Today is a great day to wish a Maize and Blue Happy Birthday to Amani Toomer. According to the Wikipedia article linked below, Amani Askari Toomer was born on this day at Berkley, California. Toomer’s name is the first thing I find most interesting about him. His first name means “peace” in Swahali. His middle name “Askari,” means warrior. So, Amani Askari Toomer is a “Peaceful Warrior.” That is a really cool name!
Amani grew up in Berkley and became an excellent athlete at Concord De LaSalle High School in Berkley. His father, Donald, played football at Ohio State so it was not unusual that Amani took a liking to football. By the time he finished high school, Amani not only liked football, he was really good at it! He was one of the top players in the country and earned recognition as a Parade Magazine All-American and an All-United States player by USA Today. Interestingly, he was recruited by a former Buckeye football captain named Gary Moeller. Amani decided to follow his father’s footsteps to the Big Ten, but he landed in Ann Arbor, not Columbus!
(Note-Amani Toomer (#18) is shown above with the 1995 Michigan Wolverine Football team. He is seated in the first row – fifth man on the right. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library at The University of Michigan.)
Speaking of Warriors, we had a chance to see some football Warriors battle it out at The Big House yesterday. I was at the game and saw it all from Section 7. It was a great college football game if you love college football. Both teams battled on every single play. If you’re an Army fan you know you should have won the game on a last second field goal. You also know that every game on the Black Knight’s schedule is “winnable.” Michigan fans know we won a game that we tried to give away against team that they were favored to beat by three touchdowns.
I am really concerned about Michigan’s offense – really concerned. I doubt that we have seen the entire playbook yet, but we need to see more. If Shea isn’t going to be a threat to run on designed plays in this offense because of his fumbles, then McCaffery has to step up. Defensively, they didn’t let Army roll up over 500-yards on the ground as the Cadets will do against numerous teams this fall. However, Army’s “small” offensive line was getting a lot of push against our defensive line. We have two weeks to fix a lot of things like dropped passes, pass protection, ball security, short yardage success (read Ben Mason) and penalties. If they don’t play any better at Wisconsin, it could be a long day for Michigan Nation – Go Blue!)
Amani Toomer arrived at Michigan in 1992. He was listed as a Wide Receiver who wore # 18. Amani started two games during his first year. He caught 16-passes for 238-yards. Toomer averaged almost 15-yards per catch (14.9) and scored 1 touchdown. Amani also made significant contributions as a punt returner on special teams. He earned a letter as a freshman and contributed to a Big Ten Championship team.
Toomer returned for his Sophomore year in 1993. Once again, he didn’t start a lot (1 game), but he played a lot. He became a bigger part of the offense and grabbed 29 more passes for565-yards. Amani averaged almost twenty-yards per catch (19.6) in 1993. He scored four more touchdowns and earned his second varsity letter.
Amani Toomer had a breakout season in 1994 despite the fact that he didn’t start one game on offense. Mercury Hayes was the starter at flanker, but Amani was the “finisher” in many of the games in Michigan’s season (8 wins, 4 losses). As it turned out, Toomer led Michigan in receiving in 1994 with 54 receptions. Even more impressive, he broke Michigan’s all-time record for receiving yards in one season with 1,096! Amani’s excellent season earned him first team All-Big ten honors for 1994.
Things were going well for Amani, but not so much for his coach. Gary Moeller was feeling the heat after two straight four loss seasons (8-4 and 8-4). Moeller knew that the 1995 season had to be better, but he never got a chance to be part of it. When Moeller resigned in May 1995 things at Michigan were not going well. Lloyd Carr was named as the “interim” Head Football Coach at Michigan, but nobody knew if Carr would last. A lot of people had a lot on the line in 1995 and Amani Toomer was one of them!
Amani Toomer’s name was in every opponent’s scouting report for the 1995 football season. He saw two defenders in his area on almost every play. So, his productivity went down, but he still had an excellent season. He caught 44-passes for 758-yards. Amani finished his career with 143 catches for 2,657 yards which means he averaged 18.6 yards per catch. Even more impressive, is the fact that he totaled 3,412 yards when you add up all the yards he gained throwing, running, receiving, and returning (kickoffs and punts). It all adds up to an average of 16.5 yards per touch at Michigan. That is impressive, very, very impressive!
So, the “Peaceful Warrior” finished his career with many achievements. Amani Toomer’s name is still in the Michigan record book. He is one of the top receivers to play for Michigan – period. Here are some Michigan football “firsts” that connect Amani Toomer and Michigan Football:
Amani Toomer went on to a very successful career with the New York Giants in the NFL. He set some receiving records for the New York Giants. Amani also earned a Super Bowl Ring with the Giants during the 2007 NFL season.
Today is a good day to remember the achievements and contributions of Amani Toomer. Amani, and his teammates, contributed thirty-four wins to the all-time Wolverine victory total. Thanks for the Maize and Blue memories Amani Toomer. You will always be a “peaceful Warrior. I hope you enjoy your special day today. Go Blue!
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