Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Rookie Blue-out part 5: I walk the lines

Over the last couple months of 2015 I made a big push to acquire lots of cards for my Michigan Football RC PC, and between Sportlots and COMC I made a ton of progress.  Now I'm slowly but surely showing them off in various bunches.  Hit the link above to see the album or have a look at my checklist here.  (You can also use the links in the "Rookie Blue: Michigan Football rookies collection" section on the right sidebar)  Click here for all posts in the series.

Anything formatted in this style indicates what I consider to be a Michigan uniform photo, regardless of airbrushing, etc.

I decided to pair up a couple positional groups again for today's post due to the old football saying that the game is won in the trenches.  The game is too complex to be boiled down that much, but the best teams do tend to have more skill than others on the offensive and defensive lines.  With that in mind, here's a bunch of OTs, OGs, Cs, DTs, and DEs!

Alan Branch (2007):  Donruss Threads (#535/999), Leaf Rookies and Stars (#440/999), Topps Chrome, Topps Total, Topps TX Exclusive (#0104/1049)
Alan Branch kills QBs, and this bunch gives me 11 of his 26 RCs.
Kevin Brooks (1989):  Pro Set
Brooks was a DT/DE who went to Dallas 17th overall in 1985 and played four seasons for the Cowboys and two more for the Lions.  Oddly enough, this card would have been the last time he was pictured with Dallas since he moved on to Detroit in '89.  By the way, '89 Pro Set was especially kind to this project in producing first-years of five different players!  As for Brooks's rookies, he was one and done with this card.
Matt Elliott (1992):  Pacific, Pinnacle, Score
Elliott was a G/C who was picked by the Skins all the way in the 12th round back when the draft went that long in '92, and in fact was Mr. Irrelevant that year.  He lasted a season with Washington, then resurfaced with the Panthers from '95-'97.  These three cards represent all of his RCs and I was glad to see that two of them were college uni issues, even if one's from one of Pacific's worst designs and the other has an airbrushed helmet (which is mitigated by a great action photo).
Steve Everitt (1993):  Action Packed, Bowman, Collector's Edge, Gameday, Playoff, Playoff Contenders, Power Update Prospects, Pro Line Live, Pro Set, Skybox Impact, Skybox Premium, SP, Stadium Club, Topps, Ultra

Everitt was a mountain of a viking of a dude.  Don't believe me?  Here's what he looks like now:
A stud of a center, Cleveland took him 14th overall in '93, and he went on to appear in over 100 games, mostly as a starter, for the Browns, Ravens, Eagles, and Rams.  Not a bad career for a lineman, really.

Since he was a first-rounder it's not extremely shocking that his rookie card count was as high as 15.  Playoff, SP, Stadium Club, and Ultra lead the way in quality with Collector's Edge being the lone "bleccch" issue.  Playoff is my winner here with a fun design and of course the ol' college uni.
Dennis Franks (1980):  Topps
Franks was a pretty good C for some of Bo's early teams in the 70s, but what I found so interesting about him is that he enjoyed figure skating, an interest he acquired from his mom.  This guy, right up here, figure skated.  After going undrafted he latched on with Philly for three seasons and one final campaign with the Lions in '79, meaning this RC came out after his final season.
Dave Gallagher (1975):  Topps
After looking at a few OL in a row let's get back to defense!  A contemporary of Franks, Gallagher put up some very nice tackling stats for Bo before Chicago took him at #20 overall in '74, just a pick before the Steelers took future HOFer Lynn Swann (in a draft, remember, that also netted them HOFers Jack Lambert, John Stallworth, and Mike Webster.  DAMN.)  In a career where he also saw time with the Giants and Lions, Dave appeared in more than 50 games over five seasons.  Fortunately he was good enough to appear on a RC DURING his career, and he's one of a nice bunch of vintage guys in my collection thanks to this project.
Brandon Graham (2010):  Absolute Memorabilia (#006/299), Bowman Sterling, Certified (#378/999), Classics (#355/999), Crown Royale, Epix, Limited, Panini Gridiron Gear, Prestige, Rookies and Stars, Rookies and Stars Longevity, Topps Chrome

Graham is certainly no n00b when it comes to this here blog.  Of these 12 new cards I was pretty surprised that only three were numbered given the way that trend grew in the 2000s.  One thing this bunch has in common, though is that all but two are from Panini brands, with some hits and misses.  By the way, that Prestige card was a sneaky Michigan uni issue--the weird layout and lack of helmet mean it's easy to miss that Graham's jersey features maize and blue.  I'm almost done collecting the 17 first-years of the rising star DE/LB and am short just his Absolute Memorabilia Retail!
Curtis Greer (1984):  Topps
I wrote about Greer way back in this post, naturally another TK Legacy autograph show-off.  Though he was a 1980 draft pick, and a top-ten guy at that, he had to wait until '84 (which does have a very cool design) for his first card.  I think they could have gone with a better picture instead of one that screams "durrrrr" but other than that this is a pretty solid 80s specimen.
Trezelle Jenkins (1995):  Bowman, Bowman's Best, Pro Line, Ultra
Here's a refresher on Jenkins, a first-round bust OT, from a post way back in 2013.  I had no problem landing all four of his RCs, as you can see here, and the Pro Line card is the outlier both in terms of quality and the fact that it includes a nice college photo.  All told, it's a pretty solid bunch of cards for a guy with an amazing name!
Taylor Lewan (2014):  Bowman Chrome, Bowman Sterling, Certified (#120/999), Elite (#437/799), Prizm, Prestige, Rookies and Stars, Score, Topps, Topps Chrome, Topps Valor

Lewan is another guy who needs no introduction, especially since he's one of the most recent players in this project.  What stands out the most about these 11 cards is that more than half of them use pretty much the same boring-ass photo of Lewan holding some kind of blocking pad thing for a drill.  While Panini is complicit with its Elite issue, Topps--lazy, lazy Topps, big surprise!--is egregiously guilty.  By the way, I now lack just four of Lewan's 21 RCs.
Tom Mack (1970):  Topps
HOF RC!  I first (and apparently last) talked about Mack a couple years ago after finding a nice signature of his on Blowout.  To answer what probably most of you are wondering, no, I didn't realize the card I was buying was this miscut, but whatever, it's from 1970 and I'm not exactly concerned about grading, so I won't actively seek to upgrade this one.  Another nice design to go with a vintage guy, and an especially significant one!
Mike Martin (2012):  Absolute (#098/399), Crown Royale (#347/399), Gridiron, Panini Prizm

Martin was an absolutely crucial piece of the DL at Michigan, but we all know defenders don't get very much hobby love, which is why the big guy only appeared on nine rookies in 2012.  These four, all from Panini brands, put me at six of his nine that require chasing.  The Absolute and Crown cards look pretty good to me and also happen to be the ones that are numbered this time.
Bubba Paris (1989):  Pro Set
Paris was part of the roundup of rookies I had accumulated and showed off starting back in September of last year.  The big guy appeared on a pair of 1989 RCs:  the Topps card in the linked post and this Pro Set card, like Kevin Brooks above.
Greg Skrepenak (1992):  Action Packed Rookie Update, Collector's Edge, Gameday, Power, Pro Line Portraits, Skybox Prime Time, Stadium Club, Topps, Upper Deck Gold

I first heard Skrepenak's name thanks to a trade package from Kerry of Cards on Cards, and now almost four years later I have all nine of the OT's rookies.   He enjoyed a very distinguished career in Ann Arbor before the Raiders took him early in the 1992 draft's second round.  Greg would appear in 68 games over five seasons with L.A./Oakland and Carolina.

This is another solid bunch of rookies, with Collector's Edge again the standout as the worst of the worst.  If UD isn't your favorite photo of the bunch, I have to question your sanity!
Willie Smith (1960):  Fleer
Smith, an OL, represents one of the oldest cards from this rookie project, and in fact, my football PC altogether; only 17 players have cards older than this gem of the Arkansas-born Wolverine.  Though the Bears drafted him in '59, Smith had a choice players don't have nowadays:  another league!  He ended up with the AFL's Broncos on their maiden voyage in 1960 before playing one more year with Oakland ("Champions of the West" indeed!).  This is another vintage issue I'm proud to own.
Terrance Taylor (2009):  Upper Deck Draft Edition
Taylor's made several appearances around these parts thanks to showing up on a few autographs and another rookie that had their day here.  This excellent college-themed card from UD's Draft Edition product--with a photo from a home game against Iowa--represents my second RC of the big DT, and I'm only short his SP Threads card from that year.  Now if I could just find one that was cheap enough to grab....
Gabe Watson (2006):  Absolute Memorabilia (#991/999), Donruss Classics (#0878/1499), Donruss Threads (#440/999), Leaf Certified Materials (#0912/1000), Score, SPx (#1184/1299), Topps Chrome, Topps Total, Upper Deck

Watson might not still be kicking around in the pros like his former teammate and DL partner Branch, but he's still making an impact here.  As you can see I managed to dig up nine more of his rookies and that gives me a nice even 11 out of his 22 I'm chasing.  Five of those are numbered but since big Gabe hasn't been in the league since 2010 they didn't really hurt my wallet.  Panini did a nice job bringing the shiny but I really like the photo Topps used on his Total card.  And while I'm at it, bring that set back, Topps!
LaMarr Woodley (2007):  Playoff Prestige, Topps Total, Upper Deck First Edition

Last but most definitely not least is one of the most talented defenders to bring his game to Ann Arbor.  Woodley is generally known as a linebacker thanks to his pro career, but he was a pretty beastly DE in college, and that might just have made the transition a tad easier.

This is a pretty nice trio thanks to that pair of college cards.  Topps lags way behind with a lackluster effort (especially after that Watson card above!) while Prestige pops with another fantastic design (2008's was excellent as well).  But the unquestioned winner here is UD First Edition.  Woodley may not have been big enough to be considered to be scoring a "fat guy touchdown" here, but it's fun to see a defensive player in game action streaking down the field with a ball.  It's cool, Topps, you gotta do you, even if that means a lousy camp photo.

These also give me a total of 11 Woodleys, but he has a few more to chase than Watson with a total of 26.  I'll keep at it!

I hope some of you enjoyed another card show-off/history lesson post as I work on clearing these out so I can post other stuff.


  1. Steve Everitt looks like a professional wrestler or an extra on the show Vikings.

    1. I absolutely love that he's kept that look, and you're absolutely correct that he could fit in with either no problem.