Today is a great day to celebrate a Happy Birthday anniversary of Michigan Man Ricky Powers. Richard “Ricky” Powers was born on this day in Akron, Ohio. He grew up in Akron and became an outstanding athlete at Buchtel High School. When it was time to think about college, Michigan was the place where he wanted to continue his academics and his football.
Ricky was a highly talented running back who appeared to fit perfectly into Bo Schembechler’s plans. Unfortunately, Bo retired before Ricky arrived at Michigan. Powers would have to prove himself to Gary Moeller. So, that’s exactly what he did!
Powers arrived at Michigan in the Fall of 1990. He didn’t earn the starting job because John Vaughn was doing great as Michigan’s lead running back. However, Ricky played a lot and he played very well. In fact, he carried the ball 144 times and set a new rushing record for a true freshman with 748 net yards. Powers also scored 4 touchdowns and earned his first letter. Not a bad start for the Buckeye for Akron.
Of course, the best part was that he played on a Big Ten Champion football team too! Life was good for Ricky Powers in 1990!
Powers returned in 1991 and it looked like he would be ‘The Man” since Jon Vaughn graduated. Ricky stepped up and had a wonderful season. He carried the ball 240 times and gained 1,197 yards. He scored 9 touchdowns and helped balance the explosive Michigan offense that featured Desmond Howard and Elvis Grbac. Powers started eleven games in 1991 and earned his second of four varsity letters. Ricky earned All-Big Ten honors for his excellent season. The Wolverines finished the campaign with a record of 10 wins and 2 losses. Michigan was also perfect in the conference (8-0-0) and won their fourth consecutive Big Ten Championship. Once again, it was a great time to be Ricky Powers and a Michigan Wolverine.
Unfortunately, things changed for Ricky Powers during his junior season in 1992. As usual, Michigan had plenty of talented running backs on the roster and a guy named Tyron Wheatley earned the bulk of the starts in 1992. Ricky did start 3 games early in the season, but only saw limited duty for the rest of the season. He continued to be productive (67 carries for 321 yards) and averaged 4.8 yards per carry. Powers also scored 3 more touchdowns to push his career total to 16. However, he ended the season as the second running back on the depth chart. Of course, Moeller’s footballers went undefeated for the season (9-0-3) and won their fifth straight Big Ten Title with a record of 6-0-2). So, Ricky Powers was a Big Ten Champion for the third time in three years.
No, Ricky Powers wasn’t going to be “The Man” at running back in 1993 because Sophomore Ty Wheatley was back. However, Powers would still play a BIG ROLE on the team as Co-Captain along with Buster Stanley. Yes, his teammates and coaches respected his work ethic and the positive energy that he brought to the team. Although his production continued to decline, Powers still averaged 4.9 yards per carry and scored 3 more touchdowns for the 1993 season. He started three games and helped lead Michigan to a record of 8 wins and 4 losses. Michigan went 5-3-0 in the conference that year.
In addition to an excellent career, Ricky Powers is also connected to some important Michigan Football “firsts.” Here are the best ones I could find:
- Ricky Powers played on the first Michigan team of the Gary Moeller Era in 1990.
- Powers became the first “true” freshman running back to gain 748 rushing yards in 1990.
- Rick Powers became the first “true” freshman running back to record five 100-yard games in one season in 1993.
- Powers played on Coach Moeller’s s first Big Ten Championship team in 1990.
- Ricky Powers played in the first game ever against Penn State in 1993. Michigan won 21-13.
- Powers played in the first game in Michigan Football History against North Carolina State in the 1994 Hall of Fame Bowl. Michigan won the game by a score of 42-7.
Ricky Powers proved himself to be a selfless Michigan Man in 1993. He continued to work hard and lead his fellow Wolverines by example – on and off the field. Ricky Powers left Ann Arbor with his head held high!
I am sure that Bo Schembechler would certainly be proud of the “Michigan Man” that Ricky Powers became. He is giving back to his community and coaching at his alma mater. So, today is a very good day to wish a Maize and Blue Happy Birthday to Ricky Powers. Thank you for your contributions to the great history of Michigan Football! Go Blue!