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Michigan's Mount Rushmore: Desmond Howard

As a part of Maize n Brew's partnership with BTN on deciding who should be on Michigan's Mount Rushmore, I'll take a look at one of the most dynamic players to ever wear the winged helmet...Desmond Howard.

RVR Photos-USA TODAY Sports

I've seen it, you've seen it, everyone in your neighborhood has seen it. Your dog has seen it. Some of you saw it live in the stadium that day, others like me watched it on television. Some of our younger readers have seen it only through highlight reels and in the video I have below, or (gasp!) weren't even born yet. It's the most iconic pose in college football history. Well, it's an imitation that has become every bit as iconic as the original...

Would you blame me if I ended this post right here? Probably not. But there was more to Desmond Howard's career than the pose. There was also a catch that started the entire Heisman run in 1991...

What about Desmond Howard?

Although Howard's Michigan career ran from 1989-1991, it was the '90 and '91 seasons that put him in the spotlight in the Big Ten and nationally, culminating in the 1991 Heisman Trophy.

1990 1991
Receptions 63 (1st in Big Ten)
62 (2nd in Big Ten)
Receiving Yards 1025 (9th in NCAA; 1st in Big Ten) 985 (1st in Big Ten)
Yards Per Reception 16.3 (4th in Big Ten)
15.9 6th (6th in Big Ten)
Receiving Touchdowns 11 (5th in NCAA; 1st in Big Ten) 19 (1st in NCAA & Big Ten)
Yards from Scrimmage 1083 (9th in Big Ten) 1165 (6th in Big Ten)
Touchdowns from Scrimmage 11 (5th in Big Ten) 21 (1st in Big Ten; 3rd in NCAA)

During his junior season, he averaged just under 30 yards on kick returns, tallied 63 receptions for 1,025 yards, and scored 11 times. It was his 138 points scored for Michigan in 1991 that put him the history books as the first receiver in the history of the Big Ten to lead the conference in scoring.

Why is Desmond Howard important?

The short and easy answer, but not the wrong one, is that he was only the second Heisman-winner for the Wolverines, and the first one since Harmon won it over 50 years earlier in 1940. Let's also remember that there have been only four receivers to win the trophy since its inception.

The longer answer to the above question is that by the time Desmond Howard left the University of Michigan, he totaled 134 receptions for 2,146 yards and 32 touchdowns. The 2,146 put him at third all-time behind Anthony Carter's 3,076 and Greg McMurtry's 2,163. Howard is also third all-time in career TDs, sitting behind Anthony Carter (again) and Braylon Edwards.

The one stat on which Howard still has a firm grip is the single-season record for receiving touchdowns. He broke A.C.'s record of 14 and finished the 1991 season with 19 scores. Since '91, Braylon Edwards (15) David Terrell (14) are the only Michigan receivers to even sniff Howard's record. And if you think about it, the actual on-field difference between 19 touchdowns and 15 touchdowns really isn't that close.

It wasn't just receiving the football where Howard could be dangerous, either. In 1991 he had 13 rushes for 180 yards, for a whopping 13.8 average and two touchdowns. There was virtually nothing he couldn't do on the field.

Many years have passed since Desmond Howard was thrilling us and setting records, and other players have passed him by in the books. But there have been few men receiving the ball who were able to accomplish what he did. Records upon records and the second largest margin of victory in Heisman voting history (although it was the largest margin at the time, with 85% of first-place votes). His other awards in 1991 include the Maxwell Award for the best college football player of the year, and the Walter Camp Award for the Player of the Year. As with Bennie Oosterbaan, Howard's performance and awards came at a time when the ground game was still king in college football.

Watch the videos one more time--great players do great things against their biggest rivals, and returning that kick against the Buckeyes was something that still gives fans everywhere the chills. It's the "Heisman moment" that many players have had that seals the deal.

If any of you are still unsure about Desmond Howard's place on Michigan's Mount Rushmore, remember that he was the first, the first, player to be honored with the distinction of being designated a Legend.

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