Best Player to Wear #99

Submitted by UMFootballCrazy on July 7th, 2009 at 9:51 PM

Well...I am bored...antsy for the football season to start and it seems that my overly fertile brain is having one moderately good idea after another. Here is a way for me to create content and score some points [enlightened self interest at work] and mostly I am looking forward to really learning some new things about the program and its history from a different angle....

So why not discuss the best player to wear each number in a Michigan uniform. Since we want to save the best for last, we are going to begin with #99 and I will post a couple every day for us to discuss and debate. I doubt that I will be able to give the definitive answer on any of these lists. I am really looking forward to learning from the trully obsessed among us.

So here it goes every player ever to wear #99, sorted by year then name:

[As per some very good suggestions, I deleted multiple entries for the same name unless there was a position change, and the other extraneous info...hopefully this is easier to read]

Name Pos. Year Letter Class
99 Smith, Jeffrey A. E 1959-61
99 Woodward, Paul T 1962
99 Woodward, Paul G 1963
99 Buzynski, John T 1964
99 Buzynski, John C 1965
99 Sirosky, Dennis LB 1966
99 Prusiecki, John DT 1968
99 Beckman, Thomas C. DT 1969-71
99 Klein, John A. DT 1972
99 Coyne, Michael T. _ 1973
99 Nault, Steve DE 1974
99 Knickerbocker, Steven G. PK 1975
99 Tedesco, Dominic DE 1975-7
99 Smith, Lewis DT 1976
99 Virgil, Bryan PK 1977
99 Keller, Tom OLB 1978-9
99 Thompson, Robert DE - TE 1978-81
99 Schlopy, Todd PK 1981-4
99 Thompson, Robert OLB 1982
99 Bostic, Carlitos OLB 1983-7
99 Hutchinson, Chris DL 1988
99 Stark, Randy OLB 1988-91
99 Hedding, Kevin TE 1989-91
99 Bolach, Mark OL / DL 1992
99 Denson, Damon DT 1993-4
99 Peristeris, Paul P 1993-6
99 Smokevitch, Jeff ILB 1996-8
99 Frysinger, Jake LB 1997
99 Bryant, Kevin WR 1998
99 Frysinger, Jake DE 1998-2001
99 Stejskal, Andy WR 2001-3
99 Woods, Pierre DL 2002-3
99 Woods, Pierre OLB 2004-5
99 Buckman, Sam K 2006-8
99 Patterson, Adam DE 2006-8

Without taking taking anything away from your chance to suggest names, the one that stands out to me immediately is All-American Chris Hutchinson. What do you guys think?


Blue Durham

July 7th, 2009 at 10:17 PM ^

Robert Thompson and Carlitos (I remember his first name as "Carlos" - or was that Keith?) Bostic were both terrific LB's, with IMHE Thompson being a little better. That was back when we had LB's that were no worse than Penn State.

Both Thompson and Bostic wore #99 all of their careers.


July 8th, 2009 at 1:46 AM ^

Damen Denson was a stalwart on both lines. All-Big 10 LG his senior year. Real nice guy and great football player. He came and signed autographs for my elementary school class when I was in 3rd grade. I still have it saved. Of course, by then he had changed to #51.


July 8th, 2009 at 3:45 AM ^

Pierre Woods was a beast until he became an upperclassmen and disappeared from the face of the Earth before reemerging as a backup on the New England Patriots.


July 8th, 2009 at 6:19 AM ^

I went with Woods as well. Chris Hutchinson wore No. 97 when he was an All-American. He made the list at that digit. His contributions while in No. 99 were nill (he was redshirted in '88).

As for Steven G. Knickerbocker, he barely even played -- he was a legacy son of early-'50s halfback Stan Knickerbocker. Things didn't end up well for Steve.


July 8th, 2009 at 7:49 AM ^

This begs an interesting point...can someone be the best player to have worn multiple numbers? Does Hutch eventually wearing another number disqulify him from #99 contention or was he in the end the best player to wear the number?

If the number switch disqualifies him then it I too would have to go with Woods; otherwise I would still give the nod to Hutchinson.


July 8th, 2009 at 9:24 AM ^

You can choose how the rules will break down for your own breakdown, of course, but if it helps, this was my thinking:

I decided a single player may only be identified with one number. So even if Braylon Edwards is far and away the best player to ever wear No. 80, which he wore for two seasons, he must be considered amongst the No. 1's.

That way, the player's entire contributions could be counted for him when discussing that number.

Another way you could do this, though, would be to only include the contributions made while wearing that jersey, e.g. put up the total of Braylon's freshman and sophomore years against three years of Alan Branch and four years of Jerame Tuman.

What I wanted to avoid was stuff like the Hutchinson thing -- counting a player's entire contribution double or triple just because he switched numbers. I also didn't want a guy's contribution to the program diminished by switching numbers, which was the effective result of the "contributions made under that number" idea.

I also wanted to give current players a fair opportunity, though, which I found was almost impossible to do at a point in the year when nobody on the current roster has his senior (normally best) year counting for him. For this, I thought of projecting current players' best years to date as the standard for their remaining careers, e.g. if Brandon Graham has another year like last he will be the best No. 55 of all time. Eventually, though, for posterity's sake I decided against this. Both B-Graham (55) and Zoltan the Inconceivable (41) still qualified as the best players to wear their respective numeros, simply based on their contributions to date. It is in the nature of such a list to change in the future, anyway -- why project when the best player in Michigan history may not even have been born yet?

Good luck taking down Gordie, there, Tater-Force

This decision also helped with the younger players, since our hype machine typically blinds us to the fact that few players ever live up to our hopes. Example: considering the competition (Gordon Bell), if Forcier becomes the guy we now project him to be, No. 5 could well be his. Yet in two years from now we could just as likely end up talking about whether Devin Gardner can beat out Terrance Robinson for the position, and choosing T-Force over the guy who went yard-for-yard and then some with Archie Griffin would look pretty damn dumb, then, wouldn't it? If it didn't happen already on the field, it didn't happen.

In the end, the value of a list that associates each number with a current or former player is to bring back memories of iconic players wearing those numbers. Because of this, I would strongly advise against using a "Star Player X used to wear this number" loophole to improve the overall talent of the list, fill a weak number, or move a contender from a crowded spot that he is better associated with. Start with the jersey -- who does that number remind you of.

You can always add Honorable Mentions at the end. Let me know if you need any help (misopogon [at] att [dot] net), and good luck.


July 8th, 2009 at 9:35 AM ^

I think you and I started this whole thing to relieve some off season boredom and I am sure that by the time it is done, that I will have learned more than a few things, and hopefully the MGBlog Community as well. I tend to agree with you that you want to settle on one number for a player, the number that most comes to mind when you think of that player. I might consider a player who was so dominating that they so far outshine every player at two numbers, but as I am thinking about it, this whole exercise is a way to recognize some players who otherwise slip through the cracks and get forgotten. I will take you up on your offer if I am having trouble coming up with any suggestions at a number.

This would seem to exclude the Hutch for consideration for number 99 and so it seems that so far, Woods has that lead and Beckman is in the mix there as well. Beckman was center for Bo's first team and was drafted into the NFL.


July 8th, 2009 at 6:15 PM ^

the name Schlopy. Todd Schlopy. After a lazy, quick search I found out that Todd made it into the NFL. He only played for one year and was 2 for 5 in attempts. He still has a great name, though. Do you think that no other NFL team was willing to go for Schlopy seconds? Maybe his style was a bit... Schlopy?