Tyree Kinnel is a senior marketing student who hopes to leave Michigan football with a new way to sell itself by the time he’s done playing for the Wolverines.
That would be as a program that wins rivalry games.
This of course would be a vintage item, though one that has not been seen on shelves since before Kinnel was more than a few years old.
Entering the 2018 season, the Wayne High School graduate has been part of 28 wins in Maize and Blue, but only one of those came against Michigan State.
The lifelong Michigan fan is 1-2 in Maize and Blue against the Spartans and 0-3 against Ohio State.
This came up more than once during Big Ten Media Days this week, but Kinnel didn’t complain.
“There’s no words to say about it: We’ve got to beat them,” Kinnel said. “You can’t just keep losing those games. This being my last year, my ultimate goal is to win every single game and win those big games for Michigan. I just want to beat Michigan State and Ohio State really bad.”
The 5-foot-11, 206-pound safety was named Michigan’s most improved defensive player last year after he made 70 tackles, including 5.5 for loss, and broke up nine passes in 2017.
During his three seasons in Ann Arbor, he’s earned the respect of head coach Jim Harbaugh.
“He’s a level-headed guy,” Harbaugh said. “He’s a guy you want back there playing safety, disseminating the information. He doesn’t get emotionally hijacked.
“He goes about his business. No drama. Always plays. Been a starter. Has always contributed a lot on special teams. Always been about the team. One of our real good seniors.”
Kinnel is also a four-star recruit in the class of 2015 who isn’t bothered by not getting an offer from Ohio State.
He didn’t want to go there anyway.
“I kind of liked the feeling of being that outside guy in Ohio with everyone being Ohio State fans,” said Kinnel, whose high school has produced seven Buckeyes since 2000. "I was that odd guy. I kind of like that feeling. That’s just how I grew to love Michigan. I’m just blessed and glad I was able to attend the University of Michigan.”
Though his college career is down to one season, he hopes to remain a part of the game beyond 2018 -- first as an NFL player and then as a coach.
“I love the game,” he said. “I want to be a part of it as long as I can be and I know you can’t physically play it forever so I want to be a good mentor to younger people.”
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