June 13, 2017 Happy Birthday Mark Soehnlen!

Michgian Football Team 1988 | bigbluefootballhistory.com
Mark Soehnlen (#35) is shown above witht he 1988 Big Ten Champion Michgian Wolverine Football team. He is seated in the fifth row and is the third man from the right. Phot courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library.

The purpose of today’s post is to wish “Happy Birthday” to a former Wolverine named Mark Soehnlen. He was a highly recruited linebacker out of Canton, Ohio in 1986. Mark Soehnlen was an outstanding football player at St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Canton and Bo convinced him that Michigan was the best place for him to play his college football. Soehnlen arrived in Ann Arbor in the fall of 1987. As usual, Bo didn’t make any promises to Mark, he just offered him the opportunity to earn a degree from Michigan and compete for a linebacker position on the Wolverine Football team.

Bo had some pretty good linebackers on his roster in 1987. So, Mark Soehnlen was down on the depth charts in his first year. He did not earn any starts or playing time as a freshman. Soehnlen’s first year at Michigan was not memorable since he did not earn a letter in his first year as a Wolverine. Michigan didn’t exactly have a great year either in 1987. The Wolverines ended the season with a disappointing record of 8 wins and 4 losses. They went 5-3-0 in the Big Ten and finished in fourth place.

Michigan Football Program 1988 | bigbluefootballhistory.com

Mark Soehnlen was on the first Michigan team to win the Hall of Fame Bowl in 1988. A 28-24 win over Alabama. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library.

Mark Soehnlen was back on the roster in 1988. I am certain that he had high hopes in his second year on Bo’s varsity. As it turned out, Mark did not earn any starts in 1988 and he did not earn a letter in his second year at Michigan. Michigan did a little better that season – finishing the season with a final record of 9-2-1. They won the conference championship with an excellent record of 7 wins, 0 losses and 1 tie.

Unfortunately, the 1988 season was the last time that Mark Soehnlen’s name was on a Michigan Football roster. I have no more information on the Michigan Football career of Mark Soehnlen. Maybe he had a career ending injury, or maybe he transferred. He may have left school for family reasons. It is hard to know, but I hope that things worked out for Mark.

Even though his Michigan football career didn’t work out as hoped, Mark Soehnlen is connected to some interesting Wolverine football “firsts.”

  • In 1987 Soehnlen was on the first Michigan team to play games against Long Beach State and Alabama.
  • Mark Soehnlen was on Michigan’s first team to win the Hall of Fame Bowl win in January 1988.

Bottom line – there are a lot of young men who came to Michigan to play for the Wolverines, but things don’t always  work out. The competition in practice, and on the playing field, is intense. However, in my book, every man who put in the time and stayed for one or two seasons is still part of Michigan Football History. I just wanted to take a moment today to appreciate Mark Soehnlen’s contributions to Michigan football. I hope that Mark has a Happy Birthday today.




Barry Gallagher

Barry Gallagher

Barry Gallagher is a self-proclaimed Michigan Football Archeologist. He spends a considerable amount of his time digging into the 138-year history of Wolverine Football. He is on a mission to share his findings with Maize and Blue football fans everywhere. He is the author of one book about Michigan Football titled "21-194-13 Michigan Football's Greatest Era". His second book titled, "The Legend of Bo Schembechler-How an Unknown Buckeye Became the Winningest Coach in Michigan Football History" was released on September 12, 2017. You can learn something about Michigan Football everyday by going to his website at: bigbluefootballhistory.com. You can also follow him on Social Media.
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