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March 05, 2012 - Image 12

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The Michigan Daily, 2012-03-05

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4B - March 5, 2012

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

4B - March 5, 2012 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

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Family, Faith and Football
Luke Glendening's journey to earning the captain's'C'

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EAST GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -
Billy Powers won't forget thac
conversation.
It was late February 2008,
and the Michigan hockey
assistant coach had just
extended a one-year tryout offer to Luke
Glendening, a forward recruit from The
Hotchiss School, a prep institution in
Lakeville, Conn.
"You're on a one-year tryout," Powers
told Glendening. "If you're good in prac-
tice, you'll stay."
Powers left him with one last word of
warning. '
"If you have somewhere else to go, you
should probably do it."
Powers almost surprised himself with
the offer - he'd only actually seen the
gritty Glendening play once. But there
was nothing ironclad about this offer. No
promises. No scholarship. Just a one-year
tryout.
"I remember the conversation as plain
as day," Powers said. "You really don't have
many of those conversations with recruits.
Usually, you're telling kids thatthey have a
guaranteed spot and that they're going to
be there for four years.
"But I couldn't in all confidence prom-
ise Luke that he had any chance at all to.

crack our lineup as a rookie. It was more
of an opportunity for him to get in front
of us every day. If he felt he could have an
impact on us, then we could try and take
him beyond one year."
Four years later, Glendening is still a
member of the Michigan hockey team. Not
only does he have a spot on the bench, he's
a second-year captain - the tireless leader
of the sixth-ranked Wolverines.
But that's just the middle and t
ending of his story. To under-
stand Glendening's backstory,
you have to step off of the ice kid
and onto the gridiron.
eve

By Stephen J. Nesbitt
up the fullback on a bull-rush.
The tackling dummy was Luke Glen-
dening.
Stuursma liked what he saw in the
scrawny sophomore. It was Glendening's
first week on the varsity squad. Despite his
lack of brawn, he was already being pen-
ciled in as the starting fullback.
Plucking grass out of his facemask and
The bottom line is that
is a solid person. If you
rything else away, he ki

lie Glendening, had been a Bowling Green
cheerleader.
Joe Glendening, Luke's younger brother,
was an All-American as a junior running
back at Division-II Hillsdale College last
fall, racking up 1,604 rushing yards and 31
total touchdowns. (Even today, when Luke
returns to East Grand Rapids, he's "Joe's
brother.")
Somehow, that All-Amer-
ican pedigree wasn't trans-
this latingto Luke.
Until that sunny after-
take noon on the practice field,
Luke had always found an
nows excuse to discount weight-
room workouts.
s not "Luke always gave me his
theory that weight lifting
doesn't really work," Stu-
ursma recalled.
nuson Being a three-sport ath-
lete - football, hockey and
baseball - through high
school kept Luke in shape, but lifting
wasn't a priority.
That changed with one linebacker drill.
Stuursma's tackling dummy didn't miss
another lift. And he had plenty of motiva-
tion. If practices were painful, Friday night
football games were terrifying.

As the starting fullback, Luke was the
lead blocker for the star senior running
back - five-star recruit and Michigan
commit Kevin Grady. Grady set the state
records for career rushing attempts, rush-
ing yards, touchdowns and points at East
Grand Rapids.
Grady was aburly 225 pounds. Luke was
not.
"I was a buck fifty-five soaking wet my
sophomore year," Luke said. "It's just a
funny picture: You've got this All-Ameri-
can running back and me, this little weak-
ling guy, trying to block for him.
"It was almost comical at that point."
Two years later, Luke had grown into
his role as fullback and senior captain. He
was still the lead blocker for a Grady, but
now it was for Kevin's brothers - run-
ning back Kelvin Grady and quarterback
DeMarcus Grady.
The triple-threat backfield comprised
one of the best running games in the state.
Luke was the leader in the weight room,
while Kelvin, a future Michigan receiver,
carried the load on the field.
"Luke is a freak of nature," Kelvin said.
"He is - he's a freak."
The duo patrolled the Pioneer backfield
en route to a run to the 2006 Division III
See GLENDENING, Page 3B

ONF,
1
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rig]
Peter Stuursma raised his
hand and blew a sharp whistle.
A linebacker leapt out of his
stance and tore into the back- -A
field, walloping the tackling
dummy.
The hand went up again, and the whis-
tle pierced the air.
Pads met pads and the dummy hurtled
to the ground again. Stuursma smiled.
The East Grand Rapids football coach was
leading a linebacker drill. That particular
lesson was an important one: How to blow

,ht from wrong, and he's
afraid to back it up."
Michigan coach Red Berei
struggling back to his feet, Glendening
realized that he probably wasn't built to
play football. His genes weren't the prob-
lem - they were probably the only thing
going for him. His father, Tom Glenden-
ing, was the starting fullback for Bowling
Green in the early 1980s. His mother, Les-

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_____________ C.-
MOKA

aTt -

DESIGN BY ARJUN MAHANTI
PHOTO BY STEPHEN J. NESBITT

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