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 linebackers:
[A quick note: Michigan’s defensive statistics, as kept in their database, are a bit wacky and not always consistent with their player bios or the actual team record book. The career stats are based off of the database, while I’ll do my best to double-check the season stats against the record book and player bios. Just keep that in mind if the numbers don’t add up or if you’ve seen a different figure.]
Due to blogger laziness and an attempt to keep this whole thing moving, I’m lumping in all the linebackers together. Lame, I know. Michigan has seen several quality linebackers come through Ann Arbor in the last decade, especially on the standout 2006 squad. Let’s take a look at the nominees:
Larry Foote (1998-2001): Foote wasn’t able to crack the starting lineup at Michigan until his junior season, but once he did, he became a force for the Wolverines. As a junior, he recorded 84 tackles (10 for loss), broke up seven passes, and recorded two interceptions en route to being named first-team All-Big Ten. He topped those numbers in his senior campaign, tallying 82 tackles, six sacks, seven pass breakups, and tying Mark Messner for the (then-) school record in tackles for loss with 26. Foote was again named first-team all-conference, won the Roger Zatkoff Award as the team’s most outstanding linebacker, and was named first-team All-America by Football News. Foote’s 44 career tackles for loss places him seventh in school history.
Victor Hobson (1999-2002): Hobson started 39 of his 49 career games with the Wolverines, and a consistent all-conference performer at outside linebacker in his final three seasons. After getting spot duty as a freshman, Hobson started ten games as a sophomore, amassing 58 tackles (12 for loss) and three sacks to earn All-Big Ten honorable mention and the Zatkoff Award as Michigan’s most outstanding linebacker. In his junior season, Hobson tallied 80 tackles (11 for loss) and five sacks and was named second-team All-Big Ten. As a senior, Hobson had his finest season, recording 99 tackles (13 for loss) and 5.5 sacks and earning first-team all-conference honors and another Zatkoff Award. Hobson’s 47 career tackles for loss places him fifth on Michigan’s all-time list.
Lawrence Reid (2002-2004): Although a nerve problem cut his career short after his junior season, Lawrence Reid made quite an impact while he was able to play for Michigan. After playing sparingly as a freshman, Reid recorded 82 tackles (five for loss) as in 2003, earning All-Big Ten honorable mention and the Zatkoff Award as the team’s best linebacker. Then, despite playing through pain through much of the season, Reid recorded 70 tackles (12 for loss), three sacks, and an interception in his junior season before his playing career came to an end.
David Harris (2003-2006): Harris went from little-used backup in his first two seasons to one of the finest linebackers in the country in his career at Michigan. His career nearly ended when he suffered a knee injury as a true freshman which kept him sidelined for nearly two seasons. After recording ten tackles as a redshirt sophomore, Harris had a breakout year in 2005, leading the team with 88 tackles and earning the Zatkoff Award. In 2006, Harris was the heart of one of the greatest defenses in school history, tallying 96 tackles (16 for loss), three sacks, and an interception, being named first-team All-Big Ten by the coaches (the media, well, were idiots), taking home another Zatkoff Award, sharing team MVP with Mike Hart, and earning second-team All-America honors from the AP, Sports Illustrated, and Rivals.com.
Prescott Burgess (2003-2006): Burgess, a blue-chip safety recruit coming out of high school, grew into the outside linebacker position and earned a starting role by his junior season. As a junior, Burgess had his best season statistically, recording 81 tackles (four for loss), two interceptions, and breaking up five passes, and he was named all-conference honorable mention. Burgess teamed with David Harris and Shawn Crable to form Michigan’s fearsome linebacker corps in 2006, tallying 48 tackles (six for loss), three sacks, and two huge interceptions in Michigan’s 47-21 shellacking of then-No. 2 Notre Dame, returning one for a touchdown. He was again named All-Big Ten honorable mention.
Shawn Crable (2004-2007): Crable played sparingly in his first two seasons before earning a starting role on the 2006 defense, recording 11 tackles for loss and six sacks among 37 total tackles and earning second-team All-Big Ten honors from the coaches. However, it was Crable’s senior season that earned him a spot on this list. In 2007, he tallied 90 tackles, 7.5 sacks, and four forced fumbles while setting a single-season school record with 28.5 tackles for loss. Crable was again named second-team all-conference, and also earned Walter Camp second-team All-America honors while inexplicably losing the Zatkoff Award to Chris Graham. Crable’s 43 career tackles for loss places him eighth in school history.
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