Michigan Football Preview 2013

2013 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Top Five Most Memorable Kickoff Returns In U-M History 1. Desmond Howard vs. Boston College, 1991: Everyone knows Howard sealed his Heisman Trophy with a punt return against Ohio State. But he jumpstarted his historic season with a special teams onslaught, too. On top of catching three touchdown passes in a season-opening 35-13 win at Boston College, Howard took the second-half kickoff, followed his blockers, slipped a tackle near midfield and raced 95 yards to the end zone. The touchdown put Michigan up 14-10, and the rout was on from there. 2. Tom Harmon vs. Cal, 1940: On his 21st birthday, Harmon kicked off his 1940 Heisman Trophy-winning campaign with one of the most dominating performances ever by a Wolverine. He scored four touchdowns, kicked four extra points and threw for another score in a 41-0 demolition of the Golden Bears. Harmon took the game's opening kickoff and scampered 94 yards for a touchdown. After the game, the Associated Press wrote that Harmon was "as hard to snare as a greased pig." 3. Tyrone Wheatley vs. Houston, 1992: It took Michigan just 12 seconds to get on the board in a 61-7 rout of the Cougars with Wheatley taking the opening kickoff back 99 yards for a score. He received it near the east sideline, followed blockers all the way and was past the Houston defenders at the Michigan 40-yard line with 60 yards of green space in front of him. It was then a record for longest kick return in U-M history (broken by Seth Smith's 100-yard return against Wisconsin in 1994). 4. Gil Chapman vs. Illinois, 1972: Michigan built a 24-0 lead early, but the Fighting Illini refused to back down, scoring a touchdown late in the third quarter to pull within 17 points. That's when Chapman soundly slammed the door on a possible Illinois comeback bid. After an Illinois offside penalty on the kickoff, Chapman took a short kick and shot 75 yards straight for the end zone, immediately killing Illinois' momentum in the 31-7 win. 5. Darryl Stonum vs. Notre Dame, 2009: After Michigan's disappointing 3-9 season in 2008, fans were looking for a reason to get excited. In the second game of 2009, Stonum brought the entire Michigan Stadium crowd to its feet. The Fighting Irish cut the Wolverine lead to 7-3 in the final minute of the first quarter — and Stonum took flight from there. Racing directly up the middle of the field, Stonum flashed past every golden dome on his way to a 94-yard score. The touchdown was instrumental — the In 2009, Darryl Stonum fielded this kickoff versus Notre Dame and took Wolverines won the back-and-forth contest, 38-34, on a last-minute it back 94 yards to paydirt. pass from Tate Forcier to Greg Mathews. photo by per kjeldsen ball the most, you want to keep the ball in his hands — I wanted to stay out there." That first season, Morris got as close as he ever would to the end zone on a kickoff return. In a 31-0 blanking of Northwestern, season, for me. Everyone let me have it." Morris, who scored 25 rushing touchdowns and three receiving touchdowns in his four years, made a career out of highlight-worthy plays. But there was something "You're the momentum. You can change the game in a second. You're the guy who can set the tone, and you're the guy who can get the defense psyched up again, if the other team drove down on you." Jaime Morris Jamie Morris, who played at U-M from 1984‑87, currently ranks sixth in program history in kick returns (52) and kick return yards (1,052), averaging 20.2 yards per return. photo courtesy Bentley Historical Library Morris took the opening kickoff of the second half and shimmied his way across the field, escaping tacklers and following his blockers. He raced 80 yards — his careerlong — before being cut down at the 20-yard line. "I went sideline to sideline to sideline," Morris said. "I ran out of gas, and I got caught from behind. It was the biggest laugh of the special about the rush that came with taking that kickoff with the opponent barreling down the field. "You're the momentum," Morris said. "You can change the game in a second. You're the guy who can set the tone, and you're the guy who can get the defense psyched up again, if the other team drove down on you." ❏ The Wolverine 2013 Football Preview  ■ 63

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