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Posted on Thu, Nov 24, 2011 : 12:45 p.m.

Michigan tight end, Ohio native Kevin Koger has final chance to topple team he once scorned

By Kyle Meinke


Michigan senior tight end Kevin Koger has 17 receptions for 195 yards and three touchdowns this season.

Melanie Maxwell |

Kevin Koger made a bet with fellow senior Junior Hemingway as to who would cry first when the Michigan football team emerges from the tunnel Saturday to take on Ohio State.

Koger thinks he'll last longer -- but not by much.

“It’s going to be emotional, but it’s our time to go," the tight end said. "It’s our time.”

Koger's time at Michigan has been anything but smooth. The Wolverines were 15-22 his first three seasons and set a school record for losses when he was a freshman.

He went through one of the most tumultuous coaching changes in school history -- one that de-emphasized him in the offense.


Michigan tight end Kevin Koger celebrates a touchdown against Nebraska with Martavious Odoms.

Melanie Maxwell |

Yet, as he reflects back on his career with only two games left -- and only one at Michigan Stadium -- Koger insists he still is happy he ended up a Wolverine.

Even though he could have ended up a Buckeye.

Koger was a standout at Whitmer High School in Toledo, Ohio, and held an offer from Ohio State. In fact, among 21 Ohioans on the Michigan roster, Koger is the only player who held an Ohio State offer.

He scorned them to play for his boyhood favorite -- and doesn't regret it, even though he's now been beaten three times by the Buckeyes.

"My daddy grew up in Detroit, so he was always a Michigan fan, so that just kind of rubbed off on my brother and I," Koger said. "So, I kind of grew up a Michigan fan my whole life.

"I still remember watching The Game in my living room with my dad sitting on the couch and me laying on the ground."

Now, he has a chance to be part of that rivalry for the final time, and help Michigan end its seven-game losing streak to the Buckeyes, at noon Saturday on ABC.

Koger is 0-3 against Ohio State and has been outscored 100-24.

"We're definitely motivated," Koger said. "We want to beat these guys every time we play them, but that does weigh a bit heavier on you, knowing you haven't beaten them in a long time.

"It always means a lot, but being a senior, it kind of means a little bit more."

Koger was recruited to play for Lloyd Carr, but the former Michigan coach retired before Koger got to campus. Instead, he played for another former coach, Rich Rodriguez, whose spread-option offense did not have much use for tight ends.

He caught 36 passes and scored five touchdowns in three seasons for Rodriguez.

This year, Koger has a career-high 17 catches for 195 yards and three touchdowns. But numbers also can't quantify what Koger does best: Leadership, blocking and coachabililty.

"Kevin Koger is a solid football player," offensive coordinator Al Borges said. "I think (tight ends coach Dan Ferrigno) will tell you that he will try and do everything you tell him to do. When we've thrown him the ball, he has basically caught it with very few drops.

"He is what a coach is looking for. A guy you can count on."

Kyle Meinke covers Michigan football for He can be reached at 734-623-2588, by email at and followed on Twitter @kmeinke.


1st Down

Fri, Nov 25, 2011 : 9:40 a.m.

Koger will play on Sundays.... its a shame that he was wasted in that ill-conceived spread...because he could have gone down statistically as one of the great UM TEs of all time. Great kid too.


Fri, Nov 25, 2011 : 9:28 a.m.

A few items... 1- as stated prior Urban Meyers initials are UM. 2- Urban Meyer (as a head coach) is 0-2 vs Michigan 3- I'm proud to tell people I am from the same hometown as Mister Koger. 4- What an exceptional leader and team captain Mister Koger is, the man plays in BEAST MODE. 5- Go Blue! beat Ohio. 6- Kirk Herbstreit (sp?) never beat Michigan but he is comfortable in his own skin. /cool story huh? <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> *thank you for your valuable internet time reading my post.


Fri, Nov 25, 2011 : 2:04 a.m.

I firmly believe Koger could have been one of, if not the greatest tight end to ever play for Michigan save for the unfortunate timing in attending the university. Thanks for being a wolverines, Kevin.


Thu, Nov 24, 2011 : 8:03 p.m.

He caught 14 last year and 16 the year before for the spread option offense that the author says does not have much use for tight ends. Doesn't seem like a big difference to me. I would also hope that as the player matures he would get more thrown his way.


Thu, Nov 24, 2011 : 7:02 p.m.

I think you're right, Matt. He's got that kind of ability. I see him as a 6-7 round guy or coveted FA if he finishes well and works out well in the offseason. Good point.


Thu, Nov 24, 2011 : 6:57 p.m.

Through no fault of his own, I think Koger still has a lot of unrealized potential. &quot;Those who stay will be Champions!&quot; Maybe the NFL will still give him a late round look?


Thu, Nov 24, 2011 : 8 p.m.

I'm not sure just a low round pick. He has good size, has played at a competitive university, blocks reasonably well, and Michigan tight ends have done pretty well in the NFL. I think he'll be pretty good at the next level.