Herremans' Focus on 'Dadding,' Giving Kids Similar Small-Town Childhood

By Tom Kendra
Special for MHSAA.com

August 5, 2021

Todd Herremans played 11 seasons in the NFL, battling big-name defensive linemen every Sunday and ascending to celebrity status in Philadelphia.

Made in MichiganBut make no mistake: He’s still a small-town, Ravenna boy at heart.

“We lived in downtown Philly for the last 10 years and then the kids came along,” said Herremans, a 2001 graduate of Ravenna High School. “I tried to make it work, but one day it just hit me that I have no idea how to raise kids in the city.”

So, in a scene straight out of the 1960’s television comedy “Green Acres,” in January he loaded up his wife, Elizabeth, daughter Olivia (5) and son Jaxon (3) and moved to a farm in West Chester, a small town about 50 miles east of Philadelphia.

One of the goals of the move has been to provide his kids with a childhood something like his idyllic upbringing in Ravenna, a rural village in eastern Muskegon County with about 1,200 residents.

Herremans’ father, Paul, is approaching his 31st season as the varsity baseball coach at Ravenna, despite retiring as a math teacher in 2010. He has also coached football and basketball at Ravenna since the 1970s and, as a result, his sons John, Scott and Todd basically grew up under the bleachers.

“I remember being really little and I couldn’t wait to be old enough to be the bat boy,” said Todd Herremans, now 38, whose mother, Marilee, was also a teacher. “Then once I did that, I was itching to put on the pads and the uniforms. Then I couldn’t wait to be on the varsity.”

Todd HerremansHe grew up to be a four-sport athlete at Ravenna – starring in football, basketball and baseball (along with helping out the track & field team in his senior year, throwing the discus and shot put) – and he credits playing multiple sports for helping him not only make it to the NFL, but to stay there for 11 years and remain healthy enough to start 126 of 135 career games.

“There’s no doubt playing other sports helped me make it to the NFL – the footwork I developed playing basketball and things like that,” said Herremans. “But it really helped me stay there. When you play different sports you are in different scenarios and fill different roles on each team. I think I was more adaptable than some of the other guys I played with.”

Herremans earned all-West Michigan Conference honors in football, basketball and baseball at Ravenna, but he was a late bloomer in many ways as his skill set grew into his big frame.

He went on to start for four years at Saginaw Valley State, playing in 48 games and starting 40 of them at left or right offensive tackle. During his senior year at Saginaw Valley he earned first-team Little All-America honors from The Associated Press, which put him firmly on the NFL radar.

He was selected in the fourth round of the 2005 NFL Draft, when the Eagles traded up to take him with Green Bay’s pick (126th overall). He started his first NFL game Nov. 27, 2005, and remained a fixture on the Eagles’ offensive front for the next decade.

Herremans, who played at 6-foot-6 and 323 pounds, was known for his consistency and durability, as well as his versatility – playing every interior line position for the Eagles except for center.

The versatility didn’t stop there, however, as he is one of the few interior offensive linemen in NFL history to catch two touchdown passes, one each in 2008 and 2010.

Todd HerremansTodd Herremans

After being released by the Eagles in 2015, he was picked up right away by Indianapolis, where he started two games.

These days, Herremans spends much of his time taking care of his children at the farm in West Chester and also at his cottage on Torch Lake in northern Michigan.

“I do a lot of dadding,” he said with a laugh.

Since his retirement, Herremans and a partner started BodyChek Wellness, a company that makes hemp-based products to help with wellness, balance and recovery. He is also a member of Athletes for Care, a group that advocates for athletes on various issues of health and safety, including the use of cannabis as medicine.

He looks forward to the summer months, when he spends most of his days at his northern Michigan cottage, allowing him a perfect place and opportunity to catch up with his family and friends from both Ravenna and Saginaw Valley.

Even better is having time to watch his kids grow up, which he said would have been nearly impossible during his NFL playing days.

“I have a lot of fun being with them,” Herremans said. “Ever since we moved out to the country, my son has been obsessed with tractors and tools. I love that.”

2020-21 Made in Michigan

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PHOTOS: (Top) Past Ravenna standout Todd Herremans, here with the Philadelphia Eagles, spikes after scoring in 2008. (Middle) Herremans with wife Elizabeth and children Olivia and Jaxon. (Below) Todd’s high school memories include kicking field goals and earning the Homecoming crown. (Top photo courtesy of the Philadelphia Eagles; middle photo courtesy of the Herremans family; below photos courtesy of Ravenna High School.)

Robichaud 3-Sport Legend Wheatley Selected to National High School Hall of Fame

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

March 11, 2024

The playing career of 1991 Dearborn Heights Robichaud graduate Tyrone Wheatley remains one of the most storied in Michigan high school sports history. His prestige gained during that early stage of his athletic stardom has been recognized nationally as well, as Wheatley was one of 12 honorees announced today as this year’s inductees into the National High School Hall of Fame by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS).

Wheatley – who grew up in Inkster and is currently the head football coach at Wayne State University – will be inducted as one of 11 honorees selected for the 41st Hall of Fame class at a ceremony during the NFHS summer meeting July 1 in Boston. The rest of the class is made up of three more athletes, four coaches, two former state association administrators and a game official. Wheatley was nominated by the Michigan High School Athletic Association.

Wheatley will become the Hall of Fame’s 10th inductee from Michigan, joining the MHSAA’s first full-time Executive Director Charles E. Forsythe (inducted 1983), River Rouge boys basketball coach Lofton Greene (1986), Warren Regina athletic director, softball and basketball coach Diane Laffey (2000), Fennville basketball and baseball standout Richie Jordan (2001), Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett boys and girls tennis coach Bob Wood (2005), Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook hockey standout Jim Johnson (2007), Owosso football, basketball and baseball all-stater Brad Van Pelt (2011); Vermontville Maple Valley baseball national record holder Ken Beardslee (2016) and retired MHSAA Executive Director John E. “Jack” Roberts (2022).

To the greater public, Wheatley surely is best known as a star running back for University of Michigan who went on to play 10 seasons in the NFL for the New York Giants and Oakland Raiders. However, he is arguably most glorified in Michigan high school athletics for his accomplishments on the track, where as a junior in 1990 he became the first (of still only two) athletes to win four individual events at an MHSAA Lower Peninsula Finals – placing first in the 100 and 200-meter dashes, 110-meter hurdles and long jump. He led Robichaud to the Class B team title that day, scoring 40 of its 49 points. Wheatley completed his high school career in 1991 with three more Class B individual track & field championships and nine total over his final three seasons; he was injured in the 100 during that senior-year meet and could not run his final race to attempt another four-title day.

Wheatley’s meet records of 13.7 seconds in the 100 at the 1991 LP Class B Final and 23-10¾ in long jump in 1989 still stood when the four-Class track & field format was retired after the 1999 season. He also remains the only athlete to win the 100 three times at the prestigious Mehock Relays in Mansfield, Ohio, also finishing first in the 110 hurdles and 200 and runner-up in the long jump at that meet in 1991.

Wheatley was similarly accomplished on the high school football field, leading his team to a state championship in 1990 and earning a Parade All-America honor. Over three varsity seasons total he ran for a combined 4,257 yards and 67 touchdowns, including 2,010 yards and 33 scores on 208 carries as a senior in 1990 – the latter despite playing quarterback half of that season (and throwing five touchdown passes). He played quarterback, running back, defensive back, punter, kicker and returned kicks, and he scored 252 points over 13 games as a senior and 484 over 38 career games.

Wheatley also was a standout on the basketball court for Robichaud, averaging 14 points and 16 rebounds per game as a senior in earning all-state recognition in that sport as well.

“My city where I come from, Inkster, means the world to me. I grew up in an incredible era of sports in Michigan (with successful University of Michigan and Detroit pro teams) … but if you ask me who my idols were, they were the guys I grew up with playing on the playground,” Wheatley said. “After you come from a basketball game where you see Jarvis Walker drop 30, or Earl Jones running the last 200 of a race backwards … you hear people talk about them, you hear their reverence about them, and I just wanted to be put in the conversation of the best to come out of Inkster, forget the state. I can tell you this for sure: I’m not the best athlete to come out of Inkster, just the person who got the recognition. And my foundation was built watching, taking notes, preparing, working out and just trying to be one of the guys.

“(Robichaud was) the step. Because without Robichaud … Michigan, the NFL, me coming back to coach, it doesn’t happen,” Wheatley said. “Without the Robert Yaucks (his football coach at Robichaud), the Coach (Leit) Jones (his Robichaud track coach), the Coach (Mercer) Brysons, the (coach) Wade Cooks, the (coach Jeff) Flounorys, the Millie Hursins (his academic advisor) of the world, this doesn’t happen. Without my high school teammates, none of this happens. So it’s not just a step. What’s the saying – the first impression is the lasting and best impression? Robichaud was it.”

Wheatley returned to Robichaud as its varsity football coach in 2007 and led that team to a 9-2 record and the MHSAA Playoffs for the first time since 1994 – after Robichaud had finished 0-9 the previous season. He has served as an assistant football coach at four college programs including U-M and Syracuse, and with the Buffalo Bills, Jacksonville Jaguars and Denver Broncos.

He also served as Morgan State University's head coach from 2019-21 and just completed his first season as head coach at Wayne State, which finished 3-8 – an improvement of two wins from 2022 and the program’s best record since 2019.

Wheatley graduated from University of Michigan in 2008 with a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology. He and wife Kimberly have five children: Tyrone Jr., Terius, Tyrique, Tiana and Tamari. Tyrone Jr., an offensive tackle, played this past season for the New England Patriots.

“Many of us who grew up in Michigan grew up as fans of Tyrone Wheatley because of what he accomplished at the college level – but his legendary story begins at Dearborn Heights Robichaud, where his outsized athletic ability was on full display in every sport he played,” MHSAA Executive Director Mark Uyl said. “Michigan has produced several professional athletes in a variety of sports and nearly 50 Olympians in track & field alone, and what Tyrone Wheatley achieved as a high school athlete remains a standard few have approached. We are ecstatic that he will deservedly take his place among the all-time elite high school athletes nationally as well.”

The National High School Hall of Fame was started in 1982 by the NFHS. The 11 individuals were chosen after a two-level selection process involving a screening committee composed of active high school state association administrators, coaches and officials, and a final selection committee composed of coaches, former athletes, state association officials, media representatives and educational leaders. Nominations were made through NFHS member associations. Also chosen for this class were athletes Joe Mauer (Minnesota), Takeo Spikes (Georgia) and Dot Ford Burrow (Mississippi); sport coaches Paula Kirkland (South Carolina), Gary Rankin (Tennessee), Roy Snyder (Pennsylvania) and Ronald Vincent (North Carolina); former state association administrators Mike Colbrese (Washington) and Marie Ishida (California), and baseball/football game official David Core (Oklahoma).

For more on this year’s Hall of Fame class, visit the NFHS Website.

PHOTO Tyrone Wheatley crosses the finish line first during one of his nine MHSAA Finals track & field championship victories. (MHSAA file photo.)