As even casual followers of the blog are aware, Tacopants is an imaginary player of infinite eligibility who stands eleven feet tall and is able to keep pace with even the fastest of Michigan's annual crop of receivers, striding imperceptibly beside one on almost every play. (Though, dovetailing with the sister-topic below, he may have recently been granted a release from the team). Our QBs have tended to target him from time to time.
Although urban legend suggests that Tacopants has been on the team since the introduction of the forward pass, it is commonly believed that the first sighting by a keen-eyed observer came during the Henne era From the MGoFAQ:
Tacopants is Jason Avant's eleven-foot tall imaginary friend. Chad Henne spent much of 2005 hitting him between the numbers, which are unfortunately eight feet off the ground and made of dreams. Blessed with infinite eligibility and the ability to sneak on and off the field without alerting the referees -- made of dreams, remember -- Tacopants has taken a lesser role in the offense as Henne matures but still pops up at inopportune times. The term has its genesis in this post.
"This post" refers to an article drafted on or about March 30, 2006, and marks the discovery of the player's true name. Up until roughly five years ago, most observers erroneously believed Michigan's QB simply overthrew the ball from time to time, oblivious to Tacopants' pervasive presence.
Speculators on these boards frequently place the first sighting in the Henne era, though occasionally have speculated that he may have burned his redshirt during the Navarre years. This morning, Brian referenced an article I recalled reading the better part of a decade ago, which he authored in 2002. From John Navarre Blamed For Offense, Defense, Kicking Game, Iraq, 9/11, Everything Else:
[O]therwise... goddammit, Navarre, would it kill you to throw it TO him instead of his imaginary eleven-foot-tall friend?
Emphasis added. This is perhaps the first-recorded referenced to Michigan's visually-elusive but very real 12th man, and a notable breakthrough in the epic of Tacopants. Tacopants was, indeed, on the field during Navarre's tenure.