Wolverines Legend Rob Lytle Passes Away from Heart Attack

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The Michigan Wolverines football program lost one of its all-time great running backs this past weekend as former Wolverine Rob Lytle died of a heart attack Saturday (Nov. 20). Lytle, 56, grew up in Ross, Ohio, and graduated from Fremont Ross high school before enrolling at Michigan in 1973. He was the Vice President and Business Development Office at Old Fort Banking Company in Fremont up to the time of his death.

“Rob was a teammate and a terrific individual,” said Athletic Director Dave Brandon. “It’s a sad day because we’ve lost someone who was a great example of a Michigan man. Our sympathies go out to his family during this difficult time.”

Lytle earned first-team All-America honors, was the Big Ten Most Valuable Player and earned first-team all-conference selection during the 1976 season. He placed third in the 1976 Heisman Trophy balloting behind Pitt’s Tony Dorsett and Southern California’s Ricky Bell.

Lytle carried the ball 557 times for 3,317 yards and scored 26 touchdowns during his Michigan career (1973-76). His career total is currently the seventh-best mark in school history; he finished his career as Michigan’s all-time leading rusher. Lytle’s 1,469 rushing yards in 1976 were the most by a Wolverine and currently lists seventh all-time. He gained at least 100 rushing yards in 15 games during his career.

Lytle played seven seasons in the NFL before retiring. He was drafted in the second round of the 1977 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos. As a rookie, he was part of the Broncos team that played in the Super Bowl, losing to the Dallas Cowboys (XII). He gained 1,451 rushing yards and scored 12 touchdowns during his seven-year career and added 562 receiving yards and two TDs.

“He was a great competitor and such a great leader,” said quarterback Rick Leach, a teammate of Lytle’s at Michigan. “In my opinion, Rob was what a Michigan Man is all about. He cared about the team, he cared about Big Ten titles and would do anything to make the team better. He took me under his wing to talk about football and life. I loved him like a brother.”

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