Michigan has one of the richest histories in college football. The Wolverines have amassed 884 wins, which is more than any other program, and 11 national championships.
In its history, Michigan has seen numerous outstanding football players pass through Ann Arbor. Seventy-seven consensus All-Americans and three Heisman Trophy winners have played for the Wolverines.
Michigan’s best players have not been limited to only one position either. The Wolverines have had stars all over the football field.
Here are the top 50 players to ever play football at Michigan.
The 38th President of the United States is one of only five players to have his jersey retired at Michigan.
Ford’s three seasons at Michigan were filled with ups and downs.
He helped lead the Wolverines to the national championship in his sophomore and junior seasons of 1932 and 1933, respectively.
However, the Maize and Blue had a disappointing year his senior season of 1934. Ford was the star of the team, and some of the struggles he had to overcome helped him throughout his life.
President Ford was a true Michigan Man in every way.
The middle linebacker was an underrated part of the Michigan defense in the late 1990s.
Gold helped the Wolverines to a national championship in 1997 and was named All-Big Ten in 1999.
Elliott lived up to his name during his stay in Ann Arbor.
A great blocker, he was named an All-American in both 1986 and 1987 for the Maize and Blue.
Joppru had a great career for Michigan and was part of a long stretch of great play at the tight end position for the Wolverines.
His best season came in 2002, when as a senior, he was named a third team All-American.
One of only two players from the Rich Rodriguez era on the list, Graham was an exceptional talent.
Though the defenses he played one were dreadful, Graham was the lone bright spot for the squad, earning a spot on the All-American team in 2009.
Renes was a great player for the Michigan defense.
He was named an All-American his senior season of 1999 and a semifinalist for the Lombardi Award.
At times overshadowed, Backus was one of the greats to play on the offensive line at Michigan.
Backus started more than 40 games for the Wolverines and was named All-Big Ten during his time at Michigan.
One of Michigan’s first great quarterbacks, Timberlake’s best season came in 1964.
That season, he led the Wolverines to a Big Ten championship and a victory in the Rose Bowl.
Timberlake was also voted an All-American in 1964 and finished fourth in the Heisman Trophy balloting.
Breaston was a human highlight reel for the Wolverines.
One of the best returners in Big Ten history, Breaston holds the school record for returns for touchdowns with five and the Big Ten record for most career punt return and kickoff return yards.
Lytle rewrote the Michigan record books, setting the school record in 1976 for most rushing yards in a season, though having it broken several times since.
He finished third in the Heisman trophy balloting that 1976 season.
One of the best safeties to ever play at Michigan, Shazor’s best year came in 2004.
That season, Shazor led the team in tackles with 84 and was named an All-American and a finalist for the Thorpe Award.
Possibly Michigan’s most famous football player, Brady was a solid quarterback for the Maize and Blue.
He ranks sixth on the Wolverines’ all-time passing yards list, and he also has the distinction of being the last Michigan quarterback to win a BCS bowl game, a 35-34 victory over Alabama in 2000.
Foote was one of the best defensive players for the Wolverines during the 2000s.
He was a first team All-American in 2001 and was named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year that same season.
Tuman is one of the most decorated tight ends in Michigan history.
He was named All-Big Ten three years in a row and was named All-American in 1997.
His most memorable play came from the 1998 Rose Bowl, where he caught what proved to be the game-winning touchdown to help Michigan win the national championship.
Biakabutuka is a legend in the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry.
He ran for 313 yards in the 1995 edition of the game while helping Michigan knock off the undefeated Buckeyes.
His 1,818 yards in 1995 is also a Michigan single season record.
Hall was a model of consistency for the Wolverines, playing in every game during his career at Michigan.
He was named an All-American in 2006 and holds the Michigan record for most career pass breakups with 43.
Law was an outstanding cornerback for Michigan, being selected to the All-Big Ten twice and to the All-American team in 1994.
Unfortunately, the play he might be best remembered for is his failed attempt to disrupt Kordell Stewart’s pass to Michael Westbrook in Colorado’s unlikely victory in Ann Arbor in 1994.
Though Griese started games in three different seasons for the Wolverines, he was only the full-time starter for one season—1997.
That year, he guided Michigan to their first national championship in 49 years.
Griese also has a career 3-0 record against Ohio State.
Perry’s big year at Michigan came in 2003.
That season, he rushed for 1,674 yards and 18 touchdowns.
This helped land him the Doak Walker Award and the Big Ten MVP.
Grbac is one of the most efficient passers to play college football.
He held the Big Ten passing efficiency record for six years after he left school.
Grbac also ranks third in school history in passing yards, completions and touchdowns.
Walker was one of the most targeted Michigan receivers ever.
He holds the school record for most catches in a single game and ranks second in Michigan history with 176 career receptions
He also had his best games against Ohio State, including in 2001 when he tied his own school record with 15 catches in a game.
Though he gave Wolverine fans several headaches due to sporadic play, Navarre was one of the most productive quarterbacks in the team’s history.
He finished his career as the all-time leader in most passing categories, though many have since been broken, and he led the Wolverines to a Rose Bowl berth in 2004.
In just three seasons at Michigan, Terrell made a big dent on the school record book.
The 2000 All-American is fourth in school history in receiving yards and fifth in career receptions.
Despite only being only two years into his Michigan career, “Shoelace” has already made a big impact.
Robinson is the first player to ever throw for 2,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards in the same season, and his 1,702 yards rushing last year is the fourth highest total of any Michigan player.
Much is yet to be seen from Robinson, and his position on the list could very well be higher at the end of his Michigan career.
Woodley had a great career at Michigan that was capped off by a stellar senior season in 2006.
That year, the All-American won numerous awards, including the Lombardi Trophy, Hendricks Award and Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year while guiding the Wolverines to a berth in the Rose Bowl.
Thomas’s name is all over the Michigan record book.
He holds the school record for most career rushing touchdowns with 55 and is second in school history in career rushes and rushing yards.
As a freshman, he helped contribute to the 1997 national championship team.
Morris is one of the best running backs to play at the school and ranks in the top five in many rushing categories for Michigan.
Morris broke several school records while at Michigan, including most career all-purpose yards, which still stands today.
Donahue was a two-time consensus All-American for the Wolverines in the mid-1970s.
He also was one of the first pulling guards to ever play for the Maize and Blue.
Known as the “Human Bullet,” Maulbetsch was one of the first great Wolverines.
His play in 1914 caught the attention of Walter Camp, who awarded Maulbetsch with a spot on his All-America team.
Michigan’s career leader in passing yards, touchdowns and completions is obviously one of the best quarterbacks to ever play in Ann Arbor.
The big knock against Henne is his 0-4 record against Ohio State.
Without a win against the Buckeyes, Henne can do no better than 22 on this list.
If not for an injury-plagued senior season, Wheatley’s name would be higher on this list.
Wheatley is second in school history with 47 career rushing touchdownsand was the preseason favorite to win the Heisman in 1994 before injuries hurt his chances.
Welborne was one of the most feared safeties during his time at Michigan.
He was named a consensus All-American in both 1989 and 1990 for the Wolverines.
Baas was a three-time All-Big Ten selection and a member of the 2004 All-America team.
Baas was a true Michigan man, opting to switch from guard to center his senior season because the team needed him there.
He performed very well at center that season and was a co-recipient of the Rimington Trophy that season, given to the best center in the country.
The huge offensive lineman helped lead the Wolverines to three Rose Bowl appearances in his four years in Ann Arbor.
Skrepenak also was a two-time All-American and was a consensus All-American his senior season of 1991.
Jackson was one of the most feared cornerbacks in the game while playing at Michigan.
He was a two-time All-American and is second in Michigan history in career pass breakups.
One of the best defensive lineman to come through Michigan, Messner is the school’s all-time leader in sacks with 36.
The two-time All-American was also a model of consistency, starting in all 49 games he played in for the Wolverines.
Nicknamed “The Rock," Jansen set a Michigan record by making 50 straight starts.
He helped Michigan win the 1997 national championship and was named an All-American in 1998.
From 2004-2007, Mike Hart was the workhorse of the Michigan offense.
He rushed for more than 1,000 yards in all four years at Michigan and was named All-Big Ten three times.
His 5,040 career rushing yards is the most in Michigan history.
If Hart was the workhorse of the Michigan offense from 2004-2007, then Long was the anchor.
Long was a two-time consensus All-American and was a unanimous choice his senior season of 2007.
Harbaugh ranks fifth in Michigan history in passing yards in a career and sixth in completions.
The 1986 All-American also finished third in the Heisman balloting that year.
The four-year starter for Michigan earned All-American honors his senior season of 1991 while also winning the Butkus award.
He led the Wolverines in tackles all four seasons in Ann Arbor, and his 286 career tackles ranks second in school history.
Chappuis was the leading man for the Wolverines in their national championship season of 1947.
He was named an All-American that season, finished second in the Heisman balloting and was featured on the cover of Time Magazine in connection with the great Michigan team of 1947.
Hutchinson is the most dominating offensive lineman in Michigan history.
The four-time All-Big Ten and two-time All-American helped lead the Wolverines to the 1997 national championship as a freshman.
Hutchinson also did not allow a sack his final two seasons at Michigan.
Kramer might be the best athlete in the history of Michigan athletics, earning nine varsity letters across three sports.
In football, Kramer was named an All-American twice and has his No. 87 retired.
Before winning a national championship as Michigan’s head coach, Oosterbaan was a standout football player for the Wolverines, playing on both sides of the ball.
Oosterbaan was a three-time consensus All-American and helped the 1925 Wolverines outscore their opponents 227-3.
Before playing professional baseball, Leach was a duel-threat quarterback for the Wolverines.
He set the NCAA record at the time for most total touchdowns in a career with 82 and broke Big Ten records for most touchdowns and total offense in a career.
The standout wide receiver did it all for the Wolverines. He was the team’s primary wide receiver for three seasons while also returning kicks and punts.
Carter was a three-time All-American and finished fourth in the Heisman voting in 1981.
His legendary No. 1 jersey would be retired if not for the Michigan tradition that has come about. Only four men have worn the No. 1 jersey since Carter, and all four have been the team’s best wide receiver.
If you look at the top of the Michigan record book, you’ll see Edwards’ name at the top for most receiving categories.
He is Michigan’s all-time leader in career yards, receptions and touchdowns and the school’s single season leader in yards and receptions.
Edwards also holds the Big Ten record for most career touchdown receptions with 39.
Howard holds many NCAA and Michigan records, but is most remembered for his 1991 season.
That year, Howard won the Heisman in what was, at the time, a record setting margin.
He is best remembered for his punt return in 1991 against Ohio State, when upon scoring, he struck the Heisman pose in the end zone.
The 1940 Heisman Trophy winner played offense, defense and special teams for the Wolverines. Eight times in his career, Harmon played all 60 minutes of the game.
Against Ohio State his senior year, Harmon led the Wolverines to a 40-0 victory over the Buckeyes. He scored three touchdowns on the ground, two in the air, kicked four extra points, intercepted three passes and punted three times for an average of 50 yards.
At the conclusion of the game, Buckeye fans gave Harmon a standing ovation. He remains the only Michigan player to ever receive this honor at the Horseshoe.
Despite only playing three seasons at Michigan, Woodson is the best player in Wolverines history.
Among his career highlights are a one-handed interception against Michigan State, a punt return for a touchdown against Ohio State and an interception in the back of the end zone against Washington State in the Rose Bowl.
All three of these plays came in Michigan’s 1997 national championship season.
He was a two-time All-American and remains the only defensive player to ever win the Heisman Trophy.