Today, I want to wish a very Happy Birthday to Michigan Man Michael Hart. According to the Wikipedia article linked below, Leon Michael “Mike” Hart was born on this day in New York. He grew up outside Syracuse, New York and became an outstanding student athlete. He was a stellar running back at Onondaga High School where he scored 204 touchdowns and set a national record for trips to the end zone! Although many schools expressed interest in his talents, Mike Hart decided that Michigan would be the place for him. It turned out to be an excellent choice for Hart and for the Wolverines.
(Note – Michael Hart (#20) is shown above with the 2007 Michigan Football team. He is seated in front row – fifth man from the left. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library at The University of Michigan.)
Mike Hart enrolled at Michigan in the fall of 2004. Unlike most freshman, he started eight games at tailback and set a freshman record for rushing yards with 1,455. He earned his first of four varsity letters on a team that finished with a record of 9 wins and 3 losses. Michigan posted a record of 7 wins and 1 loss in the conference and tied for the championship. So, Mike hart’s career was off to a good start in Ann Arbor.
Michael Hart came back ready to contribute more in 2005. He battled injuries, but still started eight more games for the Wolverines who slipped to 7 wins and 5 losses. It was the worst season in Lloyd Carr’s tenure. Michigan won five and lost three in the conference which tied them for third place. It was not a year to remember for Hart or his teammates.
During the 2006 season, Mike started all thirteen games for Michigan. He put up some impressive numbers and helped lead the Wolverines to a record of 11 wins and 2 losses. Michigan finished with a record of 7 wins and 1 loss in the conference which earned them a second-place finish. Mike Hart was named co-MVP (along with David Harris) on the 2006 team. Hart also earned first team All-Big Ten honors in 2006. It was easily the best season of Mike Hart’s career at Michigan. The 2006 was definitely better than the 2005 campaign, but the last two games left a bad taste in the mouth of every Wolverine!
Expectations were running high in Ann Arbor to start the 2007 season. The fifth ranked Wolverines had a ton of returning stars and plenty of very good players like Mike Hart. Everyone was expecting great things from Michigan in 2007. Unfortunately, Appalachian State and Oregon did not believe all the pre-season hype about Michigan. The Wolverines lost their first two home games for the first time since 1959. Michigan was now on a four-game losing streak dating back to the last two games of the 2006 season. It was time to see what the Wolverines were made of.
As it turned out, Co-Captains Mike Hart and Jake Long knew that Michigan was a very good football team. They picked their teammates up and led the way as the Wolverines won eight straight games. Michigan was right in the middle of the race for the Big Ten title with two games remaining in the season. Unfortunately, they lost the last two games of the regular season to Wisconsin and Ohio State to finish second in the Big Ten. Lloyd Carr had announced his retirement earlier in the season and the Wolverines sent him out on a high note with a 41-35 win over Florida in the Capital One Bowl.
Michael Hart had a record-setting career at Michigan. He broke just about every major rushing record in the books. Hart was a ferocious competitor who pushed himself, and his teammates, to be the best. He is the “first” running back in Michigan Football History in a number of areas. Here are some of the best “firsts” that connect Mike Hart to Michigan Football:
So, thanks to Michael Hart for his notable contributions to the great history of Michigan Football. Please take a moment to appreciate everything that Mike Hart did for Michigan. Of course, he is now a very successful running backs coach at Indiana, so, we will see and hear more from Mike Hart in the future. Happy Birthday Mike Hart. Thanks for the memories and Go Blue!
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