Michigan Football has had some elite wide receivers roam the field at the Big House. This list of conquering heroes includes the only two three-time All Americans in school history, Bennie Oosterbaan and Anthony Carter. Of course when talking about Michigan wide receivers you know the conversation starts with the famous #1 jersey, which has become legendary in Ann Arbor. Most recently Braylon Edwards donned the jersey. He will be on this list and he won’t be the only former #1 in the group.
This list starts below in reverse order with #10 “Super” Mario Manningham who added to his legend during Super Bowl XLVI when he hauled in a key 38 yard pass that would set the Giants up for the winning score.
#10 – Mario Manningham: Super Mario burst onto the scene in his sophomore year when he torched the Notre Dame secondary for 4 catches, 137 yards and 3 long touchdowns. Manningham scored 9 TDs in the first six weeks of that 2006 season. He appeared to be on his way to a huge Sophomore season until a knee injury slowed him down. He returned for his junior season and notched 72 receptions for 1174 yards and 12 TDs. Manningham’s 27 career receiving touchdowns ranks 4th on Michigan’s All Time list. His career 2310 receiving yards ranks 5th on the All Time list.
#9 – Marquise Walker: He ranks second in Michigan history with 176 career receptions. Walker’s finest season was in 2001 when he caught, a then Michigan record, 86 passes for 1143 yards and 11 TDs. Walker was an All American selection that season as well as the team MVP. Walker finished his Michigan career with receptions in 36 consecutive games.
Walker was adept at making the impossible catch (see photo).
He was drafted in the third round of the 2002 NFL Draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
#8 – David Terrell: Terrell, who wore the #1 jersey, played 3 seasons at Michigan and started 21 games before declaring for the NFL Draft after his junior season. Terrell was a first round pick (#8 overall) of the Chicago Bears in the 2001 NFL Draft. Terrell was the first player in Michigan history to have multiple 1000 yard receiving seasons.
He ranks 4th All Time on Michigan’s career receiving yardage list with 2317 yards. His best game was the 2000 Orange Bowl vs. Alabama when he caught 10 passes from Tom Brady for 150 yards and 3 TDs en route to be named MVP of the 2000 Orange Bowl.
#7 – Amani Toomer: Toomer was a consistent reliable receiver for Michigan. As a junior he became the third receiver in school history to record a 1000 yard season. In that junior season he caught 54 passes for 1096 yards, 6 TDs, and he averaged over 20 yards per reception. Toomer ranks third All Time on Michigan’s career receiving yardage list with 2657 yards.
Toomer was drafted in the second round of the 1996 NFL Draft by the New York Giants and just retired from the Giants at the end of the 2008 season. He is the Giants All Time leader in receptions.
#6 – Jim Smith: Bo Schembechler said Smith was Michigan’s first NFL type receiver. He was a dynamic offensive player that amassed 2890 career All Purpose yards. Smith, a 1976 All American, tallied 73 career receptions and 1687 receiving yards with 14 TDs.
He also rushed 56 times for 411 yards and average 10.3 yards per punt return. Not counting players who totaled single digit receptions in their career Smith’s receiving average of 23.1 ranks second to John Kolesar All Time.
#5 – Derrick Alexander: Alexander is another outstanding receiver that wore the #1 jersey at Michigan. After playing in only 4 games as a freshmen Alexander had 3 straight strong seasons averaging; 38 receptions, 603 yards, and 7 touchdowns per season. His finest season was his junior campaign when he tallied 50 catches for 740 yards and 11 TDs.
Alexander was also a prolific return man. He returned 4 punts for touchdowns and is the only Wolverine to have returned punts for touchdowns in back to back games. Alexander was a 1992 All American selection and a first round draft choice of the Cleveland Browns in the 1994 NFL Draft.
#4 – Bennie Oosterbaan: He was Michigan’s first 3 time All American (1925, 26, 27). Oosterbaan is considered one of the greatest receivers of his era. In 1925 Oosterbaan led the Big Ten in touchdowns with 8 receiving TDs. He played in an era when the forward pass was still evolving but he and Benny Friedman formed a dynamic WR/QB duo. In 1925 they led Michigan to a 7-1 record and they outscored their opponents 227-3, losing their only game of the season 3-2 to Northwestern.
Oosterbaan was a dynamic athlete during his athletic career at Michigan he was a Big Ten batting champion in baseball, Big Ten scoring champion in basketball, and Big Ten touchdown leader in football. He was the first University of Michigan athlete to become a first-team All-American in basketball.
Oosterbaan would later become the head coach at Michigan and he compiled a career record of 63-33-4 and won a National Championship in 1948.
#3 – Braylon Edwards: I’m not sure how many remember this but he wore #80 before switching to the coveted #1 jersey. Edwards is the only wide receiver in Big Ten history, and the third in NCAA history, to gain 1,000 or more receiving yards in three consecutive years.
Edwards turned down a chance to go to the NFL after his junior season and he returned to Michigan for a sensational senior year in 2004. That season Edwards set Michigan single season records for receptions (97) and yards (1,330), and career records for receptions (252), yards (3,541), and touchdowns (39); the career touchdown mark is also a Big Ten Conference record. Edwards also set the Michigan record for the most games with 100 or more receiving yards (17). That year Edwards won the Fred Biletnikoff Award, given to the nation’s top wide receiver, and was named the Big Ten Conference MVP. He was also a consensus All-America selection. Edwards is Michigan’s All Time leader in receptions (252), receiving yards (3541), and receiving TDs (39).
#2 – Desmond Howard: The 1991 Heisman Trophy winner won the award by the second largest margin of victory in the trophy’s history. The slightly built, 5-9, 176, Howard was known for his acrobatic catches and his open field moves. During that Heisman Trophy campaign Howard became the first receiver in Big Ten history to lead the conference in scoring (90 points). Howard scored 23 touchdowns, including an incredible 19 receiving touchdowns in that magical season.
He was also an outstanding kick/punt returner. He compiled 1211 career kick return yards with 2 TDs and 337 punt return yards with one glorious punt return for a touchdown against Ohio State when he struck the infamous Heisman pose in the endzone. Howard ranks third All Time in school history with 32 receiving touchdowns.
#1 – Anthony Carter: The original owner of the #1 jersey. Carter was Michigan’s only other 3 time consensus All American (1980, 81, 82). When his Michigan career was over Carter had rewritten the record book. He set new career marks in touchdowns (40), points (244), receptions (161), yards (3076), and touchdown catches (37). Currently Carter ranks 4th in school history with his 161 receptions, 2nd with his 3076 receiving yards and 2nd with his 37 receiving touchdowns. Overall his numbers have held up very well.
Carter finished 4th in the 1982 Heisman Trophy vote and his was the Big Ten’s MVP in 1982.
The Best of Michigan Football