Michigan Football: Twelve Wondrous Wolverines — #5 — Desmond Howard — The Catch, The Pose, The Heisman
Winning a Heisman Trophy is a sure fire way to ascend to the top of any best of the best list in college football. Desmond Howard was best known for acrobatic catches and a punt return that will remain one of the greatest visuals in college football history. And so read on about Desmond Howard the number five Wondrous Wolverine.
Desmond Howard was a Cleveland native, attending St. Joe’s in the tough Cleveland parochial league. It was obvious Desmond had great talent. He piled up big numbers at tailback, enough to earn all-state recognition and All-American honors. On defense, he piled up plenty of interceptions.Desmond was 5’ 10” and about 180 pounds, but he had the ability to make defenders miss and make acrobatic catches. His skills made him a natural high-level threat as a punt and kick returner.
Desmond Howard played three years at Michigan, winning the Heisman Trophy as a junior. His career spanned the years 1989-1991.
As a freshman, Desmond took up the role of wide receiver and scored two touchdowns. As a sophomore, Desmond had a very strong year, catching 63 passes, one more than his Heisman year of 1991. During that sophomore campaign, Desmond increased his touchdown output to eleven and gained more than 1,000 yards receiving.
As all followers of college football know, it was Desmond’s junior season that set him apart. Collectively, the season was a magnificent success with 19 receiving touchdowns and honors that would later flow.
Two plays helped separate Desmond in 1991 from other talented Heisman contenders. The first was against Notre Dame, a team that was on a winning streak against Michigan. On a fourth and one, just inside the Notre Dame 25, everyone’s favorite big play quarterback, Elvis Grbac, fakes the out pattern drawing the corner AND the safety out of position, allowing Howard to run the up. Grbac threw the ball over both defenders and Howard. Howard stretches out and catches the ball cleanly diving through the end zone. In today’s video dominated game management world, the Howard catch would have probably been reviewed for 10 minutes and who knows what verdict some guy with a stop action button would have made.
The second play that separated Desmond Howard was the now immortalized punt return against Ohio State on November 23, 1991. With the ball near midfield, Ohio State gets greedy and attempts to pin Michigan deep. Desmond has room and takes the ball about 92 or 93 yards for the touchdown that led to the iconic pose that instantly became famous. There was no need for video replay on this play, except to enjoy the result.
1991 for Desmond Howard was one of the finest years any college player ever enjoyed. Besides the Heisman, Desmond led the nation in touchdown receptions and led the Big Ten in scoring. Other very notable awards included the Maxwell Award, the Walter Camp Award and being named first team All-American.
The Heisman vote was overwhelming in Desmond’s favor, being one of the biggest runaways ever at that point in history.Desmond Howard played eleven years of pro football. During that time his greatest contributions were in returning kicks, although he did achieve some very modest numbers receiving.
Desmond is currently a successful announcer and certainly can be considered s loyal Wolverine. On a big football night in Ann Arbor, September 11, 2011, when Michigan played Notre Dame in the first night game at Michigan Stadium, Desmond was honored before the game in the electric atmosphere as the first Michigan Football legend. Roy Roundtree donned the number 21 jersey and of course made the winning catch in the end zone. This was indeed a fitting tribute to Desmond Howard, Heisman Trophy winner.
Desmond Howard “Hello Heisman” Video:
Desmond Howard: “The Catch” Video:
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Written by GBMWolverine Staff
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