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Profiles in Michigan Boldness: The University of Michigan's Desmond Howard

"Fortes fortuna adiuvat"

Loosely translated, "history favors the bold." Looking back over the modern history of Michigan football, there is ample evidence of this. Lloyd Carr's love of splitting Charles Woodson's time between DB and WR. Tom Brady's epic Orange Bowl against Alabama. Mike Hart's mouth. Braylon Edwards flat out demanding the ball against Michigan State. All these players and coaches said, "The Hell With It," gave indecision the middle finger, and went for the win regardless of the odds against them. But good luck finding a bolder player in Michigan's modern football history than Desmond Howard. And good luck finding anyone who backed up that boldness with incredible play.

Desmond is basically a walking smile. He is the only man on Earth who could walk around with a cape and make it look fashionable. The man could be wearing a garbage can, but as long as he smiles, it's all good. But, as a general rule, smile and the world couldn't give a crap less. But smile after you've finished your college career setting or tying five NCAA and 12 Michigan records; become the first receiver (and I believe the only receiver) to lead the Big Ten Conference in scoring (138 points during the 1991 season); and, won the Heisman Trophy, Maxwell Award, Walter Camp Award, and earned first-team All-American honors. It doesn't hurt that you won the Heisman Trophy with 85% of the first place votes (which was the largest margin in the history of the trophy at that time). So at that point, yeah, smile and the world will do whatever you want.

While playing at Michigan, Desmond was the opposite of a shrinking violet. He was good, damn good, and he knew it. Whenever you saw Howard on the sideline he was smiling. And that was because he was usually returning from the endzone after breaking the opposing team's heart. To say Desmond was bold during his 1991 season doesn't do it justice. He wanted the Heisman. He actively campaigned for and he backed up his brash/bold talk on the dais with even bolder play. Blowing by the nation's top defensive backs. Leading the nation in return yards and gobbling up pass after pass after pass. By the time the Then he took boldness to a new level against Ohio State in 1991.

With Michigan leading Ohio State 17-3 with little time remaining in the first half, Howard ambled back to his 10 yard line to receive a punt from Ohio State. Catching the Punt at the 7, Howard juked the first tackler and exploded down the left sideline toward the endzone. By the time Howard had reached his own 40 yard line, it was over. Right hand in the air Howard crossed the goal line, switched the ball to his right hand, and history was made.

Fortune favors the bold. And only Desmond was bold enough to pose for the Heisman two weeks before he won it.