From 1978-1981 Harold "Butch" Woolfolk delighted Michigan fans with some of the most scintillating runs a Wolverine back has ever had. His touchdown jaunts of 92 and 89 yards still rank as the longest in Michigan history. Now, 25 years after he last put on a uniform and stepped out on the Big House field, Michigan's fourth all-time leading rusher will see the name Woolfolk on the back of a Maize and Blue jersey once again.
Dulles High (Sugar Land, TX) cornerback Troy Woolfolk committed to the Wolverines yesterday after turning in an impressive performance at Michigan's annual summer camp. At times, the 6-0 179-pounder displayed the type of burst his father did when he wore the winged helmet, but he didn't anticipate that resulting in a scholarship offer."
"Truthfully I wasn't really expecting it," admitted Troy. "I was just doing it as one of my visits to do a camp. When I came to the campus I just fell in love with the coaching staff and how the campus is run. It just took off from there. I first noticed them really watching me the first day because we were working on drills and they took me and a few other guys to go work on some other drills. It was just me, Coach English, and two other kids working to help us get better. I went up to Schembechler (Wednesday) for the first time. He said he liked what he saw and that he was offering me a scholarship. He said that if I were to get hurt, he would still accept it."
The youngster's shock at receiving a Michigan offer may be surprising to some, but not to his dad. According to the elder Woolfolk, the whole experience was surreal for his son.
"He had to be a Michigan fan growing up," said Butch. "I had him cloaked in the Maize and Blue since he was born (laughing). He still has a lot of stuff that he had from Michigan as a little kid. He knew more about Michigan than any other college, but I still think it was a fantasy…an unrealistic fantasy to him…to the point where he never really thought about playing there."
After coming to grips with the fact that his fantasy was actually becoming reality, Troy wasted little time accepting the invitation. It was a happy occasion for a father that obviously influenced his son's fan allegiance, but made a concerted effort NOT to influence what college he'd attend. If Troy went to Michigan, it was going to be on his own accord.
"To tell you the truth, I did what my father did which was basically to allow him to make the decision," Butch said. "It was his choice. It really was his choice. I knew that he was seriously considering Texas and a few other schools down here, but once he took a visit up there to Michigan, everything seemed to fall in place. He just liked it…A LOT! He saw what I saw when I first went there as well. So it was 100% his decision. Once he made the decision, I was definitely happy."
For Troy, the opportunity to attend and play for Michigan is the culmination of a lifelong dream and a chance to continue his family legacy in Ann Arbor. It also marks the chance for him to blaze his own trail.
"It means a lot," Troy said regarding following in his father's footsteps. "I really feel good about it, but at the same time, I want to make my own footsteps. I don't want to just follow behind my dad."
The desire to make his own mark is sign not only of Troy's independence, but his competitiveness as well. He has made it his mission to one up his dad…especially on the track. The speedster is clearly off to a good start having registered impressive 100 meter track times (10.59 fully automatic and 10.4 hand timed). According to dad, though, if he were 17 again and had to race his namesake, the race wouldn't be close.
"I'd blow him out," Butch said laughing. "He can't touch me. My mother, for some weird reason, kept all of my times every year since I was in eighth grade. I have them in a photo album. He has always compared his times to mine and he has blown out my times every year up until his senior year. If he can run a 10.18 his senior year then he'll be hot. He hasn't gotten my fastest time yet. My senior year I ran a 10.18."
That blazing time would likely qualify for an Olympic trial in certain years, but for Troy it's just another mark of dad's to eclipse.
"Only in his own little mind," replied the younger Woolfolk when told of his dad's previous claim. "I'll get there. I've just got to work on my start and finishing my race and I'll get there."
With his continued dedication to training, Troy's speed will only increase. That will also serve to make him a better football player. Dad made sure to caution those that might underestimate his son simply because he is a track standout.
"People generally think that track guys playing football are soft and they don't hit," Butch said. "Well, I think that's the best part of his game. He's a hitter. He has taken several people out of games before. When Coach Carr saw the game film, he was impressed with his hitting. In high school, if you've got a good cornerback, you can cheat a little bit by not throwing to that side. The opponents won't throw at Troy, so he doesn't get much action defending a guy. But he does get some action when they come up and run the ball. He can come up and make some contact. That's what they are impressed with. He's a hitter."
Troy concurred with his father's evaluation of his game, but also knows he still has room to improve.
"I think some of my best qualities are being a real physical corner," he said. Even if they somehow do get by me, I've got good recovery speed. I think I still need to work on my breaking down and reading the quarterback drops so I react on the receiver better."
Woolfolk hopes to improve his play by putting to use many of the techniques he learned at Michigan's camp, but looks forward to the day when he can benefit from that tutelage full time when he hits campus in a little over a year. That's especially the case with Ron English.
"I like him very much," Troy said regarding Michigan's defensive coordinator. "Most coaches, when you do something wrong, they get on you a little bit. He gets on, but he also teaches you the right thing to do. He is not all about just screaming."
For more on Troy Woolfolk be sure to check out the upcoming issue of GoBlueWolverine the Magazine.