The Wolverine

November 2020

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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52 THE WOLVERINE NOVEMBER 2020 BY JOHN BORTON T ate Schanski enjoyed an un- believable Michigan foot- ball experience, complete with a national championship ring. But none of it came easily. The Perry, Mich., native grew up in what he dubs "enemy ter- ritory" — 15 miles east of East Lansing. At 5-11, 190 pounds, the three-year varsity stand- out on the prep level drew no Power Five offers while play- ing ball for his dad, longtime Perry coach Dave Schanski. Schanski still knew where he wanted to wind up. "Growing up, we were Mich- igan fans my whole life," he said. "I don't want to use the word hate, but I grew up not liking Michigan State. Living around here ingrained that in me even more." Schanski got ingrained at Michigan via a circuitous route. Someone from his high school worked as a U-M team manager in the mid-1990s, and offered to pass along a prep highlight tape to then running backs coach Fred Jackson. "Out of the blue, I got a call from the coaches down there," Schanski re- called. "They said, 'Hey, we want you to come down and meet the coaches. We'll show you around the building.'" He did so, and while head coach Gary Moeller had no scholarship to offer in the spring of 1995, he liked Schanski and noted he could eventu- ally earn a scholarship. "I'm instantly just jacked out of my mind," Schanski recalled. He returned to Michigan's spring practice a week later, and wound up becoming a preferred walk-on. A week after that, Moeller became involved in the well-publicized in- cident in a Detroit-area bar, which eventually cost him his job. "When I showed up in the fall, I had never really talked to Coach [Lloyd] Carr," Schanski noted. "He was D-coordinator, and I went as a running back. That was another wrinkle thrown in there." Schanski smoothed out the wrin- kles, one by one, on his uphill climb. His reward for a year on Michigan's scout teams in 1995? A full scholar- ship that carried throughout his next four years. He also saw the field as a redshirt freshman, after playing squeaky wheel with special teams coordina- tor Jim Herrmann. "Going into my second year, I started getting in his ear, saying, 'Give me a chance,'" Schanski re- called. "I was bugging him, trying to do as good as I could in practice. Finally, I just got in, on punt return. It turned into playing on two special teams, then three, then four. "I tried to work my way slowly into just getting on the field." When he got there, it didn't mat- ter if there were 110 or 110,000 in the stands, Schanski asserted. "Whether it's high school or The Big House, with over 100,000 people, when you're playing in the game, you don't really notice the people," he said. "You know what your job is on each play. You block the crowd out. "I don't remember being nervous about playing in front of The Big House crowd. I was just thinking, I don't want to let my teammates down, and don't screw this up." His biggest takeaway from those early days involves the support from teammates. He remembers the "great dudes" that encouraged him, like wide receiver Terrence Quinn. "Terrence was the one that helped me," Schanski said. "Going from the big fish in the small pond to the little fish in the ocean, that can be over- whelming. I think that's why so many kids quit, even big-name recruits. "Terrence was the one always saying, 'Just keep playing hard. Don't let the mental aspect of it get you down. Don't ever think about quitting.' Terrence was a big part of my freshman year. I was always grateful for him." The head coach's son played a role as well. "Jason Carr was always so nice to me," Schanski said. "He liked me, for some reason. When you start playing, they were always giving you a hug, congratulating you, saying, 'Keep it going.' The older guys really helped, and it was awe- some when they got so excited about the younger guys playing." Schanski also heaps praise on former strength and conditioning coach Mike Gittleson, assuring: "We wouldn't have been the same team without Mike." Schanski scored a touchdown early in Michigan's national championship season. He dove into the end zone late in the rout over Baylor, but he'd already realized it was going to be a special season much earlier. This was a team on a mission, with an edge — even in the full team meeting room. That theater seating featured chairs at the back of the rows for freshmen, progressing downward to spots for seniors up front. Schanski distinctly recalls fourth-year senior fullback Chris Floyd not wanting to yield to fifth-year senior defensive lineman Ben Huff. Schanski recounted: "Ben came in and said, 'Hey dude, I'm a senior. That's my chair.' And Floyd's like, 'I'm a senior, too. I earned this just as much as you did. This is my chair.' Despite coming to Michigan as a walk-on, Schanski not only played for the 1997 national champions, but he scored a touch- down late in U-M's 38-3 win over Baylor early in the season. PHOTO COURTESY MICHIGAN PHOTOGRAPHY   WHERE ARE THEY NOW? Tate Schanski Learned To Earn Everything

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