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28 > Football Saturday - September 12, 2009
Setme S1,20 .Fobl
Before practice last week, Bon Jovi's "Living on a Prayer"
came on over the loudspeaker. Freshman running back
Vincent Smith and a few others trotting out to the field
began belting out the tune, laughing and joking around.
It was just more proof that this team is already having
more fun than during last season's 3-9 debacle.
Whether that will result in a better outcome remains
to be seen. Even though the team keeps playing down
the fact that Saturday's game is a "measuring stick", the
Wolverines' performance against Notre Dame could
potentially set the tone for the rest of the season.
Michael Eisenstein - Ruth Lincoln
Courtney Ratkowiak - Andy Reid
Last year, the student section's attempt at a blue block'M' at
the Wisconsin game was a rousing success. The 'M' is back for
the Notre Dame game - find out how it's done.
Martavious Odoms, Brandin Hawthorne and Vincent
Smith grew up in a small sugarcane town named
Pahokee. This is their story.
2009 MICHIGAN FOOTBALL SEASON
Sept. 5 Western Michigan: Before this win, it had been a while since Michigan
fans had anything to cheer about durisg the opening weekend.
Sept.12 Notre Dame: Yeah, we've all heard that Jimmy Clausen looks like an emu. And
weyse seen the ewbarrassing photos of him in that Speedo. And the ones of him at a Beer
Olympics. And the ones of his ridiculous Prom limo, Wait, where were we going with this?
Sept.19 Eastern Michigan: We expect former Michigan defensive coordinator Ron English, now
Eastern Michigan's head coach, to get a warm cheer from Wolverine fans. The Eagles, not so much.
Sept. 26 Indiana: Indiana's new-look Pistol Offense was only slightly more exciting than watching
paint dry. The Hoosiers looked limp against Eastern Kentucky.
Oct. 3 at Michigan State: The East Lansing Meijer is selling "Beat Michigan ... Again" T-shirts.
The Spartans are really milking a win over the worst Michigan team in the program's history.
Oct.10 at Iowa: The Hawkeyes needed to block not one but two field goals in the game's final
seven seconds to squeak byFCS team Northern Iowa. Way to make the Big Ten look good, guys.
Oct.17 Delaware State: As if Michigan students needed more motivation to skip this game,
the Athletic Department scheduled it during Fall Break. But after Wolverine losses to Appalachian
State and Toledo, here's to hoping third time's the easy win.
Oct. 24 Penn State: The Nittany Lions looked like the team to beat in the Big Ten after Week One.
W hnwhetherthatwi w ue when Michigan meets up with them halfway throughtheconference
Wseason remains totbe seen.
I S Oct.31 at Illinois: (Insert lame Juice-related joke here). Also, the Fighting Illini completely choked
against rival Missouri last week.
Nov. 7 Purdue: The Boilermakers ended Michigan's bowl hopes last season by handing the
Wolverines their seventh loss. Michigan will probably be looking for payback when Purdue visits
the Big House.
Nov.14at Wisconsin: Nothing beats a late fall afternoon in Camp Randall, especially when the
students start singing "Build Me Up, Buttercup."
From page 5B
The way the linebacker was
treated by Michigan bolstered the
bond between a college football
powerhouse and a small town in
Florida that, even after all it has
gotten from football, would never
take the sport for granted.
But that relationship had to start
CONNECTION began, in many
ways, almost 15 years ago, when
a young Martavious Odoms dis-
played all of the characteristics
Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez,
who first started recruiting the
area while still at West Virginia,
looks for in a slot receiver.
As a kid, Odoms was, and still
is, small for his age, shifty, strong
"I used to tell him, 'You know
no one can outrun you in Paho-
kee,' " said his mother, Gloria.
That's quite a statement when
you're in Muck City, where the
kids have a well-documented tra-
dition of chasing and catching rab-
bits with their bare hands.
To this day, the sophomore wide
receiver says people underesti-
mate him because of his 5-foot-9
frame, but when he was little, his
grade-school friends Jay, Keevie
and Shorty Redhead just made
fun of him.
After a while, like any kid,
Odoms had enough of the jeers
about his height. So one day, he
and Gloria devised a plan.
"I used to tell him, 'Look here.
When they're talking, you shut
them up. When they're talking,
this is all you got to do: you hit
them first, and I'll be home,' "
Gloria said. "I said, 'You know
they can't catch you. Run. All you
gotta do is make it here, and I'll be
in this house.' "
The next time someone made
fun of him, Odoms jumped up,
hit the kid square in the nose and
sprinted home, panting on the safe
side of the Odoms' front door.
Other than punching his boyhood
friends - and even that was at the
request of his mother - Odoms
was a "good, humble child ... like
a little man," according to Gloria.
But even the best can't always
resist temptation. Gloria remem-
bers three straight nights during
Odoms's high school years when
the receiver broke curfew. Gloria
was afraid that her son might be
hanging around the wrong people
in The Projects, a neighborhood
right around the corner from his
So Gloria called Coach James,
who came over immediately.
"Rick James, he don't play,"
Gloria said. "I was like,t Oh, Lord.
Don't talk to my. boy that rough,'
but I left and went out the house.
But after that, he didn't break cur-
few no more. No more."
Added Odoms: "Coach J, all
the coaches pretty much love us
like we're their own child, so they
take care of us a little bit and try
to, like, make sure we're doing the
When his senior year rolled
around, schools around the coun-
try took note of Odoms's stellar
work ethic and behavior - but
what they really craved was his
4.5 40-yard time. Unfortunately
for him, Odoms's dream school,
Miami, thought that speed could
be used on the track.
"We thought they insulted him
when they walked into our office
with a damn track scholarship for
Martavious," James said. "And the
reason I say that is because they
had already offered a lot of receiv-
ers from Miami-Northwestern
(High School) that I know can't
hold Martavious's jockstrap."
Michigan saw his football tal-
ent, and the tight-knit Pahokee
football community respected the
school for giving him a chance.
But it's about more than just
football. When Rodriguez came
to Pahokee to visit with fresh-
man Vincent Smith's family, the
running back's cousin, Tyrone,
stopped by the house to meet the
His son'Tyrone Jr., tagged along,
and when Rodriguez met him, he
ruffled Tyrone Jr.'s hair a little,
smiled and joked, "Is he the next
Vincent Smith? We might as well
give him a scholarship already."
It was a small gesture, but in
Pahokee - where the high school
principal banned Tennessee coach
Lane Kiffin from school grounds
after Kiffin made some unkind
comments about the town - but
it means a lot to see a coach who
genuinely cares about the kids.
The bond is there - and it
seems to be there to stay. When
the Odoms family visited last Sat-
urday for the home opener against
Western Michigan, friends and
Pahokee football fans gave them
money so they could bring back
Michigan T-shirts and hats.
"I can almost all but guaran-
tee you that Michigan is going
to land some more of our kids,"
James said. "Martavious has set
the tone. Michigan, on the other
hand, has given them a justified
chance to get out there and play,
to turn that program around."
IT'S A WARM SPRING
AFTERNOON in the local Rec
Center, and students, most of
them athletes, are already start-
ing to trickle in. By 8 p.m., the
brand-new computer lab will be
full to capacity; the library, which
currently holds just a few shelves
of books, will house kids studying
for finals; and a group of Pahokee
football players will pack into a
small recording studio to cut rap
songs to be used as study guides.
The gym will be full of kids who
would rather play basketball or lift
weights in the infamous "House
of Pain" with the solid Rec Center
support staff than go outdoors.
But for now, the building is
dominated by a group of senior
citizens, almost all of whom have
grandsons playing either college
or professional football, enjoy-
ing a game of Bingo in the back
room. Here on the shore of Lake
Okeechobee, a winning card in
the ladies' game seems more out-
of-the-ordinary than a full-ride
scholarship to play football.
James says hello to all the
women. This is his haven - after
nearly 15 years, he can't count
the number of kids he has helped
escape the streets of Palm Beach
County. He realizes that he can't
help them all, but, in spite of
everything surrounding him, he
remains optimistic about the city's
In fact, Pahokee's success on
the football field in the last 10
years seems to be having a positive
effect on the youth community.
"The kids that don't play football
now see the kids that play football
and are getting the opportunity to
get out of Pahokee," James said.
"It's like a domino effect. Kids
that don't play football are trying
to get their education so they can
get up outta here."
He even says one of the kids
he helped tutor at the Rec Center
Pahokee high schoolers lift weights and study at the local Rec Center.
has earned a full-ride scholarship
to the University of Florida this
year - not for athletics, but for
But as much pride as James
takes in the Rec Center's edu-
cational guidance programs, his
heart will always be in Pahokee
football. Last January, Pahokee
native Janoris Jenkins, then a
starting freshman cornerback at
Florida, invited James to the BCS
National Championship game, all
For Jenkins, one of Odoms's
best friends growing up, and every
other player that's ever donned the
blue-and-red, it's not about foot-
ball. It's about life, death and suit-
ing up for a town that doesn't have
anything but football to cling to.
But mostly, it's about earning
a future - at Michigan or other-
"Sitting there with Janoris's
dad and mom and first cousin,
watching him come out of that
tunnel, hearing them introduce
him, seeing him play on that level,
I got teary-eyed," James said. "It
brings back memories of all the
hard work, just trying to make
sure these kids stay in line, to the
point where they put themselves in
position to be on that grand stage.
And to see one of the ones that I
coached from a baby, to see him
in this grand finale, it just - tears
of joy. I mean, National Champi-
onship. Janoris Jenkins, from the
good ole town of Pahokee."
223 North Main Street
Ann Arbor, Michigan
The last time the Michigan-Notre Dame rivalry had this much
hype, the Wolverines walked away with an easy 38-0 victory.
What will happen this year?
Nov. 21 Ohio State: According to Buckeyes quarterback Terrelle Pryor, "Everyone
does ... kills people, murders people, steals from you, steals from me." YIKES.
Who Owns Your Genes?
Intellectual Property, Innovation Policy, and the Future of Genetic Medicine
Date: Monday, September 14 Location: Forum Hall, 4th floor of Palmer Commons
Time: 4:00-5:30, with a panelist and student reception immediately following
e For more event information, please visit www.eisi.umich.edu
"The Ethical, Legal, and Social Implications (ELSI) of Personal Genomics" is a yearlong, university-wide series that seeks
to engage U-M faculty and students in consideration of ELSI issues raised by the rapid expansion of genomic services and
research. Our kickoff event addresses the controversy over patents on the breast and ovarian cancer (BRCA) genes,
which led to a current ACLU class-action lawsuit against the US Patent and Trademark Office and Myriad Genetics.
Shobita Parthasarathy, U-M Assistant Professor at the School of Public Policy, author of "Building Genetic Medicine:
Breast Cancer, Technology, and the Comparative Politics of Health Care;"
Sofia Merajver, U-M Professor of Internal Medicine, Director of the Breast and Ovarian Cancer Risk and Evaluation
Rebecca Eisenberg, U-M Professor at the Law School, author and lecturer about the role of intellectual property in
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