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For the next three weeks, I will be counting down my top 15 offensive and defensive players from the last 15 years. This afternoon, I unveil my picks at #11 for each side of the ball:

Offense: Brian Griese, QB, 1993-1997

Ill let that one speak for itself.

I'll let that one speak for itself.

Few Wolverines have had a more tumuluous career than Brian Griese — walk-on redshirt in 1993, holder in 1994, fill-in for the injured Scott Dreisbach in 1995, back to the bench in 1996, starter for the 1997 national champs.  He doesn’t have the career numbers you’d expect out of a guy on this list. Hell, he doesn’t even have the single season numbers you’d expect out of a guy on this list. Do I care? Hardly. Name me another starting quarterback who won a national title at Michigan in the last half-century. Here’s a hint: he doesn’t exist.

1997 was all about the defense, but you have to put points on the board to win football games. Griese wasn’t spectacular, but he was the perfect guy to run that offense on that team. He was consistent, throwing a touchdown pass in 10 of the team’s 12 games. He was accurate, completing 62.9% of his passes, good for eighth on U-M’s all-time single-season list. Most importantly, he rarely made the big mistake, throwing only six interceptions all season (three of which came in the nail-biter against Iowa).  Griese rarely forced a pass, allowing his playmakers to make plays, the offense to grind out yards, and making sure the stellar defense wasn’t put in a bad situation. There’s not a whole lot more you can ask for from a senior quarterback, especially a former walk-0n, parental lineage be damned.

It’s not like Griese was a total stiff — the guy could make all the throws. His two touchdown bombs to Tai Streets in the 1998 Rose Bowl were perfectly thrown, and caught a Washington State team expecting a conservative Wolverine offense completely off guard. Check out the 1:35 and the 2:42 marks of the highlights (or if you’re like me, just enjoy the whole thing):

You can’t make two better passes than that, and that’s not even including the winning TD pass to Jerame Tuman (who was wide open, but Griese still led him perfectly while throwing off his back foot). As a game manager, few have done as well as Griese, and he managed the Wolverines right to the national title. Sounds good enough for the eleven-spot for me.

Defense: Rob Renes, DT, 1996-1999

Advantage: Renes

Advantage: Renes

In 1996, Rob Renes dropped anchor in the interior of the Michigan defensive line, and for three seasons he was the immovable object that rarely met a force he found irresistable. He wasn’t particularly big (in height or girth) for a nose tackle, but Renes held down the point of attack as well as any DT I’ve seen at Michigan. The numbers aren’t mind-boggling — 151 career tackles, 24 TFLs, five sacks, three fumble recoveries — but the defenses of the mid-to-late 1990’s didn’t need huge production out of Renes. Instead, they needed him to eat up a couple of blockers, occasionally penetrate into the backfield, and generally cause chaos for the opponent’s offensive line, and Renes did just that.

Despite not putting up huge numbers, Renes’ name always seemed to be on the tip of the announcer’s tongue. He wasn’t a playmaker in the traditional sense — he was a player who allowed others to make plays. Offensive line’s were often too busy trying to halt the runaway freight train barreling through double coverage to be able to stop a Steele, Hall, Jones, or Woodson coming off the edge. If there was a stat for “sacks created” (I’m channelling my inner Bill Simmons here) Renes would be among the all-time leaders. He was recognized for his efforts in 1999, being named to The Sporting News’ All-American first team and becoming just the fourth Wolverine to be named first-team All-American both on the field and in the classroom. Renes was always a personal favorite, and I feel he more than deserves a spot on this list.

Agree? Disagree? Want to share your favorite Griese and Renes moments? Be sure to drop a comment, and remember that I’ll be taking submissions for your top 15 offensive and defensive players (and top five special teamers) for the next three weeks. Post your lists in the comments, or shoot me an email at ace@thewolverineblog.com, and I’ll compile the lists for the final post alongside the lists of members of The Wolverine staff. Make sure to check back every weekday: tomorrow I post the #10 players for offense and defense.

Link to all Top 15 of the Last 15 posts

The list so far:

Offense:
15. Marquise Walker
14. Chris Perry
13. Chad Henne
12. Jerame Tuman
11. Brian Griese

Defense:
15. William Carr
14. Leon Hall
13. Ian Gold
12. James Hall
11. Rob Renes

Special Teams:
5. Zoltan Mesko
4. Marquise Walker
3. Garrett Rivas
2. Steve Breaston
1. Remy Hamilton

For the next three weeks, I will be counting down my top 15 offensive and defensive players from the last 15 years. This afternoon, I unveil my picks at #12 for each side of the ball:

Offense: Jerame Tuman, TE, 1995-1998

Tuman finds space in the defense, something he did often in his U-M career.

Tuman finds space in the defense, something he did often in his U-M career.

The numbers don’t wow you, but anyone who watched Michigan in 1997 knows Jerame Tuman was as integral a part of that offense as anyone. I can still close my eyes and see Brian Griese fake a handoff to Anthony Thomas, roll right, and hit a streaking Tuman for a touchdown to provide the winning margin against Washington State. When that ’97 team needed a first down, Tuman always seemed to be able to find a seam to exploit, and I never remember him dropping a catchable ball. On a team with little depth at wideout (after Tai Streets, the team featured JuCo transfer Russell Shaw and true sophomore Marcus Knight), having a tight end that could make plays in the receiving game was critical if Michigan was going to pose any threat on offense. Tuman was that tight end, earning All-America honors and finishing second on the team with 29 receptions. His 15.1 yards per catch and five touchdowns that season show that Tuman was much more than just a safety valve — he was a weapon.

Tuman’s best year statistically was actually his sophomore season in 1996 (33 catches, 524 yards, five TDs), and his production dropped off a bit as a senior (27, 247, 2) but I’ll remember him as Greise’s go-to guy in the middle during that magical national title season. The Wolverines have had some talented tight ends since Tuman (Bill Seymour, Bennie Joppru, Tyler Ecker, well, especially Joppru) but nobody stands out in my mind as much as #80.

Defense: James Hall, LB/DE, 1995-1999

Hall celebrates a sack against Ohio State in 1997.

Hall celebrates a sack against Ohio State in 1997.

James Hall had one major purpose on Michigan’s defense: to get to the quarterback. He did that with the best of them, tallying 25 career sacks, good for second in the school record book behind Mark Messner. Whether he was standing up as a rush linebacker or getting down in a three-point stance as a defensive end, you knew Hall was going to find his way into the backfield. He was also durable, starting 33 consective games to end his career.

Hall’s best season came as a junior in 1998, as he notched 63 tackles, a team-high 16 tackles for loss, and 11 sacks, the second-highest single-season total in school history. Hall was consistently a terror to opposing offensive lines (not to mention quarterbacks) as he tallied a sack in 8 of the Wolverines’ 13 games. His performance got him named second team All-Big Ten by both the coaches and the media.

To me, Hall is one of the more criminally underrated Wolverines in recent memory. LaMarr Woodley and Brandon Graham have stolen his thunder as a pass rusher, and linebackers like Ian Gold, Dhani Jones, and Jarrett Irons are more fondly remembered for their play during that era. However, Hall was a threat to make a play in the backfield on any play, whether it was a passing or a rushing down, and his ability to make plays behind the line freed up Michigan’s other stellar defenders to make their own plays. Hall may not have received the accolades of many of the other Michigan players on this list, but he is certainly deserving of his spot here.

Agree? Disagree? Want to share your favorite Tuman and Hall moments? Be sure to drop a comment, and remember that I’ll be taking submissions for your top 15 offensive and defensive players (and top five special teamers) for the next three weeks. Post your lists in the comments, or shoot me an email at ace@thewolverineblog.com, and I’ll compile the lists for the final post alongside the lists of members of The Wolverine staff. Make sure to check back every weekday: tomorrow I post the #11 players for offense and defense.

Link to all Top 15 of the Last 15 posts

The list so far:

Offense:
15. Marquise Walker
14. Chris Perry
13. Chad Henne
12. Jerame Tuman

Defense:
15. William Carr
14. Leon Hall
13. Ian Gold
12. James Hall

Special Teams:
5. Zoltan Mesko
4. Marquise Walker
3. Garrett Rivas
2. Steve Breaston
1. Remy Hamilton

Sorry for the lack of posting around here lately. It’s been a busy week.

Anyways, I ran across some screens of Michigan playing Ohio State in the upcoming release of EA Sports’ NCAA Football ’10. It’s always around this time of year that I become incredibly excited for the upcoming NCAA title. Call me a sucker if you want, but I’ll be lined up at GameSpot on midnight for the July 14th release date (on second thought, just call me a nerd). It’s become a tradition every year since Chris Weinke graced the cover of the 2002 edition. Regardless of its flaws, I can’t help but love each edition, and to me it marks the beginning of the countdown to football season. I can guarantee you this: by August Michigan will have rolled through the 2009 season undefeated, Tate Forcier will have at least two Heismans in his trophy case, and whoever the game has starting for us at strong safety will be a perennial Thorpe Award contender.

ANYWAYS (nod to Chuck Klosterman), EA just posted up some pics of Michigan and Ohio State on it’s Inside EA Sports blog. Enjoy:

Jonas Mouton on the hunt. Look out, TP.

Jonas Mouton on the hunt. Look out, TP. No Justin Boren sighting (he's listed as No. 65 on their Spring Roster).

Chasing after "Boom" Herron. Sorry, what a stupid nickname.

Mike Martin (No. 68) chasing after "Boom" Herron. Sorry, what a stupid nickname. Stevie Brown is, shockingly, in good position to make a play. I am questioning the game's realism already.

Mouton, Big Will Campbell, and Boubacar Cissoko. Three pillars of strength and sanity in a zoo full of idiots (yes, I even hate virtual OSU fans).

Mouton, Big Will Campbell, and Boubacar Cissoko. Three pillars of strength and sanity in a zoo full of idiots (yes, I even hate virtual OSU fans).

I’ll have more on this game (including, hopefully, player ratings) as more information is released.

For the next three weeks, I will be counting down my top 15 offensive and defensive players from the last 15 years. This afternoon, I unveil my picks at #13 for each side of the ball:

Offense: Chad Henne, QB, 2004-2007

Either Chad Henne is celebrating a score or doing his best Touchdown Jesus impression. Ill leave it up to you to decide.

Either Chad Henne is celebrating a score or doing his best Touchdown Jesus impression. I'll leave it up to you to decide.

There have been few players who have sparked more internal debate among Michigan fans than Chad Henne. Some think he was a truly great quarterback whose only downfall was injuries. Others think he was obnoxiously inconsistent and his success was more a product of great receivers than good quarterbacking. I have always been a staunch Henne supporter, although fair points are made for either side.

Perhaps the angriest I’ve ever been at other fans in the student section (and this is saying something, believe me) was during the Oregon debacle in 2007. After a Henne pick, some idiots started chanting “We Want Mallett.” I’m going to go ahead and assume these kids had just stepped stepped off the plane from LaGuardia (their BMWs would be arriving by truck … god forbid they would actually have to drive those things), didn’t know Desmond Howard from Dan Dierdorf, and couldn’t spell Schembechler if you spotted them the first 11 letters. The fans got their wish when Henne went down with a leg injury, and Mallett rewarded them by going 6-17 for 49 yards and an interception. Fickle fans were already giving up on their senior quarterback, the four-year starter who was coming off an 11-2 season in which he had posted the fifth-most passing touchdowns in school history (behind himself, Elvis Grbac, John Navarre, and … himself) for a hotshot true freshman who had already had run-ins with the coaching staff and players on the team (he would later add the police to that list).

Here’s the issue: Mallett was a cocky, personable gunslinger from Texas who seemed to make it to every hot-spot on campus within his first couple weeks in Ann Arbor. Henne was a quiet, reserved passer from Pennsylvania who gave up partying to focus on school and work towards making the NFL. If you wanted to find Henne, you would try to figure out his class schedule. If you wanted to find Mallett, all you had to do was go to Scorekeepers on a Saturday night. (If you can’t tell by now, I’m not a big Mallett fan, and I have very solid reasons not to be that go far beyond his on-field play). The students. and many of the alumni, were drawn to Mallett as the future of Michigan football, and forgot that Chad Henne was the present.

I’m not even going to spend time going down the numbers. We all know Henne rewrote the record book for quarterbacks at Michigan. I will say this: when Michigan needed a big drive, whether Henne was healthy or not, I was confident that he would come through. He made sound decisions, fought through injuries (please refer to Illinois, 2007), and knew how to get the ball to his playmakers (see: Edwards, Braylon and Manningham, Mario). Last season especially made me appreciate him even more, as I had become accustomed to not worrying about the quarterback position for the previous four years (in non-Mallett games, anyway).

Fans often point to the 2004 Michigan State game as Henne’s shining moment, but I think his performance at Spartan Stadium in 2007 was even more impressive. Henne had sat out the previous game with a shoulder injury, and was not close to 100% when he took the field. However, none of that affected his performance in a game that Michigan desparately wanted to win. He threw two first-half strikes for touchdowns, and Michigan went into halftime up 14-3.

However, Michigan’s offense went stagnant in the second half, and State scored 21 unanswered points. Down 24-14 midway through the fourth, Henne turned his ankle, but only sat for one play (a play in which Mallett fumbled and had to be bailed out by Mike Hart). Henne came back in, swiftly moved Michigan down to the Spartan 14, and then threw the prettiest pass I’ve ever seen. Standing with a friend in the State student section (it’s as bad as you think), we had the perfect view and Henne dropped back and tossed a perfect floater that appeared to drop from the sky right into the hands of Greg Mathews for a touchdown. 24-21. Despite needing a stop and another score, victory seemed inevitable. The defense stuffed MSU, Henne marched the team down to the Spartan 31, and on third-and-12, he lofted another beauty to Mario Manningham, who leaped and came down with the winning score. Highlights? Yes, please.

That game, to me, defined Chad Henne. The numbers weren’t necessarily gaudy, apart from the four touchdowns (18-33, 211 yards, four TDs and one interception), but anyone who saw that game watched a senior leader taking control in a bad situation. The quotes after the game say it all:

Mike Hart: “Chad won the game for us. It should quiet the naysayers because no other quarterback could’ve led a comeback like that.”

Lloyd Carr: “If you want to define courage, one way to do it is mention Chad Henne.”

MSU head coach Mike Dantonio: “I give credit to Henne. He went up top and hit it.”

Hart: “Sometimes, you get your little brother excited when you’re playing basketball — let them get the lead. And then you come back.” (Oops, how did that get in there?)

There’s not much to add there, and I’ve gone on far too long. Chad Henne, #13. I’m sure this one will spark some healthy debate.

Defense: Ian Gold, LB, 1996-1999

There is a tremendous lack of Ian Gold pictures that dont require a microscope to properly see. Photo courtesy of Mike DeSimone.

There is a tremendous lack of Ian Gold pictures that don't require a microscope to properly see. Photo courtesy of Mike DeSimone.

The third of the Michigan linebackers with cool metallic names (after Jarrett Irons and Sam Sword), Ian Gold started as a decent in-state running back prospect before turning into an All-Big Ten inside linebacker. Teaming up with the likes of Sword, Dhani Jones, Victor Hobson and James Hall, Gold helped Michigan field one of the most impressive linebacking corps in the country.

The local prospect came into Michigan as a running back, having rushed for 934 yards and 21 touchdowns on only 108 carries as a senior at Belleville High School. However, he carried the ball only three times as a freshman, while making a greater impact as a special teams player. Gold earned a spot on the field as a linebacker as a sophomore during the 1997 season, playing in all 12 games while making 34 tackles (24 solo), including the flipping of The Notorious Ryan Leaf pictured above.

Despite missing four of the first five games in his junior season, Gold moved into the starting lineup and made a big impact, leading the team in tackles in his first two games back from injury. Even with the missed time, he finished with 68 tackles, 8 tackles for loss, and 2 sacks in 1998, and was named second-team All-Big Ten by the media. Gold even moved into the Michigan record books, taking his first career interception back 46 yards for a touchdown against Arkansas in the Citrus Bowl, the longest interception return in Michigan bowl history.

Gold really stepped up as a senior, teaming up with Jones to form a frightening duo of senior inside linebackers. Gold stuffed the stat sheet, amassing a career-high 98 tackles, 10 TFLs, four sacks, two pass breakups, one interception and one fumble recovery en route to being named first-team All-Big Ten by the coaches. Gold was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week for his performance against Penn State after he tallied 11 tackles, three TFLs and two sacks and sealed the game by recovering his own forced fumble in the final minutes. He also set up the game-tying score in Michigan’s 24-17 win over Ohio State by picking off Joe Germaine.

Despite starting only 21 career games, Gold is worthy of a spot on this list for his emergence in his final two years and his consistent playmaking ability. He wasn’t the flashiest linebacker, but Gold was as solid as they come.

Agree? Disagree? Want to share your favorite Henne and Gold moments? Be sure to drop a comment, and remember that I’ll be taking submissions for your top 15 offensive and defensive players (and top five special teamers) for the next three weeks. Post your lists in the comments, or shoot me an email at ace@thewolverineblog.com, and I’ll compile the lists for the final post alongside the lists of members of The Wolverine staff. Make sure to check back every weekday: tomorrow I post the #12 players for offense and defense.

Link to all Top 15 of the Last 15 posts

The list so far:

Offense:
15. Marquise Walker
14. Chris Perry
13. Chad Henne

Defense:
15. William Carr
14. Leon Hall
13. Ian Gold

Special Teams:
5. Zoltan Mesko
4. Marquise Walker
3. Garrett Rivas
2. Steve Breaston
1. Remy Hamilton

Damn real life interfering with my sporting whimsy. Back to the countdown, with the #14 defensive player from 1994-2008:

Defense: Leon Hall, CB, 2003-2006

Leon Hall returning an interception against Penn State in 2005 [insert obligatory MANNINGHAM! reference when discussing this game here]

Leon Hall returning an interception against Penn State in 2005 (insert obligatory MANNINGHAM! reference when discussing this game here). Also of note: Alan Branch hustling downfield to block while Gabe Watson jogs way in the background, probably thinking about cheeseburgers.


Leon Hall continued the tradition of top-flight cornerbacks at Michigan (from Ty Law to Charles Woodson to Marlin Jackson) that has marked some of the strongest Wolverine defenses of the last decade-and-a-half. Hall made an impact from the moment he stepped on campus, playing 11 games at nickelback and recording three interceptions as a freshman in 2003. He continued to emerge as a sophomore, earning eight starts opposite of Jackson, intercepting two passes and breaking up eight more on the year. Also, he seemed to compress slightly between his freshman and sophomore seasons:

Must've stood on his tip-toes when he was measured as a freshman (photo taken from the Bentley Historical Library).

Must've stood on his tip-toes when he was measured as a freshman (photo taken from the Bentley Historical Library).

Hall really emerged as an outstanding lock-down corner after the departure of Jackson following the 2004 season. He recorded a career-high four picks (including a critical fourth-quarter interception of Penn State’s Michael Robinson, pictured above) and broke up five passes while routinely locking down the opposition’s top wideout. Hall also set a Michigan school record with an 83-yard fumble return for a touchdown against Northwestern.

Hall turned in a tremendous senior season in 2006, anchoring a defense that led the Wolverines’ surge to an 11-2 record and a Rose Bowl berth. He notched four interceptions while tying Jackson’s school record with 15 pass breakups, and was a consensus All-American and All-Big Ten. For his efforts, Hall was named a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award (best defensive back) and Bronko Nagurski Award (best defensive player). His 2006 campaign moved him towards the top of Michigan’s career record book for interceptions (12 — fourth) and pass breakups (21 — second only to the immortal Todd Howard).

Often, the mark of a great cornerback is his ability to go entirely unnoticed during a game until he makes a game-changing play. Hall wasn’t constantly talked about like Woodson or Jackson, and he might be underrated as a result — his numbers as a corner stack up favorably against anyone in Michigan history. I’m not saying he’s Woodson (that would be blasphemous) but he is certainly one of the best defensive players to touch the M Go Blue banner in the last fifteen years.

Agree? Disagree? Want to share your favorite Perry and Hall moments? Be sure to drop a comment, and remember that I’ll be taking submissions for your top 15 offensive and defensive players (and top five special teamers) for the next three weeks. Post your lists in the comments, or shoot me an email at ace@thewolverineblog.com, and I’ll compile the lists for the final post alongside the lists of members of The Wolverine staff. Make sure to check back every weekday: tomorrow I post the #13 players for offense and defense.

Previously:
Michigan’s Top 15 of the Last 15
Top 15 of the Last 15: Special Teams
Top 15 of the Last 15: #15 (Marquise Walker and William Carr)
Top 15 of the Last 15: #14 (Chris Perry)

For the next three weeks, I will be counting down my top 15 offensive and defensive players from the last 15 years. This afternoon, I unveil my picks at #14 for each side of the ball:

Offense: Chris Perry, RB, 2000-2003

This SI cover adorned my bedroom wall for years after the 2003 victory over Ohio State. The nostalgia turns into disgust when I realize that was the last time we beat OSU.

This SI cover adorned my bedroom wall for years after the 2003 victory over Ohio State. The nostalgia turns into disgust when I realize that was the last time we beat OSU.

Michigan fans remember Chris Perry for his tremendous 2003 season, in which he received the Doak Walker Award as the nation’s best running back and finished fourth in the Heisman Trophy vote. However, that season came very close to never happening:

On one highlight-reel play, Perry thrilled the crowd of 111,726, the largest in NCAA history, by gathering in a screen pass, turning upheld and hurdling Irish cornerback Jason Beckstrom. With 549 yards in three games, he is the nation’s leading rusher, and possibly its most relieved: This is a guy who a couple of years ago was talking about transferring.

Back then he had been anointed by fans and the media as Anthony Thomas’s heir apparent after the A-Train moved on to the Chicago Bears. But there was Perry in ’01, splitting time with B.J. Askew. When Perry griped once too often about the number of touches he was getting, Wolverines coach Lloyd Carr, not known for his gentle bedside manner, said, basically, Kid, if you don’t like it here, go somewhere else.

Who knows what Perry might have been expecting when he confided in his mother, Irene, that he was thinking of transferring. Maybe she’d send brownies, along with a list of schools for him to consider. What she actually said was, “I didn’t raise a quitter. And besides, what are you going to do, start all over somewhere else?”

Perry most certainly would not have made this list if he had transferred after his sophomore (or even junior) season. He had a promising freshman campaign backing up Thomas, breaking 100 yards on ten carries in his debut against Bowling Green and finishing the season with 417 rushing yards and five touchdowns. However, he could not earn the lion’s share of the carries after A-Train graduated, and instead put up disappointingly inconsistent numbers while splitting time with B.J. Askew in 2001 and 2002. Although Perry broke the 1000-yard barrier as a junior, he only averaged 4.2 yards per carry and sometimes disappeared from games (he rushed for only 14 yards on nine carries against Iowa).

Askew’s departure after the 2002 season meant Perry would have to step up and prove he could be the feature back that many (including Perry himself) expected he would become after his freshman year. He went above and beyond expectations, rushing for 1674 yards on 338 carries and reaching paydirt 20 total times (18 rushing, 2 receiving). Perry provided a signature moment for Wolverines fans, carrying the ball 51 times (a school record) for 219 yards and a touchdown in U-M’s 27-20 victory over Michigan State and fighting through exhaustion to ice the game in the fourth quarter. He also performed highly on the big stage, running for 154 yards and two scores in Michigan’s 35-21 victory over Ohio State in the series’ 100th game. Perry would finish 2003 with the fourth-most rushing yards in a single season in Michigan history, and carried home the school’s first Doak Walker Award.

Perry’s lack of a complete career resume makes it hard to put him any higher on this list, but his senior season along is enough to merit the 14 spot in the countdown.

Defense will be coming later today, as I have spring class from 2-4 (gotta sew up that degree).

Previously:
Michigan’s Top 15 of the Last 15
Top 15 of the Last 15: Special Teams
Top 15 of the Last 15: #15 (Marquise Walker and William Carr)

Starting, well, today, and continuing for the next three weeks, I will be counting down my top 15 offensive and defensive players from the last 15 years. This afternoon, I start with #15 for each side of the ball:

Offense: Marquise Walker, WR, 1998-2001

Walker often made the spectacular look routine. This catch falls into the making the spectaular look spectacular category.

Walker often made the spectacular look routine. This catch falls into the "making the spectacular look spectacular" category.

Marquise Walker was perhaps the best pure possession receiver I’ve had the pleasure of watching at Michigan. Although he wasn’t the world’s biggest deep threat (his career yards per catch average is only 12.9), number four in blue reeled in practically everything thrown in his general direction.

After being overshadowed by David Terrell in his first three years on campus, Walker cemented his place among the Wolverines’ all-time great receivers with an All-American senior campaign in 2001. “Keese” decided the U-M record book needed a little updating, and he set single-season records for receptions (86 — since passed by Braylon Edwards), receiving yards (1143 — now surpassed by Edwards and Mario Manningham), and 100-yard receiving games (6, now held by, you guessed it, Edwards and Manningham), while also setting the single-game mark for receptions (15 against Washington and Ohio State — strangely, both came in a losing effort) and extending his consecutive games with a catch streak to 36, another school record.

That season catapulted him to the top of the Wolverine career receptions list (176, and if I have to tell you which player bested his mark, go watch some tape from the 2004 season) and earned him first-team All-America honors from the coaches. Oh yeah, and he made this catch (apologies for the poor video and sound quality — I am at the mercy of the YouTubes):

Not too shabby, if you ask me. In fact, his ability at wide receiver and on punt coverage forced me to put him on two lists. Walker was as consistent a wideout as I have seen at Michigan, and his performance in his senior year replacing Terrell (who left a year early for the NFL) as the team’s go-to receiver earned him a place in Wolverine history and a spot on this list.

Defense: William Carr, DT, 1993-1996

Celebrating, Big Willie Style (Whats that you say? Outdated joke? Whatever.)

Celebrating, Big Willie Style (What's that you say? Outdated joke? Got old in 1997? Whatever.)

He may have been undersized (in height, not girth) but William Carr could move the pile with the best of them. After playing sparingly as a freshman and sophomore, Carr burst onto the scene with a huge junior campaign in 1995, recording 82(!) tackles, including 21 TFLs and 6 sacks. Read that again: 82 tackles from the nose tackle position. Absurdity. Carr was a playmaker at DT, something that doesn’t come around too often.

Carr’s senior year numbers were nearly as gaudy as those from 1995 (78 tackles, 15 TFLs, 3 sacks, 3 fumble recoveries, and even 2 pass breakups), and he was recognized for his outstanding effort with first-team All-Big Ten honors (coaches and media) and first-team All-America honors (College Football News).

Carr was so athletic for a big man that Lloyd Carr gave him the chance to be a goal-line running back, and experiment that yielded mixed results. Big Will scored on his first career carry, a three-yard plunge against Michigan State in 1995. However, he was stuffed twice against Purdue that same season, and his only other career carry, at Purdue in 1996, was a disaster. Down 3-0 to the Boilermakers late in the first half, the Wolverines drove from their own 13-yard line down to the Purdue two-yard line. On first-and-goal, Carr fumbled, and Purdue would go on to win 9-3, securing their first victory over U-M since 1982 and ruining the Wolverines’ Rose Bowl hopes.

However, we’re talking about defense here, and William Carr could play himself some defense. He was a matchup nightmare, a guy who could take on two blockers and still find a way to stuff the running back behind the line of scrimmage or turn your quarterback into Flat Stanley. Carr was one the few defensive tackles that would command my attention for entire plays, and sometimes, entire series. Even as I’m writing this, I feel like I’m underrating the guy, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to reconfigure my list for the 37th time. So, I give you William Carr, number 15 with a bullet.

Agree? Disagree? Want to share your favorite Walker and Carr moments? Be sure to drop a comment, and remember that I’ll be taking submissions for your top 15 offensive and defensive players (and top five special teamers) for the next three weeks. Post your lists in the comments, or shoot me an email at ace@thewolverineblog.com, and I’ll compile the lists for the final post alongside the lists of members of The Wolverine staff. Make sure to check back every weekday: tomorrow I post the #14 players for offense and defense.

Previously:
Michigan’s Top 15 of the Last 15
Top 15 of the Last 15: Special Teams