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Posted on Thu, Sep 23, 2010 : 6 a.m.

Michigan wide receiver Darryl Stonum earns Wolverines' trust on and off field

By Pete Bigelow


Junior wide receiver and kick returner Darryl Stonum, shown in action against UMass, has 12 receptions for 188 yards and two touchdowns this season.

Melanie Maxwell |

At age 87, Nettie Stonum boarded an airplane for the first time in her life last week for a flight from Houston to Detroit.

That experience was nothing compared to watching her grandson play for the Michigan football team in Michigan Stadium.

“A lot of the people in the stands were trying to calm her down, because they didn’t know if she was going to have a heart attack or what,” said junior wide receiver Darryl Stonum.

“From what I heard, she was screaming and jumping out of her wheelchair in the stands, and just having a good time.”

On the field, he led another kind of aerial display.

The 6-foot-2, 195-pound receiver enjoyed a career afternoon, catching three passes for 121 yards and two momentum-changing touchdowns in Michigan’s 42-37 win over UMass. The first, a 66-yard bomb from Denard Robinson down the left sideline with 1 minute, 1 second left in the first half, narrowed the Wolverines’ deficit to 17-14.

“We knew all week the defense would key on Denard’s running, so he starts out and then kicks it back to me down the sideline,” Stonum said. “I just had to run past the cornerback.”

Forty-five seconds later, he scored again, catching a 9-yard touchdown that put Michigan (3-0) in the lead for good.

For Stonum, the game marked a personal breakthrough after two years of excelling mainly as a kickoff returner. He hopes to build on the momentum this week when the No. 21 Wolverines host Bowling Green (1-2) on Saturday at noon.

So far, Stonum has started all three games this season, and caught a team-high 12 passes for 188 yards. But it’s not only on the football field where he has matured.

In September 2008, his freshman year, police charged him with operating a vehicle while visibly impaired. In July, he was jailed for three nights in the Washtenaw County Jail for multiple probation violations.

Stonum doesn’t like to talk about his three nights in jail. “It’s a dark moment in my life, and I want to get rid of it,” he said.

But it’s clear the three-day stint marked a low point. Since then, Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez seen a new resolve.

“When a guy messes up and everyone wants to throw them out to the wolves, it’s pleasing when you see a guy grow and mature, and he gets it,” Rodriguez said. “Sometimes you think, ‘OK, he’s messed around for a year or two, and now he gets it.” It started clicking for Stonum immediately following the Ohio State game last year in Ann Arbor.

In the locker room, outgoing senior Greg Mathews took Stonum and Junior Hemingway aside. Mathews told them it was their turn to step into a leadership role, then went one step further.

“He gave us his gloves and helmet and said ‘it’s on you guys now,” Stonum said. “We kind of took that to heart. He passed the torch down to us, and I’m pretty sure Mario and Braylon had passed it down to him.”

Following the likes of Mario Manningham and Braylon Edwards to the NFL is an enticing prospect. For now, Stonum is concentrating on getting his act together and helping the 2010 Wolverines.

He wears five bracelets on each hand. He never removes them. They are reminders.

Several were earned during summer camp and bestowed upon him by coaches. They’re similar to Lance Armstrong’s Livestrong bracelets, except they’re blue and contain Wolverines slogans.

“These are our team thing,” Stonum says, showing them to reporters. “We kind of, we hold ourselves accountable to our teammates and coaches. This one, this one is ‘all in.’

“This one is, ‘you can count on me.’” For the first time in his Michigan career, he’s earned that trust on and off the field.

Pete Bigelow can be reached at (734) 623-2556 or e-mailed at Follow him on Twitter @PeterCBigelow.


Sean T.

Fri, Sep 24, 2010 : 10:27 a.m.

I observed the MSU secondary and thought they play pretty well but there's no pass-rush to accomodate the secondary. How long are DB's supposed to gaurd a guy before he finally breaks open? At times our D-line applies pressure and that has bailed our poor secondary out but when we don't get any pressure, WR's are wide open all over the field. I'm expecting a close game with you sparties but if Cousins picks his game up we may be in trouble.


Thu, Sep 23, 2010 : 7:39 p.m.

Wolvdoug: Between you and me, the comment about Stonum and the ND defenders was just camouflage for my getting a jab in at a certain poster on this site, who predicted an ND route over MSU because the Spartans wouldn't be able to handle ND's speed. Said poster is a coward because he makes all sorts of predictions about MSU's downfall in just about everything but never comes back to own up when he's wrong. (For example, he's been predicting Izzo to the NBA for at least three years. And, he kept predicting MSU would lose the next game during the tournament last year. After five tries he was right.) I agree Cousins has to get better -- though mainly he's made two bad passes for endzone picks and taken some sacks. The MSU receivers aren't getting great separation, which is a bit puzzling. MSU's pass defense is too soft -- just like last year in most games. Objectively, I'd have to pick UM by a few if the game were played this Saturday.


Thu, Sep 23, 2010 : 4:15 p.m.

Metric I do not understand how a guys can miss all these probation meetings and still be allowed right back on the practice field. For how much abuse State took I find it extremely hypocritical of certain posters. The guy spent three night in jail. I could understand one missed meeting but come on he obviously was hiding something. Rich Rod said it was handled in house which is a load of crap, he should of been suspended at least one game. How much grief did we give State and now we will do anything for a win. The article said he grew up after the Ohio State game which just mind boggles me because the jail stint was after. Rich Rod made a big mistake at least Winston was suspended for a game. Anybody who supported this move then you surely better not of said a bad thing about State and their situation (tater).......


Thu, Sep 23, 2010 : 2:16 p.m.

Metric....As far as needing Stonum not getting by ND defenders...He didn't need to.... ND was to busy chasing DRob all over the feild....258 yards worth....When DRob passed it was because the ND defense tried taking away the run....DRob passed for 244 yards....So it's a pick your poison type of offense....UM gets a running back to start playing with some consistency then watch out. I don't know what the blogger said over on your board but MSU didn't exactly run ND out of the stadium either...they were lucky to walk away with the win....While the MSU running game has been good...Cousins hasn't been the sharpest knife in the drawer so far this season which comes as quite a suprise....And MSU secondary isn't much better than the Michigan secondary.


Thu, Sep 23, 2010 : 11:29 a.m.

I'm still puzzling over how missing 9 mandatory alcohol tests, leaving the state without permission, and missing several probation meetings was not counted as messing up his second chance -- the first being the DUI conviction. And calling it a "second chance" is being generous. Because the alcohol tests were missed over a period of two months, it seems implausible that someone in the athletic department didn't know about his missing at least a couple of those early on. I'm curious about how the UM fans complaining loudly when MSU players such as B.J. Cunningham and Mark Dell were given a second chance after Rather Hall feel about Stonum's being on his third chance. (Realistically, more like his 5th or 6th chance if someone noticed he wasn't going to his meetings.) Let's hope the kid has turned things around off the field. He's clearly a force on the field.


Thu, Sep 23, 2010 : 11 a.m.

Stonum showed great acceleration against UMass. He didn't shake loose of the ND defenders, though. I guess that's because the ND defenders are a lot faster. It's that ND speed that ran MSU off the field on Saturday, just as a certain blogger on this site predicted. Oh, wait. MSU won that game. No wonder said poster hasn't been over on the MSU blog.


Thu, Sep 23, 2010 : 9:24 a.m.

no matter what we have there will still be complainer's... stay tuned for as the (bowl) turns... GO BLUE...


Thu, Sep 23, 2010 : 7:24 a.m.

Great article celebrating the success of Darryl Stonum; a Victor Valliant! The 87 year old FAN (Grandma)coming out of her wheelchair to cheer is the testimony. We can certainly see why Darryl is a super star; he inherited the quality. "The fruit does fall too far from the tree" or should we say wheelchair. lol


Thu, Sep 23, 2010 : 6:33 a.m.

NoBowl4Blue The article is about the progress made by a young athlete. Why do you feel compelled to slam RR when the article had nothing to do with him or the defense or the rest of the team for that matter. It sure must be depressing to be so negative all the time. True Michigan fans understand what this article is about and will comment accordingly, the rest will do as you have done.


Thu, Sep 23, 2010 : 6:28 a.m.

Stonum is our best long pass play threat and is a very good kick returner as well. On the 67 yard play, he really showed great speed & the ability to outrun defenders. He's really stepped up his play, which is something Michigan desperately needs from it's more experienced players. When I heard about the probation violations and jail time, I was really worried that it was going to all for Stonum as a Michigan player. Sometimes, people his age need an "attention getter". It sounds like he's matured, and is setting himself up for bigger successes. Good to hear.


Thu, Sep 23, 2010 : 6:04 a.m.

Next to Denard the most effective player on offense. It's the other side of the ball Rich Rod should have been concentrating on. He seemingly likes points whether scoring them or giving them up. Won't ever be a good team unitl you have a "D" that can stop people.