Former McMichael football player Sam Messer recently closed out his final college football game at Ferrum as an offensive lineman.

Messer, who played at McMichael from 2013 to 2015, said following high school graduation he wasn’t sure if he had the talent to play in college.

At 6-5, 270 pounds as a high school senior, he certainly had the frame for it, and after talking with his former head coach at the time, Matt Stack, they started to look for a place to play. Messer narrowed his choices to Ferrum and Catawba, but ultimately he elected to become a Panther.

Stack, who now coaches at Easley High School in South Carolina, said Messer was one of the best offensive linemen he ever coached for the Phoenix.

“As far as a player obviously he’s got a lot of size and after putting in the work in the weight room, he was really strong and one of the best linemen that we had coming through McMichael. He was our leader up front. He played left tackle for me and he had a great senior year. We ran behind him and we did well when we did. So Sam was a great player and a great leader. He loved to play and loved to be in the weight room. I wish I could coach more kids like him,” Stack said.

Messer said Stack steered him in the right direction throughout the whole recruiting period for sure.

“He came in my junior year at McMichael and he was a big help. His goal for us as a team, it was obviously to win games, but he wanted his players to be successful both on and off of the field. As far as football goes, he wanted the players that wanted to go to the next level to be able to play college football. At first I was pretty skeptical about it. I wasn’t fully committed to it, but he was a big inspiration for me. He explained the benefits of playing at the next level and with that, he helped me and got a bunch of coaches to come out and give me a look and convinced me that I could play football in college,” said Messer.

His primary recruiter, defensive coordinator Marshall Doss, cemented that Ferrum was the place he wanted to go.

“After visiting with coach Doss, he really turned me on to Ferrum because he told me how it really was. In recruiting you get a whole lot of he said, she said — you’ll get playing time and you’ll be successful here — and when I went and talked to head coach (Rob) Grande he told me straight-up — you are going to come in here and work for a job in the starting lineup or even on the travel team and he said you being successful here is what you make it. He said we are not going to give you anything.”

Messer said he got baptized by fire as an offensive left tackle as a red-shirt freshman competing against All American defensive lineman Montel Lee and an All Conference defensive tackle Al Matthews, who were several years older than him.

“They helped me indirectly transitioning and competing with guys of their caliber every day in practice. I came in and immediately had to block in these two in practice, so it made me better and helped me adjust to the game,” Messer said.

He earned his stripes and eventually moved into the starting lineup. Stack said Messer succeeding at the next level was no surprise to him.

“Sam is one of those All-American kids. He’s a kid my son looked up to. His parents are unbelievable people and they raised him the right way. He’s a model citizen and a great guy. He’s truly the captain of any program and he proved he belonged out there,” said Stack.

Messer is a criminal justice major at Ferrum and after college graduation next spring, he plans to join the United State Army to become a helicopter pilot.

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Contact Jim Sands at 336-314-1058 or on Twitter @jimsandsRCN.

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