A "Preferred Walk-On" for the Class of 2004

Recruiting for a particular class doesn't necessarily end on National Signing Day. For offensive lineman <b>Jon Saigh</b> February 2004 was just the beginning of his journey to Ann Arbor. A report in the Iron Mountain (Mich) News broke the news that Saigh was on the team. GoBlueWolverine Magazine followed up on the story and confirmed that Saigh is a Wolverine.

Located right on the Wisconsin border, Kingsford, Mi. is a tiny hamlet in the Upper Pennisula just outside Iron Mountain. Sometimes news takes time traveling from the area to the Southeast corner. In the June 19 edition of the Iron Mountain Daily News, sports reporter Dave Warnshuis broke the news that offensive lineman Jon Saigh from Kingsford high school was a Wolverine. It was over a month before the story made it on to the Stadium and Main message board at GoBlueWolverine.com. It was also reported that Saigh is a scholarship athlete for the recruiting class of 2004. After further investigation it came to light that the scholarship is not for the class of 2004, but that Saigh is a "preferred walk-on" and may receive a scholarship when one becomes available. "(Michigan coach) Andy Moeller really wanted Jon to play at Michigan," Jon's father, Dr. Fred Saigh told GBW. "He also didn't want him going to Michigan State but, unfortunately, Coach Moeller said there wasn't a scholarship available in this class, but if Jon were to walk-on there would be one available in the next year or two." Dr. Saigh is a U-M alum, having gone through undergrad and medical school at Michigan.

The 6 foot 5, 285-pound Saigh's football career was almost derailed by a devestating knee injury his junior year. "A serious injury to the meniscus of his left knee de-railed his plans," Dr. Saigh said. "He required arthroscopic surgery and six-months of rehab just to bring him back to health. Dr. Edward Wojtys, a classmate of mine at U-M, performed the surgery. I believe he was the U-M football team physician at one time."

A unique interpretation of the rules allowed Saigh to 'drop out' of the first semester of his senior year, thereby retaining his junior eligibility while he rehabbed his knee. As a result Saigh came out for his final season in 2004 healed and ready to go, garnering All-State and All-U.P. Dream Team honors. But it wasn't until after Signing Day 2004 that Michigan started knocking. "Michigan had received a tape of Jon's senior year," Dr. Saigh said. "In February of this year they started contacting us and telling Jon they wanted him. It was a tough decision because Jon already had full-ride offers from other schools, including Michigan State and some of the MAC schools, but he wanted to be a Wolverine. Right now he's not on any kind of scholarship."

Saigh is not the first Flivver to make it to the big time. Kingsford has a rich history of placing talent in the Big Ten and the NFL. Dave Manders, who went on to play football for Michigan State, spent his entire ten-year NFL career as an All-Pro center for the Dallas Cowboys. Dick Berlinski, known as the Flivver Flash, moved on from Kingsford in 1965 to MSU greatness during the Duffy Daughtery years. Tim Kearney, who's number 51 thrilled Flivver fans until 1968, then played at NMU and went on to NFL greatness with the Cincinnati Bengals and St. Louis Cardinals from 1975 to 1982.

There is even a family connection to Wolverine lore. Rudolph Rossati, Saigh's great-great uncle, played for legendary Michigan coach Fielding H. Yost in 1922.

Saigh is now practicing with the Wolverines at the offensive guard position but it is unclear at this time at which position he will see plaing time. He is wearing No. 62. Academically the younger Saigh wants to follow in the footsteps of his father. "I want to go into the medical field, so I'll be majoring in Biology," He said. "I want to be a doctor but I don't know just what kind yet."

Dave Warnshuis from the Iron Mountain Daily News contributed to this report.

The Michigan Insider Top Stories