April 2, 2017 Happy Birthday Anniversary Ron Simpkins!

Michigan Football Team 1979 | bigbluefootballhistory.com
Co-Captain Ron Simpkins (#40) is shown above with the 1979 Michigan Wolverine Football Team. Simpkins is seated in the first row. He is the fifth man from the left. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library.

The purpose of today’s blog is to wish a very happy birthday to a Michigan Man named Ron Simpkins. The tough and talented Ronald Bernard “Ron” Simpkins was born on this date in Detroit, Michigan. Ron Simpkins was an outstanding athlete at Western High School in Detroit. He was good enough to get a scholarship offer from Bo Schembechler and he was smart enough to take it!

Simpkins enrolled at Michigan in the fall of 1976 and started playing, a lot, right away. He didn’t start any games in 1976, but he played good enough, and often enough, to record 20 tackles and earn a letter. His first Michigan won 10 of 12 games and tied for the Big Ten Co-Championship with a record of 7-1-0.

Ron SImpkins Michigan Football 1979 | bigbluefootballhistory.com

Ron Simpkins set tackling records (1976-1979) that still remain at the top of Michigan’s tackling lists. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library.

Ron Simpkins came back stronger and ready to play in 1977. He started eleven games at inside linebacker and became the first man in Michigan football history to record over 170 tackles in one season. He also won the John Maulbetsch Award for his outstanding work in Spring Football practice. So, season two for Ron Simpkins was very good. It was also very good for the Wolverines. For the second straight year, they finished with a final record of 10-2-0 and won another conference co-championship with a record of, you guessed it, 7-1-0.

By 1978, Junior Ron Simpkins was one of the leaders on Bo’s defense.  He continued to play at a very high level and led the team in tackles for the second straight year with 144. His stellar play earned him first team All-Conference recognition at the end of the season. Michigan, for the third straight season, supplicated their accomplishments of the previous two years. They ended the season with 10 wins and 2 losses and finished in a first-place tie with a record of 7-1-0. Amazing!

Ron Simpkins received one of the highest honors a Michigan Football player can earn – his teammates named him co-captain (along with John Arbeznik) for the 1979 season. Michigan was picked to win at least a share of the conference title that year, but it didn’t work out that way. The Wovlerines ended the season with a final record of 8-4-0. Their conference record of 6-2-0 was only good enough for third place in the Big Ten. Ron Simpkins did everything he could to win that season, but it wasn’t enough. His teammates knew that he gave his all for Michigan and named him the Most Valuable Player for the 1979 football team. Simpkins also earned first team All-American honors and first team All-Conference honors in his senior season.

Ron Simpkins Michigan ALl-AMerican 1979 | bigbluefootballhistory.com

Co-Captain Ron Simpkins earned All-Conference and All-American honors for his stellar play in 1979. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library.

In addition to playing on some great Michigan teams, Ron Simpkins is also associated with some Michigan Football “firsts.” Here are the best ones that I could find:

  • Played in the first game in Michigan football history against Wake Forest in 1976. Michigan won by a score of 31-0.
  • Became the first, and only, man in Michigan football history to record 174 tackles in one season in 1977.
  • Ron Simpkins was the first man to record over 100 tackles in three consecutive seasons from 1977 to 1979.
  • Simpkins is the first, and only, Michigan Man to record over 500 career tackles and still has the record at 516!
  • Ron Simpkins is the first, and only Wolverine, to post 10 games of double digit tackles in one season in 1977.
  • Simpkins is the first, and only, Michigan football player to record 25 career games of double digit tackles.

Today is a good day to remember the outstanding Michigan career of Ron Simpkins. He was a four-year letterman who started thirty-four games at inside linebacker for the Maize and Blue. He was a two-time All-Big Ten honoree and he was a consensus All-American in 1979. Kurt was a member of three Big Ten Championship teams. Of course, he was a Michigan co-captain which speaks to the talent, character and demonstrated leadership ability of Ron Simpkins.

Thanks to Ron Simpkins for his outstanding contributions to Michigan football. I hope he has a very Maize and Blue Happy Birthday today! Go Blue!

To read more about Ron’s professional career and other life accomplishments go to the links below:

 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ron_Simpkins

http://bentley.umich.edu/athdept/football/fbteam/1979fbt.htm

 

Barry Gallagher

Barry Gallagher

Barry Gallagher is a self-proclaimed Michigan Football Archeologist. He spends a considerable amount of his time digging into the 138-year history of Wolverine Football. He is on a mission to share his findings with Maize and Blue football fans everywhere. He is the author of one book about Michigan Football titled "21-194-13 Michigan Football's Greatest Era". His second book titled, "The Legend of Bo Schembechler-How an Unknown Buckeye Became the Winningest Coach in Michigan Football History" was released on September 12, 2017. You can learn something about Michigan Football everyday by going to his website at: bigbluefootballhistory.com. You can also follow him on Social Media.
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