Saturday, March 26, 2016

Rookie Blue-out part 6: running back to the future

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.

Yep, I'm still working on getting all of these posted, but we're getting closer to the finish line!  Today let's have a look at some players from Michigan's stable of running backs:
Gordon Bell (1977):  Topps

Feel free to read a bit more about Bell in this post that includes his TK Legacy auto.  The three-year NFL vet was pictured on this '77 Topps RC a year after his pro debut, and it features a great action shot of the NFL pre-artificial turf.  Check out that dirt flying around the players and their muddy uniforms!  A great vintage issue for sure.
Tim Biakabutuka (1996):  Bowman's Best, Collector's Edge Advantage, Finest, Metal, Pacific Dynagon, Pinnacle, Playoff Illusions, Playoff Prime, Pro Line, Pro Line Intense, Pro Line Memorabilia, Skybox Impact Rookies, Skybox Premium, Topps, Topps Chrome, Ultra Sensations, Upper Deck

Biakabutuka appeared on a beefy 31 rookie cards back in '96, and here's 17 of those all at once!  I'd almost go with the Bowman's Best as my favorite but the perspective used on the Pinnacle card is just too cool, with the ball COMING RIGHT FOR the Buckeye-killer.  Thanks to this pile I'm short just three of his first-years.
Russell Davis (1982):  Topps

Davis also originally joined my collection thanks to a TK Legacy auto (posted here), so head over there if you want to read a bit more about him.  More of a FB in college, he's listed as a RB here so that's what we'll go with.  Unfortunately he gets a boring bench photo instead of some fun action from his second season of 1981.
Leroy Hoard (1990):  Action Packed Rookie Update, Fleer Update, Pro Set, Score Supplemental, Topps Traded

I discussed Hoard a bit in this show recap from last February after landing an insert of his.  The big guy was quite good in college and carved out a nice 10-year career, oddly exploding for 20 TDs his final two seasons.  Here he is on all five of his 1990 RCs after Cleveland picked him in that year's second round.  I've never been a big fan of the embossed-type Action Packed cards, but the others feature relatively decent designs considering the era.  I like the Topps photo best but the border is way too large, so I give the nod to Pro Set here.
Harlan Huckleby (1982):  Topps

Although I do own a Huckleby signature I didn't do a very good job of writing him up when I got it, so here's a quick recap.  He appeared in 47 games for Bo's Wolverines from 1975-78 and put up 25 TDs and more than 2600 rushing yards.  A speedy guy, he also starred for the track team during his sophomore campaign of 1976.  All that got him drafted by New Orleans in the 5th round in 1979, but he played that season for Saskatchewan of the CFL instead.  Huckleby spent the rest of his pro football career, six seasons, with Green Bay as a running back and occasional KR, and he went on to score 10 TDs before hanging 'em up after 1985.

Unfortunately, like Davis above, Huckleby's wait for a RC resulted in a boring-ass sitting shot in the 1982 set.
Rob Lytle (1978):  Topps

I was fortunate to grab Lytle's TK Legacy auto back in 2014 considering his tragic passing of a heart attack in 2010 at the too-young age of 56.  After being a force in college he rewarded Denver selecting him in 1977's 2nd round by giving them their only score in the Broncos' Super Bowl XII loss to Dallas.  He appears here on another not-terribly-exciting Topps photo, but while it may not feature game action it's at least an interesting shot of a guy who's obviously been through a battle of a game, so that's worth something.
Bennie McRae (1964):  Philadelphia

McRae represents one of the older cards in this collection and is just one of four players I've found so far with a RC from the 1960s.  Bennie played three varsity campaigns for the Wolverines from 1959-61, mostly as a RB, which is what he's listed as on this 1964 Philadelphia card, and also at CB, his primary position with Chicago (nine seasons) and the Giants (one) after the Bears took him in 1962's 2nd round.  The highlight of his career was probably being one of five different bears to intercept a pass from Giants QB Y.A. Tittle as the Bears won the pre-Super Bowl championship in his second season.  He would finish his career with 27 INTs, four of which he took back to the house.

He's only appeared on something like five mainstream cards, including this one, so he's 100% new to my collection.  It's fun to grab a card this old of a brand that's not Topps, though I wouldn't mind a better photo.
Jamie Morris (1989):  Pro Set

Morris is one of very few pre-1990s guys to have appeared on more than one RC--I think I count six.  I already had his 1989 Topps card since I picked up that complete set, and now that I also have this Pro Set issue I can compare them.  In my mind there's no contest--Topps goes with yet another completely boring photo while Pro Set (despite the annoying green border) opts for a nice shot of a running back, you know, running.
Chris Perry (2004):  Bazooka, Bowman, Fleer Tradition, Greats of the Game (#977/999), Score, Topps, Topps Chrome, Topps Draft Picks and Prospects

Perry is one of my school's best-known backs so it's no surprise he appeared on 30 RCs for this project.  Here's eight of them to get me to a new total of 10.  This is a nice selection by my standards, with the always excellent (and in this case numbered) Greats of the Game, a bit of lower end, and one of the best looking Topps products of all time, 2004 Draft.  It's gonna take me a while to get everything of his, but 33% isn't a bad place to be!
Jon Vaughn (1991):  Action Packed Rookie Update, Pacific, Pro Set, Pro Set Platinum, Score Supplemental, Ultra Update, Upper Deck

Vaughn is another guy that's joining the collection for the first time today.  A start sprinter from Missouri, he put his legs to good use for the Wolverines in his two college seasons, mainly 1990 when he piled up almost 1400 yards to go with 9 TDs.  New England made him their 5th rounder in 1991 and over four seasons he'd also join Seattle and KC.  While his numbers as a back weren't gaudy, he proved to be an ace KR, scoring four times including longs of 100, 99, and 93 yards.

Here you see all seven of his rookies, and again, there's a bit of variety.  I like how Score and Ultra noted his KR responsibilities, but I'd go with the UD design as my favorite.
Tyrone Wheatley (1995):  Action Packed Rookies & Stars, Collector's Choice, Collector's Edge Instant Replay, Flair, Metal, Pacific, Pacific Prisms, Pinnacle, Playoff Contenders, Playoff Prime, Pro Line, Score, Select Certified, Skybox Impact, Skybox Premium, SP, SP Championship, Summit, Ultra, Upper Deck

Last up alphabetically is a guy who's done a lot in his football life--star college player, NFL vet, and now Michigan's RBs coach, hopefully on his way to a head coaching job of his own.  Here's 20 new cards of Tyrone Wheatley, today's big winner.

I was glad to see that almost half of these were Michigan uni cards.  Even if a third of them include some degree of airbrushing they still count!  Collector's Choice wins for best photo since it shows Ty burning past the Buckeye defense, but there's some other nice stuff here.  Playoff Prime has a great shiny design, and Ultra's is very nice as well, other than the annoying airbrush effect.

All of these leave me just a card shy of Wheatley's 25 first-years, and you may even get a chance to see that last card very soon.

That's all for today with just a few posts left in this series.  Will I get them done before next Friday's spring game?  Probably not!  But you never know....

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