Carrying the load
When Mike DeBord returned to his post as Michigan's Offensive Coordinator prior to the 2006 season it was his mission to re-establish the Wolverines' rushing attack. Coach DeBord accomplished his goal by continually calling the number of Mike Hart. Hart carried the ball 318 times last season for 1,562 yards. Hart's 318 carries were the second most in the nation behind only the 335 rushes of Rutgers' Ray Rice. It should also be noted that Hart's season rushing yardage total (1,562) was the fifth-highest single season total ever posted by a Michigan player. Additionally, Hart was the only player in the nation in 2006 to rush for 90+ yards in every regular season game.
Hart led Michigan in rushing with 1,455 yards in 2004 as a freshman sensation. However, he had an injury plagued sophmore campagin and was limited to 662 yards in 2005 which was still good enough for the team rushing title. With the 1,562 yards he gained in 2006 (and the third team rushing title that went with it), Hart is ready to reach records set by some of Michigan's greatest running backs. Jamie Morris is the only player in Michigan history to lead the Wolverines in rushing four times and Hart can share that unique distinction by leading Michigan in rushing yardage his senior season. Furthermore, Hart is in position to become Michigan's all-time leading rusher as he is currently in fifth place only 793 yards behind all-time leader Anthony Thomas (4,472 yards).
Hart received a plethora of post-season honors following the 2006 season and he finished 5th in the Heisman Trophy balloting. Hart will be considered among the pre-season favorites in the race for the 2007 Heisman Trophy. However, the only trophy that Hart is concerned about winning is the National Championship trophy for the team. Hart is a great leader and will likely be voted a team captain in his senior season. Go Blue!
*Note: Photo of Mike Hart by John T. Greilick/The Detroit News