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LEADing the Way

Five former NFL/Wolverine football players mingle with LEAD Scholars and share what drives them to give back.
Read time: 4 minutes

Over kielbasa and schnitzel at the Old German restaurant in October, five former NFL/Wolverine football players mingled with current LEAD Scholars. The event, which marked the 1-year anniversary of the LEAD Council Program, allowed the players to share both their experience and advice with the scholars.

The LEAD Scholars Program provides scholarships to African-American, Hispanic, and Native American students who have been accepted into U-M. The LEAD Council consists of alumni volunteers from different generations, academic units, and industries with one unified goal: to support LEAD Scholars.

“They spend a lot of time engaging students at LEAD Council events and are always ready to offer insight for the program to improve,” says Ayanna McConnell, senior director of University/Student Engagement and LEAD Scholars. “Their LEAD support demonstrates an intersection of affinity giving and young alumni engagement. We hope it appeals to other alums who might be looking for unique ways to support Michigan.”

Call it our own National Football LEAD, and here are their stats:

Michigan football highlight: In 2006 against Michigan State, Mundy set a career high of eight tackles. NFL career: Pittsburgh Steelers (2009-13), New York Giants (2013-14), Chicago Bears (2014-15). Current job: Chief strategist at Chicago-based Techlete Ventures; CEO of XII AM Holdings Co. Life code: “I understand that my athletic career has positioned me to become a person of influence. I work daily to be accountable and raise the bar for the things I am passionate about.” Why LEAD? “I am passionate about empowering minorities with resources to help them succeed in life.”

Michigan football highlight: Trent’s knockdown of 31 passes during his four years at U-M ranked him seventh in Wolverine history for passes defensed. NFL career: Cincinnati Bengals (2009-11), Indianapolis Colts (2011), Jacksonville Jaguars (2011-12), Washington Redskins (2012). Current job: Real estate agent for The Related Companies and Compass Sports and Entertainment. Life code: “I try to model myself after Jesus and my father. I try to love the way Jesus loved and follow my father’s core principles of hard work, dedication, and integrity.” Why LEAD? “Michigan prides itself on excellence and achievement, and without diversity among the student body, it is hard to uphold those two pillars.”

Michigan football highlight: Breaston is U-M’s all-time leading punt returner (127 returns for 1,599 yards) and kickoff returner (81 returns for 1,993 yards). NFL career: Arizona Cardinals (2007-11), Kansas City Chiefs (2011-13), New Orleans Saints (2013). Current job: Founder of the Steven Breaston Foundation, a nonprofit focused on helping children in his hometown of Pittsburgh. Life code: “I want to show young hopefuls that getting an education and being a productive member of your community are vital for future successes, both professional and personal.” Why LEAD? “It is important to me that diversity increases on campus to broaden students’ cultural exposure, communication, and cultural empathy, and to expand minorities’ academic horizons.”

Michigan football highlight: In 2006, Adams made 47 tackles (39 solo), one sack, three tackles for loss, and one forced fumble. He recorded one interception and deflected seven other passes, earning him All-Big Ten Conference second-team recognition as a junior. NFL career: Seattle Seahawks (2009-10), Philadelphia Eagles (2010-11). Current job: Development associate for The Related Companies. Life code: “My life goals are different than they were when I was playing football. Now, I look up to folks that are good family men, are impactful in their community, and balance it all with a successful career.” Why LEAD? “I felt it was important to give back and hope the kids we help will do the same in 10 years or so.“

Michigan football highlight: After his senior season, he was named an honorable mention All-American and was given the Bo Schembechler Award as Michigan’s most valuable player. NFL career: Philadelphia Eagles (2006-14), Carolina Panthers (2014), Kansas City Chiefs (2014-15). Current job: Owner of Launch Trampoline Park, a family entertainment center. Life code: “Treat others the way you want to be treated. Work harder, fear nothing, and attack everything.” Why LEAD? “People start life in different places. Minorities often have to overcome extraordinary feats like bad school systems, poverty, or just staying alive. I want to help some kids finally catch a break and experience the great institution of U-M.”

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