Monday, July 18, 2011
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Howard leads class of16 entering Hall of Fame
By STEPHEN J. NESBITT
Daily Sports Editor
Desmond Howard, a former
Michigan football standout and
current analyst for ESPN College
GameDay, was enshrined into the
College Football Hall of Fame in an
induction ceremony on Saturday.
The prolific wide receiver led a
group of 15 other players and four
coaches into the Hall of Fame in
South Bend, Ind.
"This is a huge honor for me to
be here in South Bend," Howard
said during a teleconference with
reporters on Thursday. "I couldn't
be more proud to go into the Col-
lege Football Hall of Fame as a
"It's not being acknowledged
for a game. It's not being acknowl-
edged for a season - it's being
acknowledged for a whole body of
work - that speaks volumes."
Howard set or tied five NCAA
and 12 Michiganindividual records
in his three-year stint with the
Wolverines. He caught 134 passes
for 2,145 yards and returned three
kicks for touchdowns.
Howard's junior season earned
him the Heisman Trophy - and
Michigan a Rose Bowl berth - and
was punctuated by a kickoff return
for a touchdown against Ohio State
in the season finale that prompted
legendary ABC broadcaster Keith
Jackson to pronounce, "Hello,
Obviously unaware of Jackson's
call, Howard paused for a moment
after crossing the goal line and
struck the infamous Heisman pose,
cementing that image into college
But that's simply the tail end of a
"The Heisman pose is pretty
much the cherry on top," Howard
Twenty years later, Howard
remembers it all.
"It's hard for me to believe (it
was 20 years ago), especially when
I look in the mirror and I'm 20
years older," Howard said. "Feels
like it just happened. The time
flies, it really does."
He remembers the season-open-
er against Boston College, when
he scored four touchdowns, and
he remembers Notre Dame rolling
into town the following week as
the No.7 team in the nation.
And he remembers quarterback
Elvis Grbac's pump-fake and loft
to the end zone on fourth down.
Everyone remembers the rest.
Howard sped past a pair of
defensive backs down the right
sideline and dove to the back cor-
ner of the end zone, making the
iconic catch for a touchdown and
Former Wolverine Desmond Howard won the 1991 Heisman Trophy at Michigan.
another Michigan victory. "At Michigan, playing under
"The touchdown catch against Coach (Bo) Schembechler and
Notre Dame is really what put me Coach (Gary) Moeller, it's never
on the map nationally for a lot of about individualism, it's all about
people, as far as being a legitimate the team, so I never had any goals
Heisman candidate." of becoming All-Big Ten or All-
"The Catch" got the ball rolling, American, or even the Heisman,"
and the reverse for a touchdown Howard said. "So this deal here,
forced Howard to be in serious the Hall of Fame, was never even
Heisman contention in just the sec- on my radar."
and week of the season. Howard will be honored by
But Howard still remembers the Michigan prior to the "Under the
season clearly enough to credit his Lights" tilt against Notre Dame
teammates and coaches for their on Sept. 10, but he thinks his alma
contribution in growing a 5-foot-10 mater should go a little farther and
running back recruit from Cleve- also memorialize Charles Wood-
land into a national icon in college son, who won the Heisman Trophy
football. in 1997.
When asked whether he felt his
jersey should be retired, Howard
had no hesitation.
"I believe it's time, without the
shadow of a doubt," Howard said.
"It's just such a huge honor, and
what I do know for a living is you
travel around and you see how a
lot of these programs have retired
jerseys of players who haven't even
accomplished some of the things
on the field like myself and Wood-
son have accomplished. It's just a
way they try to honor their play-
Howard also announced that
his book, I Wore 21: The Legend
of Desmond Howard, is expect-
ed to be released on Sept. 10, the
same day as the first night game
in Michigan Stadium history. The
190-page book will chronicle How-
ard's life before, during and after
his time in Ann Arbor.
But as he places his lasting leg-
acy in the College Football Hall of
Fame, Howard is just focused on
the three years at Michigan that
brought him into the national spot-
"It's mind-blowing how far I've
come since that first day packing
up the van with my dad and drove
up to Ann Arbor from Cleveland,"
"Who knew the road would take
us to South Bend?"
'M' legend has 'utmost confidence' in Robinson as QB
By STEPHEN J. NESBITT
Daily Sports Editor
In late May, Desmond Howard
found himself in some hot water
after calling out Michigan quar-
terback Denard Robinson when
speaking of the entitlement of
"I'll give you a perfect exam-
ple," Howard said at the Black
Coaches and Administrators con-
vention in St. Petersburg, Fla.
"Michigan fires coach Rich Rodri-
guez. All the noise in Ann Arbor
is, 'Is Denard Robinson going to
stay or leave?' I'm like, 'Hey, if the
kid wants to go, don't let the door
hit you on the way out.' You looked
* fantastic for five games against
nobody. That's what you did.
"I'm not going to deny his tal-
ents, but you ain't won nothing
in Ann Arbor, son! Not so much
we need to worry about if you're
going to be here next year or not."
But in a conference call with
reporters on Thursday regarding
his College Football Hall of Fame
induction, Howard was clear that
there's no bad blood between the
duo of past and present Wolver-
There were worries that Rob-
inson would transfer after Rodri-
guez was relieved of his post in
early January - sending Michi-
gan's highlight reel out the door
with Rodriguez's spread offense -
but Robinson ultimately made the
decision to remain in Ann Arbor to
quarterback the Wolverines.
Even with a new offensive sys-
tem in place under new Michigan
coach Brady Hoke and offensive
coordinator Al Borges, Howard
thinks Robinson will adjust well.
"I have the utmost confidence
that Denard is going to do well
in this offense, because I have
confidence in Denard as a serious
athlete and coach Borges as an
offensive coordinator who knows
how to use the strength of his play-
ers," Howard said. "I spoke with
Denard during spring football,
and I think the most complicated
part for a quarterback like Denard
is to get the footwork down."
The speedy Robinson ran for
1,702 yards in his breakout 2010
season under Rodriguez and
passed for another 2,750 yards,
throwing for 18 touchdowns and
scrambling for another 14 scores.
"Anyone who knows Denard
knows he can throw the ball,"
Howard said. "What happens is,
a lot of people, especially in the
media, get so wowed by his speed
... but there's much more to him ...
He's very serious about becoming
a pro-style quarterback.
"There's no doubt in my mind,
that kid can spit the rock, he can
spit the pill. Just gotta give him
the opportunity to. But, for me, it
starts with the footwork."
While that footwork will be
paramount for the junior quar-
terback, he can always ad lib that
footwork and tear out of the pock-
et to pick up yardage on the run.
"Obviously they're going to
have to work in some other pack-
ages to utilize the things that give
defensive coordinators night-
mares, which is Denard with a
ball in his hands running," How-
Howard said his first experi-
ence meeting Robinson was at the
2009 Michigan football Spring
Game, when early-enrollee quar-
terback Tate Forcier put on the
pads for the first time and Robin-
son looked on from the sidelines.
Robinson showed his high
school status as he strode the side-
line with a red and yellow varsity
jacket from Deerfield Beach High
But his trip home is where he
made his mark with a Michigan
Howard walked through
Detroit Metro Airport awaiting
his flight to Miami and realized
that Robinson was set to climb
aboard the same flight home to
"Denard could've been a guy
who ran a 5.1 40(-meter split), I
didn't know anything about this
kid," Howard recalls. "We just sat
in the airport and talked. That's
when I realized what type of kid
he was - he was really humble,
"His smile, the way he handled
himself, the way he interacted
with me ... he's the type of kid who
you want to see do well.
They really are similar, eh?
"Since then, everyone's called
The brilliant smile and blazing
speed match. But Denard doesn't
have a Heisman Trophy in his
hands - not yet, at least.