(Note-Thomas Wilcher (#27) is shown above with the 1986 Big Ten Champion Michigan Wolverine Football Team. Wilcher is seated in the front row – fourth man from the right. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library at The University of Michigan.)
A Slow Start for the Fleet Footed Wilcher on the Football Field in 1982-1984
Thomas WIlcher arrived in Ann Arbor in 1982. He burned his red-shirt as a true freshman and spent a lot of time trying to get stronger and gain some weight. At five fee-ten inches tall and one-hundred eighty-five pounds, he was a little light to be carrying the pigskin regularly in the Big Ten. Of course, he was definitely fast enough!
Wilcher did not play much in his first two seasons on the Michigan varsity football team. He did not earn any starts in 1983 or 1984. He only logged three carries for eight-yards during his first two years.
However, Thomas kept working hard and it paid off in 1985. He totaled 71-carries and gained 355-net yards. Wilcher averaged 5.0 yards per carry and he scored two touchdowns. The Wolverines posted a record of 10-1-1 in 1985 and finished second in the nation! They ended up with a record of 6-1-1 in the conference which was only good enough for second place.
Tomas Wilcher and his teammates were focused on winning Michigan’s first Big Ten Title since 1982 and that’s what they did in 1986. Michigan won seven games and lost one in the conference to earn a share of the championship. They finished with an overall record of 11 wins and 2 losses. Thomas had career bests in carries (91) and net yards (397) and he scored six touchdowns. He upped his average to 5.3 yards per carry.
So, Thomas Wilcher had a very good run at Michigan. He only made 3 starts at running back, but he played a lot of Wolverine football in 1985 and 1986. He earned two varsity letters and played on a Big Ten Championship team. Thomas also excelled on the track and left as a record setting athlete when he graduated.
He was also part of some notable Wolverine football “firsts.”
· In 1985 Wilcher was on the first, and only, team that beat all four rivals (Notre Dame, Minnesota, Michigan State, and Ohio State) in the same season during the Bo Era.
· Was on Bo’s first, and only, Fiesta Bowl championship team in January 1986. (Note-that team also finished 2nd in the nation at the end of the year which was the first, and only, time a Schembechler team was ranked that high at the end of the season.)
· He was the first Michigan Man to win a Big Ten Football Championship and a national indoor championship (55-meter hurdles) and earn All-American honors as an indoor (1985) and outdoor track athlete (1986). Thomas still holds many Michigan hurdling records to this day!
· Thomas Wilcher played in Michigan’s first games ever against Florida State, Hawaii and Arizona State during the 1986 season.
Bottom line – Thomas WIlcher had a solid football career at Michigan and a spectacular one in track and field. He was another highly-recruited player who became a champion, just like Bo promised! Happy Birthday Thomas Wilcher. Thanks for your outstanding contributions to Wolverine Football and to the University of Michigan. Hail to the Victors and Go Blue!
To read more about Coach Thomas WIlcher go to the links below:
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