Desmond Howard honored as inaugural 'Michigan Football Legend'
Angela J. Cesere | AnnArbor.com
Michigan didn’t retire Desmond Howard’s No. 21 Saturday night.
Instead, the school immortalized it.
The university announced prior to its first home night contest against Notre Dame that Howard will become an inaugural “Michigan Football Legend.”
The former Heisman Trophy-winning Wolverine receiver will be honored at Michigan forever, as his No. 21 jersey - currently worn by wide receiver Junior Hemingway - will now always come with a patch on the upper left chest featuring Howard's name.
Joseph Tobianski I AnnArbor.com
“Many of our current fans and players don’t know or remember the five jerseys that we previously retired and who wore them. The concept is a visible representations of iconic figures in our program’s storied history that fans across the country will see every Saturday.”
The legendary former Wolverine receiver was also presented with his formal College Football Hall of Fame plaque prior to kickoff. Howard also delivered a teary-eyed speech to the capacity crowd following the presentation.
“(My Michigan) experiences make me the man that I am today, a Michigan man,” he said.
In addition to the permanent jersey patch, Howard will be the first Michigan Football Legend to be featured in a soon-to-be renovated Schembechler Hall. Also, all lockers used by a current and future Michigan football No. 21 will be redesigned to commemorate Howard as a “Michigan Football Legend.”
“We are planning to dedicate an area in Schembechler Hall where these iconic figures can be displayed,” Brandon said in a statement. “And Coach (Brady) Hoke and all future Michigan head coaches will assign this historic jersey to a special player who is deserving of the honor to wear Desmond’s No. 21.”
Howard - who was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in July - was in Ann Arbor this weekend in part because of his duties as an analyst with ESPN’s College GameDay football kickoff show.
GameDay ultimately chose Ann Arbor as its location this week, but according to Howard, he was going to be in town for Saturday’s historic event regardless.
"When you get inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, it's a three-step process, and one of those steps is for you to be honored at your alma mater,” he said earlier this week. “I didn't get the opportunity to be honored at the University of Michigan last year because of my job with (ESPN "College) GameDay."
"But when I saw that Michigan had scheduled Notre Dame for its first night game, I made up my mind that no matter where 'GameDay' was that weekend - I was going to be on a plane and fly to Michigan to be honored at that game.”