Goss: Lemont grad Molk ready for NFL
February 8, 2012 10:05PM
Michigan offensive lineman David Molk (50) shares a word with coach Brady Hoke during the Wolverines' game Nov. 26 against Ohio State. | AP file photo
Updated: March 11, 2012 8:10AM
As the center on the University of Michigan football team the past four years, David Molk grew accustomed to viewing the world upside down and backward.
But that did not skew his perspective.
The 2007 Lemont graduate has earned his degree in sports management. He always wanted to get an MBA, and said that remains a goal.
On the field, Molk may be the most decorated collegiate football player the area has produced.
He was a consensus first-team All-American, cited by The Associated Press, Football Writers Association of America, The Sporting News and Walter Camp Foundation. He was recipient of the Rimington Trophy as the outstanding center in the nation. He was first-team All-Big Ten the last two years and the 2011 Big Ten Rimington-Pace Offensive Lineman of the Year.
“The awards were never anything that I strived to get,” Molk said, before correcting himself.
“I take that back,” he said, laughing. “The only award I wanted was the Rimington mostly because a guy who worked with us, (Michigan assistant strength coach) Dan Mozes, was a Rimington winner at West Virginia. I’d say something, and he’d say, ‘Hey, Molk, shut up. I’ve got an 80-pound trophy and you don’t.’
“He works at the training center in Plymouth (Mich.), where I go. Now I can tell him, ‘I have one, too.’”
But for all the accolades he earned at Michigan, Molk is a team-first type. That’s always been his M.O.
He redshirted as a freshman in 2007, Lloyd Carr’s final season. Rich Rodriguez was his coach from 2008 to ’10, and Brady Hoke led a turnaround in 2011. Molk started 41 career games — and would have started more if not for a foot injury in 2009 that limited him to four games.
Over the past four years, the Wolverines’ records went this way: 2008 (3-9, 2-6), 2009 (5-7, 1-7), 2010 (7-6, 3-5) and 2011 (11-2, 6-2).
“It was weird with Michigan,” he said of being recruited out of Lemont by several Big Ten schools. “If I went there, I knew I would be playing with the best. It was that aura, what Michigan stood for, the feeling of being able to attain something unmatched by any program in college football. I wanted to be part of it and put my stamp on it.
“We did do that this past year, accomplished what we wanted except for a Big Ten championship. I have a feeling Michigan will get that very soon. Those three years (under Rodriguez) were rough. They put a damper on what we all wanted. It felt really good this year to bring Michigan back to the level where it should have been.”
The 6-foot-2, 295-pound Molk, an offensive tackle in high school, is heavily into the training center as he prepares for the NFL draft April 26 to 28. He has been invited and plans to attend the NFL Combine on Feb. 22 to 28 in Indianapolis.
Those who analyze strengths and weaknesses of potential draft picks say Molk is a bit undersized and may get overpowered in NFL trenches. But they also note his quick burst, tireless work ethic, aggressiveness, toughness, competitiveness and heart.
“I’ve seen scouts who have me going anywhere from the bottom of the first round to the third round,” he said. “There are teams that do not want a shorter center and I know won’t take me. But there have been a lot of successful, smaller centers in the NFL. I just want to be on an NFL team, prove myself and stay there awhile.”
“I think that’s one of the things Dave always used to motivate himself, when people told him he was too small,” his high school coach, Lemont’s Eric Michaelsen, said. “He earned everything he got here due to his incredible work ethic, and I’m sure that continued at Michigan.”
NFL scouts considering Molk as the draft approaches got an eyeful in Wolverines’ 23-20 overtime victory over Virginia Tech in this year’s Sugar Bowl. In pregame warmups, about an hour before the game, he tore a tendon in his right foot, just below the ankle.
“I had surgery a couple of days later and everything is fine; I’m working to rehab everything,” he said. “It was a freak thing. I tore the tendon that prevents the foot from rolling on itself.”
The injury kept him from starting the game “because I had no feeling in my calf,” he said. “It damaged that nerve when I tore it. When I walked or ran, it just rolled over.”
With Molk sidelined, Michigan struggled with shotgun snaps on its first offensive series. “Three bad snaps in that one series, that gives you the push to get back in there,” he said.
He convinced the coaches and medical staff he could play, torn tendon and all, and was on the field the rest of the game.
Molk was invited to the Senior Bowl in late January. But because he was recovering from surgery and unable to play, his agent convinced him it would be better to skip it and gear up for the combine.
Draftniks will tell you that in the right NFL system, Molk can start. Nobody is predicting stardom at this point. Of course, did anyone foresee a consensus first-team All-American and Rimington Trophy winner when he was graduating from Lemont?