The Michigan Daily - Thursday, November 2, 1989 - Page 11
he big 'Stick'
Inspiration helps Vada Murray make clutch plays for the
by Adam Benson
Daily Football Writer
Vada Murray can't wear two
numbers on his jersey, but he has a
three-year old favor to pay back to
another football player who covered
for him when Murray was unable to
suit up for the Wolverines.
"Vada feels good because he
knows he is playing for both of us,"
said Murray's roommate Warde
Manuel, who had his career as a
Wolverine defensive linemen ended
by a neck injury. "I carried the torch
coming in (when Murray sat out be-
cause of Proposition 48), he's carry-
ing the torch going out."
Murray has another year to pay
back Manuel, only being of junior-
eligibility. Yet the Cincinnati
Moeller graduate has convinced rival
coaches that he shows his gratitude
to Manuel with quality play as op-
posed to quantity.
"(Murray is) an excellent athlete,
playing that center field," said Indi-
ana coach Bill Mallory. "He'll fly
around back there and he's capable of
making big plays on you, so you
,*have to watch him."
UCLA coach Terry Donahue
would have liked to have known that
before his club faced Michigan.
Maybe then Donahue could have
somehow stopped Murray from
blocking an extra point, recovering
an on-side kick, and intercepting the
Bruins' final pass in the Wolverines'
So would have George Perles;
Murray blocked a kick against his
Michigan State team. Iowa coach
Hayden Fry should have been told as
...but he rarely gets beaten as a defensive back.
well. Murray cradled another inter-
ception, as well as a fumble in addi-
tion to blocking a kick in the
Although Mallory knew about
Murray's heroics, he couldn't keep
him from intercepting a pass against
Murray downplays a superman
label, instead offering praise for his
"I haven't really done anything
out of the ordinary," Murray said.
"The guys up front, like T.J.
(Osman), Mike Teeter, Brent White
and those guys knocking offensive
lines back, that enables Tripp Wel-
borne and I to get up to that line and
penetrate and jump as high as we
can. It's all timing from there. It's
just a reaction to when that center
snaps the ball.
"I've just been at the right place
at the right time. Anybody could
'(Murray is) an excellent athlete, playing that
center field... He'll fly around back there and
he's capable of making big plays on you, so
you have to watch him.'
- Indiana coach Bill Mallory
have recovered that on-side kick. It
just happened to be me. It was my
job when the ball popped up to go
His teammates choose not to re-
fer to Murray as the team's savior.
Most well-known athletes who make
those big, game saving plays, are
addressed with glorious or flashy
nicknames like Mr. Clutch or Mr.
But Vada Murray is the exception
"'The stick', that's what we call
him," said cornerback Lance Dottin.
"He's so skinny. When he first came
here, his body frame was so thin.
With that frame and his jumping
ability, he's all over the place."
Like the defense he plays for,
'Stick' may bend, but he doesn't
break. Tony Rice or Anthony
Thompson can be tough on a foot-
ball field, yet Murray has faced some
tougher obstacles in his everyday
life, many since he has become a
"I knew what was ahead for me
that summer before I came to
Michigan," Murray said about his
Ann Arbor arrival. "I prepared my-
self for the worst. I was on the out-
side looking in. Looking through
the fence, watching the guys prac-
tice, you can't cross the fence be-
cause you have to wait. It was frus-
While struggling with the nega-
tive connotation attached to being a
Prop 48 victim, as well as a year
without even a practice, and then an-
other year on the bench as a red-
shirt, Murray still picked up football
"The first couple of years I had a
chance to mature," Murray said. "I
got a feel for what it takes to win a
game. When I was young, I used to
watch guys like Erik Campbell,
Jamie (Morris), and (Jim) Harbau-
rgh. I used to watch and see how
they acted under certain situations.
When I got into those situations, I:
knew what it took to win.
"When I think about, it's been,
three years and it seems like it's a
long way away. I'm fortunate that I
had some people supporting me, like
Warde. Bo really supported me. I'm
fortunate that I had those guys in my
Murray's life minus football has
made him an even better friend to
Manuel as the former defensive
lineman adjusts to being a regular
"The first two weeks were catas-
trophic," Manuel said. "What really
gave me strength was Vada. He
called me the night it happened. We
just talked about what he had to do%
and what I had to do. Talking to him
that night really pushed me on."
Murray added: "You knew it was
hurting him, he is not going to hide
it. You can't bottle something up;
like that. When football has been a
part of your life, for this long, yott;
can't just put it on the backshelf."
Although most fans can't see i
anymore, Manuel's #79 still gets th4-
attention of opponents. Murray
writes it on his wristbands, just so
when he sticks his opponents,
they'll remember too.
Arif Ali. Who is he, you ask'
Well, you should know by now thaE
Ali is last week's Griddes champion!-
By correctly picking 18 of the 2U
games, Ali outlasted many vying
candidates to earn his lunch or dinner"
for two at O'Sullivan's Eatery and>
Pub (maximum $12) on South:
It is assumed that Ali may have
had help on his picks from the great'
boxer Muhammed, however, sources,;
can neither confirm nor deny the'
In any case, congratulations are
due to Arif for his victory. He can
pick up his certificate at the Daily in
the Student Publications Building at
Manuel adjusts to new life
Warde Manuel expected to play on the Michigan defensive line this
season, but the inflammation of a reoccuring injury to his neck, suffered
during spring practice, made him reconsider those plans.
"You picture yourself making a big play, getting to the football, you
'don't foresee injuries," Manuel said. "It kind of hits you like a brick wall
when someone say your career is over and you could have permanent damage
if you play again."
The New Orleans native has become a sort of special ambassador for the
football team, hosting recruits who come to visit Ann Arbor.
"I talk to them from a student-athlete's perspective," said Manuel of his
new duties. "It gave me something to do and it makes me feel like I'm a
part of the team and what goes on, even though I'm not down there. I feel
like I'm involved."-
Although Manuel still wants to contribute, Murray doesn't agree. "He is
(still part of the team. Whether you are injured or not, you are one of us. He
paid his dues." --Adam Benson
Al KG's Griddes
Purdue at Michigan
Navy at Notre Dame
E. Carolina at Miami
Nebraska at Colorado
Miss. St. at Alabama
Illinois at Iowa
S. Carolina at Florida St.
Oregon St. at USC
Houston at TCU
Arkansas at Rice
West Virginia at Penn St.
Florida at Auburn
Arizona at California
Oregon at BYU
Virginia at N.C. State
Michigan St. at Indiana
Wisconsin at Minnesota
Ohio St. at Northwestern
Army at Air Force
Edinboro at The Rock
Score of Michigan game:
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