
nie vaulted Brinton into his first colle-
giate action against UNLV, a game the
Aztecs eventually won. That first win
has been the highlight of Brinton's ath-
"I was surprised with how calm I
was," Brinton said. "I felt like I had
done it before. I was really focused on
the game. It was a big win for us."
While at San Diego State, the tall
left-hander had the opportunity to face
quality opponents such as Wisconsin
Spencer Brinton led San Diego State to a 4-2 finish in 1997. An injury to starting
quarterback Kevin McKechnie gave the left-hander his first opportunity to play.
and Southern California before strained
ligaments in his throwing hand side-
lined him in the second game of his
"I have been in situations," Brinton
said. "I have faced zone defenses. I
have played at this level before. You
can't replace experience."
Although the injury was a setback to
his football career, it gave Brinton the
chance he needed to leave his team and
go on the mission to Africa.
"I know that those things happen for
a reason," Brinton said. "I am thankful
that I had the opportunity to play foot-
ball and go on the mission because
coming out of high school, I wasn't
going to go."
He gives his mission credit for his
newfound perspective and peace of
mind on the field.
"When I look at defenses, before
they were kind of a blur," Brinton said.
"But now they sink in and my mind is
Brinton, who turns 23 on July 30,
still has three years of eligibility
remaining, and he doesn't feel as
though he has lost much while living on
the other side of the world.
"I am the same," Brinton said. "Just
Brinton is currently watching film
and throwing three days a week to help
him readjust to the speed of the college
game. He will also be spending more
than his share of time with strength
coach Mike Gittleson. How much has
he picked up?
"I've thrown every pass - no prob-
lem," Brinton said.
At least he isn't suffering from a lack
Brinton will try to make Michigan
fans forget about departed quarterback
Drew Henson by wearing the No. 7 jer-
sey this fall.
STARTER, BACKUP OR CLIPBOARD
ESPN recruiting analyst Tom Lem-
ming told the Michigan Daily in Janu-
ary that Brinton "has developed into a
better QB now. Michigan believes that --
he will be Henson's successor."
When Henson decided to jump ship
early for pinstripes and big bags of
money, it brought Brinton a step closer
to the starting position.
But unless the Wolverines suffer
another freak summer ankle injury,
John Navarre will be the starting quar-
terback when Michigan opens its sea-
son at home against Miami (Ohio) on
Did Henson's departure create a rift
between Navarre and Brinton?
"No. Not at all," Brinton answered
quickly. "I experienced that selfish tic
before with the other quarterback at San
Diego State. It was ..." Brinton took a
long pause searching for the right word,
"Maybe you look for ways to cheat
each other or get around the system to
make yourself better than that person.
When you do that, I don't think that it
positively helps anyone."
Actually, the two Michigan signal
callers seem to have become fast
Brinton got a call from Navarre on
his second day in Ann Arbor, inviting
him over for a small gathering and bar-
The two are watching a lot of film
together and are working to pool their
collective experience to make the
Wolverines better in 2001.
"This team is the same talent, just
new people," Brinton said. "There is
enough talent here to win a national
Fpencer Brinton poses with some South African friends, Zwe and Zandile Mhlango, and their young son Sizwe.