MSHS grad Sherbinow now starring for MTU
HOUGHTON – Growing up as a kid in Marquette, Alex Sherbinow saw his share of Northern Michigan University football games. He went to the “big ones” as he called them – matchups that included GLIAC powers like Grand Valley State University.
However, it was the Upper Peninsula rivalry between NMU and Michigan Tech that resonated the most with him.
“It’s something you looked forward to as a kid,” Sherbinow said.
Similar to his childhood, Sherbinow is again anxiously awaiting the next edition of the Miner’s Cup.
Except this time, the Tech sophomore fullback is set to make his debut in the rivalry and enters the game tied with the second-most touchdowns on the team.
“I’ve been dreaming about this one,” Sherbinow said. “I’m really excited and just going to try to get out there and show that it was a good decision to come here.”
Sherbinow finished his senior season at Marquette Senior High School with 1,287 yards rushing, while averaging 6.1 yards per carry, and scored 14 touchdowns. He was named to the All-Great Northern Conference team as a running back and fullback.
Despite Sherbinow’s accolades, NMU was mum on recruiting him. He heard talk of NMU possibly wanting him as a kicker, but Sherbinow said he “wanted to play football.”
So Sherbinow – who planned on attending Michigan Tech after high school – entered the Michigan Tech football program as a preferred walk-on.
“Coach (Tom) Kearly gave me a chance and that’s all that I was asking for,” Sherbinow said. “As a preferred walk-on, he told me that I’m either going to make it, or see what happens after the first season to see if I’m good enough.”
Sherbinow remained in the offensive backfield, but instead of being a primary ball carrier, he switched to fullback. Given his high school experience in Marquette, the transition was relatively seamless for him.
“I blocked in high school in being a running back in the offense Marquette ran,” Sherbinow said. “I kind of have an idea of what I was going to do. The fullback in our offense runs like a third of the plays, so it’s kind of like a condensed package. It’s pretty simplistic for us.”
Last season, Sherbinow was a backup at fullback. He competed with three other players throughout spring ball and fall camp before earning his spot as MTU’s starting fullback, where he has thrived in short-yardage runs – scoring on runs of one, two and three yards – and has also caught a 6-yard TD pass.
“Sherby’s worked hard in the offseason; it shows,” junior quarterback Brandon Cowie said after Michigan Tech’s 28-27 win over Malone on Sept. 12. “He’s a strong kid and he does what he’s supposed to do.”
With a lot of the Huskies’ offensive snaps utilizing a pistol formation with a single back, the 6-foot, 225-pound Sherbinow doesn’t see the majority of snaps.
But when he is in there, it’s usually in key moments. In addition to the short-yardage goal-line situations, Sherbinow has been instrumental in keeping drives alive late in games.
“If it’s one yard, he’s probably going to get the football,” Kearly said of Sherbinow. “That fullback belly goes back to when they invented the I-formation and after iso(lation run), it’s probably the second play you put in. We run it and we teach it and prep it. It’s a play you only need one yard, but you gotta get one yard.”
The flow of the game and certain situations effectively determine Sherbinow’s role. In Michigan Tech’s 20-15 season-opening win against Wayne State University, Sherbinow didn’t touch the football after Tech scored on 47- and 12-yard pass plays – in addition to a 6-yard run by Cowie. But in the last two games, Sherbinow has scored two TDs in each contest with the Huskies down near its opponents’ goal line.
So you would think scoring against his team’s current rival and his hometown school would be a large part on Sherbinow’s mind, right?
“It’d be cool and all, but as long as we win, it’s pretty irrelevant to me what I do.”
While the impact he can make on Saturday remains to be seen, the only guarantee is that Sherbinow won’t be cheering for the same team he grew up watching.