Set the Stage:
Coach: Bo Schembechler
1980 Performance: 10-2, Rose Bowl Victory, Final Ranking: 4th National, 1st Big Ten
1981 New Blood Count: 24
Mini Recruiting Board Lives Here:
The 1981 class was recruited coming off of the wings of a great 1980 season, which culminated in a Rose Bowl win. The class included 12 offensive and 12 defensive players, a very balanced 24-man class. The lack of a quarterback is explained by the presence of Steve Smith, who was the starting QB for most of the games for the first 3 seasons of this class. There was obvious weakness in both the linebacker and offensive line cores, which Bo hoped to fill with this class.
How They Did:
Overall Record: 42-17-1
Varsity Letters: 56
Graduated on Team: 18
Started a Game: 15
Full Eligibility: 11
5th Year Seniors: 8
- Kevin Brooks, All Conference 1983 1984
- Brad Cochran, All-American 1985, All-Conference 1985
- Mike Hammerstein, All-American 1985, All-Conference 1985
- Eric Kattus, All-Conference 1985
- Mike Mallory, All-Conference 1984 1985
- Clay Miller, All-Conference 1985
- Alan Sincich, All-Conference 1983
- Kevin Brooks, 1985, 1st Round, 17th Overall
- Brad Cochran, 1986, 3rd Round, 80th Overall
- Mike Hammerstein, 1986, 3rd Round, 65th Overall
- Eric Kattus, 1986, 4th Round, 91st Overall
- Clay Miller, 1986, 12th Round, 306th Overall
Of the 24 players recruited, 18 made it to graduation as members of the team. 15 made starts, and 11 played for their full four years.
The worst year for this class was in its senior year, 1984, when 12 players from the class made 114 starts and the team went 6-6. 1985 was an excellent year, in which 5 of the 8 remaining redshirt senior players made All-Conference and two made All-American honors (both of whom could have gone on to be cops). The 1985 team made it to the Fiesta Bowl, which they won, bringing their final record to 10-1-1. The caliber of the players in this class was sub-par compared to years surrounding it, shown by the general mediocrity of the team’s record.
Unfortunately for Bo, only 3 of the 7 OL recruits made any starts, one of which made one, one of which was a starting senior, and one of which converted to a DT and became an All-American. 5 of the 7 LB recruits made impacts on the team.
The shining point of this class was the defense. Of the 322 starts the class made, 201 were on defense. The two All-Americans were Brad Cochran, DB, who made 36 straight starts in his last 3 years, and Mike Hammerstein, DT, who was MVP of the 1985 defense, which allowed a whopping 8.1 ppg. The three defensive players who were drafted went in the 1st, 3rd, and 3rd rounds.
Overall, the 1981 class built a strong defensive core, which allowed Bo to focus on the offense in the next year's class.