Michigan Wolverines Top Five Running Backs of All Time
Ever since there first season Michigan has produced some of the best running backs college football has to offer.
Today we're going to take a look at the top five of all time in my opinion. Some of you may disagree with my list which is fine by me, please comment and let your opinion be known.
This was one of the toughest lists I have ever put together and I'm sure there will be some debate on the top five. So let's take a look at who I think are the top five.
Just Missed: Anthony Thomas
Anthony Thomas' first season was the Michigan Wolverines 1997 national championship year. Who could think of a better way to start your college football career?
As a junior he ran for 1,297 yards and 17 TDs and as a senior 1,733 yards and 18 TDs. Thomas was also had 88 career receptions for 810 yards and a touchdown.
Thomas left Michigan as the All Time rushing leader and it took seven years for someone to finally pass him.
Ranking: Just Missed—If this had been a top 10 list or just top six because I felt like it, then Anthony Thomas would have been number six. Better than honorable mention, I suppose.
5. Tyrone Wheatley
He ranks second in school history with 47 rushing touchdowns and fourth all time on the career rushing yards list with 4,178.
He was well known for his big play ability, to go with his big size and speed. He had touchdown runs of 74, 82, and 88 yards in his career.
In the 1993 Rose Bowl he ran for 2 long touchdown runs of 56 and 88 yards. He ended the day with 15 carries for 235 yards and 3 TD. It was good enough for Rose Bowl MVP.
Wheatley was the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year in 1992 and earned All Conference honors in 1992, 93, and 94.
4. Jamie Morris
A record-setting running back in college for the University of Michigan Wolverines.
While attending the Michigan, he broke the school's all-time records for rushing yards in a season and in a career and for all-purpose yards in a career.
His career rushing total was once third in Big Ten Conference history. He continues to hold the career receptions record for Michigan running backs.
Jamie Morris still holds the U-M school record for all-purpose yards with 6,201. Morris was also the only player in Michigan history to lead the Wolverines in rushing for four years until Mike Hart did so from 2004–2007.
Morris was a very versatile running back who was the first Michigan back to total over 30 receptions in a season and remains the only back to have done so twice. He continues to hold the career receptions record for running backs with 99.
Morris also holds the record for the longest run in Outback Bowl history—a 77-yard touchdown run on Jan. 21, '88, in a 28-24 victory of Alabama.
And to top it all off, the best game he ever played? Against Ohio State, 302 all-purpose yards and 2 TDs.
3. Tom Harmon
As a player, he won the Heisman Trophy and is considered by some to be the greatest football player in Michigan Wolverines history.
Although he made his name as a running back, he also excelled as a kicker and quarterback.
Harmon rushed for 2,134 yards during his career at Michigan, completed 100 passes for 1,304 yards and 16 touchdowns, and scored 237 points.
During his career he played all 60 minutes 8 times. He also was a member of the varsity basketball team for two years.
In his final football game, against Ohio State Harmon led the Wolverines to a 40-0 victory, scoring three rushing touchdowns, two passing touchdowns, four extra points, intercepting three passes, and punting three times for an average of 50 yards.
In an unprecedented display of sportsmanship and appreciation, the Ohio State fans in Columbus gave Harmon a standing ovation at game's end. No Wolverine player has been so honored since.
He led the nation in scoring in 1939 and 1940 (a feat that remains unmatched), and was elected to the College Football All-America Team both years.
In 1940, he won the Heisman Trophy and the Maxwell Award both given to the outstanding college football player of the year.
In 2007, Harmon was ranked No. 16 on ESPN's Top 25 Players In College Football History list.
2. Willie Heston
He was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1954.
Heston followed coach Fielding Yost from the California State Normal School (now San Jose State University), where he played football between 1898-1900, to the University of Michigan in 1901.
With Heston in the backfield, the Wolverines compiled a 43-0-1 record between 1901-04, and Heston was named as an All-American in 1903 and 1904.
Heston still holds the Michigan record for career touchdowns with 72 (although records are only considered official from 1939 on). In 1902, he also set the record for rushing yards (170) in the inaugural Rose Bowl Game which stood for 59 years.
Fielding Yost claimed that Heston scored over 100 touchdowns in his career. Heston said it was not 100 but 93 TDs. However, most say he scored 71 touchdowns which is still an astounding total.
Heston played in 36 games for Michigan and rushed for over 5,000 yards and better then 8 yards per carry. However, some claim he actually rushed for better then 7,000 yards, which would be 194 yards per game.
In 1974, the Football Writers Association named him at halfback for the all-time team for the period 1869-1919. Sports Illustrated published an article speculating who would have won the Heisman Trophy before the Trophy came into existence (the first Heisman Trophy was awarded in 1935).
They said Heston would have won the Heisman Trophy twice, 1903 and 1904. Heston once rushed for 400 yards in a game against Kalamazoo.
Too bad we don't know which stats are true, who knows he may of had 90-100 tds and could of got the Heisman twice. If we knew for sure what his stats are I would say he would be No. 1.
No. 1: Mike Hart
In 2004, Hart set a Michigan record for most rushing yards in a season by a freshman with 1,455. He rushed for nine touchdowns and had 26 receptions for 237 yards and a touchdown catch.
In 2005, his sophomore season, Hart missed significant time due to a hamstring injury. He started only eight of Michigan's 12 games and played sparingly in three of those.
He finished the season with 662 yards and four touchdowns rushing and added 15 receptions for 154 yards and a touchdown catch.
During the 2006 season, Hart rushed for 1,562 yards, the fifth-best season total in Michigan history, and 14 touchdowns. He also caught 17 passes for 125 yards.
For his efforts, Hart was recognized as his team's co-MVP with linebacker David Harris. He was also selected by both coaches and media to the All-Big Ten Conference First Team, named a finalist for the Doak Walker Award, and placed fifth in Heisman Trophy balloting.
As a senior in 2007, Hart was elected team captain along with offensive tackle Jake Long and linebacker Shawn Crable.
He entered the eighth week of the season as college football's leader in rushing yards, but after an ankle injury sidelined him for two games, he dropped in the rankings.
Hart finished the season with 1,361 yards and 14 touchdowns.
In his career, Hart rushed 1,015 times for 5,040 yards; both marks are school records. His 41 career rushing touchdowns are third-best in Michigan annals.
Hart's 28 career games with at least 100 yards rushing and five games with at least 200 yards rushing are each the most in Michigan history.
Hart lost just three fumbles in his college career, two of which came in his last game as a Wolverine in the 2008 Capital One Bowl.
In that game, Hart also passed the 5,000 yard rushing mark for his career, becoming only the fourth player in Big Ten history to do so.
Some players that should be mentioned for honorable mention:
1) Chris Perry
2) Butch Woolfolk
3) Rob Lytle
4) Billy Taylor
5) Gordon Bell
6) Tim Biakabutuka
7) Ron Johnson
8) Neil Snow
9) Harry Kipke
10) Bump Elliot