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Don Moorhead

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Don Moorhead

Don Moorhead
Moorhead (No. 27) from 1970 Michiganensian
Date of birth: (1948-10-11) October 11, 1948 (age 65)
Career information
Position(s): Quarterback
College: Michigan
NFL Draft: 1971 / Round: 6 / Pick: 132
(By the New Orleans Saints)
As player:
1971–1975 BC Lions
Career highlights and awards
Awards: All Big Ten quarterback
Honors: Co-captain, 1970 Michigan football team

Don Moorhead (born October 11, 1948) [1] is a retired American football player. He was the starting quarterback for the Michigan Wolverines football team in 1969 and 1970 and for the BC Lions from 1971 to 1975. He set 24 football records at the University of Michigan, including most yards of total offense and most yards passing.


Early years

Moorhead grew up in South Haven, Michigan where he was an All-State high school football player.[2]

University of Michigan

Accomplishments and records

After graduating from high school, Moorhead enrolled at the University of Michigan. He was the starting quarterback for Bo Schembechler's Michigan Wolverines in all 21 games of the 1969 and 1970 seasons; he led the Wolverines to an overall record of 17–4 in his two seasons as quarterback.[3][4] During his playing career at Michigan, Moorhead also broke Bob Chappuis's school record for total offense in a career with 3,641 yards of total offense.[2] Moorhead set a total of 24 University of Michigan football records, including total offensive plays (706), most yards gained passing (2,550), most passes completed (200) and most passes attempted (423).[2]

1969 season

As a junior, Moorhead led the 1969 Wolverines team to an 8–2 regular season record, including a 24–12 win in the 1969 Ohio State game.[3] He also led the 1969 Wolverines in total offense with 1,699 yards, 565 yards rushing and 1,134 yards passing. He completed 50 percent of his 178 passing attempts in 1969, threw five touchdown passes and had six passes intercepted.[5] After the 1969 season, Schembechler called Moorhead "a very cool customer."[5]

The Wolverines tied for the Big Ten Conference championship in 1969 and advanced to the 1970 Rose Bowl. Shortly before the game, Schembechler suffered a heart attack and was hospitalized. Moorhead said at the time, "I was shocked. It was like learning that your father was very ill."[6] Moorhead led the Wolverines in the Rose Bowl against a USC Trojans team that included a defensive front five known as the "Wild Bunch." Charlie Weaver made a key play in the second quarter batting down a Moorhead pass to Jim Mandich who was open in the end zone.[7] In all, the Wild Bunch knocked down four of Moorhead's passes.[7] Moorhead was 14-for-32 in passing with one interception and 127 passing yards.[7] USC won the game, 10–3.[3] After the game, Moorhead expressed disappointment at not winning the game for the ailing Schembechler: "A couple of times in the huddle, guys would say 'get this one for Bo. He worked so hard to get us here.' But we weren't able to get it."[6]

1970 season

Before the start of the 1970 football season, the Associated Press ran a feature story on Moorhead, writing that, "Anyone wishing to undermine the very capable 1970 Michigan team must simply figure a way to 'eliminate' quarterback Don Moorhead early in the season."[8] Coach Schembechler lavished praise on Moorhead, calling him "a great football player" who knows the game and "can think out there."[8] Schembechler added, "As long as Moorhead is whole, in my opinion, we have as good a quarterback as there is the country."[8]

The 1970 Michigan team started the season with nine consecutive wins, outscoring opponents 279 to 70.[4] Ranked #4 in the country, the Wolverines faced Ohio State in the final game of the season at Columbus. Ohio State defeated Michigan, 20–9, in Moorhead's final game in a Wolverines uniform.[4] Moorhead was selected as an All-Big Ten Conference quarterback at the end of the 1970 season.[4]

Career passing statistics

Season Att Comp Int Comp % Yds Yds/Comp TD
1968 25 10 2 40.0 122 12.2 1
1969 210 99 7 47.1 1261 12.7 6
1970 190 87 6 45.8 1167 13.4 8
Career total 425 196 15 46.1 2550 13.0 15

Career rushing statistics

Season Att Yd+ Yd- Net Yd Yd/Att TD
1968 16 106 8 98 6.1 0
1969 170 808 183 625 3.7 9
1970 97 431 63 368 3.8 2
Career total 283 1345 254 1091 3.9 11

BC Lions

Moorhead was drafted by the New Orleans Saints in the sixth round of the 1971 NFL Draft, but the Saints also drafted Mississippi's Archie Manning the same year. The Saints intended to use Moorhead as a running back, but Moorhead wanted to play quarterback. In February 1971, Moorhead told a group in his home town, "The big deal is that I want to play quarterback. New Orleans drafted me as a running back, so you know that's what they're thinking."[9] Determined to play quarterback, Moorhead elected instead to sign with the BC Lions in the Canadian Football League.[10] Moorehead was the Lions' starting quarterback from 1971 to 1975 and led the team to the Grey Cup playoffs in 1973 and 1974.[2] He announced his retirement from football in July 1976 after undergoing three knee operations in two years and tearing the biceps on his left arm. At the time of his retirement, Moorhead said, "Football was good to me. It gave me lots of things, but I may pay for it in later years with my injuries. I didn't set the world on fire, but I did have good years at British Columbia."[2]

After football

When he retired from football, Moorhead became a physical education teacher at Paw Paw High School in Paw Paw, Michigan, retiring in 2010.


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