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September 10, 1993 - Image 42

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Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1993-09-10
Note:
This is a tabloid page

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0

Kickoff '93

Friday. September 10, 1993

14

..._ w r .. _. ,

I-t

Faster than a speeding
bullet
and a nice guy, too. Off the field, football hero Tyrone

Wheatley is strictly Clark Kent

A mani Toomer, a wide
receiver for the Michi
gan football team, is
talking about his teammate
Tyrone Wheatley.
Wheatley, a junior tailback
from Inkster, Mich., is one of the
best players in college football
and a candidate for the Heisman
Trophy.
Toomer is asked what one
might find Wheatley doing in the
locker room. Probably something
like concentrating on the next
game or maybe sitting by him-
self, figuring out exactly how
many yards it will take to win the
Heisman, right?
"You might find him playing
with his little squirt guns
just squirting them
around," Toomer says.
Buster Stanley is an-
other teammate of
Wheatley's. He is a cap-
tain of this team, so he
must know Wheatley well.
He will explain that
Toomer is wrong. The best
running backs in the coun-
try must be serious people.
They do not have fun with
squirt guns or laugh and
joke. For crying out loud,
this man's nickname is

Clowning and crazy?
It is odd, for certain. There is
something about the aura and
perception of a superstar athlete
such as Wheatley that does not
quite include water pistols and
silly caricatures.
But apparently, this is the case
with the wonderfully talented
Wheatley, who has rocketed to
the top of the college football
world but has left his personality
back where it has always been:
down to earth.
"I remember last year he'd
come by our room and he'd talk to
me and my roommate and stuff,"
Toomer said. "I think when I first
came here I was a little over-

whelmed because he was so close
to us. Usually, you come in and
you think, the big-time, players
are going to be a little unpleas-
ant. It was surprising."
So maybe it is possible for his
dichotomy, of a nice guy with an
alter ego of much-loved hero. The
theme exists somewhere.
Superman.
Okay, so perhaps he does not
have a phone booth. But some-
thing changes dramatically
within him when on the gridiron.
Wheatley has achieved almost a
superhero's status because of it.
Just imagine for a second ...
With a maize and blue outfit,
and a "6" on his chest, our hero

by Ken Sugiura
spends his autumn Saturdays
bolting around Midwestern foot-
ball fields, a comet in Nikes and
a winged helmet.
He whizzesby linebackers and
pulverizes cornerbacks, or vice
versa, reserving his torturous
blows for whomever it is that has
caused the most trouble in the
'M'pire.
Throngs of thousands cheer
him on in his exploits, as he con-
quers the forces of evil, villainy
and Lou Holtz. And then, his
work done, he is gone, down a
tunnel, out of sight...
And moments later, Tyrone
Wheatley emerges from the
locker room in a shirt and tie,

Michigan
Player Feature
CHA i
leaving others to wonder why
they never see them at the same
time ...
Perhaps the comic book will
have to wait.
But when it comes, there will
be a few powers this newest su-
perhero will possess.
1.) Incredible athletic talent.
Wheatley seems tohavebeen dis-
playing it since the crib. To begin
with, he has a rare combination
of size and speed. Measuring in
at 6-foot-1and a solid 225 pounds,
he can run 40 yards in 4.3 sec-
onds. With a 10.35-second time
in the 100 meters, Wheatley fits
the mold of a world-class sprinter
as opposed a Big Ten tailback.
And he has been
blessed with the kind of
athletic ability that
seems to defy the realm
of possibility. His team-
mates and coaches rave
about it, and they all
seem to have their favor-
ite stories.
There was his 59-yard
Stouchdown run last week
against Washington
State. In a run around
left end, Wheatley pun-
ished everything in his-
path, stiff arming vil-

Bug h"ts c
for 'M' ly
If Alfie Burch, Michigan's
starting short cornerback has a
confidence problem, know that it
is because there is a surplus, not
a shortage..
But, being a defensive back,
Burch says that it is only natu-
ral.
"I don't know too many defen-
sive backs that are real good that
aren't real sure of themselves,"
Burch said. "Sometimes when you

Seconda
Vi

i

get back there, there's no one
else. You're the last line of de-
fense."
Ifnothing else, Michigan's last
line of defense is one of its most
experienced units. Corner
Dwayne Ware and All-Big Ten
safety Corwin Brown are both
gone, but wide cornerback Ty
Law, strong safety Shonte
Peoples and Burch have a total
of 23 starts. Only free safety
Chuck Winters, a converted

FILE PHOTC
Fifth-year cornerback Alfie Burch, known for giving opposing offenses a piece of his mind, leads a quick Michigan
defensive secondary.

I

Special teams' play may give BI

Superman. I
What kind of Super-
man plays with squirt > \
guns?.
"He likes to clown
around with the fellas,"
Stanley says. "He's fun to EX
be around, acts crazy with '> k
the fellas."
Well, thanks, Buster.
Maybe asking Wheatley
himself would be better. '
What does he truly do with N
his teammates?
Certainly he will give'
an answer revealing what
it is that has made him
such a wonderful player.
Perhaps he will say he is ax
leader to his teammates,
encouraging them to place
the team above all else.
"I like drawing pictures
of all of them, then give a
them to the coach or tape'
them up around the place,"
he says. "I have this onef
picture of Che Foster. It's -FILE PHOT
really nice. I wish I had it..FLEPT
here to show it to you," When given a hole, Wheatley's size and speed takeover, making it difficult for any would-be tackler to catch him. Tyrone gained 1,905 yards
Pictures? Squirt guns? in hts*fir t two seapors at Miehigan, ipclgipg o354n the;1993R1Rog Bowl. .:, ,'G c

lains to the turf on the
way to the end zone.
It seemed everyone
had something to say
about it afterwards.
'That run he had, that
was an astonishing run,"
Stanley recalled. "He
didn't want to get tack-
led, so he didn't get tack-
led."
"It looked like he was
going to pick up 15, 20
yards, and the next thing
you know, he was in the
end zone," wide receiver
Mercury Hayes said.
"That was an incredible
play."
And get this - the
incredible has become
the routine on the Wol-
verine practice field.
"The runs Wheatley
makes, he makes them
in practice also," Hayes
added. "We seehim make
runs in games and it's
O nothing really big to us."
Or you can go back to
his& -high school days,,.':

Often the word "intangible" is
used as an explanation for why a
team seems to be able to rise
above others of similar talent.
The team is said to have a quality
that comes to life at critical situ-
ations. In Michigan's return
teams, Gary Moeller might pos-
sess just such an intangible.
With the capability of break-
[Special Teams

down the left side of the field for
a 50-yard scamper. His team-
mates claim that the junior's
breakaway speed is his mostvalu-
able weapon.
"Tyrone's got that fifth gear
that all backs are looking for,"
senior captain and fellow tailback

Ricky Powers said. "Once he gets
into it, I don't think anyone can
catch him."
While Wheatley led the team
in return yards, it was Hayes
who had the most returns of any
Wolverine in 1992. The sopho-
more had 13 opportunities and

averaged 19.5 yards.
No stranger to the end zone
himself, Alexander will be the
key returner on punts. The fifth-
year senior had two touchdowns
on special teams lastyearinclud-
ing an 80-yard run back against
Michigan State. Hayes and

Department of Recreational
Sports
INTRAMURAL
SPORTS PROGRAM

Depa
SP

%" W
CHA
ing one long, Tyrone Wheatley,
Mercury Hayes and Derrick
Alexander are all back to re-
ceive kickoffs for the Wolverines.
Wheatley averaged 23.5 yards a
return last season and had the
longest runback in the country
when he went 99 yards for a
touchdown on the opening kick-
off against Houston.
On. the opening kickoff of the
1993 season, Wheatley revealed
his talents opeeagain as he broke

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