COLLEGE FOOTBALL DAILY REPORT : AROUND THE NATION : Wheatley Suffers Shoulder Injury, to Miss Opener
Michigan’s Tyrone Wheatley, the All-America running back who some say defied logic by choosing a senior season over the NFL draft, almost certainly will sit out the Wolverines’ season opener--and possibly two more games--after X- rays Wednesday revealed a second-degree separation of his right shoulder.
Wheatley suffered the injury during a Tuesday practice. His shoulder was placed in a protective sling, where it will remain until a second set of X-rays are taken next week to determine if the injury is healing properly.
Barring any unexpected complications, Michigan team physicians are hopeful Wheatley would sit out no more than the team’s Sept. 4 game against Boston College at Ann Arbor. At the very worst, said Michigan spokesman Bruce Madej, Wheatley also would sit out the Sept. 10 game at Notre Dame and possibly a Sept. 24 home game against Colorado.
“I would guess he would miss (games), but to what extent I don’t know,” Wolverine Coach Gary Moeller said. “I would doubt he’ll play against Boston College.”
This is the second injury to Wheatley’s right shoulder in the last 14 months. While covering a punt against Illinois last October, Wheatley was hurt and couldn’t play in a loss to Wisconsin and a victory over Purdue.
“It’s a different kind of injury than the one that he sustained last year,” Moeller said.
If Wheatley misses only the first game, Michigan’s chances to remain a national championship contender, as well as the favorite in the Big Ten Conference, aren’t affected. But a longer absence could be damaging, not only to the Wolverines’ postseason plans, but also to Wheatley, who returned for his senior year in hopes of improving his place in the NFL draft--from a sure top-10 pick in 1994, to the No. 1 selection overall in 1995.
“It’s a big blow because he has lots of experience,” Moeller said. “But, as I’ve said before, this team does not ride solely on Tyrone Wheatley. Obviously, we’re a better football team with him than without him, but Ed Davis and Tim Biakabatuka just have to pick up the slack.”
Davis and Biakabatuka combined for 691 yards and seven touchdowns last season. Wheatley, Michigan’s career record holder in rushing touchdowns (35) and yards per rush (6.35), ran for 1,129 yards and 13 touchdowns in 1993.