Today is the perfect day to wish happy birthday to Michigan great Tyrone A. Wheatley. According to the Wikipedia article linked below, Tyrone Anthony Wheatley was born on this day at Inkster, Michigan. However, before we take a closer look at Wheatley’s stellar Michigan career, we will look at yesterday and today’s trivia questions.
Who was the first African American football coach in Michigan Football History?
Bo Schembechler was always looking for hard workers to be on his staff. Tirrel Burton was a very hard working coach and Bo noticed! Schembechler lured Mr. Burton away from Miami University in Ohio in 1970. Despite his love for Miami, Tirrel Burton knew that he could not turn down the opportunity to coach for Bo and Michigan. As it turned out, that was the last time Tirrel Burton ever moved!
Tirrel Burton coached the freshman team at Michigan from 1970 to 1971. Then, Burton took over the challenge of coaching Michigan’s receivers, and teaching them to block first and catch second! Jim Smith, one of his best pupils, earned first team All-American honors in 1976.
Bo gave Tirrel Burton another challenge in the 1980 when he put him in charge of Michigan’s running backs. Tirrel coached a lot of excellent ball carriers from 1980 to 1991. His best student was probably Butch Woolfolk who earned All-American honors in 1981.
Tirrel Burton remained the Michigan running backs coach until his retirement in May 1992. He continued to work at Michigan in an administrative capacity for five years before he became a full-time “golf” retiree. Tirrel Burton had a 27-year association with Michigan that earned him the respect of his players, peers, and everyone in the Michigan community. He was a “class act” who always gave his best and brought out the best in his players.
Mr. Burton was the first African-American football coach ever hired at Michigan. To his credit, he turned out to be a great coach and a better man. He made valuable contributions in a number of capacities to the history of Michigan Football and the success of the Michigan Athletic Department. Sadly, Tirrel Burton died on January 17, 2017 at the age of eighty-seven. May Tirrel Burton continue to rest in eternal peace. Go Blue!
To read more about the life of Tirrel Burton go to the link below:
Who is the only man in Michigan Football History to play for the Wolverines and have a brother who became President of the United States?
Tyrone Anthony Wheatley, Senior, came to Ann Arbor from Dearborn Heights, Michigan in 1991. He was an absolute superstar at Robichaud High School in Inkster, Michigan. Wheatley was a rugged football player who was named Mr. Football in the State of Michigan in 1990. Tyrone was just as impressive on the track. He won numerous state championships while in high school.
Tyrone Wheatley played at Michigan when freshman were eligible to play, but only if they were good enough! Well, as we all know, Tyrone Wheatley was definitely good enough to play as a freshman! Wheatley did not start any games in his first year, but he played in ten games and averaged 6.4 yards per carry in 86 attempts in 1991. Needless to say, his Wolverine career got off to a “fast” start and he just kept on running.
Once he got on the field, Tyrone Wheatley stayed on the field. He started eight games in 1992, and nine games each in 1993 and 1994. He was a four-year letterman at Michigan and contributed heavily to some very good Michigan football teams.
By the time he graduated, Tyrone A. Wheatley was one of the best running backs in the history of Michigan Football. He finished as a three-time All-Conference running back (1992, 1993 and 1994) and was the Big Ten’s Offensive Player of the Year in 1992. Tyrone finished eighth in the 1993 Heisman Trophy voting. He also won the Frederick Matthaei Award in 1992 for his excellent drive and leadership on the field and in the classroom.
Wheatley’s name is all over the Michigan Record Book! In 1992, Tyrone A. Wheatley averaged 7.3 yards per carry and gained over thirteen hundred yards (1,357). His incredible speed allowed him to log eight career runs over fifty yards. His 88-yard touchdown scamper in the 1993 Rose Bowl is still the longest run by a Michigan player in that game.
Bottom line − not too many players accomplished as much in a career as Tyrone A. Wheatley. He went on to a successful career in the National Football League. Of course, his football coaching career is really on the rise. Maybe his Jacksonville running backs will lead the Jags to an upset win at New England on Sunday. That would be a belated birthday present that he wouldn’t mind waiting for!
So, today is a good day to remember a true, blue, Michigan Man named Tyrone A. Wheatley. I hope that Coach Wheatley will be working hard today, but I hope that he has a very happy birthday today. Go Blue!
To read more about the life and times of Tyrone A. Wheatley check out the link below.