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1978 Michigan Football Team | bigbluefootballhistory.com Michigan Wolverine Football History

December 30, 2018 Happy Birthday Harlan Huckleby

Posted on December 29, 2018 by Barry Gallagher

The purpose of today’s blog is to wish a very happy birthday to a Michigan Man named Harlan Huckleby. According to the Wikipedia article linked below, Harlan Charles Huckleby was born on this day in Detroit, Michigan. Harlan was an outstanding athlete at Cass Technical High School. He starred in football and track. In fact, he was a four-time state champion in high school. Yes, he was very, very fast! He received an offer to run track and play football at Michigan and he slowed down long enough to sign the paperwork.

(Note: I am an optimist, always will be. However, I can’t find anything good to say about yesterday’s embarrassing performance. Wow, i’s going to  be a very, very, very looooooong offseason. Ouch!)

Wolverine of the Day: Harlan Huckleby

Harlan Huckleby Michigan Football 1978 | bigbluefootballhistory.com

Harlan Huckleby was an important man on three Big Ten Championship teams from 1976 to 1978. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library at The University of Michigan.

Thanks to the New Rules Huckleby Played Lettered as a Freshman in 1975

Harlan arrived in Ann Arbor in 1975 and played in his freshman year, thanks to the new eligibility rules in college football. He didn’t start any games, but he carried the ball in four games (31 for 228 yards) and earned his first varsity letter. Michigan posted an overall record of 8-2-2 in his first year. The Wolverines ended with a final record of 7 wins and 1 loss in the Big Ten which was only good enough for second place.

A Bigger Role For Huckleby in a Crowded Backfield

Huckleby had a much bigger role on the 1976 Michigan Football team. He started nine games at tailback and put up some impressive numbers. Harlan logged 155 carries and gained 912 net yards. He averaged 5.9 yards per carry and scored 11 touchdowns. Of course, that was good enough to earn his second varsity letter. The Wolverines won 10 of 12 games and tied for the Big Ten Co-Championship with a record of 7-1-0. It was a great time to be a Wolverine player, coach and fan!

Harlan Huckleby came back stronger and ready to play even better in 1977. He started all twelve games at tailback and turned 160 carries into 743 yards. His yards per carry averaged dipped to 4.6 yards, but he did score six touchdowns. Once again, the Wolverines finished with a final record of 10-2-0 and won another conference co-championship with a record of, you guessed it, 7-1-0.

In 1978, Harlan Huckleby started nine more games, but he shared the ball with two pretty good backs named Butch Woolfolk and Roosevelt Smith. Harlan still had 154 carries and he gained 741 yards. He averaged 4.8 yards per carry and scored five more touchdowns. For the third straight year, the Wolverines ended the season the same way they finished the last two. They finished the regular season at 10-2-0 and the Big Ten with a record of 7-1-0 and a third consecutive Big Ten Championship.

Michigan Football Backfield 1978 | bigbluefootballhistory.com

Harlan Huckleby (#25) was an integral part of Michigan’s championship backfield in 1978. Rob Lytle (#41), Russell Davis (#33), Zeka Wallace (#37) and (#7) Rick Leach are the rest of this “Fab Five” backfield. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library at The University of Michigan.

Harlan Huckleby’s Excellent Michigan Career

Harlan Huckleby finished his career with some impressive numbers. He logged exactly 500 carries and totaled 2,624 net yards. Harlan averaged 5.2 yards per carry and he scored 25 touchdowns. When you add in his receiving yards (157) and his kickoff return yards (236) his “all-purpose” yards totaled 3,017! Yes, he had a very productive career in Ann Arbor. He is also famous because:

  • On October 18, 1975, Huckleby, along with Rob Lytle and Gordon Bell, made history when each one of them rushed for 100-yards or more in a 69-0 rout of Northwestern. It was the first time that a trio of Michigan backs ever accomplished that feat. Freshman Harlan Huckleby led the way on that historic day with 157-yards on 16 carries.
  • Harlan Huckleby and Rob Lytle teamed up with Russell Davis on September 18, 1976 and did it again. For the second time in Michigan Football History, and the second time in just under a year, all three men rushed for at least 100-yards. But wait, it gets better – Harlan Huckleby had, you guessed it, exactly 157 yards. Amazing stuff! Oh yes, Michigan beat Stanford 51-0.

Yes, Harlan Huckleby played during a pretty eventful time in Michigan Football History. He played on three Big Ten Championship teams, earned four varsity letters, and gained over 3,000 total yards for the Wolverines. Today is definitely a good day to remember the excellent Michigan Football career of Harlan Huckleby.

Of course, Harlan also had an outstanding track career at Michigan. He also played professional football player in the Canadian Football League and the National Football League. I hope that Harlan Huckleby has a very Maize and Blue Happy Birthday today! Go Blue!

To read more about Harlan Huckleby go to the links below:

 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harlan_Huckleby

http://bentley.umich.edu/athdept/football/fbteam/1978fbt.htm

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