With Michigan’s 2009 season wrapped up, and the decade coming to a close, I thought I would steal an idea from Dr. Saturday and have my readers vote on a Team of the Decade. So, I’ve come up with a list of nominees for every position, and I’ll be posting two position groups every day for the next week, leaving it up to you to vote for who should make the team. At the end of the month, I’ll tally up the votes and reveal the team of the decade. Next up are the safeties:
This is going to be the last team of the decade post that I open up to a vote (I’m just going to pick the special teams, since I think the choices are rather obvious — Rivas, Mesko, Breaston), and also my last post before I take a break for the holidays. The voting will stay open until some undetermined time after New Year’s, and I’ll have a big summary post that includes all the polls to make voting a little easier. Without further ado, here are the safety nominees:
Cato June (1999-2002): June, a highly-coveted recruit who chose Charles Woodson’s No. 2 jersey upon enrolling at Michigan, managed to put together a very solid collegiate career despite being plagued by injuries. As a redshirt freshman, he appeared in all 12 games, starting the final four at free safety, and recorded 27 tackles and an interception. In the summer before his redshirt sophomore season, June tore his ACL, which caused him to miss the entirety of the 2000 season. He came back as a junior, starting 11 games between both safety spots and tallying 58 tackles (five for loss), four pass breakups, and two interceptions. As a senior, June started 11 of the team’s 13 games at strong safety, but was forced to miss the greater part of three games after suffering a concussion in a frightening collision against Iowa. He still managed to record 53 tackles (four for loss) and three pass breakups, and was named All-Big Ten honorable mention. June became the first Michigan safety to be drafted since Corwin Brown in 1993 when he was chosen by Indianapolis in the sixth round of the 2003 NFL Draft.
Ernest Shazor (2002-2004): Shazor, another blue-chip recruit out of Detroit, was a tremendous physical presence at strong safety for Michigan. In his redshirt freshman year, he appeared in 12 games as a reserve, tallying 25 tackles and four pass breakups. He took over as the Wolverines’ strong safety the next season, starting Michigan’s final 11 games and recording 57 tackles (eight for loss), three pass breakups, and two interceptions, and was named second-team All-Big Ten by the coaches. His best year came as a junior, when Shazor earned first-team All-American honors and was a finalist for the Thorpe Award with 84 tackles (10 for loss), two pass breakups, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, two interceptions, and a touchdown. Shazor also delivered one of the most memorable hits in school history, sealing a 16-14 victory over 12th-ranked Purdue by forcing a fumble on the Boilermakers’ final possession:
Shazor would declare for the NFL Draft after his junior season, but went undrafted and did not catch on after a tryout with the Arizona Cardinals.
Brandent Englemon (2004-2007): Unlike June and Shazor, Englemon was a relative unknown as a high school recruit, coming into Michigan as just a two-star prospect. After spending his freshman season as a reserve, Englemon took over Shazor’s vacated strong safety spot in 2005, making 42 tackles. Englemon shifted over to free safety as a junior, recording 29 tackles while splitting time with Ryan Mundy. He earned the permanent starting role at free safety in 2007, and earned All-Big Ten honorable mention with an 86-tackle, three-interception performance in his senior season.
Jamar Adams (2004-2007): After spending most of his freshman year on special teams, Adams started eight games between the two safety positions as as sophomore, making 27 tackles. As a junior, Adams started 12 games at strong safety, recording 47 tackles (three for loss), six pass breakups, and an interception en route to being named second team All-Big Ten. In his senior season, Adams started all 13 games at strong safety, tallying 92 tackles (2.5 for loss), 10 pass breakups, and three interceptions, again earning second-team all-conference honors. Against Penn State, Adams tied the second-best single-game mark in school history with five pass breakups. He currently sits 12th on the career list with 22 pass breakups.
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I hope everyone has a safe and happy holidays. May 2010 be a much better year for Michigan sports than 2009 was.