Michigan Football has had some outstanding wide receivers over the years. Here we try to list the 10 best to ever wear the winged helmet. They are listed in reverse order from 10-1.
#11 – Mario Manningham: Super Mario burst onto the scene in his sophomore year when he torched the Notre Dame secondary for four catches, 137 yards and three long touchdowns. Manningham scored nine touchdowns 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.
Manningham returned for his junior season and notched 72 receptions for 1174 yards and 12 touchdowns. Manningham’s 27 career receiving touchdowns ranks fourth on Michigan’s All Time list. His 2,310 career receiving yards ranks sixth on Michigan’s all-time list. In 2007, he set a school record, that still stands, with 100 receiving yards in six consecutive games.
#10 – 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 touchdowns. 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 known for making difficult receptions.
He was drafted in the third round of the 2002 NFL Draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
#9 – Amani Toomer: Toomer was a consistent reliable receiver for Michigan. As a junior he became the third receiver in school history to record a 1,000 yard season. In that junior season he caught 54 passes for 1,096 yards, six touchdowns and he averaged over 20 yards per reception. Toomer ranks fourth 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.
#8 – David Terrell: Terrell, who wore the #1 jersey, played three seasons at Michigan and started 21 games before declaring for the NFL Draft after his junior season. Terrell was a first round pick (No. 8 overall) of the Chicago Bears in the 2001 NFL Draft. Terrell was the first player in Michigan history to have multiple 1,000 yard receiving seasons.
He ranks fifth all-time on Michigan’s career receiving yardage list with 2,317 yards. His best game was the 2000 Orange Bowl vs. Alabama when he caught 10 passes from Tom Brady for 150 yards and three touchdowns and was named the MVP of the 2000 Orange Bowl.
#7 – Jim Smith: Bo Schembechler said Smith was Michigan’s first NFL type receiver. He was a dynamic offensive player that amassed 2,890 career all-purpose yards. Smith, a 1976 All American, tallied 73 career receptions and 1,687 receiving yards with 14 touchdowns. He also rushed 56 times for 411 yards and posted an average of 10.3 yards per punt return. Not counting players who totaled single digit receptions in their career Smith’s receiving average of 23.1 yard per receptions ranks second to John Kolesar in Michigan’s record book.
#6 – Derrick Alexander: Alexander is another outstanding receiver that wore the #1 jersey at Michigan. After playing in only four games as a freshmen Alexander had three excellent years averaging; 38 receptions, 603 yards, and seven touchdowns per season. His finest season was his junior campaign when he tallied 50 catches for 740 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Alexander ranks sixth all-time at Michigan with 22 career receiving touchdowns.
Alexander was also a prolific return man. He returned four 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.
#5 – Jack Clancy: Clancy finished his Michigan career as the school’s all-time leader in receptions and receiving yards in a career, season and game. He was the first Michigan Wolverine to notch 50 receptions in a season (1965) and the first to top 1,000 receiving yards in season (1966).
In 1965, Clancy hauled in 52 receptions for 762 yards with five touchdowns. He earned second-team All-Big Ten honors that season.
Clancy had a season for the ages in 1966. He was the team captain and finished the season with 76 receptions for 1,079 yards and four touchdowns. His 50 receptions and 698 receiving yards in conference play was a Big Ten record. In a game against Oregon State that season, Clancy set a school record, that would stand until 2010, with 197 receiving yards. Clancy had three games that season with at least 10 receptions. He earned All-American honors and was named the team MVP.
Clancy finished his career with 138 receptions, 1,946 receiving yards and nine touchdowns.
#4 – Bennie Oosterbaan: He was Michigan’s first three-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 eight receiving touchdowns. 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 touchdowns (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 1,211 career kick return yards with two touchdowns 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 fourth in school history with his 161 receptions, second with his 3076 receiving yards and second with his 37 receiving touchdowns. Overall his numbers have held up very well.
Carter finished fourth in the 1982 Heisman Trophy vote and his was the Big Ten’s MVP in 1982.
This was definitely a tough list to breakdown and I would love to hear your thoughts on how you would rank them.
Make sure you check out the rest of our Best of Michigan Football series.
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