As his high school career drew to a close, Winston-Salem State offensive lineman Michael Sabb had his mind set on playing college football in Winston-Salem. More than three years later, it turns out he had the right city in mind, but he was a little off on the school.
Sabb said he had his heart set on playing for Wake Forest, but a knee injury during his senior season dried up his Division I prospects.
“As a high school player, everyone dreams of going to a Division I school," Sabb said. “That’s natural.”
Current Wakefield head coach Rod Sink was an assistant when the 6-foot-4, 295-pound Sabb roamed both the offensive and defensive lines for the Wolverines. He remembers Sabb’s size as a big asset to the team’s rushing attack.
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“He was one of our best offensive linemen,” Sink said. “We used to run behind him a lot because of his size.”
Sabb eventually landed at Winston-Salem State in 2010 as the school was moving back down to Division II after a short Division I stint. Sabb’s freshman season was a busy one. Not only was the program switching NCAA classifications, but it was also adjusting to a new coach for the first time in nearly 20 years. Sabb ended up starting at tackle as a freshman, as WSSU finished 8-2 and made it to the CIAA championship game.
The injury bug bit Sabb again as a sophomore. This time it was his hip, causing him to have surgery to remove scar tissue. Sabb was redshirted and had to watch from the sidelines as WSSU went 13-1 and made it to the Division II semifinals in 2011.
Sabb returned this season, spending most of the year as a backup as the Rams rolled through the regular season undefeated for the second consecutive season, but he would be called on in the CIAA Championship game against Elizabeth City State, when senior Michael Page was injured.
Sabb stepped in and stepped up, helping WSSU win three playoff games en route to the Division II national championship game in Florence, Ala. While Winston-Salem State would go on to lose to Valdosta State, 35-7, Sabb said it was an experience he won’t soon forget.
“The moment of playing in a national championship game is nothing you can put into words,” he said. “It’s something that you hold onto for the rest of your life.”
Sabb has two years of eligibility remaining on the football field. He is currently majoring in psychology and said he will probably add a minor, as he looks toward a future after football.
Sink said that having a player play in a national championship game is something that benefits Wakefield’s program in terms of motivating current players.
“It shows that if you come in, do what we ask you to do; and if you’re that type of player, you could be in their shoes too,” he said.