* - A
RUNNiNgG BAn CK S t
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The trio of talented tail
the Michigan backfield rep
what could be the best gro
nation. All three are proven
commodities despite havin
only a combined 45 games
Conversely, the relative
inexperience of the receiv
the Wolverines will lean on
- Michigan's traditional b
butter and the 11th-best gr
attack in the country last y
least until the wideouts est
Junior Ricky Powers ist
mainstay of the rotation, fin
13th nationally in total yar
rushing last year with 1,187
15th in yards per game. Po
emergence as a true frosh v
ago spurred Jon Vaughn to
NFL, and Powers has been
workhorse since. The 6-fo
pound Akron, Ohio, native'
bruising, straight-ahead sty
running makes him the pe
back to attack the holes cr
Michigan's offensive line.
Tyrone Wheatley provi
breakaway speed that Pow
A former Michigan high sc
meter champ, Wheatley, li
Powers, was a big contribut
first year on campus, carryi
ball 86 times for 548 yards
average). The sophomore
reportedly has added to hi:
pound frame - which sho
him to better absorb the hii
backs in sustained when running inside -
resents without sacrificing any of his speed.
up in the His 74-yard TD run Nov. 9 against
Northwestern was Michigans's
ig played longest play from scrimmage.
Wheatley also ran back nine
kickoffs last year and will assume
ers means the role of primary kickoff returner.
n the run The third member of the three-
read and headed tailback monster is third-
ound year sophomore Jesse Johnson, who
ear - at burst onto the scene with a 168-yard
ablish game at Iowa.
A 5-9, 212-pound cannonball,
the Johnson is a slashing runner who
nishing hits holes in a hurry and leaves
ds defenders in his wake. He was held
7 and out of spring practice because of
wers' academic problems but appears to
wo years be back in the coaching staff's good
the graces. Johnson finished last season
n the with 634 yards.
ot, 200- Michigan's primary lead blocker
's for the second straight season will
ale of be veteran fullback Burnie Legette.
rfect The Boulder, Colo., native stepped
eated by into the lineup right out of high
school, starting two games his first
ides the year, and has been an important
ers lacks. member of the offensive backfield
hool 100- since. Upon Jarrod Bunch's
ke graduation to the NFL, Legette
tor his became the full-time starter.
ing the Senior Dennis Washington gets
(a 6.4 the nod at the No. 2 spot over
redshirt freshman Chd Foster
s 215- because of his added experience.
Tight ends are usually listed along
with the receivers, but at Michigan
that classification might be
misleading. Wolverine tight ends
function as extra linemen, not as
additional ball catchers. Michigan
quarterbacks only found the tight end
11 times last year.
"I think our position is with the
offensive line and the receivers," says
Tony McGee, who has been groomed
as the starter almost since day one at
Michigan. "We have to know the
blocking schemes and how the
offensive line thinks, but we also have
to know how to run routes. I think
we're an intricate part of both."
That statement is certainly up for
debate. A senior, McGee has caught
only four passes - that's four (4)
passes - in his three years at
Michigan. The Terre Haute, Ind.,
native came to Ann Arbor as a highly-
touted recruit, including acclaim by
the Detroit Fe Pre ss a the Rest in
bell rung, the Maize and Blue
defense held its own for a half,
then tired badly. For a defense
that, despite sever.] impressive
outings in 1991, was criticized by
many as underachieving, it was an
awful way to close out the season.
" think we took a little bit of
abuse," Brown says, "and I'm not
going to say we deserved it, but
like I said, I've gone over that film
20 times, maybe 30, and I can take
away three touchdowns like that, if
we just play like we should. I mean
we don't have to make big plays,
all we have to do is knock the ball
down, funnel a receiver, just little
"I give Washington no credit on
offense. After a while we just
broke down. I mean, their defense
was good, but offensively they get
no credit from me. None."
But for Brown, who earned
second-team all-Big Ten honors in
1991, the Rose Bowl was not the
ugliest blemish on last year's 10-2
"My lowest point was when we
played against Florida State," he
said. "That was a game where I
didn't play good as a safety -
there were too many big plays and
too many times where I didn't get
the guys in the right defenses. My
focus wasn't where it should have
"And after that game I sat down
with myself and with a couple of
the coaches and I got my mind
right. Still, though, Florida State is
one game that I really can't sit
down and watch.
Corwin Brown may be his own
best teacher now. That is the
pleasure and joy that a fifth-year
senior brings to a coaching staff.
He simply knows what getting the
job done is all about.
Brown is Michigan's leading
returning tackler (71) from a year
ago, and as the free safety, he
anchors a relatively inexperienced
defensive backfield. That adds a
little more responsibility to an
already pressure-filled job.
"At least at Michigan, I'd say
that free safety might be the
hardest position," Brown said. "It's
a mistake-free position where you
have to alwas get everyone
playing the right defense. "Every'
time there's a motion change or
something, chances are were going
to have to change our defense.
"It's also a place where you
can't give up the big plays. I have
to front the ball up, I have to make
the tackle if its a long pass. You
know, 90 percent of the time I
should be over there, or at least in
the vicinity. You get real dirty
playing linebacker, but safety is
more of a mental game and if
you're not with it upstairs, you're
not going to do well."
Brown, an English major who
will graduate in December, has
come a long way. He made one of
the most important decisions of his
life when he chose to accept a
football scholarship at Michigan,
opting to take his chances here,
rather than step in with literal
guarantees of playing elsewhere.
He could have played right away
at Wisconsin, one of the few schools
that still showed considerable
interest in Brown after he injured
his knee as a senior. Illinois was
another, but the Illini dropped from
Brown's list because of the looming
threat of probation in Champaign.
Brown settled on Michigan after
a campus visit. At Michigan he felt
welcomed and comfortable.
"And I thought even if I don't
play, at least I'll get a good degree,"
Brown said. "I've changed a lot as a
person (at Michigan), I've grown a
lot as a person. I've become a much
better person. It's a credit to the
program that it can do something
like that for me, and I know it's
done that for a lot of the other guys
Next year, Brown says he will
head off to law school if the NFL
opportunities don't present
themselves. There are more
important things than football for
Brown, whose parents are both
In my neighborhood in Chicago
they don't do much." Brown said.
"I've had a lot of friends who have
been killed, a lot of guys dropped
out of high school. When I get
Corwin Brown is the leading returning tackler for the Wolverines. Last
season, Brown had 71 tackles.
Some college football analysts expect sophomore tailback Tyrone 'Wheatley
to take over the starting duties by midseason.
defensive position for many years
now - unlike most top high school
players, he rarely took the field at
any other positions.
His first shot at quality playing
time came against Ohio State in
1989, when starting free safety
Vada Murray collided with
teammate Todd Plate and was
carried off the field on a stretcher.
Brown was called from the
sidelines and filled in well in the
regular season finale in Columbus.
"I was all excited," he
remembers. "It was a real big
game. And I went out there and
did OK. I had a lot of seniors out
there. They were giving me a lot of
confidence and telling me just to
stay calm - that helped out a lot,
Brown credits those older _.
teammates, primarily Murray and
Lance Dottin, for much of his
"Lance, off the field, he was
like my big brother," Brown says.
"He was always there for me. And
on the field, I learned everything
from Vada. Everytime I would
make a mistake, he would explain
why I made that mistake. He
would tell me how I should do
everything, how I should approach
each game, how to learn the
"That was key for me. It was
just like having a coach out there
for me, a coach that I could talk to
on another level."
And now Brown hopes he can
fill that same role for the newest
Wolverines - particularly the five
freshman defensive backs, who
have already been nicknamed the
Young Guns by Brown and others.
"I've already told myself that in
in a couple of years, no matter
what, they should be the best
secondary in the country," Brown
says, shaking his head. "They are
gonna be good."
Corwin Brown, himself, has
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His size - 6-foot-5, 235 pounds -
and skill earned him immediate
playing time, yet he has had a tough
time developing his play to the next
level. McGee has spot-started for the
past two years and seen considerable
game time, but he has always played
behind Dave Diebolt. Now he finally
gets the position to himself.
"I knew coming in that it wouldn't
be like going to Miami (Fla.), where I
would catch 50 passes," McGee says.
"I'd like to catch more, but you just
don't go out and catch balls. You have
:o earn it. You work and work, and
then you get to the point where you
can get in the game and catch balls.
"It's taken me a little longer, but
now I feel I can catch the ball
securely, and hopefully make
something happen afterward."
Fourth-year junior Marc
Burkholder will see plenty of action
playing a role similar to the one
McGee previously held.
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