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Mark Messner-izes opposition
By Pete Steiner,. F..-.
When comparing Mark Messner
to his father, Max, a former NFL
linebacker with the Detroit Lions
and the Pittsburgh Steelers, it's not
necessarily a case of "like father, like
"He was oversized for his posi-
tion; I'm undersized for mine," said
Messner, Michigan's fifth-year All-
America defensive tackle. "So I have
to be a little more mobile and a little
more quicker than he did. He was
able to stand in there and take people
At 6-3, 244 pounds, Messner's
size suits him more for a linebacker.
He usually finds himself on the
short, er, light end of a matchup,
sometimes 40, 50 pounds lighter.
He received a rude awakening in
his inaugural collegiate game when
he lined up against a pair of 300-
pound tackles from Maryland. When
you can't climb a mountain, you go
"I try to use the basic quick
stuff," Messner said. "I can't com-
pete head on, so if they get a hold of
me, I'm blocked. I just avoid them
at all costs. I keep my distance."
Messner, the Wolverines' top re-
turning tackler, has led the team in
quarterback sacks in each of his first
three seasons. He tied for second in
the Big Ten in sacks last year with
10. He holds Wolverine records for
most tackles for loss yardage, most
sacks and most sack yardage. He
needs five more tackles for losses to
pass Curtis Greer.
"He's the kind of guy you want
on your team" said Michigan head
coach Bo Schembechler. "He makes
a lot plays."
"I would not trade Messner for
anyone," reiterated one of his tal-
ented defensive linemates, sopho-
more Warde Manuel. "He's just that
kind of player. I respect him on the
field and off. He's a remarkable
Messner will tell you that he still
gets his share of bumps and bruises.
Maybe that's why he enjoys playing
golf during his free time. "It's a lot
less painful," Messner said. "'Ah! I
got a blister.'
"I get tossed around more with (6-
4, 288-pound Iowa tackle Bob)
Kratch and (6-6, 303-pound Michi-
gan State tackle Tony) Mandarich
than I care to say," Messner said.
Messner can joke about it, but
he doesn't take very kindly to get-
ting beat. He recalls a play last sea-
son when Iowa quarterback Chuck
Hartlieb escaped his grasp in the
backfield and scampered for a first
down. "I see that over and over
again, and how I could have ever let
him go," Messner said. It didn't
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For reservation and
'...I mean Messner is tough. He stands out in my mind, especially now that I'm back at running back. At
least before as a wideout, I wouldn't have to worry about him hitting me. I'm afraid of him. I might even
lose sleep the week before the Michigan game.'
- Ohio State tailback Vince Workman
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matter that the Wolverines won the
game handily, 37-10.
Whenever Messner takes a tum-
ble, he always gets back up, though.
The Hartland, Mich., native has
started all 37 games since his first
year at Michigan. Despite his lack of
size, he has avoided injuries.
He credits John "Jumbo" Elliott
- Michigan's 6-7, 306-pound All-
America tackle who is now a rookie
with the New York Giants of the
NFL - for much of his success.
"I was playing against the best in
the country every day in practice,"
Messner said. "That alone helped me
as a player. I owe a lot to John."
Messner's talent and longevity
has earned the respect of players
around the conference.
"...I mean Messner is tough,"
said O State tailback Vince
Workman. "He stands out in my
mind, especially now that I'm back
at running back. At least before at
wide out, I wouldn't have to worry
about him hitting me. I'm afraid of
him. I might even lose sleep the
week before the Michigan game."
"You practice harder (when
preparing for Messner)," Indiana
guard Don Shrader said. "You need
to go up against the first-string de-
fense that week in practice. He de-
mands a lot of preparation, hope and
"I'm not much for that blasting
up the middle stuff," said Minnesota
tailback Darrell Thompson. "That
way I definitely won't run into him.
It seems when I do go up the middle,
he hits me from every which way.
I'd rather go outside."
Messner's rise to the collegiate
ranks started at Redford Catholic
Central High School, where he re-
ceived All-America honors at nose
tackle and tight end. He made an in-
stant impact on the Wolverines de-
fense during his rookie season, when
Michigan finished No. 2 in the
Messner would like to finish his
Wolverine career with a flourish. "I
want to be an All-American, and I
want to get on Bob Hope's show,"
Messner has liked what he has
seen so far in terms of Michigan's
attitude, coming off a somewhat
disappointing 8-4 season.
"I don't know whether it's be-
cause now I'm a senior, and I'm
looking for it, but I see it now more
than I ever did," Messner said.
"When we were out there running in
the hottest summer in recent years,
we were all out there doing sound
off, and we're running and singing
and clapping, and everyone's moti-
vated, I think that's rather unique."
And yet, so is Messner.
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WEEKEND/S1PTEMBER 9 1988'
PAGE 4 WElEKEND/EPTLMBER 9, 1988