I realize that the last Where You At? post, while certainly entertaining, did not exactly cast the Michigan football program in the best light. When you consider your team to be one of the upstanding programs in the NCAA, profiling a player who shot at police and eventually got busted with weed is not the best way to prove this point. With that in mind, today's Where You At? looks at the post-Michigan career of linebacker Eric Mayes.
The name that immediately comes to mind when I think of Michigan football captains is linebacker Eric Mayes. The co-captain of the 1997 National Championship team, Mayes only recorded 46 tackles in his career at Michigan. He served as a backup linebacker in 1995 and 1996 after walking on to the football program. His impact on the field in 1997 was overshadowed by the contributions of Woodson, Greise, Streets, Ray, Tuman, and a host of others. However, Mayes' impact as a leader was as large as any player in recent memory.
Mayes' career at Michigan followed a Disney-esque storyline. The Kalamazoo native transferred to Michigan in 1995 after going to Xavier College, a small Louisiana school that did not have a football program. As a walk on, Mayes contributed on special teams during his first two years on the team, registering 16 total tackles in that time. After the departure of All-American and captain Jerrett Irons before 1997, Mayes took advantage of the chance to fill both Irons' starting role and his captaincy. He had the best game of his career against Notre Dame, making 14 tackles (one for a loss) and breaking up a pass.
Unfortunately, his playing career ended in the very next game. On Indiana's fourth play from scrimmage, Mayes took an awkward cut after shedding a block during a routine running play, tearing a ligament in his knee. It was quickly revealed that the injury would not allow him to return that season. As a fifth-year senior who was not eligible for a medical redshirt, Mayes had played his last game as a Wolverine.
Despite not being able to contribute on the field, Mayes continued to fulfill his duties as a captain. One of the most memorable images of the 1997 season occurred after Michigan beat Ohio State, clinching the Big Ten title and sending the #1 Wolverines to the Rose Bowl. During the on-field celebration, the Michigan team carried Mayes on their shoulders. It was one of the happiest and most touching moments I have experienced as a sports fan, and I'm sure most Wolverine fans would agree.
In December of 2007, Mayes was appointed associate director of the Merrill-Palmer Skillman Institute and executive director of its Child Development Lab at Wayne State University. To quote the Wayne State University website:
The Merrill Palmer Skillman Institute (MPSI) has been a vital part of Michigan’s landscape for nearly a century. Founded in 1920 as the Merrill-Palmer Institute, early efforts were aimed at serving Detroit’s children through formalized, academic programs in child development – a discipline then in its infancy. Over the years, the Institute has trained generations of early childhood researchers, teachers and mothers, as well as conducting pioneering research in the field with applications nation-wide.In the article announcing Mayes' hiring, Wayne State also lists his efforts to better the community.
Today, MPSI remains at the cutting edge of research and training in child development. Long recognized as a leader in childhood research, early education, and family outreach, MPSI continues to expand its efforts to meet the changing conditions and pressures of modern society on urban families and young children.
In the area of community service, he has volunteered for the Special Olympics as a team captain; D.A.R.E. program (Kalamazoo, Mich.); University of Michigan’s Motts Children’s Hospital; City of Hope Cancer Center; and West Side Cubs— Police Athletic League’s football team in Detroit.Honestly, I don't know what else to say. By all accounts, Eric Mayes is an unbelievable person, a guy who every Michigan student, player, coach, and fan should be proud to associate with their program.
Eric Mayes appointed associate director of the MPSI (Wayne State University)
Merrill Palmer Skillman Institute (WSU)