All-time Michigan Football Team: best players

Submitted by steve sharik on January 29th, 2012 at 2:59 PM

Not trying to trumpet myself or my view on Michigan Football history, but I was just thinking about this and would like to throw it out there once again.

This is the two-deep squad I'd throw out in a "Field of Dreams" college football season featuring the all-time teams from the BCS conferences plus ND, Navy, and Army (included b/c of the Roger Staubach, Glenn Davis, Doc Blanchard, Coach "Red" Blaik days).

Offense:

LT: Jake Long/Jon Runyan

LG: Steve Hutchinson/Dan Dierdorf

C: David Molk/Rod Payne

RG: Reggie McKenzie/Mike Kenn

RT: John Elliot/Jon Jansen

TE: Ron Kramer/Jerame Tuman

SE: Braylon Edwards/Amani Toomer

Flanker: Anthony Carter/Marquise Walker

Slot: Desmond Howard/Mario Manningham

RB: Tom Harmon/Tyrone Wheatley

QB: Tom Brady/Bennie Friedman

Defense:

SDE: Brandon Graham/Glen Steele

3-tech: Mike Martin/Alan Branch

1-tech: Mark Messner/Mike Hammerstein

WDE: Lamar Woodley/David Bowens

SAM: David Harris/Victor Hobson

MIKE: Ron Simpkins/Mel Owens

WILL: Dhani Jones/Ian Gold

Field Corner: Ty Law/Marlin Jackson

Boundary Corner: Charles Woodson/Leon Hall

Strong Safety: Thom Darden/Corwin Brown

Free Safety: Tripp Wellborne/David Brown

Coaching Staff:

Head Coach: Fielding Yost

Offensive Coordinator: Gary Moeller

QBs: Scott Loeffler

RBs: Fritz Crisler

OL: Bo Schembechler/Jerry Hanlon

WR: Cam Cameron

Defensive Coordinator: Bill McCartney

DL: Brady Hoke

LB: Jim Herrmann

Corners: Vance Bedford

Safeties: Greg Mattison

I'm tempted to run two offenses: pro-style with Brady/Henson at QB, and changing up with the spread with Harbaugh/Leach/Shoelace at QB, Braylon and Toomer at the outside WRs, and Dez and AC as slot ninjas extraordinaire.  Rich Rod would be OC.

 

 

 

Comments

massblue

January 29th, 2012 at 7:58 PM ^

either in person or on film.  Just going by the number of times that a player was AA or stats is not going to do justice.  For example, to me, Messner and Hammer were most dominant defensive line players that UM has ever had.  Someone with a better memory can come up with a different list, but how can one make a case if one has never seen the player play?

BRCE

January 29th, 2012 at 8:33 PM ^

Henne? He holds a lot of records because circumstances allowed him to start four years, not because he was actually the best.

Guy never beat Ohio State. I know that's not all his fault but I think it is devaluing the importance of that game to hold up a QB who went 0-4 as an all-time program great.

 

Feaster18

January 29th, 2012 at 3:32 PM ^

You simply can't leave out Ron Johnson at tailback, and Bob Chappius (hard to find a position because of the variety of the single wing offense) needs a spot as well.   Arguably, Germany Schultz invented the position of linebacker.  

DonAZ

January 29th, 2012 at 3:54 PM ^

I love the concept of this kind of discussion ... but I'm challenged by two things: 

  1. Some players went on to be great NFL players but were not necessarily standout college players.  Tom Brady, for example.
  2. Some players were great in their time, but would likely get stomped in today's game.  Players are just so much bigger, stronger and faster today than before.

I'm not sure how to reconcile that.  Other than not think about those things and enjoy the discussion.

RB = Rob Lytle, by the way. :-)

Blueroller

January 29th, 2012 at 4:13 PM ^

Interesting post. You're a bit flexible on the OL positions. I believe Runyan played RT, not LT. Wasn't Dierdorf an LT? (Not sure about that, but I am pretty sure he didn't play guard.) Mike Kenn was a tackle – he certainly was one of the great LT's in in the NFL.

The problem is there are more candidates at tackle than guard. After Hutch and McKenzie at the guards, there is a falloff and I can't come up with anyone besides Baas.

Going strictly by position played I'd have to go Long/Dierdorf at LT and Jansen/Runyan at RT. Jumbo Elliott is a little behind those two… And a little behind him is Bo's Big Boy, Greg Skrepanak… and I can't leave out Bubba Paris. Michigan is Offensive Tackle University, that's for sure.

I also would go with Steve Everitt at center. He was tough as Molk and bigger.

 

Seawolve

January 29th, 2012 at 4:27 PM ^

Clearly Hutch and McKenzie are the top 2, but there have been some other terrific guards--you just have to go back a bit.  3 of my favorites: Stefan Humphries, Dean Dingman, and Kurt Becker.  All were All America their third year ('83, '90, and '81 respectively).  Dingman and Becker were 3 year starters; Humphries 2+.

polometer

January 29th, 2012 at 4:45 PM ^

but do you include the players who paved the way and now have team awards named after them?  For instance, Roger Zatkoff for linebackers and John Maulbetsch (halfback).

Bill in Birmingham

January 29th, 2012 at 6:24 PM ^

This is fun. I'll throw my two cents out at QB. There may be no bigger Tom Brady fan on earth than me. But for body of work in Ann Arbor, I believe the best QB in school history was Harbaugh.

PepperHicks

January 29th, 2012 at 6:23 PM ^

Love lists like these, and enjoyed your's,  though it's incomplete without Oosterbaan and Erick Anderson as starters, in my opinion.  And Harbaugh or Fiedman would be my starter at QB.

Bill in Birmingham

January 29th, 2012 at 6:34 PM ^

Okay, I'm thinking about this way too much. I know fullback is not a big deal in today's spread happy world. But Russell Davis and Leroy Hoard were two of the best backs we have had in my forty years of following U of M football.

And Curtis Greer is angry he is not one of your defensive ends. You do not want Curtis Greer to be angry at you.

Hank Hill

January 29th, 2012 at 7:00 PM ^

I understand he is a divisive figure but, the man still won the first National Championship at the school in nearly fifty years. He also won Big Ten championships, a BCS game, and coached a Heisman winner. I think he deserves a spot.

Charlie Chunk

January 29th, 2012 at 7:12 PM ^

This program has a tradition of excellence.  There are a lot of great players at every position.  It's a fun thought, but it really can't be captured.  The RB position alone should tell you it can't be limited to a couple of guys.

Think about it.

True Blue!

 

geno

January 29th, 2012 at 8:57 PM ^

Steve Everitt at C. Kenn and Dierdorf were tackles. Clancy, McMurtry,Kolesar, Alexander better than Walker.Owens was not a great college player. Dave Brown was a cornerback. Lytle and Gordie were pretty good. Franklin was 30-2 -1 although Elzinga won one of those games. Elzinga had a gun.

Section 1

January 30th, 2012 at 7:51 PM ^

From SI.com...  I agree with almost all of this list.  It is incredible, to leave off Bob Chappuis, who should have won a Hesiman, and Ron Johnson, who was nominated.  No Braylon?  It is that kind of list.  I don't think I'd put Dierdorf on it; although I'd have to think hard about the many other names that could go on in his place.  (I also know very little about Al Benbrook, fwiw.)  And in the post-2008 era, I think Brandon Graham could be a close nominee on the DL; but replacing who I am not at all sure.  I've seen all but a handful of these great players, and I have to say that SI did a very credible job.

The big failure in this thread, and the one nit to pick with the SI list, is the casual reference to Tom Harmon as Michigan's greatest player.  Not Willie Heston!?  I never saw either one live, and only saw film of Harmon.  But Willie Heston would get my vote as our greatest player, and so far as post this, I don't see any mention in this thread of the name of the great Heston.  Had there been a Heisman Trophy during Heston's playing days, there is a good chance he might have won three of them...!

 

OFFENSE

QB

BENNY FRIEDMAN*

1924-26

Era's top passer earned All-America honors twice

RB

TOM HARMON*

1938-40

The greatest UM player, Old 98 won Michigan's first Heisman

RB

WILLIE HESTON*

1901-04

Led Point-A-Minute teams to a 43-0-1 record by scoring 72 TDs

WR

ANTHONY CARTER*

1979-82

AC had 3,076 receiving yards and 37 TD grabs

WR

DESMOND HOWARD

1989-91

Runaway Heisman Trophy winner scored 23 TDs in '91 alone

E

BENNIE OOSTERBAAN*

1925-27

One of just two Wolverines to be a three-time All-America

TE

RON KRAMER*

1954-56

Basketball and track star also was a standout at defensive end

OL

AL BENBROOK*

1908-10

One of the best linemen of his era and a two-time All-America

OL

DAN DIERDORF*

1968-70

College Football Hall of Famer shined in NFL, broadcast booth

OL

JUMBO ELLIOTT

1984-87

The 6' 7" 306-pounder was Lombardi, Outland finalist in '87

OL

STEVE HUTCHINSON

1997-2000

Hulking guard (6' 5", 298) was first-team All-Big Ten four times

OL

JAKE LONG

2004-07

Nasty blocker allowed just two sacks; was the No. 1 overall pick

DEFENSE

DL

CURTIS GREER

1976-79

All-America selection had 48 tackles for loss for 234 yards

DL

CHRIS HUTCHINSON

1989-92

Big Ten's top defensive lineman and an All-America pick in '92

DL

MARK MESSNER

1985-88

Two-time All-America holds UM record for tackles for loss (70)

DL

LAMARR WOODLEY

2003-06

Prolific pass rusher (24 sacks) won UM's only Lombardi award

LB

ERICK ANDERSON

1988-91

Wolverines' lone Butkus winner racked up 428 career tackles

LB

GERMANY SCHULZ*

1904-05,'07-08

One of the first true linebackers earned All-America in 1907

LB

RON SIMPKINS

1976-79

Michigan's alltime leading tackler (516) was '79 team MVP

DB

DAVE BROWN*

1972-74

Two-time All-America also scored four TDs on returns

DB

TOM CURTIS*

1967-69

Ball-hawking safety holds UM's career mark for interceptions

DB

TRIPP WELBORNE

1987-90

Ferocious hitter earned All-America honors in 1989, '90

DB

CHARLES WOODSON

1995-97

The only primarily defensive player to win the Heisman, in '97

SPECIAL TEAMS

K

REMY HAMILTON

1994-96

School's only All-America kicker twice was a Groza finalist

P

MONTE ROBBINS

1984-87

Holds three UM punting records, including punt average (42.8)

KR

DESMOND HOWARD

1989-91

Multipurpose threat averaged 26.9 yards per kickoff return

PR

STEVE BREASTON

2003-06

The Big Ten's alltime leading punt returner (1,599)

COACH

BO SCHEMBECHLER*

1969-89

Program icon went 194-48-5 and won or shared 13 Big Ten titles

*Inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1152114/index.htm 

 

 

 

 

YhostGhost

January 29th, 2012 at 9:26 PM ^

Running Back.    Anthony Thomas for size, speed and production. Man won a NC as a true freshman, for heaven's sake.  Tim Biakabutuka if only for the OSU game in 1995. A man among boys that day.

Center.  Gerald R. Ford.  Because otherwise all that stuff they say about the game building men and character means nothing.  Plus, he was a pretty good center.

DustomaticGXC

January 30th, 2012 at 12:55 AM ^

I don't know how many of you are old enough to have watched him, but Elvis Grbac was, in my opinion, the best QB I've ever seen play at Michigan.  I had more faith in him on a week to week basis than I have in any QB I've seen play in the last 25 years.

micheal honcho

January 30th, 2012 at 7:27 PM ^

Having been an avid UM fan since the late 70's I have to throw out a couple more.

Jon Wangler, he was the guy throwing to AC.

Butch Woolfolk, good numbers but even moreso a great clutch situation guy

Jay Riemersma was a pretty great TE catching and blocking equally well

Brian Greise was like a warm blanket at QB, could be trusted to take what they were giving, few mistakes.

I agree on Grbac, he is probably one of the most underrated and underappreciated Michigan players of the modern era. Desmond won a statue with him and we had a quarterback named ELVIS!!

Its too easy to let NFL exploits influence thinking on lists like this. Tom Brady being the obvious example.

 

micheal honcho

January 30th, 2012 at 7:27 PM ^

Having been an avid UM fan since the late 70's I have to throw out a couple more.

Jon Wangler, he was the guy throwing to AC.

Butch Woolfolk, good numbers but even moreso a great clutch situation guy

Jay Riemersma was a pretty great TE catching and blocking equally well

Brian Greise was like a warm blanket at QB, could be trusted to take what they were giving, few mistakes.

I agree on Grbac, he is probably one of the most underrated and underappreciated Michigan players of the modern era. Desmond won a statue with him and we had a quarterback named ELVIS!!

Its too easy to let NFL exploits influence thinking on lists like this. Tom Brady being the obvious example.