The purpose of today’s blog is to celebrate the Happy Birthday Anniversary of a Wolverine named Tom G. Kuzma. A native of Indiana, Tom George Kuzma was born on this day in 1922. According, to the Wikipedia article linked below, Kuzma attended Emerson High School in Gary, Indiana. He excelled in three sports (football, basketball and track) in high school. He chose to focus on football when he came to Michigan in 1940.
It is interesting to note that Kuzma followed another famous Wolverine, Tom Harmon, from Gary, Indian to Ann Arbor, Michigan. Like Harmon, Kuzma was tall (6’ 1”) and strong (198 pounds). There were lots of comparisons between the two men, but Kuzma lacked the outstanding speed that Harmon displayed on the football field. Tom Kuzma did not come to Ann Arbor to become another Tom Harmon. He came to be the best player that he could become at Michigan.
Tom G. Kuzma was a triple threat player. He could run, pass and kick. The talented Kuzma also played defense and he punted for Fritz Crisler and returned them too! He put in a lot of work in every game that he played for the Wolverines! Kuzma did not get a lot of playing time in 1940, he mostly just watched Harmon amaze the football world on the way to the Heisman Trophy. Maybe he tackled the talented Harmon in practice a few times, or maybe not! Tom Kuzma did not play enough to earn a letter in 1940.
Tom Harmon graduated in May of 1941 and it was Tom G. Kuzma’s turn to step up in the Michigan backfield. Kuzma played very well in his sophomore season. He started seven games and led Michigan in total offense with 898 yards and averaged 4.5 yards per play. He also led Michigan in punting with a 36.7 yards per kick and also led the Wolverines in scoring with 48 points (8 touchdowns). He earned his first varsity letter in year two on a Wolverine team that finished with a record of 6-1-1. Michigan ended the season with a Big Ten record of 3-1-1 which earned them a tie for second place.
Tom Kuzma was back to improve his performance in 1942. Unfortunately, he missed five games due to injury. When he did play, he played very well. He scored six touchdowns in the last five games of the season and also threw one touchdown pass. Michigan finished the 1942 season with a record of 7 wins and 3 losses. They tied for third place in the conference with a record of 3-2-0.
Like most men in his generation, Tom G. Kuzma got the call to serve his country in 1943. After he completed his military service obligation, he returned to Michigan, but not to the football field. However, Kuzma graduated in 1947 and enjoyed a very successful business career.
So, today is a good day to remember a true-blue Michigan Man named Tom G. Kuzma. He was a two-year football letterman, a war hero, and a card-carrying member of America’s Greatest Generation. He lived a long and successful life that ended on May 19, 1996 at the age of seventy-four. Kuzma, and his teammates, contributed thirteen wins to the all-time Wolverine victory total. Take a moment today to remember Tom Kuzma and appreciate his contributions to the great history that is Michigan Football! May Tom G. Kuzma continue to Rest In Peace. Go Blue!
Who is the first Wolverine to record over 500 career tackles?
Yes, Ron Simpkins, who was yesterday’s featured Wolverine of the Day is the first, and only, Michigan Wolverine to record over 500 tackles in a career. In fact, he is the all-time record holder with 516 tackles. The next closest man is Jarrett Irons with 440. Bottom line − Ron Simpkins was a great football player for Michigan!
Who was the first Michigan quarterback to start 48 games?