Michigan quarterbacks

The Five Greatest Michigan Quarterbacks Of All Time

The University of Michigan has had a history of great quarterbacks in its long and illustrious history that has the program sitting alone at the top of the mountain for most wins of any in the history of the sport. Breaking down the top five quarterbacks in program history is not an easy task but we’re going to do it anyway. Remember this is a list of what they accomplished in college only.

The Five Greatest Michigan Quarterbacks Of All Time

Chad Henne

Yes, Chad Henne sits at the top. Any list of the greatest of all time has to include the guy with the most yards, most completions, and most touchdown passes. Henne played quarterback for the Wolverines from 2004-2007. He had 9,715 passing yards, 828 completions, and 87 touchdown passes.

Henne was also a third-team All-American in 2006, was nominated for numerous quarterback awards, and was named MVP of the 2008 Capital One Bowl game in Michigan’s 41-35 shootout victory over the Florida Gators.

Rick Leach

One of the best two-sport players at Michigan, Rich Leach takes the second spot on our list.

As the only lefty on our list, Leach’s stats don’t jump off the screen. As one of the original dual-threat quarterbacks before it was even a term, what Leach did was win. A lot. He led the Wolverines to three consecutive Big 10 championships and three consecutive Rose Bowl appearances.

To cap off his brilliant career, in 1978 he was named MVP of the Big 10, was a First-Team All-American selection, and finished third in the voting for the Heisman Trophy. Anyone who would take him off the list has a case of recency bias.

Brian Griese

Any quarterback who leads his team to an undefeated season and a national championship has to make the list. We’re also giving Brian Griese a shoutout for being a walk-on even though he did get a scholarship offer from Purdue where his dad played.

Griese also doesn’t have eye-popping stats in large part because of how much he played at Michigan or didn’t. He didn’t play at all as a freshman, played most of the 1995 season because of an injury to starter Scott Driebach, and lost the job again the following season before reclaiming it for his senior year. And that’s when he led the Wolverines to a national championship with a victory over Washington State in the Rose Bowl where he was named MVP. His season is also overshadowed by Charles Woodson winning the Heisman.

J.J. McCarthy

Another Michigan quarterback who led his team to an undefeated season and a national championship is J.J. McCarthy.

His critics say he didn’t do enough. Well, when you have a running back named Blake Corum, one of the best offensive lines in the country, and a lights-out defense sometimes you don’t have to.

His critics also fail to mention how he played when it mattered most. After quarterback Cade McNamara helped the Wolverines end the streak of losses to the hated Buckeyes, McCarthy was outstanding the next year in the game in Columbus. He threw three touchdowns with zero interceptions and ran for another score.

McCarthy also came up big in both playoff games this past season. Facing a fourth down and short yardage in their own territory with the clock winding down, McCarthy threw a perfect pass that resulted in a first down on the game-tying drive. McCarthy never panicked in the big moments. His win-loss record of 27-1 speaks for itself.

Denard Robinson

No, Denard Robinson never won a championship or a Bih 10 championship or beat Ohio State. He also played on teams that didn’t resemble typical Michigan squads as they forgot how to play defense for a few years. Robinson did however lead the Wolverines to a classic comeback win in the first night game at The Big House in spite of Michigan breaking out the most horrific-looking uniforms.

In a game against BIG Ten foe Indiana, Robinson became the first player in FBS history to pass and rush for over 200 yards in a single game. Go ahead and take him off your list. He’s staying on this one.

Honorable Mention

Dennis Franklin – his injury against Ohio State played a role in the Buckeyes winning “the vote “ to go to the 1973 Rose Bowl (we haven’t forgotten that).

Tom Brady – he was good at Michigan but had to compete with Drew Henson for playing time. It wasn’t obvious to most that he would become what he did.

Jim Harbaugh – anyone who makes a guarantee that his team will go into Columbus and get a win and backs it up deserves consideration. Enough said.

There you have your list of the greatest Michigan quarterbacks of all time. Is there room for debate?

Main Image: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

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Magic Man Mackall

never heard of them… but I’m a Maryland fan (do they have football?)

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