Now that we have completed the position groups on offense it is time to time take a look at the defensive positions, starting with the defensive line.
#11 – William Carr: Carr was a dominant nose tackle for Michigan during his career (1993-96). He not only spent a lot of time clogging up the middle he also registered 39 career TFLs, which is good for ninth place on the all-time list. In 1995 when Michigan stomped Minnesota 52-17 Carr had a career day in which he logged 10 tackles including six TFLs for 34 yards lost. That is the second highest single game total in school history. Carr was a 1996 All American selection.
#10 – Rob Renes: A bruising nose tackle Renes became just the 4th Wolverine to earn All American honors on the field and in the classroom during the same season. The other three to accomplish that feat for Michigan, Robert Timberlake, Jim Mandich, and Stefan Humphries have also appeared on our list of best Michigan players by position.
Renes accomplished his All-American status in 1999 and finished his career with 151 tackles, 24 TFLs, five sacks, and three fumble recoveries.
#9 – Jason Horn: Horn was a two-time All-Big Ten first-team selection and he earned All-American honors in 1995. In that All American season Horn was a disruptive force to opposing offenses as he tallied 18 TFLs that totaled 122 lost yards. Among those 18 TFLs Horn notched 11 sacks. In Michigan’s 1995 win at Boston College Horn collected four TFLs and three sacks to lead the defensive charge.
Horn’s career total of 39 tackles for loss is good for ninth place on Michigan’s all-time list.
#8 – Mike Hammerstein: One of the most dominant defensive linemen in school history Hammerstein was known for his intensity and relentless pass rush. Hammerstein was a 1985 All American selection. He was also the team MVP that season and led a Michigan defense that surrendered a paltry 8.1 points per game. During that incredible season Hammerstein notched 23 TFLs and nine sacks.
Hammerstein twice recorded 3 sack games in his Michigan career (9/22/84 vs. Wisconsin and 9/14/85 vs. Notre Dame).
#7 – William Yearby: Yearby was an outstanding defensive tackle who possessed a combination of strength and speed that made him a nightmare for opposing offenses. Yearby was the Wolverines MVP in 1965 and he was twice honored as an All American (1964-65). He played with a relentless passion and intensity.
#6 – Glen Steele: Steele was a 4 year starter at Michigan and recorded eight sacks in his sophomore season. He followed that up with 16 TFLs as junior. Steele was a fierce pass rusher and the ring leader of Michigan’s 1997 National Championship defensive front seven that held opponents to a mere 9.5 points per game.
Steele ranks fifth in school history with 45 TFLs and is tied for third with 24 career sacks. Steele earned All-American honors in that magical 1997 season. He was selected in the first round of the 198 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals.
#5 – Chris Hutchinson: Hutchinson started 39 of a possible 48 games during his Michigan career (1989-92). He was a model of consistent excellence during his 4 year stay in Ann Arbor. His finest season came in his senior year when he served as a team captain. He registered 11 sacks that accounted for 99 lost yards. He was named the MVP of the team and selected as an All American.
#4 – Brandon Graham: A two-time team MVP, Graham capped his Michigan career with All-Big Ten honors and All-American honors. Graham led the nation in TFLs in 2009 and was the only player to rank in the top 10 nationally in TFLs in 2008 and 2009. Graham tallied 10.5 sacks in his senior season and became just the second Wolverine to post two double-digit sack seasons. He ranks second in school history with 29.5 career sacks.
Graham totaled 26 TFLs in 2009 and that mark ties him for the second best single season total in school history. He ranks second on Michigan’s all-time list with 55.5 TFLs in his career.
Graham was named the co-winner of the Chicago Tribune’s 2009 Silver Football Award, which is awarded annually to the Big Ten’s MVP. He became just the 7th defensive player to win that award and joins Charles Woodson as the only defensive player to win the award in the last 25 years.
#3 – Curtis Greer: He possessed outstanding quickness for a defensive tackle. Greer’s 48 career TFLs ranks third on Michigan’s All Time list. In his 1979 All American season Greer had 23 TFLs for loses totaling 107 yards.
Greer was a two-time All-Big Ten performer and paced a Wolverine defense that won three Big Ten Championships.
Greer was drafted in the first round of the 1980 NFL Draft by the St Louis Cardinals and went on to start in his rookie season.
#2 – LaMarr Woodley: A prolific pass rusher, Woodley terrorized the opponent’s quarterbacks over the course of his 4 year career at Michigan. He ranks third in school history with 52.5 TFLs and is tied for third with 24 sacks. Woodley tied Michigan’s single season sack record in 2006 when he notched 12 sacks and earned All American honors. Woodley had a knack for forcing fumbles and set the school record with 10 in his career. In Michigan’s 2006 thumping of Notre Dame Woodley ran a fumble back for a touchdown. In addition to All American honors in 2006 Woodley was awarded the Lomardi Award (awarded to the best linemen or linebacker in college football) and the Ted Hendricks Award (awarded to the nation’s best defensive end). Woodley was drafted in the second round of the 2007 NFL Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers
#1 – Mark Messner: Messner possessed all the tools you would want in a defensive tackle. He was quick and explosive and he had strength and determination to match. Messner led Michigan in sacks three straight seasons (1985-87). He was also a two-time All-American selection. Messner established a new benchmark for career tackles for loss (TFL) with a remarkable 70 TFLs by the time he had finished his Wolverine career that record still stands today. He is also Michigan’s career sacks leader with 36. Messner totaled 248 tackles in his career.
Messner was the MVP of Michigan’s 1986 Fiesta Bowl win over Nebraska, with nine tackles a forced fumble and a key fumble recovery late in the game.
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