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Monthly Archives: June 2009

The Maize Rage will me much larger next year. And more ragin'. Definitely more ragin'

The Maize Rage will me much larger next year. And more ragin'. Definitely more ragin'

Football:

  • No. 46 Michigan — Rivals.com — Rivals’ Tom Dienhart gives his rundown of the Wolverines as they come in No. 46 in Rivals’ Top 120 Countdown. I can’t say my expectations are much higher than that right now, so this seems to fall in line with a realistic outlook on the season.
  • 2009 Opponent Preview: Wisconsin — Varsity Blue — New fat running back, same old Badgers. We’ll see if Bielema adjusts to losses on both lines, as Wisconsin seems to return practically everything else.
  • Recapping Rich Rod, Part 1 — Wolverine Liberation Army — Chitownblue over at the always-entertaining (and quirky, to say the least) WLA gives his take on Year One of the RichRod era. Once you get through the Stalin references (seriously), there’s really good stuff in here. Also, you have to love any ratings that are measured in Molotov Cocktails.
  • 2009 Michigan Football, Position by Position: Defensive Tackle and Defensive Tackle Recruiting — Maize n Brew — Maize n Brew Dave takes a look at the DT spot for Michigan this year, as well as our recruiting at the position. He loves Mike Martin, and I am not one to disagree: the kid looks like he’ll be a beast. The DT recruiting? Not so much.
  • Catching Up With Drew Dileo — UMGoBlog — A quick interview with 2010 slot commit Drew Dileo, plus some nice video of him as a sophomore.

Basketball:

  • Maize Rage is getting Larger — MVictors — Student ticket sales for basketball have more than quadrupled since last season, and Greg over at MVictors loves it, as well as the school’s decision to make student seating first-come, first-serve. I’m one of those new season ticket holders, and I’m excited for a louder, more electric atmosphere in Crisler next season. Winning will do that to a place. So will more college students.

Hockey:

  • Three Players Selected; Omaha to the WCHA — The Blog That Yost Built — Three future Wolverines — Chris Brown, Kevin Lynch, and Mac Bennett — were selected in the NHL Draft. Yost Built pulls together links to commentary on the three, plus gives their take on UNO leaving the CCHA. My take, in two words: that’s crappy.

Other Sports:

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For the next indeterminate amount of time, I will be counting down my top 15 offensive and defensive players from the last 15 years. Today, I unveil my picks at #2 for each side of the ball:

As the countdown nears its conclusion, we reach the point where you can probably deduce the top athletes on each side of the ball. However, this is about the runner-ups, who were both great players in their own right (obviously). Without further ado, let me introduce the rest of my crew.

Offense: Tshimanga Biakabutuka, RB, 1993-1995

Biakabutuka: 313 yards later, no longer just the Michigan back with the crazy African name.

Biakabutuka: 313 yards later, no longer just the Michigan back with the crazy African name.

Despite spending 2/3 of his career as a backup to Tyrone Wheatley, I can’t do anything but put “Touchdown Tim” ahead of the man who kept him from the starting role for his freshman and sophomore campaigns. Why? Well, for one, if there was a single Michigan jersey I’d like to own, it’d be a #21 home blue with “Biakabutuka” on the back. Second, and much more importantly (unless you really care about my jersey preferences), he had the greatest season of any running back in school history as a junior, as well as arguably the best single-game performance of any player in the last 15 years.

Even as a freshman, Biakabutuka showed flashes of what was to come despite being the low man in a crowded backfield behind Wheatley, Ricky Powers, Ed Davis and Walter Smith. In the ninth game of the season, against Purdue, he exploded for 140 yards and two touchdowns after amassing all of five career yards in two previous appearances. As a sophomore, despite playing behind a bonafide Heisman candidate, Biakabutuka forced Gary Moeller to give him carries. Tim would finish the 1994 season with 793 yards and seven touchdowns on 126 carries, and had four 100-yard games despite going over 20 carries in a game only once on the year.

All that set the table for his junior season. After getting only seven carries in the opener against Virginia when Michigan had to claw its way back from a 17-0 deficit, Biakabutuka went nuts. His final 1995 numbers: 303 carries, 1818 yards, 6.0 yards per carry, 12 touchdowns, eight 100-yard games, four 190-yard games (yes, 190-yard), two-200 yard games. Oh, and a 313-yard game:

The fact that Biakabutuka’s performance came against Ohio State, a perfect 11-0 and ranked #2 coming into the Big House, boasting the nation’s top player in running back Eddie George (the eventual Heisman winner), vaults the game into the forefront of every Wolverine fan’s consciousness when they think of the best games by a Michigan player. I don’t want to discredit the rest of his tremendous career by saying that one game pushed him past all the other great Wolverine backs of the past 15 years, but it’s also tough to say it didn’t. Regardless, I will argue that Touchdown Tim is the best running back of the past 15 years at Michigan, and for that, he gets the #2 spot on this list.

Defense: Ty Law, CB, 1992-1994

Seriously, there are no good action shots of Ty Law at Michigan on the internet. This is a travesty.

Seriously, there are no good action shots of Ty Law at Michigan on the internet. This is a travesty.

Before that Woodson guy rolled through, Ty Law was the best corner to ever play at Michigan, and it’s a bit unfortunate for his legacy that his career was immediately followed by the eventual Heisman-winner. Talk about stealing a guy’s thunder (not that I’m complaining one bit, Charles). Like Woodson, Law was also a three-year starter at corner, a multiple-time All-Big Ten selection, an All-American, and an early-entry into the NFL Draft.

Law was a tremendous physical corner, using his 6-0, 201 pound frame to bully wideouts off their routes and gain position to knock down or intercept the ball. The numbers are good (19 career pass breakups, eight career interceptions), but you really had to watch #22 to appreciate his full impact. Like Woodson and Marlin Jackson after him, opposing quarterbacks chose to throw anywhere but at Law, so he earned every one of those stats. He also was great in run support, finishing with 164 career tackles despite not giving up completions to his man.

Ty Law was the complete package at corner, a big guy who could run with the fast wideouts and play physical with the big ones, adept at pass coverage and run support. Fittingly, he slots in at #2 on this list, one spot behind the corner who supplanted him (what, you really expected me to hold up the suspense on that one?).

Agree? Disagree? Want to share your favorite Biakabutuka and Law 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) until I’m done with the list. 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: next I post the #1 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
10. Anthony Thomas
9. Tom Brady
8. Mario Manningham
7. Steve Hutchinson
6. Jake Long
5. Mike Hart
4. David Terrell
3. Tyrone Wheatley
2. Tshimanga Biakabutuka

Defense:
15. William Carr
14. Leon Hall
13. Ian Gold
12. James Hall
11. Rob Renes
10. Alan Branch
9. Marcus Ray
8. Dhani Jones
7. Jarrett Irons
6. Marlin Jackson
5. Glen Steele
4. David Harris
3. LaMarr Woodley
2. Ty Law

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

For the next indeterminate amount of time, I will be counting down my top 15 offensive and defensive players from the last 15 years. Today, I unveil my picks at #3 for each side of the ball:

The coveted top three is finally here, and we’ve got a little old school (relatively speaking, of course) mixed with a little new school today. Enjoy.

Offense: Tyrone Wheatley, RB, 1991-1994

"He has the best stiff-arm I've seen in college football in a long, long time." -- Joe Paterno. When JoePa says a long time, he means a looooong time.

"He has the best stiff-arm I've seen in college football in a long, long time." -- Joe Paterno. When JoePa says a long time, he means a looooong time.

The first Michigan football game I ever attended was the 1994 game against Penn State (we had season tickets, but I switched off going to games with my brother, and luckily for me we sold our Colorado tickets that year). Being only six at the time, I had not watched much football before that game, but I knew enough to quickly figure out who the best Wolverine on the field was that game: #6. Although we lost (31-24, to a team that finished undefeated and featured Kerry Collins and Ki-Jana Carter) I was immediately attached to Tyrone Wheatley in the way that six-year-olds tend to be. I’d go out in the backyard with my brother and throw the football around, and I’d pretend to be Wheatley. 19 carries for 144 yards and two touchdowns will do that to a kid.

I had no idea at the time that Wheatley was a Heisman candidate, was rewriting the Michigan record books, that he very nearly went to the NFL before I had ever set foot in Michigan Stadium. I didn’t know that he was the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year as a sophomore, rushing for 1,357 yards and 13 touchdowns on only 185 carries, for a ridiculous 7.3 yards per carry average. I didn’t know he had one of the greatest individual performances in school history in the 1993 Rose Bowl, going for 235 yards and three scores on 15 carries in a revenge victory over Washington. I had no idea he would leave Ann Arbor as Michigan’s career leader in touchdowns, 100-yard games, and 200-yard games, second in career rushing yards and yards per game, and first in single-season and single-game yards per carry (the last two records he still holds to this day). I didn’t realize he was the 1994 Big Ten 110-meter hurdles champion, or that he still holds the MHSAA Class B record in the long jump and 110 hurdles. I just knew I was watching a freak of nature, a guy who was way too fast for how big he was, but still powerful enough to run through tackles like a man playing among boys. Once again, WolverineHistorian comes through with video confirmation of what I’m trying to convey in words:

For being the best combination of power and speed to play for Michigan in the 15 years I’ve followed the team, Wheatley gets the three-spot in this countdown.

Defense: LaMarr Woodley, DE/LB, 2003-2006

I would not recommend standing between this man and his intended target.

I would not recommend standing between this man and his intended target. I'm looking at you, everyone on Notre Dame c. 2006.

Remember, children: Guns Don’t Kill People, LaMarr Woodley Kills People. I remember hearing horror stories from my friend who played on Huron High School’s freshman team when their varsity team traveled to Saginaw Arthur Hill to face Woodley and Co. Words like “unstoppable”, “beast”, “killer”, and any combination of the above (I like “unstoppable beast killer”) were thrown around in all seriousness. We all waited through a freshman season in which the five-star prospect mostly rode the pine, biding his time. Then came the next three seasons, and things like this happened regularly:

T-shirts were made, quarterbacks were irreparably damaged (Drew Stanton, everybody!), offensive lines were destroyed (Penn State, everybody!), and Michigan had its best pass-rusher since Mark Messner. Woodley finished his career with 24 sacks (3rd on the school list), 52.5 tackles for loss (2nd), ten forced fumbles (1st), five fumble recoveries (T-7th), and one incredible 54-yard fumble return for a touchdown against Notre Dame in 2006. His senior season, 2006, he was the superstar on a defense full of stars, the player above all others you had to prepare for when you played the Wolverines. For that, he sits at #3 on this list.

Agree? Disagree? Want to share your favorite Wheatley and Woodley 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) until I’m done with the list. 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: next I post the #2 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
10. Anthony Thomas
9. Tom Brady
8. Mario Manningham
7. Steve Hutchinson
6. Jake Long
5. Mike Hart
4. David Terrell
3. Tyrone Wheatley

Defense:
15. William Carr
14. Leon Hall
13. Ian Gold
12. James Hall
11. Rob Renes
10. Alan Branch
9. Marcus Ray
8. Dhani Jones
7. Jarrett Irons
6. Marlin Jackson
5. Glen Steele
4. David Harris
3. LaMarr Woodley

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

The Wolverine staff writer Matt Pargoff was kind enough to answer a few questions about football recruiting for the blog. Topics run from the glut of three-star commits in the 2010 class to how the current class will shape up and much more. Read on to get some knowledge from a guy whose full-time job it is to follow this kind of stuff.

Chris Perry, member of the "disastrous" 2000 recruiting class.

Chris Perry, member of the "disastrous" 2000 recruiting class.

AA: Many Michigan fans are concerned with the number of three-star recruits being taken this year by Rich Rodriguez and his staff. Do you share this concern?

MP: In general, it is not too concerning. For starters, the class is not complete, so there is still room to add more talent to the existing commit list. But beyond that, recruiting rankings are far from an infallible means of measuring talent. Some kids in every class pan out above expectations and some below. If just a third of the class ends up producing at a high level, it can generally be looked back on as a successful recruiting campaign.

I’m of the opinion that recruiting rankings don’t mean everything, but they don’t mean nothing either. There is some level of validity to them, even if tons of kids are missed, overrated and underrated. Teams that get higher rated recruits do tend to produce better on the field. But regardless of that, one recruiting class is never going to make or break a program or even an individual team. The 2000 Michigan recruiting class was seen as a disaster at the time, but it produced a Rimington Award winner, a Doak Walker award winner, two trips to the Rose Bowl and a pair of 10-win seasons.

If Michigan were to load up on three-star prospects every year, it might become a concern. But the 2010 class for Michigan looks to be very similar to all of the Penn State classes that made up an 11-2 team last year. Now, because Penn State has done that every year, I have my doubts about their ability to sustain such a high level from year to year. I think they will take a dip in their play this season because they have not consistently recruited on the highest level. But if Michigan recruits on a comparable level to Penn State for one year, then bounces back to where they were in the previous two classes, it should not affect the sustainability of success on the field.

Finally, many Michigan fans complained over the years that the Wolverines recruited top, top players, but had a minimalist approach to scheme. Now Michigan is making the move to become more of a “system team,” and some of the same folks complain when players recruited to fit that system aren’t ranked highly enough.

Small slot receivers, running quarterbacks and defensive tweeners don’t get the same respect in the rankings. If they’re needed for the system though, they’re needed for the system. Nebraska was a dominant force in the 1990s and rarely if ever got top 10 recruiting classes. And that doesn’t mean that recruiting rankings mean nothing, but they are just something that should always be taken with a grain of salt. How many top 25 classes has Utah had in the five years?

Tom Osbourne was able to build a powerhouse with lesser recruiting classes that featured players who fit his system (like Tommy Frazier, above). Can Rich Rodriguez replicate Osbourne's success?

Tom Osborne was able to build a powerhouse with lesser recruiting classes that featured players who fit his system (like Tommy Frazier, above). Can Rich Rodriguez replicate Osbourne's success?

AA: Do you think Rodriguez should be “offering” players and then telling them to wait when they try to commit?

MP: All scholarship offers are conditional on variety of factors. The kid has to keep his grades up, stay out of trouble, and yes, decide on a timetable that works for the coaching staff that offers. It can lead to unfortunate circumstances from time to time, but it is, and always has been a part of recruiting at Michigan and all schools.

Former Notre Dame running back Ryan Grant wanted to commit to Michigan early and former North Carolina linebacker Doug Justice wanted to do the same, but by the time they were deciding, there just wasn’t a place for them anymore. Typically in the past, Michigan would just stop recruiting kids they had offered along the way as spots became full, but there was a regular slow playing of certain prospects late in the game as scholarship numbers became tight. It’s just part of recruiting.

If hypothetically a school needs a quarterback in its class, it would be unwise to put all eggs in one basket and offer just one. Instead, five, six or seven might be offered to ensure that the school gets one. But what happens if two or three want in and there just isn’t room? Welcome to the harsh world of football recruiting – first come, first served.

Former Notre Dame running back (and current Green Bay Packer) Ryan Grant was nearly a Wolverine.

Former Notre Dame running back (and current Green Bay Packer) Ryan Grant was nearly a Wolverine.

AA: How do you see this class shaping up? Can Rodriguez possibly pull this into a top-10 caliber class?

MP: Given the number of players already committed and where they are currently ranked, it is unlikely that Michigan will finish in the top 10 in the recruiting rankings. The Wolverines have around 20 scholarships to hand out, which may continue to go up. Some kids in the class could be bumped up in the rankings and a strong finish is always possible.

But it would take a lot of things going right for a top-10 finish at this point. It should not be expected.

AA: How much do you think this recruiting class is being affected by the team’s unusually poor performance last season?

MP: Actually, I don’t think it is being affected that much by the season at all. Michigan is still getting a lot of top rated prospects interested. They are still coming in for visits and talking about Michigan for official visits in the fall. It’s just that most of the recruits that have offers that have been ready to commit so far were not the ones with the most stars next to their names.

If the recruiting rankings are really, really important to you, then an argument could be made against the strategy that has been employed in offering such a large number of kids. But people also have to remember that the coaching staff wouldn’t offer someone that they didn’t want, and they have a better understanding than anyone of what their greatest needs are and which players best fit their system.

Lloyd Carr's recruiting strategy changed over the course of his tenure at Michigan.

Lloyd Carr's recruiting strategy changed over the course of his tenure at Michigan.

AA: Do you think Michigan fans should expect this type of high-volume (in terms of offers), wide-range (in terms of star talent) recruiting from Rodriguez in the future?

MP: That is a difficult question to answer, because recruiting strategies can change over time. When Lloyd Carr was head coach, it changed drastically over time. Early on, he followed Gary Moeller’s more aggressive approach to recruiting and took some risks on certain personalities. As he found great success on the field, see the 1997 season, that became less necessary, but Michigan still placed a significant amount of energy on regions outside the Midwest.

Following the disastrous 2000 recruiting class, there was a significant shift in favor of recruiting the home region with greater energy. When Bill Sheridan replaced Bobby Morrison as recruiting coordinator following the 2002 season, there was an emphasis placed on not taking as many early commitments as in the past. Over time, and further changes at the recruiting coordinator job, methods were developed for primarily offering recruits with a higher level of mutual interest. But looking at the big picture there, it was never one single recruiting strategy, but rather a constantly evolving one.

It is anyone’s guess how that will play out with Rodriguez in charge. More prospects were offered last year than fans were familiar with, and even more have been offered this time around. But you need more than two data points to plot a trend. Folks at West Virginia noted that his offensive recruiting started out a lot stronger than his defensive recruiting, but evened out over time. It would not be a surprise to see a similar evolution in recruiting at Michigan.

For better or worse, each class tends to develop in its own unique way. I think that inconsistency may be a universal constant in recruiting. In other words, fans should always expect the unexpected.

For more Pargoff, and more on Michigan recruiting, and much more on Wolverine sports in general, check out TheWolverine.com.

Elvis Grbac: People's 1998 Sexiest Athlete Alive? Yes, but it depends on your definition of "sexy".

Elvis Grbac: People's 1998 Sexiest Athlete Alive? Yes, but it depends on your definition of "sexy".

Wolverines on the Web is The Wolverine Blog’s collection of Michigan-related links from around the internet.

Football:

  • Deadspin has the unfortunate, but hilarious, story about how former Michigan quarterback Elvis Grbac got to be named People magazine’s “Sexiest Athlete Alive” in 1998 via SI’s Jeff Pearlman. It involves Rich Gannon, a dim-witted photographer, and a whole lot of damage control. Definitely worth a read.
  • The Detroit News’ Angelique Chengelis reports that running back Kevin Grady will probably return to the football team in the fall, barring any more disciplinary slip-ups. I’m all for giving second chances, and considering the latest development in Grady’s off-field transgressions (violating probation) still stems from his first incident (the super-DUI) I have no problem with Rich Rodriguez giving him the opportunity to play. Grady is by all accounts a good kid, and if he can perform his duties on and off the field, he should be able to suit up for his senior season.
  • Greg over at MVictors digs up an old news clipping with a very interesting headline: “Can Check Babies at Spartan Game”. It’s pretty much exactly what you think it is. If for no other reason, it’s sad that newspapers like the Ann Arbor News are dropping left and right simply for stories like this. Funny stuff.

Hockey:

Other:

  • Varsity Blue, via MGoBlue, reports that 2001 volleyball captain Annie Maxwell has been accepted into the White House Fellows program. Congratulations to Annie, who is clearly representing the university well.
  • Not directly sports related, but John U. Bacon has an incredible story about growing up and dealing with death while at Camp Hayo-Went-Ha, which is located on Torch Lake in northern Michigan. I went to Hayo-Went-Ha for four summers growing up, and I’ll never forget my experiences there and how much they helped me grow as a person. If you read nothing else from this post, head over to The Bacon Blog. Few can tell a story like JUB, and this one tugs on some heartstrings.

A new feature here at The Wolverine Blog: Around the Big Ten will take a look around the blogosphere for news on upcoming opponents, Big Ten rivals, and Notre Dame (try as you might, Domers, I’m still lumping you in with the Big Ten).

edthomas

  • Black Heart Gold pants pays tribute to murdered Iowa high school coaching legend Ed Thomas (pictured above), and also rounds up eulogies from around the web. Both are must-reads.
  • The Only Colors, a Michigan State blog, holds a roundtable to predict their 2009 record. The consensus seems to be around 8-4, with no mention of Michigan in sight. It seems strange to be under the radar to Spartan fans, but that’s what 3-9 will do, I guess. Also, they welcome Saline QB (and Rivals’ No. 4 pro-style quarterback) Joe Boisture to the fold for their 2010 recruiting class. Big pickup for the Spartans, who needed a signal-caller in their class and got a quality player.
  • We Will Always Have Tempe, a mouthpiece of the enemy (Ohio State), breaks down the Buckeyes 2010 recruiting class position-by-position. Sam isn’t fretting about the relatively small class thus far. As opposed to Michigan fans, who are fretting about a glut of early commits.
  • More Buckeyes: Eleven Warriors previews Indiana’s season. In short: bad offense, decent defense.
  • Bad news for Gopher fans fond of the firewater: The Star Tribune reports that alcohol will not be served at any Minnesota sporting events, including games at the new TCF Stadium.
  • Lake the Posts, literally the only Northwestern football blog (and a damn good one), compares NW to Purdue and praises the job Joe Tiller did builing the Boilermaker program. A very interesting read.
  • The Blue-Gray Sky, a Notre Dame blog, details the acrimonious departure of tight end Joseph Fauria. Fauria left the school instead of serving a one-semester suspension for an undisclosed disciplinary violation, and had some unkind words for the school before his exit:
  • “They don’t take character into account. It’s the letter of the law, but not the spirit of the law. It’s a Catholic environment, but there’s no Catholic spirit in the process, no spirit of Notre Dame. It’s all just trying to knock somebody down. It’s terrible…”

    “If anyone knows me, they know I’m not some malicious person, not some predator. I’m a fun-loving guy. (Residence Life) didn’t see that.”

For the next indeterminate amount of time, I will be counting down my top 15 offensive and defensive players from the last 15 years. Today, I unveil my picks at #4 for each side of the ball:

Creepin’ towards that coveted top three. Today features another of Michigan’s fantastic wideouts and arguably the best linebacker in an era of tremendous linebackers. I’ll say this: today’s post is sponsored by the letter D. As in David. Or Dominant. Whatever you want.

Offense: David Terrell, WR, 1998-2000

Ask 'Bama fans about David Terrell. Then duck.

Ask 'Bama fans about David Terrell. Then duck.

David Terrell made the #1 jersey relevant again at Michigan, allowing Wolverine fans to conveniently forget the Tyrone Butterfield Experience and allow the jersey to again conjure up images of AC, Greg McMurtry (don’t sleep) and Derrick Alexander. He certainly added some flair to the #1 jersey, often to the chagrin of Lloyd Carr (I hear the man was not a fan of celebration penalties). He also was certainly the prototype receiver, 6-3, 208 with a solid second gear and great hands.

It only took two seasons of playing time for Terrell to make his mark on Michigan football and leave school solidly in the discussion for best wideout to ever step foot in the Big House. He became the first Wolverine receiver to ever record two seasons with over 1000 yards receiving, and currently sits sixth in career receptions, fourth in yards, and fifth in touchdowns despite barely playing as a freshman and leaving for the NFL after his junior year.

Anyone with doubts about Terrell’s talent needs merely to watch the highlights of his final career game of his sophomore year [ed: oops], the 2000 Orange Bowl against Alabama. The Crimson Tide will forever regret leaving him alone with single coverage on three occasions — three occasions in which the ball ended up in the end zone, held by Terrell.

Final numbers: 10 receptions, 150 yards, 3 touchdowns. That’s how you vault yourself into the top ten of the NFL Draft as a junior, as well as the top four of this here list. If not for a certain other #1, Terrell would be even higher on this list, and if he had stayed for his senior season, he’d have a solid argument for top billing. As it stands, #4 seems to be the right place for him.

Defense: David Harris, LB, 2003-2006

Harris standing front and center with that vaunted 2006 defense. Appropriate, to be sure.

Harris standing front and center with that vaunted 2006 defense. Appropriate, to be sure.

It’s tough to remember a Michigan player coming bursting onto the scene with more impact after a couple of years sitting, unheralded, unnoticed, on the bench. A mere three-star recruit, Harris sat behind the likes of Scott McClintock and Carl Diggs his first two years on campus, and there was little hype surrounding Harris when he took over the middle linebacker position in 2005. An 18-tackle performance against Minnesota forced everyone to notice, and his 88-tackle season let fans know that they had a quality man in the middle.

His senior season, however, surpassed the expectations of many, if not every, Wolverine fan. Harris claimed ownership of the football field from sideline to sideline, notching 96 tackles and 16 tackles for loss. It was tough to appreciate his contributions until you watched him play: he was relentless, with the rare combination of hitting ability and closing speed that makes a middle linebacker great. LaMarr Woodley was the flash up front, the edge-rushing terror, but the 2006 defense isn’t the 2006 defense without Harris standing guard in the middle. Teams simply could not get by the man:

Harris was a monster, the type of player we can only hope Obi Ezeh comes close to becoming. Despite the lack of All-American honors, anyone who watched Harris play knows he deserves this spot, if not higher.

Agree? Disagree? Want to share your favorite Terrell and Harris 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) until I’m done with the list. 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: next I post the #4 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
10. Anthony Thomas
9. Tom Brady
8. Mario Manningham
7. Steve Hutchinson
6. Jake Long
5. Mike Hart
4. David Terrell

Defense:
15. William Carr
14. Leon Hall
13. Ian Gold
12. James Hall
11. Rob Renes
10. Alan Branch
9. Marcus Ray
8. Dhani Jones
7. Jarrett Irons
6. Marlin Jackson
5. Glen Steele
4. David Harris

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