Nov. 19, 2010
Fifth-year senior Stephen Schilling writes about his final game in the Big House, his young fans, and how the offensive line coaches grade the O-line's performances in this week's edition of Ask Steve. Email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or watch for Steve's Friday post on the Michigan football Facebook fan page and leave a comment.
Douglas Wing emails: "Do you sign a lot of autographs for kids? I wanted to thank you for signing my boys' footballs. When I saw them the next morning and asked them about it, they both started talking at once. They were still excited, told me they really enjoyed themselves, and think you're great."
Doug, good to hear from you. I had a blast last weekend with Jason and Jake. You have yourself two really special boys. It was no problem at all signing the footballs for them. I do sign autographs for a few kids every now and then. There are usually lots of kids outside the gate at our home games that want autographs, and it's a pleasure for me to sign things. I can remember when I was a little kid and thought it was the coolest thing getting a college football player's autographs, so it's a special thing to be able to make a little kid happy the way I felt as a kid, too.
Benjamin Vomastek emails: "Do you have any special plans to prepare for this upcoming week against Wisconsin? How much will this mean -- your last home game at Michigan?
The coaches always do special things leading up to the seniors' last home game. There's a special senior tribute video that we watch in the hotel on Friday night, and some other special events during the week at practice. Aside from that, there aren't any special plans to prepare for the game. We just keep doing what we've been doing, along with correcting mistakes from the previous week, and execute the game plan on Saturday. The game will mean a lot to me and my fellow seniors. The Big House has provided lots of special memories over the last four years, and I will definitely cherish every moment in my last game.
Molly Tyne emails: "I heard somewhere that you almost have the most starts of any offensive lineman in Michigan history [Editor note: Stephen has 46 starts in his career which is tied for fourth all-time. The program record is 50 starts by former Michigan great Jon Jansen] How have you stayed so durable in such a tough game?"
I've been very lucky to stay injury free over the course of the last few years, for the most part (knock on wood). I got hurt two years ago at the end of the year with a bad knee sprain, but I was hurt right before the last game of the year, so I only missed one game. In that way, there was a bit of luck that contributed to my durability but I also try very hard to keep my body in good health throughout the year by keeping my weightlifting and other conditioning up. I've also been blessed to be quite durable my entire life, and I haven't had to deal with a lot of injuries or illnesses.
Rich Dragon emails: "My teacher loves the Wolverines and has us watch you every weekend as homework. I was told to keep track of you for the game. My dad said being captain is very important and even though you don't show up on the stat sheet you are one of the most important people on the team. Keep up the good work."
It is true that as offensive lineman we don't fill up the stat sheet too much. But our offensive line coach grades us after every game, and we get an overall grade of how we played as well as stats in other categories that you won't see on a typical stat sheet. Things our coach looks at and marks down are knockdowns, missed assignments (MAs), and loafs (when we're lazy or don't give good effort). Also, I gotta say that having to watch college football for your homework each week is pretty awesome -- I wish I had a teacher like that!