Orange Bowl

Michigan lineman Kyle Kalis sees pro wrestling as an option after football

Michigan lineman Kyle Kalis, 67, a four-star recruit in 2012 who committed to Ohio State out of high school only to switch to Michigan when coach Jim Tressel was essentially run out of Columbus, is not one to back down.
Michigan lineman Kyle Kalis, 67, a four-star recruit in 2012 who committed to Ohio State out of high school only to switch to Michigan when coach Jim Tressel was essentially run out of Columbus, is not one to back down. AP

Kyle Kalis, a four-star recruit in 2012 who committed to Ohio State out of high school only to switch to Michigan when coach Jim Tressel was essentially run out of Columbus, is not one to back down.

When Ohio State fans got angry that he joined their biggest rival, Kalis challenged those Buckeyes supporters who made violent threats and posted hateful messages “to come find me.”

No one accepted his challenge.

On Friday, when Michigan faces Ohio State in the Capital One Orange Bowl at Hard Rock Stadium, Kalis won’t run from the Seminoles, either.

“Kyle has had his best year of football this season,” Michigan offensive coordinator Tim Drevno said of Kalis, a 6-5, 305-pound fifth-year senior who starts at right guard. “I love his competitiveness and his physicality. It’s important for him to win every down. He loves to play snap to whistle. He loves to finish, and he has a great pro career ahead of him.”

Football, though, is not Kalas’ only option.

Asked on Tuesday if he were serious about a pro wrestling career, Kalis, of course, said yes.

“I’m going to sound like such a meathead when I say this, but it sounds like the most perfect job ever,” said Kalis, who played his high school ball in Lakewood, Ohio. “You just lift, you train, and you get ready to perform. It’s kind of like football. That’s why I think it’s really appealing to me.

“When football is over — and I hope it’s not for a really long time — I think I’m going to miss the physical aspect of it, so [wrestling] would be a cool way to keep it up in my life.”

Kalis said wrestling has long been one of his ambitions.

“Ever since I was a little kid growing up, watching the guys on WWE, that’s always been so appealing to me,” said Kalis, who said he has talked to wrestling promoters to find out what his job prospects would be in the industry. “I don’t know [what my wrestling name would be], but it would incorporate something about my Irish side and my German side. Whatever it is, it would be good.”

But before he gets to picking names, Kalis still has to wrestle with the Seminoles defense.

Kalis is certainly capable — he was a second-team All-Big Ten and a second-team All-America selection this season. He has played 49 games at Michigan, including 41 starts. He hasn’t missed a start in each of his past two years.

But not everything has gone perfectly for Kalis.

Like a typical bad-guy wrestling character, Kalis told a yahoo.com reporter in 2012 that “there would be blood on the field … and it won’t be mine” when his Wolverines played the Buckeyes.

As it turned out, Kalis went 0 for 5 against Ohio State in his five years at Michigan, including a brutal double-overtime loss this season.

Kalis hopes to have the last laugh, however. His father, former offensive guard Todd Kalis, played eight years in the NFL, starting 63 games.

Kyle would love to be the next Kalis blocker in the NFL. But if not, there’s always pro wrestling.

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