My second post today is dedicated to a Wolverine named Jeff Cohen. I apologize to Jeff Cohen for not getting this post up earlier today. He deserved better. Please take the time to read his story as well as that of his strength coach, Mike Gittleson (January 7th).
Michigan Man Jeff Cohen was born on this day in Far Rockaway, New York. Football was a big part of Jeff’s life since his father was a high school football coach. You might say he was born to play football.
(Note-Michigan Man Jeff Cohen #10 is shown above with the 1983 Michigan Football team. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library at The University of Michigan.)
From New York to Farmington Hills to Ann Arbor
Jeff’s family moved to Michigan during his childhood. He graduated from North Farmington High School in Farmington Hills, Michigan. Cohen was an outstanding athlete (9 varsity letters) at NFHS who also starred in the classroom (3-year member of National Honor Society). He finished his high school career as an All-State safety in football and a regional 100-yard dash champion. Jeff was also the conference MVP in football in his final year.
Competing With the Best
Jeff had the size, speed and toughness to compete for a starting spot in Bo Schembechler’s defensive backfield when he enrolled in 1979. The only problem was that there were a number of guys like Jeff trying to do the same thing. Jeff burned his red-shirt in his first season and spent his time in the weight room with a guy named Mike Gittleson.
Cohen returned in 1980 to compete with the best of the best. As it turned out, he was good enough to start two games (South Carolina and Northwestern) at Strong Safety and earn his first varsity letter in his second season. Michigan, after a terrible start, finished strong and gave Bo his first Rose bowl victory (23-6) over Washington. The Wolverines also won the Big Ten Championship with a perfect record of 8-0-0.
Jeff Cohen kept working hard, but was unable to start any more games in the Michigan defensive backfield. Instead, he settled into a backup role to Keith Bostic (1981 and 1982) and Evan Cooper (1983) who both finished their careers as All-Big Ten performers. Cohen made the best of his role by excelling as a disruptive special team’s player. Jeff earned two more varsity letters in 1982 and 1983.
Three Year Letterman and One of Bo’s Michigan Men
Cohen finished his Michigan career with two starts, three letters and a ton of good memories. He played on two Big Ten Championship teams (1980 and 1982) and helped Michigan win 44 games during his years in Ann Arbor. Yes, he made important contributions to the winningest team in the history of college football.
So, this post is late, but, technically, it is still his birthday. So, I hope that Jeff had a very “Happy Birthday” today. He is a dedicated follower of my blog and I appreciate his passion for Michigan Football. Go Blue!
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