Former Michigan running back Rob Lytle will be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a member of the 2015 class, the National Football Foundation announced Friday (Jan. 9) in Irving, Texas. He will be the 30th Wolverine to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame -- the first since former coach Lloyd Carr in 2011 and first former player since Desmond Howard in 2010.
Lytle, who was referred to as "the greatest back I ever coached" by Bo Schembechler, played for Michigan in 1973-76. As a senior and team captain in 1976, Lytle had one of the greatest seasons ever achieved by a Michigan running back. He ran for 1,469 yards, which then set a single-season program record and now is the seventh-most yards ever run by a Wolverine in a season, and 14 touchdowns. Lytle led the Wolverines to a 10-2 record, a win over rival Ohio State in Columbus, a Big Ten championship, a Rose Bowl appearance, and a No. 3 ranking in the final AP and Coaches polls. Accordingly, he was a consensus first-team All-American and finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting.
Lytle also had one of the greatest careers ever achieved by a Michigan running back. In his four years there, Michigan tallied a 38-5-2 record and won three Big Ten titles. When he left Ann Arbor, Lytle had 3,317 rushing yards, which was the most by any Wolverine in a career and now is the eighth-most at U-M, and 26 rushing touchdowns to his name.
After his career at Michigan, Lytle was selected in the second round of the 1977 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos and spent seven seasons with them. In his rookie season, he guided the Broncos to Super Bowl XII, where Denver fell to the Dallas Cowboys, 27-10. Lytle scored Denver's only touchdown in that game, earning him the distinction of being the first player to score a touchdown in both the Rose Bowl and the Super Bowl.
When Lytle retired from the NFL in 1983, he returned to his hometown of Fremont, Ohio, to raise his family and begin his post-football professional career. Tragically, in November 2010, Lytle passed away following a heart attack at the age of 56.
Lytle will be one of 17 players and coaches to receive induction at the 58th NFF Annual Awards Dinner held on December 8, 2015 at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City. Lytle will be the only member of the 2015 class posthumously inducted.
Editor's Note: Maize n Brew was able to obtain a written statement from the Lytle family regarding Lytle's induction into the Hall of Fame.
It goes as follows:
Today, my family is speechless. We are honored by the announcement of my father's election as a member of the 2015 College Football Hall of Fame Class, and we are thankful to the National Football Foundation, the University of Michigan, and all those who supported his nomination. This is a special reward for our family to know that he will join an elite collection of men, football players, and coaches.
My father's on-field achievements are well noted, but it was his passion for the game, commitment to his teammates, and humility that made the way he played football special. The University of Michigan and legendary coach Bo Schembechler reinforced my dad's values of discipline, dedication, sacrifice, and work ethic, and he always held his years in Ann Arbor with reverence.
I can picture my father learning today's news, an embarrassed but proud smile sweeping across his face, and I can hear him saying thank you to his coaches, teammates, family, friends, Michigan, and everyone who supported him as he worked to deflect any praise coming his way. Then, in private, he would flash his sly grin and say, "I earned it, didn't I?" And finally acknowledge his accomplishment.
On behalf of my father and my family, I want to say thank you to everyone who made this honor and tribute possible.