Heininger Appreciation Thread

Submitted by Raback Omaba on December 13th, 2011 at 1:08 PM

EDIT:  I edited the title.  I wanted to give Heininger his 15 minutes of fame on our humble blog.       Everyone obviously loves Woodson, Carter, and Hart.  So do I.

Will Heininger is my favorite player of all-time. Yes, of ALL TIME – Even more than  __________ (Insert Michigan Football Legend Here.)  Obviously he doesn’t have the accolades of LaMarr Woodley, but you gotta love what this kid represents.  A defense is only as strong as its weakest link, and this kid has been steady as a rock next to Mike Martin. Additionally, this kid is absolutely representative of what Michigan football is about – Toughness, determination, pride, tenacity and dedication.


He is an Ann Arbor kid that grew up living and dying for the Maize and Blue, just like every one of us who reads and contributes to this blog. He went to Michigan with the intention of walking on to the team, which  was then coached by Lloyd Carr. He was there for the Horror, the Freep Jihad, and the RichRod years.


He was part of a Michigan program that was booed at its own house by its own fans, a team that was the subject of massive amounts of criticism and ridicule from all angles, saw its bowl streak snapped, and lost to Toledo, yet he still went out there and dedicated 5 years of his life to represent Michigan. He was part of a program that went through 2 coaching changes, suffered 4 losses to Michigan State and 4 to Ohio State…..yet he still went out there with his teammates day in and day out and worked his tail off.


He sacrificed his body for the program – he sat out almost a season with a torn ACL and gained over 80 lbs last year to play on a beefed up defensive line. Additionally, he is a high academic kid – he is 4 time All Academic Big Ten and a recipient of the Robinson Award, which is no small feat when you are dedicating 100 percent of your free time to getting ready to compete on Saturdays for the Maize and Blue.


Will’s efforts were not in vain, because I like to think that everything he (and the rest of 132) went through was rewarded by with a victory over OSU and a Sugar Bowl Berth.


Team 132 is one of my favorites of all time, so you better be sure that when I talk about Denard, Mike Martin, RVB and the rest of the squad, Will Heininger’s name will be right up there.


Consider this the official Will Heininger Appreciation Thread…GO BLUE & BEAT VATECH.



December 13th, 2011 at 1:15 PM ^

I'm gonna have to say Denard Robinson. I'm sure this is a lot of peoples' but I lived next to him freshman year and he would play NCAA with us and talk to us like we were good friends. Not at all the typical athlete who only hangs out with athletes and thinks they're above everyone else.

Oh, and he's a really good football player.


December 13th, 2011 at 1:49 PM ^

be surprised by it. It's not that Denard isn't super special, he's on of my perosnal favs as a person, but MICHIGAN athletes in general tend to be pretty special.  

I lived in South Quad for 2 years among the football players--so I was you except we played something called TECMO Bowl. 

When I arrived having been a fan my whole life, though not a nerd and a pretty good HS athlete who had small school offers, I was a bit starry eyed to live among these guys.  It helped that a HS teammate was on our floor and also on the practice squad.  But after hanging out with these guys, many of whom went on to the NFL, you realize that they're just kids like you who happen to be on a big stage and work their asses off.  They also had a lot less money but that doesn't matter much in college.   


December 13th, 2011 at 1:26 PM ^

No issue with giving Will Heininger some love. However, does this require a forum topic? Let's let everyone who thinks their favorite player is awesome put up a post about it and see how that's going to work out. He stated that Will Heninger is awesome and that he's his favorite player. Great, good job. 

While some people have posted their favorite player, no where in the post does he say anything about it. In fact, he said "Consider this the official Will Heininger Appreciation Thread…GO BLUE & BEAT VATECH."

Again, let's do this for all players who deserve some love...the whole roster from all 132 teams. That's only like 50-60 thousand threads.  

Raback Omaba

December 13th, 2011 at 1:38 PM ^

My intention was to give some attention to a guy who I feel is the most underappreciated member of Team 132.  The rest was context and a little background.  Yeah, he is my favorite player but my hope was that the kid who literally lived out my childhood dream and played a huge role in the revival of Michigan Football would get a little time in the spotlight on this message board.

Title was edited to reflect that.


December 13th, 2011 at 1:16 PM ^

I'm always impressed by D-1 athletes who succeed academically like Heininger given the time and effort that goes into their sports.  I'm all the more impressed when you have a guy like this who didn't even have a scholarship (at least at first) for his troubles.

Blue in Yarmouth

December 13th, 2011 at 1:20 PM ^

It's Charles Woodson hands down for me. I root for all UM players and think highly of each one of them, but Charles Woodson will always be a cut above for me. Denard is the closest anyone has come to this point.

Benoit Balls

December 13th, 2011 at 1:34 PM ^

but he was so fast, he was off the field before anyone could notice, thus Jay Feely got the credit.

I second the motion for Mr. Woodson being my favorite player of all time. College or pro. I root  for the Browns (only God knows why) and whichever team Mr. Woodson plays for.



December 13th, 2011 at 1:41 PM ^

I've been fortunate to see some awesome plays/games over the past decade, but given everything that was on the line, I'm not sure if I'll ever get to see another player that I adored as much as Woodson or a play that electrified me as much as the punt return td against osu...


December 13th, 2011 at 1:20 PM ^

Brandon Graham may be the most talented DE Michigan has ever seen.

But what sticks out to me was the way he applied that talent and continued to work as hard as anyone else on those teams.

Most importantly he played through the biggest shit storm UM ever experienced and he did it with excitement, enthusiasm, a great attitude and a big smile, ALWAYS.

On top of that he could have bailed out on the program early but stayed.

Naked Bootlegger

December 13th, 2011 at 1:23 PM ^

Will H. has made my UM all walk-on team, for sure.    What a pleasant surprise to watch his continued progress throughout the year.   I'm sure his post-football future is extremely bright given his academic accolades.   I have but one more favor to ask of Will before he graduates from the gridiron:   kick Va Tech's a$$ and have fun in New Orleans.


December 13th, 2011 at 1:23 PM ^

Looking at the UFRs from the start of the season to now, he's gone from ARGH range to Definite B1G Line range in a very short period of time. The difference between winning and losing many games is so slight, who knows what the season would have looked like were it not for such amazing efforts by all the linemen.


December 13th, 2011 at 1:23 PM ^

Is definitely my favorite player of all time, growing up he was who I looked up to and I always had to wear #6! His 15 carry 235 yard game against Washington in the Rose Bowl (92' or 93') is still one of the best performances I have ever seen.


December 13th, 2011 at 1:27 PM ^

I really like Will Heininger, not only for sticking with the team through transitions and injury, but for being a great contributor to that defensive line, not to mention a contributor in the classroom. Further, he's an Ann Arbor native like myself, and I do like to hear stories of "local kid makes good", especially when they go to the University Of Michigan. I wish him the best of luck in his years after Michigan.

As for favorite player of all-time, if I have to make a choice on the spot, it would have to be Desmond Howard or Charles Woodson. I would have immense trouble deciding between the two. Woodson played when I was there, and he just seemed to be the most exciting person on the field on many an occasion. As for Desmond, the fact that I spent hours in middle school trying to perfect "The Pose" during numerous games of backyard football speaks to the impression his play made on me.


December 13th, 2011 at 1:32 PM ^

I think you almost have to pick a player that had endured the nightmare of the DickRod Era. That being said.. i think that my favorite Michigan Player/Man is Jordan Kovacs. A kid that was accepted to the university. (intelligent). then he decided he wanted to walk-on to the program. not getting any sort of athletic scholarship until his sophomore year and being the second leading tackler in his debut season, I think that Kovacs is the anchor of the Defense and the epitome of a Michigan Man. He works hard and shows his talent on the field. this kid is great 


December 13th, 2011 at 1:41 PM ^

Ricky Leach, Anthony Carter, Butch Woolfolk, Jim Harbaugh, Glenn Steele, Lamarr Woodley, Charles Woodson, Marcus Ray, Desmond Howard, Denard Robinson, David Molk and more to come ..... but I suppose if I had to choose one and only one it would have to be A.C.


December 13th, 2011 at 1:42 PM ^


    For me, it has to be Big Tim...At the time I was 50/50 UM/MSU, but 13 year old me loved his name and that great '95 season. I eventually found a lot more valid reasons to Love UM (education, Charles Woodson and Maize and Blue Deli)..but Biakabutuka started it off for me 


December 13th, 2011 at 2:09 PM ^

...to the receivers.  My initial thought would be to put Braylon here but I can't bring myself to do it.  Current/most recent favorite player is Tay but my favorite all time, well, that is a true toss up between Amani Toomer and Tai Streets.



And Tacopants.


December 13th, 2011 at 2:53 PM ^

I'd probably be a Renes lean because he was the epitome of what a NT should be and was one of the smartest and hardest workers on the team, plus wasn't he something like 5'10"? I've always had a soft spot for little guys like that. Jarrett Irons was just the biggest badass when I was a kid and always played his heart out.


Honorable mentions: Marcus Ray, Chris Floyd, Timmy B (my first michigan jersey), Jay Riemersma, and Ian Gold. I could keep going but these are the ones that really stand out when I think of Michigan Football and players that "got it" and understood what it meant to wear the winged helmet.


December 13th, 2011 at 7:11 PM ^

For your huge contribution to this program

edit: and as for favorite player, I'd have to go with Steve Breaston. What a returner. 2nd jersey I got was a #15. My first was an Amani Toomer so he's probably 2nd. 

Look Up_See Blue

December 13th, 2011 at 7:21 PM ^

Will was a few years behind me at AAP.  I helped coached after I graduated while he was in h.s.  He was very dominant and always worked extremely hard on the practice field.  This goes to show how persistence and hard work can really pay off.  it's also nice to see someone that went to the same high school as you go on to succeed at the next level.  Congrats to you will and the rest of the team on a fine year.


December 13th, 2011 at 8:32 PM ^


1.  Woodson- Mr. Ohio was offensive stud in HS, but meant the most on D at Bue

2.  Dave Brown- one of most underrated studs ever, tied 8th all time NFL interceptions, and coolest in the uni till Denard

3.  Rob Lytle- just a horse

4.  Don Dufek- special teams were his glory, even in NFL.  4 time letterwinner as left winger and drafted by NHL if I remember

5.  Rick Leach-


December 14th, 2011 at 3:21 PM ^

I have lost track of time, and don't know how much longer you will have an inside track to things going on with Michigan football. Hope all is well with you and yours, and those who you know on the team.


December 16th, 2011 at 5:13 PM ^

I was in the stadium when he got his first college touch and took a punt back for a TD ... this little guy who looked no bigger than I did but was the fastest guy on the field.  Then there was the Indiana game and I was hooked.  

Tyrone Wheatley would be next, if only for the Rose Bowl (which I was at!).  He was as big as everybody else and twice as fast, it seemed.

Butch Woolfolk probably would be next - he was a big back and an All-American track star in college.  That speed showed on the field - his 92yd TD against Wisconsin is just brilliant (and I was there ... notice a trend?), and the 1981 Rose Bowl against Washington was a huge performance.  He looked like a runaway truck smashing garbage cans aside as it rumbled downhill.

Woodson and Howard were great players, but I didn't have the watch-them-play connection that I had with the others.