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Wrestling & Football

Wrestling & Football

Famous football coaches on wrestling and football:

“I draft wrestlers because they are tough. I have never had a problem with a wrestler.” –Joe Gibbs, Hall of Fame football coach

“I would have all of my offensive linemen wrestle if I could.”-John Madden, Hall of Fame football coach

“I love wrestlers. They are tough and they make great football players.” Mike Stoops, National Championship football coach-University of Oklahoma

“Wrestlers make coaching football easy. They have balance, coordination, and as a coaching staff, we know they’re tough.” –Tom Osborne, College Hall of Fame football coach-University of Nebraska

The following article illustrates what these coaches are talking about:

Size doesn't impress Luke Fickell. Each year, Ohio State's co-defensive coordinator evaluates dozens, maybe hundreds of high school football players while recruiting. They're all big, all fast, all strong. But tell Fickell a kid is a standout wrestler, and he'll get a gleam in his eye. Now he's interested. "We talk about competitiveness, and I don't think there's a better sport to look at someone's competitiveness than wrestling," Fickell said. "You can tell (with wrestlers), it's something that's one-on-one competitive, and that's what we're trying to look for. "You can't define it. You don't know what someone has got inside their chest and their heart, but if you know they've been one on one and they've got that competitive nature … " Fickell knows. He was a three-time state champion wrestler at DeSales, and as a defensive lineman at Ohio State he set a school record for consecutive starts (50). Since then, several Buckeyes have gone from being high school wrestling stars to successful football careers, including offensive lineman Alex Stepanovich and defensive tackle Tim Anderson, each now in the NFL. This season, defensive tackle Dexter Larimore appears ready to uphold that tradition. He was the nation's top-ranked heavyweight wrestler two years ago at Merrillville (Ind.) High School. Just a redshirt freshman, Larimore had a stellar spring and will see extensive playing time this fall. Technique has a lot to do with what makes wrestlers successful linemen. They are accustomed to being tied up, pretzel-like, with an opponent. "I know a little bit more about leverage than some defensive linemen do," Larimore said, "so it helps that I can just keep a little bit lower center of gravity. I just try and work guys into kind of backwards positions for them, but it's kind of natural for me." Offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Jim Bollman said he notices wrestlers tend to be adept at getting their hands in proper position, which is a key to blocking or defeating a block. "The quickness and strength of their hands inside is becoming a much bigger part of the football game nowadays," Bollman said. "And I think that (wrestlers) have a little bit of a head start." But as Fickell said, it's the intangible desire that translates well to football. Wrestlers famously have a warrior mentality. Injuries and fatigue are no excuse. "When you're a wrestler, you have to put a lot on yourself if you want to be good," Stepanovich said. "It teaches you that every day in wrestling you're not going to feel good. You're going to have bumps and bruises. You've got to be able to grind it out. I think that helps in football." Larimore said he thinks wrestling makes him better equipped to handle adversity, such as the heat and humidity the Buckeyes practiced in last week. "Wrestling is so hard and just so physically taxing on your body, that I get out there (for football practice) and a lot of guys will mentally break: 'It's hot,' and I just keep working and trying to get better," he said. "I just can basically push myself to a point where I physically can't go anymore. I think wrestling instills that mentality." Another wrestler is in the Ohio State pipeline. Defensive tackle Garrett Goebel of Lombard, Ill., recently orally committed to the 2008 recruiting class. He won his state's heavyweight title in the spring. "My nasty attitude comes from wrestling," Goebel told the Chicago Sun Times. "You can't be a nice guy and be an accomplished wrestler. You have to want to stick a guy's nose into the mat."In football, I want to hurt the other guy. I want to knock him down all the time." He sounds like Fickell's type.

Here is a list of some of the NFL football players who wrestled in high school or college:

Art Baker, RB, Buffalo Bills Rhonde Barber, SS, Tampa Bay Buccaneers Tiki Barber, RB, New York Giants Walter Barnes, DL, Washington Redskins - SEC Champ Eric Bateman, OL, New York Jets Brad Benson, New York Giants – PA State Champ Greg Boone, RB, Oakland Raiders Jeff Bostic*, C, Washington Redskins – SC State Champ Tedy Bruschi*, ILB, New England Patriots Bob Bruenig*, LB, Dallas Cowboys Phil Bryant, Philadelphia Eagles – 2x National Prep Champ Ralph Cindrich, Houston Oilers – PA State Runner-Up Jonathan Condo, LS, Dallas Cowboys - PA State Champ, Dapper Dan Champ Tom Cousineau*, LB, Cleveland Browns – 3rd State Tom Covert*, OT, Chicago Bears Chris Cooley, WR, Washington Redskins Roger Craig*, RB, San Francisco 49’ers Damien Covington, LB, Buffalo Bills

Curley Culp*, DL, Kansas City Chiefs – NCAA Champ Larry Czonka**, RB, Miami Dolphins Rob Davis, ST, Green Bay Packers Dan Dierdorff**, OT, St. Louis Cardinals Donnie Edwards, OLB, San Diego Chargers Carl Edwards, San Diego Chargers – 3x MD State Champ Rob Essink, Seattle Seahawks – NCAA DII Champ Jim Everett, QB, New Orleans Saints DeMarco Farr, St. Louis Rams Patrick Flannery, OL, Houston Oilers Ed Flanagan, C, Detroit Lions Terrell Fletcher, RB, San Diego Chargers Bill Fralic*, G, Atlanta Falcons Doug France*, LT, Los Angeles Rams – OH State Runner-Up Frank Garcia, C, St. Louis Rams – 2x AZ State Champ William George, Chicago Bears – 2x PA State Champ Charlie Getty, RG, Kansas City Chiefs – 2x NCAA All-American John Gilmore, TE, Chicago Bears Kevin Glover*, C, Detroit Lions La’Roi Glover*, DE, Dallas Cowboys Mike Goff, G, Cincinnati Bengals Bob Golic*, DT, Cleveland Browns – OH State Champ Mike Golic, DE, Philadelphia Eagles Darien Gordon, PR/CB, Denver Broncos Scottie Graham, RB, Minnesota Vikings Tim Green, DE, Atlanta Falcons Kelly Gregg, NT, Baltimore Ravens, 3x KS State Champ Morlon Greenwood, OLB, Miami Dolphins Archie Griffin, HB, Cincinnati Bengals Nick Griesen, LB, New York Giants Randy Grossman, TE, Pittsburgh Steelers John Hannah**, G, New England Patriots John Hartunian Carlton Haselrig*, Pittsburgh Steelers, 3x NCAA Champ Ron Heller, TE, Seattle Seahawks Chad Hennings, DT, Dallas Cowboys – IA State Champ Jay Hilgenberg*, C, Chicago Bears – IA State Runner-Up Orlando Huff, MLB, Seattle Seahawks Corey Hulsy, G, Oakland Raiders Bo Jackson*, RB, Oakland Raiders Mario Johnson, DT, New England Patriots Dahanie Jones, LB, New York Giants Henry Jordan**, DT, Green Bay Packers Dave Joyner, OL, Green Bay Packers John Jurkovich*, DT, Cleveland Browns Alex Karras, Detroit Lions

Tim Krumrie*, DL, Cincinnati Bengals – WI State Champ Ernie Ladd, DL, Kansas City Chiefs Nick Lecky, C, Arizona Cardinals- Tx State Champ

Jess Lewis, LB, Houston Oilers Ray Lewis*, Baltimore Ravens – 2x FL State Champ Ronnie Lott**, DB, San Francisco 49’ers Kirk Lowdermilk*, OL, Minnesota Vikings Sean Mahan, G, Tampa Bay Buccaneers Mike Malczyk, LS, New York Giants Joel Mackavicka, RB, Seattle Seahawks Steve Martin, DT, Houston Texans Mickey Marvin, RG, Oakland Raiders Napolean McCallum, RB, Oakland Raiders Randle McDaniel*, G, Minnesota Vikings Mark McDonald, SS, Arizona Cardinals Chris McIntosh, T, Seattle Seahawks Bryant McKinnie, T. Minnesota Vikings Greg Meisner, DL, Los Angeles Rams Matt Millen*, LB, Oakland Raiders Ronald Moore, RB, Cleveland Browns James Mungro, HB, Indianapolis Colts Jim Nance, FB, New England Patriots – NCAA Champ Lorenzo Neal, FB, Tennessee Titans - NCAA Champ Stephen Neal, OL, New England Patriots – NCAA Champ (Did not play football in college) Jeremy Newberry, C, San Francisco 49’ers Chuck Noll, Pittsburgh Steelers – PA State Champ Leo Nomellini*, T, San Francisco 49’ers – Big 10 Champ Jonathan Ogden*, OT, Baltimore Ravens Irv Pankey, Los Angeles Rams – 2x MD State Champ David Patten, WR, New England Patriots Scott Peters, G, New York Giants Bob Pickens, OL, Chicago Bears Jim Plunkett*, QB, Oakland Raiders Dave Porter, T, Green Bay Packers Mike Pyle, C, Chicago Bears – IA State Champ Rocky Rasley, G, Detroit Lions Mike Reid, Cincinnati Bengals Eric Rhett, RB, Cleveland Browns – FL State Champ Willie Roaf*, OT, New Orleans Saints Warren Sapp*, DT Tampa Bay Buccaneers – FL State Champ Mark Schlereth*, OL, Washington Redskins - Alaska State Champ Cory Schlesinger, LB, Detroit Lions - NE State Champ Steve Sefter, DT, Philadelphia Eagles, 2x PA State Champ & NCAA All-American Tony Siragusa*, DT, Baltimore Ravens – NJ State Champ Fred Smerlas*, Buffalo Bills - MA State Champ

Bruce Smith**, DE, Washington Redskins Brad St. Louis, TE, Cincinnati Bengals Matt Suhey, RB, Chicago Bears Bill Szott, OL, Washington Redskins – NJ State Champ Dave Szott, Kansas City Chiefs – NJ State Champ Woody Thompson, RB, Atlanta Falcons – PA State Champ Jim Thorpe**, HB, New York Giants Mike Trgovac, DC, Carolina Panthers – OH State Champ Kyle Turley*, T, St. Louis Rams Ryan Turnbull, RB, Cleveland Browns Tommy Vardell, RB, San Francisco 49’ers Adam Vinatieri*, K, New England Patriots John Ward, OL, New York Jets – NCAA All-American Fred Weary, DB, St. Louis Rams Charles White*, HB, Los Angeles Rams Randy White*, DT, Dallas Cowboys Cory Widmer, LB, New York Giants Leo Wisniewski, NT, Baltimore/Indianapolis Colts - PA State Champ Steve Wisniewski, G, Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders - CA State Champ Ricky Williams*, RB, Miami Dolphins Coy Wire, LB, Buffalo Bills – PA State Runner-Up Greg Wojochowski, St. Louis Rams

* Made the Pro Bowl

** Hall of Fame Player

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