Desmond K. Howard Michigan Football team 1991 | gobluefootballhistory.com M Go Blue Football History | Michigan Wolverine Football History

February 26, 20189 – Black History Month Tribute – Desmond Howard!

Posted on February 25, 2019 by Barry Gallagher

Today’s post celebrates the amazing career of Heisman Trophy winner Desmond Howard. According to the Wikipedia article linked below, Desmond Kevin Howard was born on this day in Cleveland, Ohio. He was an All-State performer at running back, but he was undersized. Bo recruited the super-talented Howard to Michigan, but probably wasn’t sure where he would play.

(Note – Desmond Howard is on his way to one of the most iconic touchdowns in Michigan Football History in 1991 vs OSU!
Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library at The University of Michigan.)

1988 and 1989 – Nothing Special for Desmond Howard

Desmond K. Howard enrolled at Michigan in 1988. He is listed as a defensive back on the 1988 Michigan Football roster. Howard was red-shirted in 1988, so, he didn’t see any action that season.

Howard’s first year on the varsity was not spectacular. He isn’t credited with any starts in 1989, for Coach Schembechler, but he did earn his first letter. Howard rushed the ball 5- times for 11-net yards which averaged out to 2.2 yards per carry. Definitely not good enough to be Bo’s starting tailback. Fortunately, Desmond put up some good numbers as a receiver (9 catches for 136 yards and 2 touchdowns) and as a punt returner (13 returns for 295 yards which averaged out to 22.7 yards per touch.). So, the coaches saw some good things from Howard in 1989, but they just weren’t sure how he would continue to develop.

Desmond Really Turned Heads in 1990

Gary Moeller’s first year as head coach (1990) was Desmond Howard’s second as a player. Gary Moeller must have spent a lot of time in the off-season figuring out what to do with the speedy-Howard. Moeller decided to use him as a flanker/receiver on offense and expanded his role on special team by making him a kickoff and punt returner. He wanted Howard to touch the ball a lot in every game. It turned out to be a great decision by Coach Moeller.

Desmond K. Howard exploded onto the scene in 1990 with a breakout season. He got everyone’s attention with 63-catches for 1,025 yards and 11 touchdowns. Howard increased his kickoff return average from 22-yards in 1989 to almost thirty-yards (29.6) in 1990. His best effort was a 95-yard touchdown against Michigan State. Desmond also returned 6 punts for 55-yards which averaged out to 9.2 yards per return. He had a busy and very productive season in 1990 and helped Michigan to a record of 9 wins and 3 losses and a third-consecutive Big Ten championship. So, Howard earned his second varsity letter and had the coaches wondering if he could improve on his numbers in 1991.

Heisman Trophy Season in 1991

Desmond Howard Michigan Football 1991 | gobluefootballhistory.com

Desmond K. Howard’s spectacular 1991 season earned him the Heisman Trophy and legend status at Michigan! Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library at The University of Michigan.

As it turned out, Desmond Howard exceeded everyone’s expectations in 1991. He was very good in 1990, but he was flat-out SPECTACULAR in his final season as a Wolverine. Desmond set a ton of NCAA and Michigan Football records in his last year. You can read all about them in the attached Wikipedia article. I will highlight some of the “firsts” that Desmond put on the board in 1991:

  • Desmond Howard became the first receiver in Michigan Football History to post eight 100-yard receiving games for a career in 1990 and 1991.
  • Howard is the first, and only, man to catch 19-touchdown passes in one season (1991).
  • Desmond Howard became the first man in NCAA football history to score 23 touchdowns in one season in 1991.
  • Desmond Howard became the first Michigan Man from Ohio to win the Heisman Trophy in 1991.
  • Howard became the first African-American to win the Heisman Trophy at Michigan.

Desmond Howard – A Winner and a Spectacular Michigan Man

Michigan posted a record of 38 wins, 9 losses and 1 tie from 1988 to 1991. That works out to a winning percentage of just over eighty-percent (.802). Very impressive, but not as good as their Big Ten record for the same period. The Wolverines of the Class of 1992 absolutely dominated the conference with a record of 29 wins, 2 losses and 1 tie. They won or shared four conference titles which is as good as it gets at Michigan.  Their winning percentage over that four-year span was ridiculous −.922! Wow – you can say that Desmond played an important role on some outstanding Michigan football teams. I could go on and on about the accomplishments of Desmond Kevin Howard, but I will cut it off at this point. You know what the man did!

I hope that Desmond has a great day celebrating his birthday today, Happy Birthday Desmond K. Howard and thanks for your contributions to the great history of Michigan Football!  Check out Desmond’s famous “Hello Heisman” video courtesy of bguman.  



Click the link below to learn more about the life and times of Desmond Howard and the 1991 Michigan football team.






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