The Top 10 Michigan Quarterbacks Of All Time [Video]
Even though Jim Harbaugh doesn't want us to know, Wilton Speight, a redshirt sophomore, will take the reins as the latest in a long line of Michigan quarterbacks when the Wolverines open up their season in Ann Arbor Saturday.
Michigan quarterbacks haven't always been known for their flashiness in a system that long only required them to hand off to a running back, but the storied program has had some great signal callers. Here's my top ten.
10. Chad Henne – The big man never got a win over Ohio State, or else he’d be higher on the list. Henne put up a 33-14 record as a four year starter, which is rare at Michigan. He also added a Big Ten title in 2004, and had a mediocre career as a starter for the NFL’s Miami Dolphins.
9. Tom Slade – Hailing from my hometown of Saginaw, Slade led the Wolverines to an 11-0 record and a Big Ten title during his only year at the helm in 1971. A late field goal by Stanford in the Rose Bowl was the only thing standing between Slade and a national championship. Slade also had a rare skill for a quarterback, he could block. Slade passed away in 2006.
8. John Wangler – John is on this list for two great reasons. First, he gave Bo Schembechler his first Rose Bowl New Year’s Day 1981, a 23-6 win over Washington. Second, he combined with Anthony Carter on a last second touchdown pass to beat Indiana in 1979, which ranks as one of the greatest plays in Michigan history. Check it out.
7. Michael Taylor – Who? The last quarterback of the Bo Era, Taylor won two Big Ten championships, two Rose Bowls and is second all time in passing efficiency fro Michigan. Taylor was known for his tenacity, often playing hurt. Michigan offensive coordinator at the time Gary Moeller said of Taylor, "He's kind of a Joe Kapp, throw-it-end-over-end guy. He's not a great physical thrower."
6. Jim Harbaugh – The current Michigan coach holds the all time passing efficiency mark at UM at 62.4 percent, however, he never won a Big Ten championship under Bo. Harbaugh led the Wolverines to a 10-1-1 mark in 1986, and win over Nebraska in the Fiesta Bowl. He went on to play 15 seasons in the NFL, and became a college and pro coach which led him back to his alma mater. His dad, Jack, coached under Bo at Michigan.
5. Denard Robinson – Recruited to play under coach Rich Rodriguez’ spread offense, Robinson became a fan favorite for his flowing dreadlocks, his penchant for playing hurt after taking monster hits, and his ability to bust a big play at any given time. Robinson’s shining moment at Michigan was his performance against Notre Dame in the Big House on September 11, 2011 when he rushed for 258 yards and threw for 338 more, including a game winning touchdown to Roy Roundtree with two seconds left.
4. Tom Brady – Certainly one of the best quarterbacks to ever play in the NFL, Brady’s Michigan career started off shaky, as he battled with self confidence early in his time at M, and credits assistant Athletic Director Greg Harden with turning that around and talking him out of transferring to California. Brady was 2-0 in Bowl Games under coach Lloyd Carr, Brady also led a last minute comeback against Ohio State in his last regular season game.
3. Elvis Grbac – A three year starter, Grbac was the quarterback for wide receiver Desmond Howard the year he won the Heisman Trophy in 1991. Originally planning to go to Ohio Stae, the Cleveland native came to Michigan where he was 2-0-1 against the Buckeyes and led the Wolverines to a 38-31 Rose Bowl win over Washington.
2. Ricky Leach – The Flint native ran Schembechler’s run option attack to near perfection during his four year run at quarterback. After throwing an interception that led to the winning touchdown against Ohio State his freshmen year, Leach never lost to the Buckeyes again, rolling up three straight wins. Although he never won a bowl game, Leach shattered all Michigan's career passing, total offense and touchdown records. He set an NCAA record for most touchdowns accounted for (82) and broke Big Ten records for total offense (6,460 yards), total plays (1,034), and touchdown passes (48). He played baseball professionally for the Detroit Tigers.
1. Brian Griese – The son of pro quarterback and Purdue grad Bob Griese, Brian led the Wolverines to the National Championship in 1997 under Lloyd Carr. Griese was not recruited by Michigan, and instead walked on to the football team his freshman year. N 1995, he took over for the injured Scott Driesbach and led the Wolverines to a stunning 31-23 upset of then number two Ohio State. In 1997, Griese became the full time starter and along with Heisman Trophy winner Charles Woodson, he led the Wolverines to an undefeated season. Griese was selected as the MVP of the 1998 Rose Bowl, passing for 251 yards and three touchdowns in Michigan's win over Washington State.