Remembering The Super Seniors: Mike Tepper

TwistNHook:  Ostensibly, the first thing that pops into people's minds when they think of Tepper is this:

The injury happened in June 2005, the summer after Tepper's redshirt freshman season, when he was walking in Berkeley with a female neighbor. Some thugs drove up and tried to pull the girl into the car. The 6-foot-7, 320-pound Tepper intervened and an argument ensued.

"The guy in the driver's seat punched the gas in reverse," he said. "The front end swung out and clipped me, got my [right] leg caught in the wheel well. I was dragged for about 30 feet and got run over going forward."

The result was gruesome. Tepper suffered four breaks of his lower leg, with the shattered fibula protruding from his skin, as well as a torn shoulder muscle.

When Tepper tried to stand, he was looking down his leg at the sole of his right shoe.

Despite the gruesome injury, Tepper played in 39 games with 28 starts in there.  Yes, I know there were criticisms of this general fan favorite this past year, but really, no matter what happened, he was playing with house money the entire time.

Avinash:  Tepper was alright I guess. I don't remember thinking at any point, "Man, Mike is totally dominating the edge." He was part of that 2007 team that allowed under ten sacks, but as Hydro has explained over and over, that had more to do with Longshore throwing the ball away at the first hints of pressure. And the offensive line was flat-out mediocre all year long--not enough push or weight to throw around, and Tepper looked flatfooted.

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It's remarkable that he came back from that and managed to be productive at the second most important position in the football team,but it's telling that a guy who's leg was broken in four places was trusted with the biggest positions on the line. I guess what I'm saying is I'd prefer a guy like Tepper to be the third or fourth best guy on our line than our first or second (which was the case this year).

I dunno. All I really remember about Tep is that catch:

 

HydroTech:  The thing I remembered the most about Tepper is how freaking jolly he is.  I don't think I've ever really seen this guy pissed or upset once.  Always saying hi to people and talking and high-fiving people.  The dude is no stop happiness. 

TwistNHook:  Yet ironically, people seemed to use it against him.  Like he was not taking things seriously.  I think for most people you can be focused, but also relaxed.  You can get to work doing what needs to be done with an emotionally detachment sufficient to have that jollyness, that hilarity.  I felt as if Tepper got a bad rap there. 

HydroTech:  Supposedly Tepper and another one of the offensive linemen were talking smack to one of the Furd defensive players during the 2009 Big Game which incidentally led to the Furd defensive player snapping and drawing a personal foul penalty.  I always thought that story was sort of odd because I never really saw Tepper as the kind of guy to talk trash being that he's so nice.  In my imagination, I'd think that instead of saying to the defensive linemen something negative like "good thing this isn't an aquatic sport because that swim move sucked!" he'd say something nicer like "nice try, buddy!"

TwistNHook: Tepper had the greatest smack talk at his disposal:  "You gotta be as big as a truck to get past me!" 

yellow fever:  Like I wrote in my forthcoming post about the stock of this year's draft-eligible Bears, just being in a position to make a camp is a decent accomplishment for your average college player.  Tepper had one hell of a career all things considered, but for whatever reason people had higher expectations of him than he was able to live up to.  He became the symbol of an underachieving offensive line that wasn't able to consistently create holes for the running game and was exposed in pass protection when Longshore lost his feel in the pocket.  Was he the main culprit?  Judging by the fact that he was invited to a bunch of all-star games and should at the very least make it to some NFL team's camp this year, it doesn't seem likely.  And as Twist said, he was playing with house money. Just making it back onto the field after what happened to him speaks well of his character.

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Berkelium97:  When I remember Tepper, I don't really remember his onfield play, except for his AWESOME hurdle over a USC player in the otherwise completely forgettable Cal-USC 2009 game.

What I remember about Tepper was his jolly nature.  When I was at the Poinsettia Bowl as a member of the press, I--among others--had the chance to talk to him in the Cal interview room after the press conference.  It was a cold and unpleasant end to the season, but Tepper's jovial self injected some life and excitement into the small throng of Cal writers.  He had serious moments, talking about what his expectations were for this team and discussing the differences between Marshall and Michalczik, but I most vividly remember how much he was making us laugh.  Most guys were downtrodden when they came to talk to us, but Tepper came in with a hearty "Hi guys!"  He didn't even have to talk to us, but he volunteered to because he's such a nice guy.  Oddly enough, he was wearing slacks, a collared shirt, and a tie when he came to talk to us.  Most guys were wearing sweats when they talked to us.  Tepper had a present in his hand and was talking about how excited he was that he could receive gifts now that he was no longer a student-athlete.  His present was a tie, which he was thrilled to receive.  He was in a gift-giving mood and offered us his gloves.  In the chilly bowels of Qualcomm Stadium after a disappointing season, Tepper stayed positive and infected others with his positivity.  Continually staying positive was essential for someone coming back from as many hardships and injuries as Tepper endured.

Also, speaking of trash talk, I vaguely remember Tepper playfully threatening someone with a trash can during the 2008 Cal-UCLA game. 

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