Michigan Football Team 1959 | bigbluefootballhistory.com BigBlueToday | Michigan Football Firsts | Michigan Football History

January 27, 2017 Happy Birthday Anniversary Michigan Man Fred Julian

Posted on January 27, 2017 by Barry Gallagher

Attention Wolverine fans – today is another day to remember a happy birthday anniversary for Michigan Man Fred Julian. Alfred J. “Fred” Julian was born on this day in 1938 in Detroit, Michigan. Julian graduated from Pershing High School in Detroit in 1956. He came to Ann Arbor that fall to continue his studies and his football career.

Like all good Wolverine “rookies” of the time, Fred played halfback on the freshman team under the watchful eye of Coach Cliff Keen. Julian learned the ways of Michigan football and did everything he could to prepare for a position on Bennie Oosterbaan’s varsity in 1957. Fred Julian made the varsity as a sophomore, but did not earn any starts. However, he played enough to earn his first varsity letter.

Fred Julian | bigbluefootballhistory.com

Fred Julian #16 is the only man in Michigan football history to lead the team in rushing with less than 300 yards. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library.

Fred came back in 1958 looking to play more and contribute to the success of the 1958 Wolverine team. The good news was that the gritty Julian started nine games in his junior season. He earned his second letter under Bennie Ooosterbaan. The bad news was that Michigan finished with a final record of 2 wins, 6 losses and 1 tie. It was the worst record in Oosterbaan’s eleven-year tenure at Michigan. Bennie knew it was time to move on and he resigned a few weeks after the end of the 1958 season.

Bump Elliott was Michigan’s new coach for the 1959 football season. He was Oosterbaan’s assistant for two years so he knew about most of the returning players. Elliott stated that it would take five years to rebuild the Wolverines into a championship contender again. So, expectations were not that high in year one of the Elliott Era. The Wolverines improved from the 1958 season, but not by much. Michigan finished the season with a record of 4 wins and 5 losses.

Fred Julian did his best to improve things in Ann Arbor in 1959. He started seven games for Elliott’s first team. He averaged 4.0 yards per carry and gained a career-high 289 yards in his senior year. Julian rushed for two touchdowns and caught thirteen passes for 138 yards. One of his scores was the game winner against Illinois (20-15). Fred was a workhorse that season since he also returned punts and kickoffs for the Wolverines. I am sure that he slept well after every game!

Fred Julian is also connected to some interesting “football firsts” at Michigan. Check these out!

·         Fred Julian was on the field in 1956 for Michigan’s first ever 100k crowd against Michigan State (101,001).

·         Julian played on Bump Elliott’s first football team in 1959

·         Fred was the first, and only, man to lead a Michigan football team in rushing (289 yards) with less than 300 yards in 1959.

Fred Julian was a three-year letterman who started sixteen games at Michigan. He gave everything he had to his coaches and his teammates. So, on the seventy-ninth anniversary of his birth, let’s celebrate the memory of this dedicated Michigan Man. Fred went on to become an outstanding high school and junior college football coach in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Check out the excellent Wikipedia article linked below. Fred Julian left his family, friends and teammates on May 4, 2013 at the age of 75. May Fred Julian always rest in peace. Go Blue!






  • Jennifer Sciamanna says:

    This was forwarded to me by a former U of M teammate’s wife….Thank you. Jennifer Julian Sciamanna
    (Fred’s daughter). Always good to be reminded of my dad’s history at U of M. Proud girl I am.

    • Hi Jennifer,

      I am glad that you enjoyed reading my article about your dad! I love reading about men like your father who didn’t get a ton of headlines, but played the game the right way and did the best they could to carry on the Michigan football tradition. Although I love what Jim Harbaugh is doing at UM right now, I am trying to be the “voice” for all the great players in Michigan Football history who you don’t hear much about any more. There are thousands of men like your dad who make up the “Long Blue Line” that is the greatest program in the history of college football! Go Blue!

      Thanks for Reading,


  • Richard Day says:

    Dear Berry, I was a “walk-on” during spring practice 1957. My DOB is May 6, 1933. Oosterbaan, Elliot, and Dufek were the coaches. Terry Barr was there, but Ron Kramer was on the track team and did not play. Civil Engineering was my major and I did not have time for football, but “nothing ventured nothing gained. Ultimately us “Scrubs” beat the Varsity 25-12. Oosterbaan was definitely not happy. I went on to get a DDS and eventually an MS in Orthodontics. We lived in Alaska for 51 years. This story is the only thing I have had published in our Alaska Dental Journal. I think you would enjoy it. If you would like a copy I will try to dig it up for you.
    Dick Day

    • Hi Dick,

      Thanks for the note. It is always great to hear from guys like you who know about the “real” history of Michigan football. Wow, I remember reading once that a bunch of freshman beat Bennie’s varsity, but I wasn’t sure about the year. Now, I know! So, it looks like you and your young teammates may have pushed Bennie into retirement. How about that?

      I love reading and learning about guys like you, and your teammates, who truly made the history of Michigan Football. Every man who practiced and played is part of the winningest program in the history of college football. Thanks for putting on that Winged Helmet! I hope you continue to follow my blog.

      Thanks for reading!

      Barry Gallagher
      Go Blue!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *