Today is a great day to remember a Wolverine named Don Bracken on his happy birthday anniversary. Donald Craig “Don” Bracken was born in Coalinga, California on this day in 1962. According to the Wikipedia article linked below, Bracken’s family moved to Thermopolis, Wyoming while he was a middle schooler. Don Bracken grew up to be a good student and a very good high school punter. He put up NFL numbers in his senior year, averaging 46.7 yards per kick!
Bo knew he had to have the talented Bracken on his team and that’s exactly what happened. Don Bracken arrived on campus in 1980 and he was Bo’s kicker until he left in 1983.
The 1981 Michigan Football Media Guide stated that Bracken “had an outstanding freshman season. He vastly improved Michigan’s kicking game by averaging 42.7 yards per kick. His punt average was second best for freshman and fifteenth nationally.” Bracken’s outstanding work in 1980 earned him Honorable Mention All-Big Ten by the Associated Press for the 1980 season.
Don Bracken was consistent and very effective for four consecutive seasons. He did his job at a very high level and kicked his way into the record books by the time he left Ann Arbor. He was an important part of two Big Ten Championship teams (1980 and 1982). He earned second team All-Big Ten honors in 1981.
Here are some firsts that connect Don Bracken to Michigan Football:
· First man to punt a ball 73-yards in the Rose Bowl (still the longest punt in Rose Bowl History!) in January 1981.
· Played on the team that gave Bo his first Bowl win in January 1981.
· First man to record over 200 career punts (203) in 1980-1983.
· First man to punt for over 8,000 yards (8,273) from 1980-1983.
· First man to average over 56 yards per punt in a game (1981).
· First man to average over 43 yards per game (43.32) for a season (1981).
· First man to average over 40 yards per punt for a career (40.8).
Sadly, Don Bracken died on October 29, 2014 at the age of fifty-two. Don Bracken set the bar at a high place for all future Michigan punters. Please take a moment to remember Don Bracken’s contributions to the great history of Michigan football. May he always rest in eternal peace! Go Blue!
For more information about Don Bracken, check out the links below.