Today, I want to wish a very happy birthday to Michigan Man Kevin J. Koger. Kevin Jamaal Koger was born on this date in 1989. Kevin grew up to be a big, strapping young man. He was an outstanding high school football player at Whitmer High School in Toledo, Ohio. Kevin had a record setting high school career. He was one of the nation’s top tight end prospects in 2007.
When you grow up in Toledo, Ohio you are either a Michigan fan or an Ohio State fan. Apparently, Kevin favored the Wolverines. He signed up to play for Coach Lloyd Carr and the Wolverines. He was a perfect match for Coach Carr’s offense and it appeared to be a great fit for both Koger and Michigan. Things changed dramatically when Carr announced his retirement in 2007. The future looked even more confusing when Michigan hired Rich Rodriguez. Tight ends didn’t usually play a huge role in the “Spread Offense” that Rodriguez ran. What would Kevin Koger do? Well, as it turned out, Kevin would do just fine although there were some mighty struggles along the way.
Kevin’s first year at Michigan was also the first year of the Rich Rodriguez Era. It was ugly! Michigan had a record-setting season, but not the good kind. The Wolverines won three games and lost nine – it was the worst season in Michigan football history! To put things in perspective, think about this. Bo Schembechler did not lose his ninth game until the last game of his seventh season. Rich Rod lost nine games in just twelve weeks. It could have been worse if it were not for Kevin Koger.
Kevin J. Koger got to play in the fourth game of the season against ninth-ranked Wisconsin. He caught his first career pass and turned it into a twenty-six-yard touchdown. It was a huge play and Michigan went on to upset the Badgers by a score of 27-25. That was pretty much the high point of the 2009 season. Just think, if Kevin does not score that touchdown, Michigan loses the game and they finish with only two wins and ten losses. Yes, it was a terrible season, but it could have been even worse!
Kevin and his teammates toughed out the next two years, but it was no fun! The cloud of negativity that hung over Rich Rodriguez and his football team made everything that much harder. Kevin did the only thing he could do. He worked hard, stayed positive and just tried to do the best he could do every day. As it turned out, the suffering ended sooner than expected when Rich Rodriguez was fired in January 2011.
After three seasons, Kevin had played on two losing teams and one winning team. Michigan’s record for Koger’s first three years was awful – 15 wins and 22 losses. It was even worse in the Big Ten. The Wolverines only won six of twenty-four conference games from 2008 to 2010. Kevin contributed where he could in the offense, but the defense got way too much playing time!
Brady Hoke was a breath of fresh air for Michigan and Kevin J. Koger. Hoke got things turned around pretty quickly in 2011. Michigan won almost as many games in one season (11) as they had in the previous three (15)! The Wolverines finished the season with a record of 11 wins and 2 losses and beat Virginia Tech in the 2012 Sugar Bowl.
So, the 2011 Michigan football season was a success and the same could be said for Kevin’s senior year. Koger’s dedication and hard work paid off in many ways. First, he was elected as one of Michigan’s tri-captains for the 2011 season (along with Dave Molk and Mike Martin). Second, Kevin caught a career best total of twenty-three passes for two-hundred forty-four yards and four touchdowns. Third, Koger saved his best game for the Buckeyes in his last game at Michigan Stadium. He caught four passes for forty-yards and scored one touchdown in the 40-34 win over OSU. Fourth, he earned Big Ten Honorable Mention recognition for his solid play. Finally, his enthusiasm, and great love, for football and The University of Michigan earned him a share of the Robert P. Ufer Award in 2011.
Kevin Koger had an interesting career, no doubt! He was there for the worst of times and stayed long enough to enjoy some good times too. Kevin Koger is also connected to a number of Michigan Football “firsts.”
· Kevin Koger played on the first Rich Rodriguez team in 2008.
· Koger played on the first Michigan team to lose 9 games in one season in 2008.
· Kevin Koger played on Brady Hoke’s first team and was one of Brady Hoke’s first tri-captains in 2011.
· Koger played on the first Michigan team to win the Sugar Bowl on January 3, 2012.
· Finally, I am 99.9% certain that Kevin J. Koger is the first, and only, Michigan Man who scored a twenty-six- yard touchdown on his first and last catch at Michigan Stadium! Impressive, most impressive!
Today is a good day to wish a very Happy Birthday to Kevin J. Koger. I hope that this outstanding Michigan Man has a great day today! Go Blue!
For more information about Kevin and his life after football check out the links below: