- Erin Kirkland/Daily
By Zach Helfand, Daily Sports Editor
Published September 15, 2012
A 5-year old held court in the press box of Michigan Stadium on Saturday. About 15 reporters gathered around Cooper Barton, the boy from Oklahoma City with a thick mane of blonde hair. He wore a painted Wolverine claw and a timid smile on his face and toyed nervously with the thing that got him here in the first place: a Michigan t-shirt.
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On the field, Michigan scored, and then it scored some more, and by the second half, the attention span for most of the fans matched Barton’s. The game was never really in doubt, and even in the first half, the crowd had been more concerned with Barton — the kindergartener who, last month, was forced to turn his Michigan shirt inside out at school — than the game.
Maybe the fidgety 5-year old is too young to long remember much of Saturday. Maybe in a few years, the game will be as lost to him as it will be to the rest of the 110,000 fans on hand. His parents will have to remind him of the time he was the king of Michigan Stadium.
For one break in the action, he was. Freshman tight end Devin Funchess had just scored a touchdown, the first of the game, and the roar was loud. But it was louder minutes later when Barton was introduced on the field.
“Aww nothing,” Barton, unfazed, said of the ovation.
At half time, the 5-year old held court in the press box. About 15 reporters gathered around Barton. The cameraman had to hold his lens at his thigh to get at his eye level, and one reporter kneeled down to ask him questions.
Barton spoke at a nervous hush at first, but then grew comfortable after he saw reporters smiling at his answers. At one point, he claimed he could run faster than senior quarterback Denard Robinson.
He mimicked Robinson, leisurely using his two fingers to make a running motion. Then he switched up and waved his hands rapidly.
“I’m this fast,” Barton said.
In mid-August, Barton wore a Michigan shirt to school and was forced to turn it inside out because of a policy that bans all college shirts other than those from Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. After hearing his story, Michigan Athletic Director Dave Brandon invited Barton and his family of Michigan fans to the game on Saturday. And he had a special gift for Barton.
“Look!” Barton said as he lifted up his Michigan shirt. Brandon had the underside printed too, so that way, it couldn’t be reversed. After the introduction on the field, Barton was chaperoned around the stadium and met players after the game.
“We’ve been trying to warn him about it for the last couple days, but it seems to me, Cooper’s not phased by much,” said his father, Chris Barton. “There’s no one thing that’s cooler than the other. This whole thing has just been really cool.”
As Chris spoke, Barton reached up and grabbed his face. Nearby, his mother, Shannon, who sported maize and blue painted nails, smiled sheepishly as in disbelief.
“He’s still just five,” she said.
MOORE HONORED WITH NO. 87: The No. 87 jersey of Ron Kramer was on the field on Saturday, but only before the game. Michigan honored fifth-year senior Brandon Moore with Kramer’s Legend’s jersey and patch in a pregame ceremony.
That was it for the jersey on Saturday. Moore sat out the game with an injury.
In the 1950s, Kramer was a two-time All-American as a offensive utility man and a defensive end. He also played basketball and ran track and later played for the Green Bay Packers. Kramer is the third Michigan football Legend. Desmond Howard received the honor last year, and Bennie Oosterbaan was recognized last week.
“I didn’t know why coach Hoke wanted to see me in his office,” Moore said. “I couldn’t believe it. When you think of the history and tradition of this program and some of the great players like Ron Kramer, to carry on that legacy, that responsibility, is humbling.”
INJURY UPDATES: No Michigan players were injured in Saturday’s game. Besides Moore, sophomore linebacker Desmond Morgan, junior fullback Stephen Hopkins and redshirt sophomore defensive lineman Richard Ash did not dress due to injuries.
Hoke said Morgan and Hopkins should play next week against Notre Dame. He said Morgan sustained a “head thing” but did not expound.
“I don’t know what they classify it as,” Hoke said.