MGoHall of Fame: Football Nominees

Submitted by Brian on May 15th, 2012 at 2:35 PM

Good lord, this was brutal. Hockey had a pretty clear cutoff that sat nicely at five, and getting to five in basketball was a stretch. I left Steve Breaston, Leon Hall, Allan Branch, and Zoltan Mesko out here. Jebus.

See also: structure, basketball, hockey.

David Molk


via MVictors

PROS: Tough-talking no-neck was a four year starter at center perfectly suited for Michigan's zone running game; won the Rimington as a senior. Hilarious interview with absolutely no regard for cliché. High fantangibles rating. At times seemed to be the difference between doom and success in the Michigan ground game. Broke something serious in his foot in the Sugar Bowl, watched Rocko Khoury make some panic snaps on Michigan's first series, and played the rest of the game seriously damaged.

Experienced both coaching changes and was one of the seniors Who Stayed™. A huge factor in the locker room uniting behind Hoke.

CONS: Had some injury problems. Inexplicably had his snap count jumped against MSU and only MSU for like three straight years.

Mike Martin


PROS: Four-year contributor and three-year starter who always teetered on the edge of being great. Finally accelerated down the senior-year stretch into a dominant nose tackle. During this period forced a pitch on a Nebraska speed option.

This is about all you need to know. You could not block him. Michigan's insanely good third/fourth and short defense started with him (and ended with Kovacs).

But wait, there's more: with Michigan's already-thin defensive line depth shattered by injury before the Sugar Bowl, Martin and Van Bergen faced off with future first-round pick David Wilson in a game where getting a stop meant you got four snaps before you were back on the field. They singlehandedly kept Michigan in the game despite dying halfway through the second quarter. A performance that should pass into legend the same way Hunwick's North Dakota game will.

Also a member of Those Who Stayed™. Along with Molk and Van Bergen, Martin got the Full Andy Dufresne from his time at Michigan.

CONS: Seemingly endorses "In The Big House." Not as highly regarded by the NFL as a few other guys on this list.

Ryan Van Bergen



PROS: Third and final member of Those Who Stayed™ on the list. Also a four-year contributor and longtime starter, underrated because of his lack of playmaking but still the TFL leader on last year's team. The other guy holding Michigan's defensive line together through sheer force of will in the Sugar Bowl. Virtually impossible to knock down. Screwed up a check in the 2009 Indiana game, leading to an 85-yard touchdown, then singlehandedly annihilated the next IU drive, giving Michigan a chance to pull it out.

CONS: Probably the least-great player on this list. Here as a tribute to Michigan's phoenix act in 2011. Not enticing to NFL. Still… look at that. This is not a list of the best players ever, so…

Brandon Graham

PROS: The best player on an awful Michigan defense and awful Michigan teams. Did not get the Full Andy Dufresne since his career ended halfway through the sewage tube. Still bore all of this with a Denard-like beatific smile. Just killed people, all the time.

NFL did really like him, drafting him in the top half of the first round.

CONS: Unfortunately his impact was limited because the team around him was terrible.

David Harris

PROS: Sideline-to-sideline missile was cerebral to the point of near-genius. Always there. Always. Made a habit out of juking(!) offensive linemen in zone schemes, making them think the play was going one way, then exploding into the ballcarrier when this was not the case. Junior year was tremendously underrated thanks to chaos around him; was major lynchpin and possibly the best player on Michigan's monster 2006 defense. Yes, I mean that seriously.

Early and still prime example of the usefulness of UFRing makes him near to my heart; not sure if you care. Validated all praise from Michigan fans by instantly becoming NFL tackling machine upon entry to the league.

Kind of looks like Worf.

CONS: Lacks iconic wow play. Others started longer than he did.

Mario Manningham

PROS: Emphatically does not have David Harris's problem since he was the target on two of the most iconic plays of the aughts: Oh, Wide Open and Lloyd Carr's Last Second. An electric playmaker the rest of the time, a guy who wasn't the biggest but was the fastest and hardest to keep track of. Had that brilliant slow-up-to-stall-the-DB-then-extend-for-the-TD move down pat. More of a technician than given credit for. Whenever I think of Manningham, I think of that Citrus Bowl when DeBord said "screw it, spread time" and Holly Rowe reporting that Florida deathbacker Brandon Spikes was chasing Manningham all over the field on his incessant end-arounds, saying "damn, boy, you good."

Did the worm after the 2007 Penn State win.

CONS: Got suspended for the weed, something that took some doing in the mid-aughts. Widely regarded as kind of maybe not the nicest guy to ever make it through the program.

Jason Avant

PROS: Amongst the nicest guys to ever make it through the program. Skillet-sized hands are made of industrial-strength adhesive. An elite-level possession receiver who was everyone's safety blanket. Targeted all the time and made all the catches. Probably the most common ex-player to be referenced in "You May Remember Me From Such Players As," to the point where I actively try to avoid it now.

Did this:

That about sums it up.

CONS: Did drop that one pass once, you know, that one. Never a huge deep threat.

Mike Hart

PROS: Four year starter with great backstory and running style burned into your brain. No speed at all but capable of juking in a phone booth and grinding out two, three, four yards after contact. Got a standing ovation for a particular eight yard run against Penn State once. Came out of a tiny school in upstate New York with outlandish rushing stats and a youtube clip in which he jukes every player on the opposing team twice.

Never, ever fumbled except twice inside the five against Florida in his last game. Pretty much the only thing standing between Michigan and a yards per carry under three during his time at Michigan.

Mouthy in a rivalry-pumping way. Fantangibles high. Added spice to life. I have already written his column. There is a "Mike Hart is pined for" tag on this blog.

CONS: Injury prone. Started this incredibly annoying "little brother" business. Spice added by mouth often backfired; went 0-fer against OSU.

Lamarr Woodley


PROS: Kills people. Brandon Graham was Woodley 2.0, a devastating defensive end who could not be blocked one-on-one. Has enormous Wolverine tattoo on arm. Finished off the Oh Wide Open game with the Yakety-sax-capping scoop and score. Fighting with David Harris and Allan Branch for title of best player on 2006 defense.

CONS: OSU 0-fer does not quite apply but really kind of does since he did not contribute much in 2003. That's about it. Kind of think maybe Graham was better since he had way less help and still produced.

Jake Long


PROS: Is he a man or a block-long wall? Only his mother knows, and these days she's not even sure. Four-year starter who rolled off the NFL left tackle prototype line and let exactly zero guys not roid-raging get to the quarterback when he was on the field. The first overall pick his draft year, all-American everywhere, etc, etc, etc, you get the idea.

CONS: Fantangibles low. Another Michigan great who had to suffer through the indignity of 0-fer OSU. Hurt most of the 2005 season. Not sure what I'd write about him.


Blue Durham

May 16th, 2012 at 10:39 AM ^

are going to get in.  I suspect that it is Brian's intentions that we will have a few 3-player classes over the next few years.  That way a each of these players can have a little more attention on their profile when inducted.  On average, there will probably be only 1 or 2 HOF type players per graduating class, so in time we will catch up.  I am not worried about any of these guys being left out (with the possible exception of Avant).

The first class to a HOF is obviously extra-special, though.  So, which of these players, all evental HOFers, are that extra-special?

For me, as good as they were, that clearly excludes Hart, Avant and Van Bergen.  All will probably be deserving, but not in the initial class.

Jake Long is probaly one of the top 3 or 4 offensive linemen I've ever seen play at Michigan, and that says a lot.  Every bit as dominating as Jumbo Elliott, Bubba Paris, and Skrepnak (I know I am forgetting a few that belong on this short list).  He would have my first vote.

Brandon Graham was also one of the best defensive linemen I've seen, and that was with little help, particularly at linebacker.

David Molk was one of the best centers Michigan's had and one of its only Rimington award winners.  The offense (particularly the run game) always seemed to struggle when he was not in the game. 

I hate leaving out Manningham, Martin, and Woodley, but they will constitute my second class (unless I drop one for Denard, which probably depends on the coming season).


May 16th, 2012 at 12:36 PM ^

1.  Jake Long - Possibly the greatest football player to put on the winged helmet since Charles Woodson.

2.  Brandon Graham - Demonstrated a Woodley-esque penchant for killing people without having any help around him.  Incredible DE.

3.  David Molk - Because he has the hardware.  Because he just likes to fucking hit people.  Because he doesn't look like a great player and still was one....and because one senior from the Who Stayed class deserves a spot at this table.


May 16th, 2012 at 12:52 PM ^

Molk was just as cocky as Hart you know.


While Hart was saying we'd beat OSU in a rematch after 2006 Armageddon, Molk was straight up saying he was a better player than OSU center Brewster during draft prep.


While Hart called MSU little brother, Molk screamed about how he had "made that money" after throwing up 41 reps at the combine.


While Hart guaranteed a win over Notre Dame in his senior year, Molk  didn't play nice with reporters, to the point of being abrasive.


What's my point? I don't care and I liked both those guys anyway. But don't penalize Hart solely for being cocky.


May 16th, 2012 at 1:51 PM ^

some help for being on Team 132. I get it that RVB out played his projects, but he is undrafted, did not win much in the way of awards/recognition, etc.


Hart is obviously in. Guy was a winner on these team (knock about 0-4 against OSU), including 4-0 vs. MSU. He gave them their new nickname that will far outlast the next few years, and be very popular once we start to stomp them again. He is our all-time leading rusher and at the top of a lot of categories... if he doesn't get in, I literally don't know who on this team does.


Super Mario - I think he gets it. Big catch to beat MSU and huge catch to knock off PSU. Regularly a playmaker on this team throughout his career. He might have had the only decent play by any offensive player in the 2007 OSU game, by just getting us a First down in the third QTR.


Last spot: Harris, Graham, or Long probably get it. They all are better and more important than Molk, and there is a Chad Henne argument in here as well.


May 16th, 2012 at 11:44 PM ^

Mike Hart is Michigan football.

Chad Henne was obviously more important than those other guys. 4 year starter, record setter, guy played through a separated shoulder. Beat sparty 4 times, and Tebow once.