We will have a new series highlighting prominent past Michigan Football players up until the start of the season. We just cannot wait for the season to start, and this will allow us to reminisce on the great players of the past. Today’s spotlight is Tim Biakabutuka; Michigan’s single season rushing leader.
Biakabutuka’s Early Career before Michigan
Tim Biakabutuka was born on January 24, 1974 in the Republic of Zaire. Zaire is no longer a nation as of 1997 but has been renamed to the Democratic Republic of Congo. Tim didn’t stay long in the Central African country and him and his family moved to Canada, specifically Montreal, when Tim was four.
Tim didn’t play football until his high school years in Canada. It was then that his athleticism really showed, and people started to take notice of the young African. For his senior year of high school, Tim attended Canier College (the equivalent to an American Prep School) and played a year of football there. This is where the past Michigan player earned himself the name “Touchdown Tim” and earned a full-ride scholarship to the University of Michigan.
Touchdown Tim’s Michigan Career
Tim only played three seasons at Michigan, but he made his mark felt and will always be remember as one of the great running backs of Michigan’s past. In his freshman season in 1993, Tim was the third string running back for the Wolverines. He played in all 12 games, but only recorded 209 yards on 43 attempts and five touchdowns. 24 of those carries and 140 of those yards came in a single game against Purdue where he also recorded two touchdowns.
In Tim’s sophomore campaign, he was still a backup but started to come alive more for the Wolverines. In comparison to his past season at Michigan, Tim had triple the number of carries, and almost four times the number of yards. Biakabutuka added four 100+ yard rushing games against MSU, Purdue, Notre Dame, and Boston College. He finished the 1997 season with seven TD’s.
The season that made Tim Biakabutuka so famous, and one of the best Michigan players of the past, was his junior campaign in 1995. Tim became the full-time starting running back and he didn’t waste his chance. Biakabutuka broke Michigan’s single season rushing record with 1,818 total yards; a record that still stands today!
Tim’s performance against archrival Ohio State will be remembered as one of the greatest performances in Michigan Football history. With 313 rushing yards in the game, Tim’s performance became the second highest single game rushing record at Michigan. It also spoiled Ohio State’s hopes of a national championship!
A great full write up by Ryan White can be found here.
You can also view the nine minute Tim Biakabutuka’s highlights against Ohio State here on YouTube!
Biakabutuka entered the NFL draft following the 1995 season as was selected 8th overall by the Carolina Panthers in the 1996 NFL Draft. Despite his past career at Michigan, Tim found little success in the NFL. He battled through many injuries and struggled to find his groove. Despite battling injuries, Tim still managed to run for 2,530 yards and totaled 17 touchdowns for the Panthers in his six year career.
Just like his time at Michigan, Tim broke another team record for the Panthers. He became the first running back for Carolina to score two touchdowns of 60+ yards in the same game. Biakabutuka was also the first ever Zairian born player to play in the professional league.
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