While we wait for fall practice to start I thought it would be a good idea to review some of the champions who have played at Michigan. I will provide a Top 10 All Time Best Players list by position. I’m going to start things off with the 11 Best Offensive Linemen to have ever played at Michigan. Before we go any further that me make one thing clear; I do not claim to be the ultimate authority on this list or any of the future lists. I’m simply breaking it down as best as I can and I’m hoping to generate some discussion in the comments about what you think. So here we go with the 11 Best Offensive Linemen in Michigan Football’s storied history.
#9 – Stefan Humphries: One of the top linemen to ever play at Michigan. Humphries was a two time All Big Ten selection and a 1983 All American. He was an outstanding leader on and off the field during his tenure in Ann Arbor. Humphries was a team captain in 1983. He enjoyed a 5 year career in the NFL including being a member of the 1985 Super Bowl Champion Chicago Bears.
#8 – Albert Benbrook: It is hard to know how to rate an offensive linemen who played in the early 1900s. However, Benbrook was a two time All American guard (1909, 10). He is considered the first of the great running guards and despite his then massive 240 pound frame he was faster then most backs and he devastated the opposition. Walter Camp said, “He (Benbrook) leads his mates across the line with his quick, ripping charge that simply smothers the opposition”.
#7 – Albert Wistert: I’ll give the nod to Albert here over his brothers Francis and Alvin (pictured). Albert was nicknamed “Ox” and was the team MVP in 1942, the same year he was selected as an All American. Wistert played nine years in the NFL for the Philadelphia Eagles. Ox would eventually wind up being the team captain for the Eagles and was voted into the NFL Hall of Fame.
#6 – Mike Kenn: A massive 6-foot-7, 275 pound offensive tackle, Kenn was an All-Big Ten selection in 1977. He anchored a dominating offensive line for Michigan that included Mark Donahue and Walt Downing. Kenn was a three year starter at Michigan.
He was selected in the first round, 13th overall, by the Atlanta Falcons in the 1978 NFL Draft. Kenn enjoyed a spectacular 17 year career in the league and was selected to 5 Pro Bowls.
#5 – Jon Jansen: Jansen started all 50 of Michigan’s game during his tenure in Ann Arbor. Jansen was a two time All Big Ten selection and an All American in 1998. Jansen was a fierce blocker and a tremendous leader. He was twice named as a team co captain. Jansen was drafted in the second round of the 1999 NFL Draft by the Washington Redskins.
#4 – John “Jumbo” Elliott: At the time he played Elliott, 6-7, 306 pounds, was one of the largest players in the game. He seemingly redefined the offensive tackle position with his size. Elliot was a two time All American (1986, 87) and anchored Michigan’s offensive line for four years. Elliott was picked in the first round of the 1988 NFL Draft by the New York Giants and enjoyed a highly successful 15 year career in the league.
#3 – Steve Hutchinson: Hutchinson was a 4 year starter at guard for Michigan and he did not allow a sack during his final two seasons. He became the 4th player to be named to the All Big Ten team 4 times. Hutchinson was also a two time All American (1999, 2000). He was a finalist for the 2000 Outland Trophy and the 2000 Big Ten Offensive Linemen of the year. The Seattle Seahawks drafted him in the first round, 17th overall, in the 2001 NFL Draft.
#2 – Dan Dierdorf: One of the finest offensive tackles to ever play at Michigan and he is considered as one of the best linemen of his era. Dierdorf was a 1970 All American and used his combination of strength and speed to anchor Michigan’s offensive line during the early years of the Bo Schembechler era. Dierdorf is in the NFL Hall of Fame. Bo Schembechler said this about Dierdorf, “He was the best offensive lineman I ever had.”
#1 – Jake Long: One of the most decorated offensive linemen in the storied history of the Michigan program, the two-time team captain became the first Wolverine and only the fourth player ever to garner Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year honors in consecutive seasons. Like Jansen, Long was a two time team captain at Michigan. The massive, 6-7, 315 pound, Long was also a two time All American (2006, 07). The Miami Dolphins selected Jake Long with the first overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft.