Today’s post celebrates a Happy Birthday wish for a Wolverine named John W. Henderson. A “buckeye” named John William Henderson was born on this day in Dayton, Ohio. He grew up to be an excellent high school athlete at Roosevelt High School in Dayton. After graduation, he chose to come to “enemy territory” and play for Bump Elliott’s Michigan Wolverines.
John W. Henderson was listed on the 1961 Michigan Football Roster as an End. Of course, like all freshman, he did his “time” on the freshman team. Henderson’s job that first year was to learn the Bump Elliott football system and work hard in the classroom. So, that’s exactly what he did!
Henderson made the varsity in 1962, but he didn’t earn a letter in that first year on a team that finished with a record of 2 wins and 7 losses. The Wolverines went 1-6-0 in the Big Ten and finished last (10th place). Not a good year! The only good news for Henderson was that Michigan was losing most of their receivers to graduation in 1963. He would have a chance to start in his Junior season. Maybe he could help the Michigan offense that was not very good in 1962. The Wolverines only scored 70 points in nine games – ouch!
Coach Bump Elliott had predicted that it would take 3-5 years to rebuild Michigan into a championship contender when he took over the team in 1959. So, there was no pressure in 1963, but it was year five of the Elliott Era. The Wolverines started the season with high hopes, but injuries to some key players and some early losses put them in a deep hole that they could not get out of. Michigan did a little better in 1963 (3-4-2), but instead of a Big Ten Championship they had to settle for a fifth-place tie (2-3-2).
John W. Henderson did his best to help the team. He caught at least one pass in all nine games and totaled 27 receptions for the 1963 season. He gained 330-yards on his catches and scored 4 touchdowns. His best game in 1963 was against Navy. He caught 6 passes for 103-yards and 2 touchdowns. John W. Henderson earned his first varsity letter at the end of his Junior year.
The 1964 season was the one that Bump Elliott, and Michigan fans, had been waiting for since 1959. The Wolverines won their first three games before losing a heart breaker to Purdue (20-21). Michigan ran the table and finished the regular season with a record of 8 wins and 1 loss. Finally, the Wolverines were Big Ten champions (6-1-0) as Bump Elliott had predicted. Michigan rolled over Oregon State (34-7) to finish with a final record of 9 wins and 1 loss.
John W. Henderson was a solid performer for Michigan in that championship season. He grabbed 31 more passes for 377-yards and 3 touchdowns. His biggest game came against Michigan State. He caught 3 balls for 82-yards and scored the game-winning touchdown.
Once again, John Henderson’s career started slow, since he didn’t play much in his Sophomore season. However, once he got on the field he was a dependable receiver who did his job at a high level. Here are some “firsts” that connect John Henderson to Michigan football:
Like I said, the rebuilding program was a year late, but right on time for John Henderson. He helped Michigan win their first Big Ten championship since 1950. It was a long wait, but it was great for Bump Elliott and his players. John Henderson went on to a successful professional career in the National Football League. Congratulations John Henderson on an excellent Michigan football career and thank you for your contributions to the great history of Michigan Football. I hope you have a very happy birthday on your special day! Go Blue!
Jamie Morris is one of my favorite Wolverines of all time! Bo recruited the undersized Morris to return punts and kickoffs and catch a few passes too. Well, Jamie, at 5 feet 7 inches, figured he could play running back for Michigan and that’s exactly what he did!
When a number of running backs got hurt in 1984, Jamie kept getting opportunities to play. He played well enough to lead the team in rushing with 574-yards on 118 carries. Morris averaged 4.9 yards per carry. Now, Bo had a problem!
Morris proved he could carry the ball in the Big Ten and Bo decided to give it to him in 1985. Morris responded with another solid season. Jamie gained 1,030 yards and averaged 5.2 yards per carry as a sophomore.
In 1986, Morris came back for his junior year. Once again Jamie gained over one-thousand yards (1,086) to lead the Wolverines in rushing for the third straight season.
Jamie, who was elected as a co-captain in 1987, returned for his best season in 1987. He totaled a career best 282 carries for 1,703 rushing yards. He averaged 6.0 yards per carry. Less than 15 men have averaged 6.0 yards per carry for an entire season at Michigan. Jamie Morris is one of them! He is also one of two men to lead Michigan in rushing for four straight seasons. The other man is Mike Hart.
Who was the first Michigan football coach to post twenty career wins?