Michigan's Team of the Decade: Offense

TOTD- Offense

After a nice, longer-than-expected winter vacation, I’m back to regular posting. I would have some wrap-ups on the hoops games against Indiana and Ohio State, but obligations outside my control made it so I couldn’t actually watch the games. As always, UMHoops and MGoBlog should have you covered for basketball stuff.

With Michigan’s 2009 season wrapped up, and the “aughts” now over, I thought I would steal an idea from Dr. Saturday and have my readers vote on a Team of the Decade. Now, your votes have been tallied, so it’s time for me to reveal the Michigan Team of the Decade. First up is the offense; I’ll post up the defense tomorrow.

For position groups with more than one winner, the players are listed in order of total votes received.


Chad Henne (2004-2007): The first true freshman to start for Michigan since the legendary Rick Leach, Henne made quick work of the lion’s share of Navarre’s school records. He was named to the freshman All-American team after throwing for 2743 yards and 25 touchdowns in his first collegiate season, leading the team to a conference title and Rose Bowl bid. Although he was criticized as a sophomore after a 3-3 start (it’s not really Henne’s fault that he no longer had Braylon Edwards to throw to), he still put up impressive numbers, throwing for 2526 yards and 23 touchdowns. His finest season came as a junior, when Henne completed 61.9% of his passes, threw for 2508 yards and 22 touchdowns (to only eight interceptions), and posted an efficiency rating of 143.4. Henne struggled with injuries as a senior in 2007, but still finished his career as Michigan’s all-time leader in attempts, completions, yards, touchdowns, and 150-yard passing games.

Running Back:

Mike Hart (2004-2007): Despite lacking the size or speed of a prototype collegiate running back, and being criticized for putting up incredible high school numbers against inferior competition, Mike Hart earned his way into the starting lineup as a true freshman and never relinquished his spot, breaking record after record along the way. Besides an injury-plagued sophomore campaign, Hart had a magnificent year every season he played for the Wolverines: 1455 yards and nine touchdowns as a freshman, 1562 and 14 as a junior, and 1361 and 14 as a senior. His 5040 career rushing yards surpassed Thomas’ mark as the best in school history, as did his 28 (!) career 100-yard games, which also included 12 150-yard games and five 200-yard games (both school records). His three straight 200-yard performances as a freshman may stand as his most impressive achievement, but it was his running style — a 5′8 bowling ball in cleats, never succumbing to first contact — that endeared him to Michigan fans.


B.J. Askew (1999-2002): Askew started his career as a tailback, splitting carries with Chris Perry in his junior season before Perry proved himself capable of being a feature back in 2002. With Perry getting the lion’s share of the carries, Askew moved to fullback, where he became a dangerous option as both a runner and receiver. Askew’s best season statistically was 2001, when he rushed for over 900 yards as a tailback, but as a fullback in 2002 still managed to rush for 568 yards and six touchdowns while adding 36 catches for 280 yards and a touchdown through the air.

Wide Receiver:

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.

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.

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.

Tight End:

Bennie Joppru (1999-2002): Joppru broke out as a senior after three years of backup duty at tight end, setting the single-season school record for catches by a tight end in 2002 with 53, going for 579 yards and five touchdowns. The sure-handed option was a first down machine, and earned AP All-America third-team honors for his record-setting performance. Joppru is fourth in career receptions for a tight end at Michigan, and ninth in career receiving yards.


Jake Long (2004-2007): We’ll go chronologically here, since there’s so much to say about Jake Long:

  • After redshirting in 2003, Long was living in a house shared by several U-M players in the summer of 2004 when the house caught fire at 4 am. He escaped the fire by jumping from a second-story window onto the hood of a car, covered in soot. He initially declined medical attention, but was convinced to check into the hospital, where he was treated for smoke inhalation and released two days later. Thus begins the legend of Jake Long, Badass.
  • After sitting behind Mike Kolodziej for the first two games of 2004, Long took over as the starting right tackle, starting eight games on the season and earning second-team All-Big Ten honors from the coaches.
  • Long suffered an ankle injury in August 2005 that forced him to undergo surgery and have two pins inserted into his left ankle. He returned a week earlier than expected, in the eighth game of the season against Iowa. He relieved Rueben Riley at right tackle in the third possession of the first quarter, and was the lead blocker for Jerome Jackson’s game-winning touchdown run in overtime. Long suffered another leg injury two weeks later, against Indiana, and was thought to be lost for the season when he reappeared wearing a protective boot in the second half. Instead, he started the next week against Ohio State, and also the bowl game against Nebraska.
  • In 2006, Long moved to left tackle, starting all 13 games at the position. He was also named co-captain of the team. Long was a consensus All-American, Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year, first-team All-Big Ten, and the Rader Award winner. Instead of leaving for the NFL, where he was a projected first-round draft pick, Long decided to return to Michigan. His decision was the reason Mike Hart decided to stay for his senior year.
  • As a senior, Long was even more dominant, again being named the Rader Award winner, Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year and first-team all-conference, as well as earning the distinction of being the only unanimous 2007 All-American, and was a finalist for the Lombardi and Outland trophies.
  • In 2008, Long was taken with the first overall pick of the NFL Draft by the Miami Dolphins.

So, yeah, not a bad career.

Jeff Backus (1997-2000): Backus, who started all 12 games as a redshirt freshman in 1997, was named All-Big Ten in all four years he played at Michigan, including consensus first-team honors in 2000. He finished his career with 49 consecutive starts, second all-time at Michigan, and was named a second-team All-American by the College Football News and ABC Sports as a senior. Backus earned the Hugh J. Rader Award as the team’s top offensive lineman in both his junior (sole winner) and senior (sharing with Steve Hutchinson and Maurice Williams) seasons. Backus was selected with the 18th pick of the first round by the Detroit Lions in the 2001 NFL Draft.

Interior Linemen:

Steve Hutchinson (1997-2000): I’ll let the Bentley Historical Library take care of this one:

Steve Hutchinson capped an outstanding career with his selection as a consensus All-American in 2000 after earning first team accolades from CNN/Sports Illustrated during the 1999. Hutchinson, a two-time captain for the Wolverines, was a four-year starter and letterman at left guard. He made 45 career starts and did not allow a sack during his final two seasons. Hutchinson became the fourth player in Big Ten Conference history to be named to the All-Conference first-team all four years, joining Mark Messner as the only other Wolverine to achieve the honor. A native of Coral Springs, FL, Hutchinson was named the Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year and was a finalist for the Outland Trophy Award. He was the 17th player selected in the first round of the 2001 NFL draft by the Seattle Seahawks.

Yeah, he’s probably deserving of a spot on this team.

David Baas (2001-2004): Baas was a standout wherever he played on the line, starting 38 straight games to end his career at left guard and center. He earned first-team All-Big Ten in 2002 and 2003 at guard, then shifted over to center five games into the 2004 season. That move went well, as Baas once again was named first-team all-conference, as well as consensus All-American honors and the co-recipient of the Rimington Award, given to the nation’s top center. He is a two-time winner of the Rader Award, sharing it in 2003 and winning it outright as a senior. Baas was chosen by the San Francisco 49ers with the first pick of the second round in the 2005 NFL Draft.

Adam Kraus (2004-2007): Entering Michigan in 2003 as a tight end, Kraus took a redshirt year and bulked up to become a solid interior lineman. He started eight games at center as a redshirt sophomore, 13 games at left guard as a junior, and started all 13 games in 2007 (eight at LG, five at center). Kraus was a two-time first-team All-Big Ten selection, earning the honor in 2006 and 2007.

The Offense, Condensed Version (including special teams, which weren’t voted upon):

QB: Chad Henne
RB: Mike Hart
FB: B.J. Askew
WR: Braylon Edwards
WR: Mario Manningham
WR: David Terrell
TE: Bennie Joppru
T: Jake Long
T: Jeff Backus
G: Steve Hutchinson
G: Adam Kraus
C: David Baas
PK: Garrett Rivas
KR: Steve Breaston

The defense will be posted tomorrow. Thanks to everyone that voted.


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