ANN ARBOR — The way Michigan football players describe it, their locker room this week has resembled a busy stock market trading floor.
The commodity in heavy demand is a ticket to Michigan’s game at Rutgers on Saturday.
Michigan’s roster includes nine players from New Jersey, and the Wolverines only visit the Scarlet Knights every other season. For those returning to their home state, the matchup provides an opportunity for family and friends to attend a game nearby. Each player gets four complimentary tickets, so the competition has begun inside Schembechler Hall.
“Rashan (Gary) just yelled at me,” senior safety Kinnel said. “They’re all in there going crazy for them, trying to make trades.”
Gary, a junior defensive end, said on Tuesday that he’d accumulated 30 tickets from teammates. “There are a lot of Jersey guys on the team, so you’ve got to fight for some tickets. I’m throwing my one-two punches in there trying to get some.”
Apparently sophomore safety Brad Hawkins and junior defensive lineman Michael Dwumfour, both from Jersey, had a fair amount of tickets. Juwann Bushell-Beatty, a redshirt senior, is one of three starting offensive lineman from the Garden State. His ticket accumulation was a work in progress as of Tuesday night, but he remained hopeful. “It’s going slow but I’ll get there,” he said.
Michigan assistant coach Chris Partridge is a Jersey native who coached Bushell-Beatty and Gary at Paramus Catholic. Patridge said he’ll have some family, including his parents, and friends at Saturday’s game, but that they’d likely buy tickets on their own. He admitted, with a laugh, that they probably wouldn’t be too hard to get. The Scarlet Knights are 1-8 this season.
As of Thursday, plenty of tickets were available on the Rutgers athletics website or through third-party vendors for around $80 each.
Sophomore fullback Ben Mason is from Newtown, Connecticut, a two-hour drive to Piscataway, New Jersey. He said he expects a bus carrying about 70 people to make the trip. “I think they bought a whole section or something,” he said.
But other players are relying on the comp tickets, and some Wolverines are taking advantage of the high demand. “I made a little trade with Brad (Hawkins),” said Kinnel, an Ohio native. “We go to Columbus in a couple weeks.”
Perhaps another opportunistic Wolverine can capitalize on the fact that 12 Michigan players hail from Ohio and U-M plays at Ohio State on Nov. 24. Gary, for one, is still hunting tickets despite his hefty haul. With several cameras recording his interview, Gary made sure his efforts were known.
“Anybody in my family watching this, I’m trying to get ya’ll tickets,” he said. “I’m sorry if I can’t. I still love you.”