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Messing a Mr. Hands man at NAU
FHS ’02 grad helps national semifinal effort at receiver

Oh to win a national championship when the whole nation is watching.

And to play a key role in making that happen is what former Farragut High School football standout Jason Messing came close to fulfilling last fall as a receiver for NCAA Division II power North Alabama.

But the Lions, playing on its home field in Florence, Ala., lost in the national semifinals to Northwest Missouri State 25-24 thanks to a touchdown in the closing minute.

“There went our season, it was real heartbreaking,” said Messing, a redshirt senior who finished the season with 43 catches for 852 yards and nine touchdown receptions.

Saying he’s been “working hard this summer,” Messing recently got to pick the brain of NFL quarterback and former Webb School and Marshall University standout Chad Pennington, helping him conduct the annual youth football camp at Webb.

That also included a joint workout with the New York Jets projected starting QB.

“After the camp I’m usually working out with Chad here, we’ve thrown the last couple of days together [in mid-July],” Messing said. “He’s taught me a few things about making it to the next level, and I’ve kinda put it to good use out there.”

The former Admiral skill position standout and 2002 FHS graduate transferred from The University of Tennessee in 2004 after failing to crack the Vols’ roster. He was attempting to find a depth spot in the defensive backfield.

As for talent worthy of a shot at the next level, Messing said he runs a 4.5 second 40-yard dash — a very ordinary speed if you’re looking to play in the NFL.

However, “[Pennington] said he’d rather have a four-five guy that can run a smooth, crisp route, and catch the ball than a guy that runs a four-three and doesn’t know what he’s doing in the route,” Messing said. “I’m working on making my routes crisp and smooth.”

North Alabama’s 2006 season opener brings Messing close to home, as the Lions travel to Greeneville to face Tusculum College Saturday, Sept. 9, in a battle of Gulf South Conference foes. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.


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