For athletes in this area, the University of Michigan is one small step in distance, one giant leap in almost everything else. Dexter’s Cole Cabana is ready to boldly go where few Dreadnaughts have ever gone, and while it’s not the moon, it is big – very big.
The Dexter junior recently signed a letter of intent to play football at the University of Michigan. From Al Ritt Stadium to the Big House is going to be a big challenge, but Cabana is ready to take the ball and run with it – something he is very familiar with doing.
“Nothing really compares to their program and university,” says Cabana on his decision to become a Wolverine. “I took my first visit right before summer last year, and ever since I’ve been in touch with them, they were at the top of my list.”
During Cabana’s second visit, he sat down with head coach Jim Harbaugh, who recently decided to stay at U-M after flirting with a return to the NFL.
“A couple months back I sat down with Coach Harbaugh and that’s when they made an offer,” Cabana said. “He didn’t say anything about leaving then. I plan on enrolling early so I’ll be there around winter break next year.”
For a kid growing up in the shadows of Michigan Stadium, playing for the Wolverines was always on his radar.
“Even before they offered me, I could always see myself going there,” Cabana says. “They were always in the back of my head but once they offered and I kept growing closer with commits and the staff, I knew it was home.”
Cabana, 17, plans on studying “something to do with marketing or possibly sports medicine.”
And his football goals?
“My goal at Michigan is just to ball out,” he says. “Offers, stars and everything else go out the window, and I’m coming in as a nobody. I’m going to be working hard to get on the field. I want it bad. My end goal is to go to the next level and play football for a living.”
Cabana, a 6-foot, 183-pound running back, is certainly a somebody when it comes to high school football in these parts. He was First Team All-Sec and First Team All-State this past season and set the single game rushing mark for Dexter High School with 346 yards in the win over Monroe – he also had SIX touchdowns against the Trojans.
After that game, Dexter head coach Phil Jacobs said: “If there’s a better back [than Cabana] in the state, I want to see him. He’s phenomenal; he’s a dynamic, quality back.”
And there were other highlights last year for clearly the best RB in the state.
“Going to Wayne State and beating Birmingham Groves was probably one of the more fun times of the season,” Cabana says. “It was super cool to be a part of that and lots of things went right for us that game.”
A lot of things went right all season for the Dreadnaughts, who were 5-2 before losing their final two regular season games to Saline and Chelsea. Dexter qualified for the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season but lost a heartbreaker 49-48 to Lakeview in the opening round.
It’s been a great run – literally – for Cabana.
“My sophomore year we had a pretty special team and won the first playoff game in school history,” says Cabana. “We were all family and had each other’s back and really left everything on the field.”
Cabana said last year was challenging because despite having plenty of talent, injuries became a factor and the Dreadnaughts lost some close games – Dexter lost three games by a total of four points.
“Too many close games we should have won,” he says.
Cole, the son of Mike and Holly Cabana, has a 3.74 GPA and also runs track for the Dreadnaughts. Football, though, always seemed to be his game.
“I grew up playing soccer and basketball and I was bored,” he says. “I played backyard football with my dad since I could walk and even then he knew that was going to be my sport. When I was 9 I started flag football playing with 12 year olds. I fell in love then and knew that was the sport I was best at and pursued it.”
He started playing tackle football in the fourth grade.
“I ended up quitting soccer around then and then quit basketball in high school to focus on 7 on 7 and indoor track,” he says.
Even with Michigan on the horizon and one more season of Dexter football, Cabana can still look back at some amazing accomplishments.
“The thing I’m most proud of is how close we have come as a football team and how the program has turned around,” he says. “The stands are overflowing at Al Ritt every game now and it’s truly the best time of my life. I’m really looking forward to showing people what Dexter is going to bring to the table next year.”
Then he will have an even bigger “table” to deal with in Ann Arbor.