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Saturday, December 31, 2011
Ryan Van Bergen: Straight outta Whitehall

By Adam Rittenberg

NEW ORLEANS -- Like many rappers, Michigan defensive end Ryan Van Bergen draws inspiration from his roots.

"It comes from the mean streets of Whitehall," Van Bergen deadpanned Saturday. "Growing up there, it's not the easiest place in the world, so you get some inspiration and thoughts off of that. It's all the cornfields and nice beaches."

OK, so Van Bergen's hometown of Whitehall, Mich., isn't the grittiest place in the world, as you can see here and here. But the Wolverines senior showed off his rapping skills Friday night at a team event in a local bowling alley.

Van Bergen and fellow defensive lineman Will Campbell took the stage in what looked like a freestyle rapping battle, but was supposed to be a duet. When Campbell didn't fulfill his end of the bargain, Van Bergen stole the show, at his teammate's expense.

"It wasn't supposed to be just me and him messing around," Van Bergen said, "but because he didn't say anything, it looked like a battle."

A battle Van Bergen won definitively. He kept his performance profanity-free -- "That might have been a bit of a struggle," defensive tackle Mike Martin said -- and had the team in stitches when discussing the 322-pound Campbell and his preferences.

"When Ryan said that Will likes big girls, that wasn't an insult, that's just true," Martin said. "He would admit to it."

Added Van Bergen: "I was trying to give him a compliment."

No word yet on whether Van Bergen will be performing at halftime of the Allstate Sugar Bowl.