Hard work always wins
Pohlman leaves lasting impression on coaches, teammates
By THOMAS SCHMELTZ, Sentinel Sports Editor | Posted September 18, 2014 in the Falcon Focus
When your coach says you're the type of guy people would want to be a president, senator or a mayor, you must be doing something right.
That's exactly how Bowling Green coach Dino Babers characterized Chris Pohlman, a kid who does do everything right.
Pohlman isn't exactly into holding political office, but he'll take the compliment. The 6-foot-2, 261-pounder is seen this way by the majority of his teammates. One of the most respected guys in the Falcons' locker room, Pohlman didn't have the easiest journey to Bowling Green. But you'd never know it by his multitude of positive qualities.
"He's just a classy, quality person," Babers said with a glimmer. "This guy is solid as a rock."
Pohlman is one of those quality guys who enjoys the simple things in life. He loves to go home for his mother's cooking rather than eating at a restaurant, no matter how much former teammate Alex Bayer, now of the St. Louis Rams, used to make fun of him. He comes from a small town that knows all about hard work. And that hard work has paid off over the course of his career at Bowling Green.
Pohlman was a linebacker with a menacing presence in high school. But college coaches told him he was too small and too slow to play linebacker at the next level - if he even got there.
He left high school without a sniff of a scholarship offer from a Division I school. So Bowling Green, the only FBS school to even express interest, took Pohlman on as preferred walk-on.
"Coach (Warren) Ruggiero was the one who recruited me," Pohlman said. "He said 'Just schedule your visit to Bowling Green last.' That's what I did. I came to BG and I fell in love with the place. I found a program that I really liked and fit into.
"I was a little on the edge before I came on the visit," he said. "Then I got here and said I couldn't pass it up the opportunity."
Then Pohlman, as he so naturally would, went to work. He had a goal to chase. He wouldn't truly consider himself a college football player until he had earned a scholarship.
"The first time I saw him, the way he carries himself and the way he acts on the football field, it looks like he's had scholarship all his life - and rightfully so," Babers said.
"If that guy was a freshman on this football team, he'd have a scholarship by the way he carries himself," he added.
But Pohlman didn't, although it wouldn't take long for him to earn one.
In Bowling Green's team meeting prior to fall camp heading into Pohlman's sophomore year, then-coach Dave Clawson announced to the team his bullheaded tight end/full back was being put on scholarship. An announcement that would normally warrant excitement and celebration got nothing. Teammates were confused.
"A lot of the guys came up to me and said, 'I thought you were on scholarship,'" Pohlman said laughing. "That kind of stuck with me too because I always thought I was deserving, and obviously that opinion also formed in other people's minds."
Over the course of four years Pohlman has turned into someone his teammates look up to. He carries a 3.8 GPA in engineering technologies, he doesn't get into trouble and he works hard on a daily basis, all qualities that came from guys like Bayer and Tyler Beck, who played in front of Pohlman.
"I feel the biggest thing is if you're there and you're busting your butt every day, not taking plays off, being the first guy in the weight room and last guy to leave, and making all the reps count, then people will follow you," Pohlman said. "I'm not a big "rah rah" guy, but if you set a good example, people are going to be there following you.
"There were never any issues with hard work," he added. "At least with the tight ends … we didn't have to rely on coaches to tell us what to do. When you instill characteristics like that in a team it just breeds on itself and keeps growing."
There is no doubt that Pohlman has had a lasting impact on the Bowling Green football program. Whether he acknowledges any recognition or not, he's the kind of kid that everyone looks up to. He's the kind of kid that Babers wants every player to be like, on and off the field. And he's the kind of kid who is going to do whatever it takes to be successful.
"If you carry yourself right, people are going to notice," Pohlman said. "If you go about your business the right way and put emphasis on all the little things and do things right people notice.
"It's not something about the last four months that have transpired; it's something that has transpired the three years prior and carrying myself that way for three years."