"When he was 11 years old, I took him down to a Michigan-Michigan State game. The Braylon triple overtime game and at one point during the game, he said 'I'm going to play here some day.' That was his first Michigan game. He was hooked from that moment on. I had to explain that not all the games are that exciting."
Although they did not know it then, Mark would transform himself into a player worthy of being on that field. In his varsity career, he amassed 453 tackles, 44 for loss. He had interest from MAC and Ivy League schools, but when Michigan offered him a spot, there was not even a question.
"Herb Frederick (longest program volunteer), that's his great uncle. That's his grandmother's brother in law. He's done it for 68 years. He's served as a basketball usher since I was in school, back in 1970s. My wife and I both went to Michigan and he's been doing it continuously since we were there in, I think 1976. He worked with Jon Falk. He used to sleep in the semi trailers down in Columbus so no one would steal the equipment. Mark's great grandfather was an employee of the athletic department. I have a picture of him running the clock in Michigan Stadium when it was on a folding table down on the field. His great grandmother was a Michigan grad who taught English at Ann Arbor Pioneer for about 34 years. His grandmother and grandfather, my wife's parents, Barb and Doug Walker, both grew up in Ann Arbor and both went to Eastern Michigan and were huge Michigan fans. Her dad died in '98, and it's really too bad, because of all the relatives, he would have been most excited about Mark playing at Michigan."
As a sophomore, Lawson not only lead the team in tackles, he lead film sessions at his house for seniors. His father says he hopes to be a coach one day and spends his free time constantly watching and re-watching games. Part of why he wasn't recruited more was his 205-lb frame, but once he adds the weight, Dad is confident his son will make an impact.
"I think they see the potential in him. He's not done growing. His older brother is 6'4 and is at Michigan Law School. He knows he certainly won't be one of the main focuses at linebacker until he fills out. Mark doesn't care. He just wants to go compete. He doesn't care if there are four or five stars in front of him or after him. He's an absolute football junkie."
Adding weight and learning the defense are adjustments Mark will have to make next year, but there is one thing Dad is confident his son will come in prepared for.
"They won't have to teach him the words to The Victors. That's for sure."