Today is a great day to wish a Happy Birthday to a Wolverine great named Don Dufek. Donald Patrick “Don” Dufek Jr. was born on this day in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Of course, he grew up with Maize and Blue blood in his veins since his father, Don, Senior, starred for Michigan in 1949 and 1950. Don was an excellent athlete who became quite good at football and hockey in high school. In fact, he was good enough to play both sports for Michigan. However, with Bo coaching, football was number one for Dufek and hockey was number two.
Don Dufek Jr. enrolled at Michigan in the fall of 1972. Of course, freshman didn’t play in those days so Dufek learned the ways of Michigan football, hockey and got himself into the weight room. Of course, everybody knew Dufek’s name because of his father. So, there was plenty of pressure on him to perform up to the “family” standard. Don started doing exactly that during Spring Drills in 1973. He earned the John Maulbetsch Award for his outstanding play during that important time of the year. Dufek’s outstanding work in the spring and early fall of 1973 earned him a starting spot as the “Wolfman.” He started all 11 games in 1973 and helped the Wolverines win ten games and tie one. They also shared the conference title with Ohio State after the famous tie (10-10).
Don Dufek made Bo’s job easy in 1974. All Schembechler had to do was pencil in Dufek at Wolfman and one of his defensive positions was set for the season. His outstanding play helped Michigan finish the season with a record of 10 wins and 1 defeat. The Wolverines won another share of the Big Ten title. So, life was good in Ann Arbor. Don earned All-Big Ten honors for his outstanding play in 1974.
Dufek returned for his final season in 1975 and earned one of the greatest honors that a Michigan Football player can receive. He was named Co-Captain of the 1975 team along with Kirk Lewis. Don did everything he could to lead the defense. He recorded a career high 63-tackles (45 solo and 18 assists), broke up 4 passes, recovered 3 fumbles and picked off 2 passes. Dufek’s achievements did not go unnoticed in 1975. He earned first team All-Big Ten honors for the second straight season. He was named a first team All-American for his stellar play on Michigan’s defense. Bottom line − he was a very talented player who gave Bo Schembechler everything he had!
Don Dufek, Jr. is also associated with some interesting Michigan Football “firsts.” Here they are:
- Don Dufek played in the first ever game against Colorado in 1974. Michiagn won 31-0.
- Dufek played in the first season with the striped football in 1975.
- Don was on the first Michigan Football team to play in front of one million people in 1975.
- Dufek is the first, and only, Michigan athlete to be drafted by teams from the National Football League, the National Hockey League and the World Hockey League in 1976.
So, Don Dufek, Jr. honored his family name and left Ann Arbor with his held high. He started 34-straight games for the Wolverines and helped put 28 wins on the board for Michigan. He also played on two Big Ten Championship teams. Bottom line – Don Dufek was one of Bo’s finest “Michigan Men!” I hope that Don Dufek has a wonderful birthday celebration today with his family and friends today. Thanks for the memories Don and Go Blue!