Today is another great day to make a Happy Birthday wish to a Michigan Man named Elvis Grbac. According to the 1991 Michigan Media Guide, Elvis M. Grbac was born on this day at Cleveland, Ohio. He grew up in Cleveland and attended St. Joseph High School. Elvis played football and basketball at St. Joseph. He was good enough to earn a scholarship to Ohio State, but opted out after the Buckeyes fired Earl Bruce. So, he decided to follow high school teammate, Desmond Howard to Michigan. It turned out to be a very good decision for Elvis, Desmond and Michigan!
(Note – Elvis Grbac (#15) is shown above with the 1992 Big Ten Champion Michigan Wolverine Football team. He is seated in the first row – eighth man from the left. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library at The University of Michigan.)
Elvis Grbac’s name first appeared on a Michigan Football Roster in 1988. He did not play in 1988. He spent his time learning how to play quarterback in Bo Schembechler’s system. As it turned out, he learned his lessons well!
Grbac did not win the starting quarterback job at the beginning of the 1989 season, but he did an admirable job in the first game against #1 ranked Notre Dame. He replaced starting quarterback an injured Michael Taylor and almost engineered a huge upset. Elvis started the next four games and led the Wolverines to four straight wins. Elvis was back on the sidelines when Taylor returned. However, he saw a lot of action during the rest of the season and earned his first letter. Michigan finished the 1989 season with a final record of 10 wins and 2 losses. The Wolverines gave Bo his thirteenth, and last, Big Ten Championship.
Elvis Grbac didn’t share the quarterback duties with anyone in 1990. He started all twelve games and earned his second varsity letter. Elvis proved himself to be an effective leader on Gary Moeller’s first Michigan team. He set some passing records and came within six points of leading the Wolverines to an undefeated season. Michigan ended the season at 9 wins and 3 losses. They won a share of the Big Ten Title with a record of 6 wins and 2 losses.
The Wolverines were ranked at #2 to start the 1991 season and Elvis Grbac was one of the BIG reasons for this lofty status. The Wolverines won their first two games and Elvis completed his most famous pass to Desmond Howard (The Catch) to seal the deal in a win over Notre Dame. Elvis and Desmond became a dynamic duo who rewrote the record books. Of course, Desmond Howard won the Heisman Trophy at the end of the season and Elvis got a BIG assist for helping his high school friend run to glory! The Wolverines ended the 1991 season with a final record of 10 wins and 2 losses. They were perfect in the Big Ten at 8-0-0 and won the championship for the fourth straight season. Life was good for Elvis and Michigan!
Captain Elvis Grbac (along with Co-Captains Corwin Brown and Chris Hutchinson) was back for his final season in 1992, but Desmond Howard was not. Desmond decided to take the money and run to the NFL. People wondered if Elvis would still be productive without his top receiver. As it turned out, Elvis did just fine in 1992. Although he had a lot of young receivers to throw to, he did have a guy named Derrick Alexander who was coming back from a broken leg. Elvis threw a lot of balls to Alexander and Derrick caught enough to earn All-American honors. Although Grbac’s individual numbers were down, his wins and losses were better in 1992. Actually, Michigan didn’t have any losses in 1992, but they did tie three games. So, Elvis, and his teammates, came within 3 points of a perfect 12-0-0 season. Instead, they finished with a final record of 9-0-3 and went 6-0-
Elvis Grbac is the only quarterback in Michigan Football History to start games in four Big Ten Championship seasons (1989 to 1992). Elvis led the Wolverines to an overall record of 28-5-3 as a starter. He also posted a record of 20-2-2 in his Big Ten starts. Grbac led Michigan to two Big Ten Championships and a share of a third. He earned first team All-Big Ten honors in 1991 and 1992 and helped Desmond Howard earn Heisman glory and All-American honors along with Derrick Alexander. I guess you could say that Elvis Grbac was a winner. Personally, I don’t think he gets enough credit for his amazing career at Michigan. Yes, he was a good one! Grbac went on to a successful NFL career after he left Michigan
So, today is a good day to wish Elvis Grbac a very “Happy Birthday!” He left the building called the Big House in 1992, but he will always be remembered for being a part of some of the most memorable days, and plays, in the history of that amazing structure! Thank you Elvis, for your contributions to the great history of Michigan football! Go Blue!
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