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 wide receivers:
In the last decade, Michigan has been blessed with lot of talent at wide receiver, producing two top-ten NFL draft picks and several more professional-caliber players. The list of nominees at this position is long, so I’ll dive right into the player comparisons. Vote for the best two in the poll, and the top three vote-getters will make the final team.
David Terrell (1998-2000): After a quiet freshman season, Terrell earned the “1” on his jersey in his sophomore and junior seasons before becoming one of the aforementioned top ten picks in the NFL draft. As a sophomore, Terrell hauled in 71 passes for 1038 yards and seven touchdowns, including a 10-catch, 150-yard, three-touchdown performance in the 2000 Orange Bowl against Alabama. Impressively, there was only one game in 1999 in which Terrell didn’t have a catch of at least 21 yards. The 6-3 big-play machine followed up with 67 catches for 1130 yards and 14 touchdowns as a junior before deciding to go pro early. Terrell is sixth all-time at Michigan in career receptions, fourth in receiving yards, fifth in touchdowns, and fourth in 100-yard games.
Marquise Walker (1998-2001): Walker played second-fiddle to Terrell until his senior season, when he set a then-school record with 86 catches for 1143 yards and 11 touchdowns. The sure-handed receiver also had this catch against Iowa, which may be the single most spectacular catch ever made by an offensive player at Michigan (yes, I’m referring to Charles Woodson’s INT vs. State in ’97):
Walker sits second all-time at Michigan in receptions, seventh in yards, and ninth in touchdowns.
Braylon Edwards (2001-2004): There’s very little left to say about this man’s collegiate career that hasn’t already been said: the man now reserves the right to choose which Wolverine receiver (if any) is deserving of the #1 jersey. That should say it all. If not, here are a few moving pictures to jog your memory:
Edwards is first all-time at Michigan in every career receiving category worth mentioning. Just go ahead and check his name off at the bottom of the post already.
Jason Avant (2002-2005): Like Walker before him, Avant was a sure-handed possession receiver who was overshadowed until his senior season by a top-ten NFL talent. Avant had decently productive seasons as a sophomore and junior (47 catches for 772 yards and 38 and 447, respectively) before exploding in his senior campaign, tallying 82 catches for 1007 yards and eight touchdowns. Like Walker, Avant also owns one of the more spectacular touchdown catches in school history:
Avant is third in school history in career receptions, and eighth in career receiving yards.
Steve Breaston (2002-2005): Breaston doesn’t have the gaudy numbers of the other receivers listed here, but his ability to turn a two-yard pass into a 60-yard scamper was unparalleled. He was a dangerous guy to have in the slot, and a really nice counterpart to Edwards and Avant, taking screen passes for first downs and even handling a few snaps at quarterback. His finest season came as a senior, when he caught 58 passes for 670 yards and two touchdowns. Breaston is fifth in school history with 156 career receptions. (Note: there will be special teams categories on this team, so don’t vote Breaston in based on his talents as a kick returner.)
Mario Manningham (2005-2007): Manningham earned a place in Wolverine lore early, as his game-winning touchdown reception with no time remaining in the 2005 Penn State game made him a household name (at least in Michigan) as a freshman. He finished with 27 catches for 433 yards and six touchdowns as a freshman; 38, 703, and nine as a sophomore, and capped off his career with 1174 yards and 12 touchdowns on 72 receptions as a junior. He also had one of the finest games in school history against Notre Dame in 2006, tally three scores and 137 yards on only four catches. And, since there appears to be no YouTube video of just his touchdowns in that game (a crime, if you ask me), I’ll have to settle for posting his 2007 game-winning TD against Michigan State, a play that is one of my personal favorites, since I was standing in the Spartan student section (dressed in maize, of course) when it happened:
Manningham is ninth in school history in career receptions, fifth in yards, and fourth in touchdowns.
Adrian Arrington (2004-2007): Arrington did not make an impact at Michigan until 2006, after getting a medical redshirt during his sophomore season. In 2006, he caught 40 passes for 544 yards and eight touchdowns. The big possession receiver followed with 67 receptions for 882 yards and eight touchdowns in his redshirt junior year, including a nine-catch, 153-yard, two-touchdown performance in the Capital One Bowl upset over Florida, which featured two highlight-reel grabs (one, and two). He left for the NFL along with Manningham after the 2007 season with one year of eligibility remaining.
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