Make A Choice: Desmond Howard Or Charles Woodson
First things first....
This question is not asking who you'd rather have on a team for an entire game or an entire season. This is about one play, one moment. If you needed a game-winning punt return touchdown, would you take Desmond Howard or Charles Woodson?
Howard and Woodson are the most legendary Michigan football players in the modern era. The numbers 2 and 21 are iconic in maize and blue because of them. They're obviously both Heisman winners and both have memorable punt return touchdowns against Ohio State that could be classified as their Heisman moments. So, in crunch time, if the other team had to punt to one of them, who would you put back deep?
Their punt return numbers aren't exactly eye popping. During his career, Howard got his hands on 26 punts and piled up 282 yards (13.0 yards per return) and scored that one enormous touchdown against the Buckeyes, which led to his Heisman pose in the end zone. Woodson fielded 40 punts for a total of 321 yards (8.0 yards per return) and also had a gamebreaking touchdown against Ohio State that would've resulted in a pose of his own had he not been tackled by his teammates.
By comparison, neither Howard nor Woodson really got a chance at many punts returns. For perspective, Steve Breaston returned 127 punts in his career, while Donovan Peoples-Jones got his hands on 89 of them. So really, you have to forget the numbers a little bit because neither of them were used that much.
This is more about a skill set and a clutch gene. We obviously know that both Howard and Woodson had the propensity for the big play. But in that moment, if you needed a return, which player is better suited to deliver?
I would put Desmond Howard deep to return the would-be game-winning punt.
For me, it comes down to size, quickness and stop-and-start ability. Howard checks in at 5-9, 176 pounds, while Woodson is listed at 6-1, 197. Being four inches shorter and 20 pounds lighter is an advantage for Howard as a return man, especially when you throw in his elite ability to get to top speed quickly. He was also electric when it came to making people miss in the open field and changing direction. Woodson was obviously an elite athlete in every sense of the word, but Howard would edge him out in those crucial areas that make a punt returner great.
Catching the ball is obviously very important too and, because of that, I've always thought that wide receivers should be at the top of the list when picking return men. That gives Howard a quick leg up in my book and just makes the decision that much clearer to me.
Who would you put back deep? What are your reasons for picking who you picked? Comment below!!!