Michigan Football: The All-Time Dream Team
Where do we even begin when exploring the rich and lustrous history of Michigan football?
Countless greats have come to Ann Arbor to wear the winged helmet, and have left as legends.
This list will examine some of those legends by taking a look at the best of the best at each position. Because the game has changed so much over the years, I am ranking offensive guards and tackles as only offensive linemen, cornerbacks and safeties as defensive backs, etc.
The players on this list are not only Michigan greats, but a handful are some of the greatest players in college football history as well.
Many of us obviously weren't fortunate enough to witness some of these great players, as they played long before our time, but we'll just have to use our best judgement when ranking them.
Opinions may vary widely on who is truly the best at each position, so debates are sure to follow!
Players who are currently at Michigan were not included.
QB: Benny Friedman
Of all the great quarterbacks that have come through Michigan, I chose Benny Friedman as the best. Most of us didn't have the chance to see Friedman play, as he played at Michigan from 1924 to 1926.
Not only did Friedman play quarterback for Michigan, but he kicked and played defense as well. In fact, he accounted for 44 points during a game in 1925, as he threw five touchdowns, kicked two field goals and eight extra points.
In his final year of 1926, he was a consensus first-team All-American and MVP of the Big Ten.
Rick Leach and Jim Harbaugh were also strong candidates for this No. 1 spot, but I think most people will be happy with the choice of Benny Friedman.
Backup: Rick Leach
RB: Tom Harmon
I think it's pretty hard to argue with this one. Harmon played from 1938 to 1940, where he was an absolute star not only for Michigan, but to college football fans around the country.
Harmon did it all while at Michigan, as he both threw and rushed the ball, played defense and even served as kicker and punter.
One of the greatest moments in college football history occurred in Harmon's final game at Michigan, when he received a standing ovation from the Buckeye faithful in a 40-0 victory at the Horseshoe. It was the first and likely last time time it will ever happen.
Backup: Mike Hart
WR: Anthony Carter
Carter played at Michigan from 1979 to 1982. He is the school's all-time leading receiver, and is considered by most to be the best receiver to ever play at Michigan.
Carter was an extremely fast and explosive player, playing in what was a run-heavy offense under Bo Schembechler.
He was a three-time All-American, and in 2001 was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame.
Backup: Bennie Oosterbaan
WR: Desmond Howard
Desmond Howard played at Michigan from 1989 to 1991, and won the Heisman trophy in his final season of 1991.
Not only did he win the Heisman that year, but he also won the Maxwell Award, the Walter Camp Award and obviously was a first-team All-American.
Howard was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2011.
Backup: Marquise Walker
WR: Braylon Edwards
Braylon Edwards attended Michigan from 2001 to 2004. As a senior in 2004, Edwards set a number of impressive records.
He caught 97 passes that year, which is a Michigan single-season record. He also had 1,330 receiving yards—another single-season record.
Edwards won the Biletnikoff Award that year, was the Big Ten MVP as well as a unanimous first-team All-American.
Although his final game at Michigan was a loss to Texas in the Rose Bowl, Edwards caught three touchdown passes, which tied a Rose Bowl record.
Backup: Derrick Alexander
TE: Ron Kramer
I think most people would agree with this choice. Kramer was a three-time All-American during his tenure at Michigan, which lasted from 1954 to 1956.
He wore jersey No. 87, which has since been retired. In 1978 Kramer was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. He recently passed in September, 2010, at the age of 75.
Backup: Jim Mandich
OL: Jake Long
Is Jake Long the best offensive lineman to ever play at Michigan? You could certainly make the case.
He was a senior on Lloyd Carr's final team, along with key players in Michigan history, Chad Henne and Mike Hart.
Long was so dominant the final two years of his career that Heisman talk came up at times.
He went on to become the No. 1 pick in the 2008 NFL Draft.
Backup: John Elliott
OL: Dan Dierdorf
Dierdorf started for three seasons at Michigan, and was a big reason the team went 25-6 in that span.
Dierdorf was a consensus All-American in 1970 and made the all-conference team in 1969 and 1970.
He was enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame in 2000, and now enjoys a life of commentating NFL games.
Backup: Steve Hutchinson
OL: Jon Jansen
Jon Jansen played right tackle for Michigan, setting a record at the position by starting 50 straight games.
Jansen was a co-captain on the team not only as a senior, but as a junior as well.
He was twice voted first-team All-Big Ten in his career and remains close to the program today, as he reports for Big Ten Network.
Backup: Mike Kenn
OL: Albert Wistert
Most of us probably don't remember Albert Wistert, as he played for Michigan from 1940 to 1942.
In his final season of '42, Wistert was not only the team MVP, but a consensus All-American as well.
Wistert also had two brothers who played for Michigan. Of the three, Albert was the only brother not to play for a national championship team.
Backup: Albert Benbrook
OL: David Molk
This one may be a bit of a stretch, but I just couldn't help myself. With the grueling effort Molk gave in the Sugar Bowl (even though he was badly injured) still fresh in my mind, I just couldn't leave him off this list.
If injuries hadn't slowed him down earlier in his career, he might be a no-brainer for this list. We all saw what he was capable of as a senior when he was fully healthy.
If not for his performances, then his grit and love for Michigan should land him on this list.
Backup: David Baas
DL: Mark Messner
Messner played for Michigan from 1985 to 1988, leading the team in sacks from '85 to '87.
Messner redshirted in 1984, but after that started 49 straight games, becoming a two-time All-American in the process.
He currently holds two of Michigan's most important defensive records, as he is the school's all-time leader in sacks and tackles for loss.
Backup: Chris Hutchinson
DL: Brandon Graham
I think the fact that Brandon Graham is one of the best defensive linemen in Michigan history is even more impressive when considering the kind of defenses he played on.
He played on some of the worst defenses in school history, yet was still able to take over games and literally dominate. He was, at times, the only great player on the field, yet opponents still couldn't block him.
Graham went on to have a dominant senior season, and ended up being picked 13th overall in the 2010 NFL Draft.
Backup: Glen Steele
DL: Curtis Greer
Curtis Greer sure put up an impressive resume during his time at Michigan. He finished his career with 48 tackles for loss, including 23 in one season.
In 1978 and 1979, Greer was a first-team All-Big Ten selection, and also an All-American selection in 1979.
The Cardinals eventually drafted him sixth overall in the 1980 NFL Draft.
Backup: Mike Hammerstein
DL: LaMarr Woodley
Although Woodley mainly played defensive end at Michigan, he did play some linebacker as well. In 2006, Woodley had the honor of being named defensive captain by his teammates.
That same year, he piled up 12 sacks (which ranked eighth in the country) and also won the Lombardi Award.
This allowed him to not only be voted first-team All-Big Ten, but also a unanimous All-American selection.
Woodley continued his defensive dominance when the Steelers drafted him, and is currently wreaking havoc on opposing offenses in the NFL.
Backup: William Yearby
LB: Ron Simpkins
Simpkins was born right in Detroit, Michigan, and went on to play for his home-state Wolverines.
Simpkins received All-American honors during his time at Michigan.
Obviously everyone has their own opinion, but many consider Simpkins to be the best linebacker to ever play for the Wolverines.
Backup: Germany Schulz
LB: Erick Anderson
Anderson accomplished a feat at Michigan that is extremely rare, regardless of the school: He led the Wolverines in tackles for four straight years.
His 286 career tackles ranks second in school history. Perhaps his greatest season came in 1991, in which he was not only a team captain, but also received All-American honors and won the Butkus Award.
Backup: Calvin O'Neal
LB: Larry Foote
Although he didn't necessarily always start during his freshman and sophomore seasons, Foote still managed to see the field in every single game during those two years.
Foote's best season came as a senior in 2001. That year he was voted first-team All-American by some media outlets, was a consensus first-team All-Big Ten selection and also won the Defensive Player of the Year Award in the Big Ten.
Impressively, Foote ranks fourth in school history in tackles for loss.
Backup: Jarrett Irons
DB: Charles Woodson
This one is obviously a no-brainer; honestly, though, what can I possibly say about Woodson that hasn't been said before?
He won the Heisman in 1997, the same year he also helped lead Michigan to a national championship.
There is a long list of hardware and recognition he received in 1997; he won the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, which is given to the nation's best defensive player.
He was a consensus first-team All-American and voted first-team All-Big Ten for the third straight year. He also won the Jim Thorpe Award, given to the nation's best defensive back.
Today, Woodson is known for his generous contributions to the University and its causes.
Backup: Rick Volk
DB: Thom Darden
Darden played for Michigan from 1969 to 1971, with '69 and '71 being Big Ten championship teams.
In his final season of 1971 Darden received All-American honors. In 1970, he was named to the All-Big Ten team.
Not only did Darden play both corner and safety, but he also returned punts. Perhaps he is best known for his interception in the 1971 game against Ohio State, which caused Woody Hayes to go off on an embarrassing tantrum.
Backup: Ty Law
DB: Tripp Welborne
Like many other great Michigan defensive backs, Welborne also returned punts for the Wolverines.
In 1989 and 1990, Welborne was voted a consensus All-American. He actually began his career as a wide receiver, but was moved after his freshman season.
Welborne helped lead Michigan to three Top 10 finishes, with a record of 36-11-1 in that span.
Backup: Tom Curtis
DB: Dave Brown
We conclude this slideshow with Dave Brown, who, like just about every player on this list, was an All-American his senior year.
He was also a member of the All-Big Ten team three different seasons. Brown was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2007.
Sadly, just months before in early 2006, Brown died of a heart attack while playing basketball with his son.
Backup: Marlin Jackson