75 Days: A Look Back At All-American William Yearby

With 75 days until the 2016 Michigan Football season, we look at All-American defensive end William Yearby. The Alabama native was 6-foot-3, 235 pounds and below are some of his career highlights/achievements:


  • Yearby enrolled at the University of Michigan in 1962 and played college football for the Michigan Wolverines football team from 1963 to 1965.
  • He was a member of the 1964 Michigan Wolverines football team that won the Big Ten Conference championship, played in the 1965 Rose Bowl, and was ranked #4 in the final AP Poll.
  • He was selected by the Central Press Association, Football News, and Newspaper Enterprise Association as a first-team defensive tackle on the 1964 College Football All-America Team.
  • As a senior, he was selected as a consensus All-American.
  • He was named the Most Valuable Player on the 1965 Michigan Wolverines football team.


  • Yearby was selected in the first round of the 1966 AFL Draft by the New York Jets.
  • In December 1965, Time magazine described Yearby as “a vicious tackier, always on target, always gets his man — and not 5 yds. downfield, like most college kids.”
  • The following week, Time noted that “Jets Owner Sonny Werblin signed Michigan’s 230-lb. tackle Bill Yearby to a contract at $1,000 per pound.
  • He played only one season, 1966, for the Jets.
  •  Yearby was projected to play tight end for the Jets.
  • In 1966, a bad knee limited him to spot appearances as a fill-in defensive end and special-teamer.
  • In 1967, Yearby’s knee was still not right, and he was farmed out to the Bridgeport Knights of the Atlantic Coast Conference, who were the Jets’ minor league affiliate.
  • While playing linebacker for the Knights, Yearby hurt his knee again, and his pro football career was over.

Yearby passed away on December 20, 2010.

Go Blue!

David Noe