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September 07, 1995 - Image 52

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1995-09-07
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10-The MIchIganDaly- ckof --h9 day,SepT llber7, 1995
Defensive line ready to rumble -

TheMIchkan Dy-Kickoff'95-Twsday,September 7,1995-15
Amani Toomer keeps coming back to Michigan

By Scott Burton
The Michigan defense wasn't ex-
actly a source of pride and joy last sea-
son, but the Wolverines did find some
redemptive value in their defensive
Led by tackles Trent Zenkewicz
and Jason Horn, both of whom return
for the 1995 season, the Wolverines fin-
ished second in the Big Ten in rushing
defense (124.2 yards per game) and
fourth in sacks (29).
"In the last few years, I don't know
of any schools year in and year out that
have done a better job defensively than
Michigan," Ohio State coach John Coo-
per said.
The Wolverines are even more en-
couraged by the potential of this season's
defensive line. Seniors Zenkewicz and
Horn were the team's fourth- and sev-
enth-leading tacklers last season, and
Michigan also returns the vastly im-
proved Glen Steele.
"I think our defense is going to be
one of the strong points of this team.,"
Horn said. "I look forward to playing
with these guys."

The Wolverines plan on steadily ro-
tating a large number of player forma-
tions into the game, which will certainly
test the depth of their linemen. To that
end, young but talented players such as
freshmen Juaquin Feazell, Pat Kratus
and converted linebacker Rasheed
Simmons will play key roles.
"That will be the tell-tale sign of how
the team comes together," tight end Jay
Riemersma said. "How the defensive
and offensive lines end up playing."
The play was certainly encouraging
in the Wolverines' opening-weekend
victory over Virginia. Take away a 81-
yard bust-out run by Tiki Barber, and
Michigan held Virginia to 76 rushing
yards. The Wolverine line also recorded
three sacks and nine tackles for loses.
"I think that in the heat the defense
hung in there," coach Lloyd Carr said.
"They never stopped playing hard and
they got pressure on the quarterback all
day long."
The youngsters did their part, led by
Feazell. The freshman recorded four
tackles and one sack. Simmons, who
redshirted last season, helped out on

passing and third-down situations.
"Rasheed has built himself strength-
wise and he had a very good spring,"
Carr said. "He could have played some a
year ago, but we didn't want to waste a
year of eligibility."
Such a stalwart team effort will
have to be typical fare if Michigan
hopes to compete in the Big Ten. Five
conference teams (Ohio State, Minne-
sota, Indiana, Purdue and Iowa) return
1000-yard rushers, while Ki-Jana
Carter-less Penn State still sports a for-
midable offensive line.
Defensive line
Name Position Yr./Elig,
Juaquiln Feazell DE So,/Fr.
Glen Steele DE Jr./So,
Rasheed Simmons DE So/Fr.
Pat Kratus DE Fr/Fr.
Trent Zenkewicz DT Sr/Sr.
Ben Huff DT Jr/So.
Jason Horn DT Sr./Sr.
William Carr DT Jr./Jr.
starters in bold

By Ryan White
mani Toomer wanted to go
home. He was more than 2,000
miles away from where he
grew up in sunny Berkeley, Calif. --
and he was homesick.
It was only his second semester at
Michigan, but he was thinking about
not returning for a third.
"I wasn't ready for college life and
all the responsibilities that come with
it," Toomer says now, three years later.
"I was used to living at home and not
having alot of the responsibilities you
have to go through in terms of college.
Nobody tells you to do anything, you
have to do itall on yourown."
So, he had a decision to make.
He didn't havea bad season in
1992. He caught 16 balls, for 238 yards
and one touchdown, and saw major
playing time in the Rose Bowl against
Washington as true freshman.
The advice he got from his family
was to stay, to finish what he started.
Eventually, that is exactly what Toomer
He came back, he stuck it out and he
became one of the top receivers in the
Last season, Toomer became only
the third player in Michigan history to
record over 1000 yards receiving, and
his 1,096 yards setthe Wolverines'
single season mark.
He was named first-team All-Big
Ten by both the coaches and the media
and was also a finalist forthe Biletnikoff
Award, given annually to the nation's top
Toomer began this season on the
cover and preseason All-America
teams of almost every college football
preview sold in the area.
It was enough media attention to
give even the most down-to-earth person
an ego, but Toomer has grown enough to
keep it in perspective.
The numbers show how Toomer
has matured as a football player. He has
upped his numbers every year.
What his stats don't tell you is how
Toomer has matured as a person.
The child of three years ago is gone.
In his place is a young man who is
insightful and who is focused on the
goals in front of him.

his team played.
"I wasn't satisfied with the way ouar
season went last year," he says. "Tha
was one of the factors that kept me here.
What really bothered Toomer was
not so much how the Wolverines
finished, but where.
His sophomore year he ended the
season in Tampa, Fla. at the Hall of
Fame Bowl. Last year Michigan was in
San Diego at the Holiday Bowl.
Nice locals, but neither is where the
Wolverines traditionally want to end
Toomer wants to go to the Rose
Bowl. He wants to finish his career on
top of the Big Ten, and he knows this is
"I'm not going to get another
opportunity," he says.
The decision to stay wasn't really
one that Toomer, or his family ever
agonized over. About the only time it
was brought up was when someone
asked them about it.
Toomer did, however, talk to one
person in particular about his situation.
One person who might surprise you.
He talked to Colorado wide receiver
Michael Westbrook, the player that a
few months earlier had puta stake
through the Wolverines' season and
Toomer was visiting his brother
after last season and went to the East!
West Shrine Game. There he spoke
with Westbrook who convinced
Toomer that he was making the right
"He pretty much said that 'I was in
the same position as you are last year,
and I just felt that I wasn't ready
because it's a lot of stuff that you don't
really know until you go through it."'
So for the second time in three
years, Toomer would remain at
Then came the summer.
Gary Moeller's drunken rampage in
a Southfield restaurant forced him out
as head coach and it seemed that the
program was in turmoil.
Who would the next coach be?
When would he be named? What did all
of this mean to the Wolverines' chances
this season?
The questions piled up like dirty

As soon as they
named coach Carr I
was pleased with the
decision. It kind of
reassured me that we
had a real shot at the
Rose Bowl."
Amani Toomer
Michigan wide receiver
socks in the back of a closet.
Toomer, however, never worried.
Michigan announced that Lloyd
Carr would move from defensive
coordinator to head coach, and that was
all Toomer needed to hear.
"As soon as they named coach Carr
I was pleased with the decision,"
Toomer says. "It kind of reassured me
that we had a real shot at the Rose
Toomer must be even more assured


Jarrett irons will play a key role In Michigan's transition to a 4-3 defense.
Lnebackers accept
additional burden

Last season's Colorado game is one of the reasons Toomer returned to
Michigan instead of entering the NFL Draft.

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By Darren Everson
Switching from a 3-4 defensive
alignment to a 4-3 instantly puts an
added burden on the inside or middle
linebacker. Since there's one less line-
backer, the defense depends on him to
make even more tackles.
Fortunately for Michigan, which
made such a switch for the 1995 season,
Jarrett Irons
doesn't mind.
"I just think Unebackers
there's a normal
amount of pres-
sure on me," David Bowens
Irons said. Mlke Elston
Ironsaplayed ChridSingletary
like is against Jsrrett Irons
Virginia, giving a Clint Copenhaver
performance that Jeff Springer
was par for the Rob Swett
course: He had Sam Sword
12 tackles (eight starters in bold
of them solos),
leading the team
in that department, just like he did in
1993. However, there was one that got
away - Tiki Barber's 81-yard touch-
down run on a draw.
"It was poor tackling on my part. I
didn't get my head out in front," Irons
said. "I've made thatsplay before."
ers before. After becoming the second
freshman everto lead Michigan in tackles
(Erick Anderson also did it in '91), he
made 115 tackles last year, 20 more than
the'year before. So he isn't going to start
hanging his head after one blown tackle.

"You've got to throw those plays
away," he said. "You've got to go on. "
It's appropriate that Irons sounds so
forgiving of mistakes. Many of the key
players in his unit and on the team are
young. When discussing the pros and
cons of pulling quarterback Scott
Dreisbach after an error-plagued first
half against the Cavaliers, Irons brought
up his missed tackle.
"Are you gonna pull
me?" he said.
If the Wolver-
Yr./E. ines did, they would
0LB Fr./Fr, be without their
OLB Jr./So. only returning
OLB So/Fr. starterat linebacker.
11.1 Sr./Jr. All seven players
ILB So./Fr. who started at some
I LB Sr./Jr. point last season are
OLB Jr./So- gone with the ex-
OLB So./Fr. ception of Glen
Steele, whoreturned
to the line.
Stepping in are
sophomores Rob Swett, who played in 11
games last year, and Mike Elston, who
appeared in six. Those two started the Vir-
ginia game, but true freshman David
Bowens saw some playing time as well.
"He's athletic, and for a young kid,
he's avery mature guy," coach Lloyd Carr
said. "He's not awed stall about beings
The trio of Bowens, Elston and
Singletary replaces the Matt Dyson-
Trevor Pryce-Kerwin Waldroup group
that patrolled the outside backer spots last

"You have to take that kind of stuff
with a grain of salt," Toomer says of the
honors that have already been bestowed
upon him this year. "It's preseason and
it's just off what happened last year.
"I kind of look at it as it's nice to
have and to show your kids when
you're older, but aside from that it's
just preseason hype."
It isjust hype. But as Toomer points
out it's based on last year's output.
Output that made him a prime
candidate for the NFL Draft.
He finished first in the Big Ten and
eighth in the nation in receiving last
season with an average of 93.9 yards a

Plus, quarterback Todd Collins was
graduating and there wasn't a single
replacement coming in with any real
game experience.
Why not go? Why risk the millions
that are the difference between being
chosen in the first round or second?
"I didn't feel like I was ready to go
out and find an agent, and all the
different aspects of pro football,"
Toomer says. "I didn't want to rush
anything because I'm not really
worried about my stock."
The only thing that really concerned
Toomer after last season was the way

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Growth of a Toomor
Passing Totals Receiving Totals
Year No Yards TD Ne Yards TD
1994 54 1096 6 17 118 1
1993 29 565 4 3 3 0
1992 16 238 1 2 22 0
Career 99 1899 11 22 143 1
Career highs
Reception: 65 yards -twice, last vs. Colorado in 1994
Receptions: 7 -twice, last vs. Penn State in 1994
Yards: 179 - Boston College in 1994
Receiving T: 2-twice, last vs. Minnesota in 1994
Punt Return: 72 yards - Illinois (TD) in 1994
Kickoff Return: 49 Yards--Minnesota
Eligibility: Junior Height: 6-foot-4 Weight: 194
Hometown: Berkeley, Calif. High School: DeLaSalle


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