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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Michigan All Jersey Team: #37

Last week we began our countdown of the best Michigan football players for each jersey number. Well, it's not really a countdown since we're not going in any order. And Wayne State alum Casey Kasem hasn't returned our calls. But you get the idea.

Today's jersey number is....#37.

Personally I think of this as being more of an offensive number, but there have been two standout linebackers that have worn 37 for Michigan.

First was Erick Anderson, a four-year starter from 1988 through 1991. He led the team in tackles in 1988. And 1989. And 1990. And 1991. He's the first-ever Wolverine to lead the team in tackles four straight years. The Glenview, Illinois native was Michigan's first Butkus Award winner, and left school second in team history with 428 career tackles. In 1991, Anderson captained the defense, was an all American, and was the AP co-Big Ten defensive player of the year.

The year after Anderson left, Jarrett Irons took over jersey #37. And after a redshirt season in 1992, he pretty much picked up where Anderson left off. A native of The Woodlands, Texas, Irons displaced Anderson as the #2 all-time Wolverine tackler, trailing only Ron Simpkins. Though his best season was probably in 1995, Irons was named All-American in '96.

Now for some offense. Bob Perryman was a brusing fullback from Buzzard's Bay Massachusetts. Perryman, along with Gerald White, cleared holes for Jamie Morris as the Wolverines won the Big Ten title in 1986. He rushed for 543 yards in '86 and averaed 4.6 yards per carry during his four-year career.

The final #37 nominee is Jim Smith, who played wingback from 1974-76. Playing that position alone, should be good for some votes. But Smith was a game-breaker in an era when the forward pass was mostly just a rumor in Ann Arbor. His average per catch numbers of 28.3 yards (1975) and 27.5 yards (1976) are still the two best marks in Michigan football history, and his 23.1 yards per catch trails only John Kolesar's mark of 23.4. Smith, an All-American in 1976, also averaged more that 7 yards per rush, more than 10 yards per punt return, and over 17 yards per kickoff return.

Our vote: It's hard to distinguish between Anderson and Irons. But truth be told, they benefitted from the defensive system that forced the action toward the middle linebackers. Smith excelled at a time when Michigan would only throw the ball a handful of times a game. His game-breaking ability paved the way for future Michigan standouts Anthony Carter, Desmond Howard, and Braylon Edwards. So we vote for Smith.

What say you?

Who is the best Michigan player to wear #37?
Erick Anderson
Jarrett Irons
Bob Perryman
Jim Smith
pollcode.com free polls


97Alumni said...

If anyone out there is interested, there is a Jarrett Irons game jersey on ebay for the next 12 hours or so... Price got too steep for me...


Out of Conference said...

I saw Sporting News did an article last week (dated this week I think) of numbers 0-99 and what famous (active?) athlete has that number. I think it's more than athletes because it also lists race car drivers.

El Pendejo Grande said...

Perryman was a jerk. Wasn't he tainted by that Norby Waters/ Lloyd Bloom thing that made Garland Rivers persona non grata? Google says Yes. So screw him.

Ploeg said...

I would have voted for Jim Smith, but I was at the '76 game at Purdue when he dropped a winning TD pass.

I can still hear Ufer's voice at the end of that game when we missed a winning field goal: "...no good, no good, no good..."

That '76 team should have been national champions. They went to Columbus that year and just stomped on Woody's Buckets. 22-0

steve g said...

Who ended up winning the competition for number 16?

91Wolverine said...

Who can ever forget Ufer's call of Jimmy Smith dropping the pass.

"It's caught -- he dropped it. OH MY GOD HE DROPPED IT, he was all alone, he had the ball at the six yard line and he dropped it."

Fair or unfair, that drop costs Smith the best 37 of all time.

If either the catch or the field goal was made, Bo would have had his National Championship.