Michigan's greatest football players
The top three pillars of the program are in the video above -- now check out who just missed the cut ...
To play football at Michigan is to play among the biggest and best that college football has to offer. No other program has more wins than the Wolverines’ 910, which dates to 1879, and only Notre Dame has a better winning percentage. No American sports stadium holds more people than the 109,901 that can fit into Michigan Stadium, aptly called “The Big House.” Clad in their iconic uniforms and serenaded by perhaps the most famous fight song in the country, the Wolverines lay claim to 11 national championships, most recently the AP title in 1997.
Def. Back/Wide Receiver | 1995-97
♦ 1997 Heisman Trophy winner
♦ Career: 18 interceptions
Running Back/Quarterback | 1938-40
♦ 1940 Heisman Trophy winner
♦ 2,134 rush yds., 1,399 pass yds.
Wide Receiver | 1989-91
♦ 1991 Heisman Trophy winner
♦ Career: 2,146 rec. yds., 32 TDs
Wide Receiver | 1979-82
♦ Three-time All-American (1980-82)
♦ Career: 3,076 rec. yds., 37 TDs
Offensive Tackle | 1969-71
♦ Consensus All-American (1970)
♦ All-Big Ten (1969, '70)
Wide Receiver | 2001-04
♦ Consensus All-American (2004)
♦ Career: 3,541 rec. yds., 39 TDs
Running Back | 2004-07
♦ All-Big Ten (2004, '06, '07)
♦ Career: 5,040 rush yds., 41 TDs
Receiver/Defensive End | 1925-27
♦ Three-time All-American (1925-27)
♦ 1925: Led Big Ten with eight TDs
Exceptional players dot the landscape of Michigan football history, spanning every era. Michigan touts three Heisman winners, who are featured above, and 78 consensus All-Americans. There were many great names from which to choose, but these are the Wolverines who not only built their own legacy in Ann Arbor, but helped form the definition of a Michigan legacy.
Carter came in to Bo Schembechler’s run-heavy offense, and left as the all-time leading receiver at Michigan. Upon completing his career, Carter was the school’s leader in touchdowns, receptions, receiving yards and kick return yards, to name a few. He now ranks second in several of those categories, behind Braylon Edwards in the receiving categories and Steve Breaston in the return categories. He caught 161 passes in his four years in Ann Arbor for 3,076 yards and 37 touchdowns, earning an All-American selection in his sophomore, junior and senior seasons.
But Carter may be best known for a moment in his freshman year. It was homecoming in 1979, and Michigan and Indiana were tied with six seconds left. Michigan had the ball on the Indiana 45. As the story goes, Carter said to quarterback John Wangler in the huddle, “Throw me the ball, I’ll be open.” The rest was history. Carter was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2001. His No. 1 has been passed on to other top receivers to go through Michigan.
Anchoring a strong rushing attack in the early days of the Schembechler era, Dierdorf established himself as one of the top offensive linemen in Wolverines history. He starred for the 1969 team that famously upset Ohio State and won the Big Ten. Dierdorf was a consensus All-American in 1970 and named All-Big Ten in '69 and '70. Michigan went 25-6 in his three years as a starter, and Dierdorf was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2000. He joined the Michigan radio booth earlier this year after a long television broadcasting career.
Of all of the great wide receivers to go through Michigan, Edwards has more receiving yards and touchdowns than anyone. A big target for the Maize and Blue in the early 2000s, he eclipsed Carter’s marks with 3,541 yards and 39 touchdowns, and is the only player in the history of the Big Ten to exceed 1,000 receiving yards in three consecutive years. He also caught at least 10 touchdown receptions in three different seasons. In 2004, Edwards set program season marks for receptions and yards, earning a consensus All-American selection and the Fred Biletnikoff Award as the nation's top receiver. He still holds the Big Ten record for receiving touchdowns. Edwards also ran track at Michigan, and left with the third-best time in the 200-meter in school history at 21.81 seconds.
Hart is small in stature -- he was listed at 5-foot-9 by Michigan -- but stands tall in the Wolverines' record books. There are big names such as Anthony Thomas, Jamie Morris, Ron Johnson and Tshimanga Biakabutka, but Hart gained more yards than all of them. His 5,040 career yards clears first place in program history by more than 500 yards, and he is the fourth Big Ten player to surpass 5,000 yards. Hart was put into the spotlight early and set a Michigan freshman best with 1,455 rushing yards. After dealing with a hamstring injury that kept him out for a significant portion of his sophomore year, he came back to score 14 touchdowns in each of his final two seasons. Hart leads the Wolverines in career yards per game (117.2), 100-plus-yard games (28), 150-plus-yard games (12) and is tied with Denard Robinson with five 200-plus-yard games. Hart is now the running backs coach at Western Michigan.
Part of the "Benny to Bennie Show," which along with quarterback Benny Friedman helped to revolutionize Michigan football in a time when running dominated the game, Oosterbaan was both a star receiver and defensive end for the Wolverines in the mid-1920s. He led the Big Ten with eight touchdowns in 1925, the same year he anchored a Michigan defense that allowed three points all season. After Friedman moved on, Oosterban also played some quarterback, where he threw three touchdown passes in a win against Ohio State at the dedication game of Michigan Stadium. Oosterbaann also coached the Wolverines from 1948-58 and won the 1948 national championship.