Today is a great day to wish a Happy Birthday to Michigan Man Jon Runyan. According to the Wikipedia article linked below, Jon Daniel Runyan was born on this day at Flint, Michigan. Jon grew up to be an outstanding athlete at Carmen-Ainsworth High School. In fact, Jon earned ten varsity letters in three sports (football, basketball and track). He was a State Shot Put Champion in 1991. Runyan was a two-way football player in high school and he wasn’t sure about his position in college. He decided to accept a scholarship at Michigan and let the Wolverine coaches figure out where to use his talents.
Jon Runyan’s name first showed up on a Michigan Football roster in 1992. However, he didn’t play a down that first year and burned his red-shirt. However, he worked hard in the weight room and learned how to play Michigan Football.
Runyan’s hard work paid off in 1993. The coaches decided to put him on the offensive line and he took it from there. Jon earned eleven starts (4 at left guard and 7 at right guard) and his first varsity letter. Michigan ended the season with a final record of 8 wins, and 4 losses. Unfortunately, the Wolverines saw their streak of five consecutive Big Ten Titles end. Michigan finished in a tie for fourth place with a final conference record of 5 wins and 3 losses. Ouch!
Jon returned in 1994 and started ten games at guard because that’s where Michigan needed him to play. He earned another varsity letter and the Hugh Rader Award for being Michigan’s best lineman. Unfortunately, the Big Ten Championship eluded the Wolverines for the second straight season. Michigan posted another record of 8 wins and 4 losses. Once again, they finished with a record of 5-3 in the conference which earned them a third-place finish in 1994.
Things were going well for Jon Runyan, but not so much for his coach. Gary Moeller was feeling the heat after two straight four loss seasons. Moeller knew that the 1995 season had to be better, but he never got a chance to be part of it. When Moeller resigned in May 1995 things at Michigan were not going well. Lloyd Carr was named as the “interim” Head Football Coach at Michigan, but nobody knew if Carr would last. A lot of people had a lot on the line in 1995 and Jon Runyan was one of them!
Jon Runyan was back for his third year as a starter and it turned out to be his best season. He started all thirteen games at left tackle. His stellar play earned him All-Conference and All-American honors. Michigan’s record improved to 9 wins and 4 losses in Lloyd Carr’s first season at the helm. Once again, the Wolverines ended the Big Ten season with a record of 5-3 and another third-place finish.
Although he had one year of eligibility remaining, Jon Runyan decided to test the NFL waters. As it turned out, the water was fine. Runyan was drafted by the Houston Oilers. He earned a starting job after his sixth game and kept on playing great football for fourteen years. Jon earned All-Pro honors in 1999 and was named to the Pro Bowl while playing for the Philadelphia Eagles in 2002. Yes, he had an outstanding NFL career!
Here are some Michigan Football “firsts” that are associated with Jon Runyan and the Michigan Wolverines:
· Jon Runyan played in the first ever games against Penn State and North Carolina State in 1993 – both Michigan wins!
· Runyan also played in the first ever game against Colorado State in 1994.
· Jon Runyan played on the first Lloyd Carr Team in 1995.
· Runyan was Lloyd Carr’s first All-American offensive lineman in 1995.
Today is a good day to remember the outstanding career of Jon Daniel Runyan. He, and his teammates, contributed twenty-five wins to the all-time Wolverine victory total. Thanks to Jon Runyan for some great Maize and Blue memories. I hope that Jon enjoys his special day today. Go Blue!