30-year Flashback: 1977 Spring Practice Awards
During Spring Practice for the 1977 season, Coach Schembechler wanted to make sure the team did not dwell on the disappointing 14-6 Rose Bowl loss to #2 USC on 1/1/77 to end the 1976 season. Despite the loss, the Wolverines (10-2) had ended the season ranked #3 in the nation in both the AP and the UPI polls. However, Michigan was losing its star running back Rob Lytle who finished 3rd in the Heisman Trophy balloting in 1976. On the upside, however, the Wolverines returned their superstar quarterback Rick Leach (jr./jr.). During Spring Practice certain players emerged as standout performers. Following are brief descriptions of the Spring Practice awards and biographies of the award winners:
Meyer Morton Award: John Anderson, Sr., OLB
The Meyer Morton Award, established by the 'M' Club of Chicago in 1925, is given to the football player who shows the greatest development and most promise as a result of the annual spring practice. John Anderson was not only an outstanding linebacker, he was also the team's punter. He averaged 41.5 yards per punt in 1976 which was was the second highest in modern Michigan football. Anderson also was selected as an Academic All-American in 1976.
Frederick Matthaei Award: Jerry Meter, Jr., ILB
The Frederick Matthaei Award is given to the junior-to-be gridder who has displayed leadership, drive and achievement on the athletic field and in the classroom. The award was established by Frederick C. Matthaei in 1968. Jerry Meter (6'2 1/2", 206 lbs.) is the son of Bernard Meter who played football for Notre Dame in the 1940's. Jerry Meter was a three-sport star in high school at both Douglas MacArthur in Saginaw and Andover in Bloomfield Hills. Meter looked to make a major contribution to the defense in 1977.
John F. Maulbetsch Award: Ron Simpkins,Fr.,ILB
The John F. Maulbetsch Award is given to the freshman football candidate after spring practice on the basis of desire, character, capacity for leadership and future success both on and off the gridiron. It was established by Frederick C. Matthaei in 1954 in honor of the late John F. Maulbetsch, an All-American halfback in 1914. Sophmore-to-be Ron Simpkins was selected for this award as he displayed all the attributes that would eventually make him a huge success at Michigan and beyond. Simpkins (6'1", 215 lbs.) was a prep All-American from Western High School in Detroit and was considered to be one of the top linebackers in the nation.