Freshmen numbers and those who broke them in (Part 2)

August 9th, 2012 by Justin Potts


Last Friday, we released Part 1 of our three-part series on the numbers the freshmen will be wearing this fall and the previous Wolverines who have either worn them or made a name for themselves while wearing them. Today, we take a look at the second part of the series with a group of linebackers and linemen.

#49 – Kaleb Ringer

Bob Chappuis, All-American, Hall-of-Famer, and war hero

The most famous Wolverine to wear number 49 was Bob Chappuis in 1942, ’46-47. His Michigan career was interrupted by service in World War II. As a gunner and radio operator, his plane was shot down over Italy where he was rescued and remained until the war ended. He returned to Michigan to lead the “Mad Magicians” of 1947. He finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting that year and was named All-American. To this day, he holds Michigan’s single-season passer rating (175.3) and single season record for yards per completion (18.8). When his Michigan playing days were done, he played pro football for the Brooklyn Dodgers and Chicago Hornets and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. He passed away this June at the age of 89.

Richard Volk was Chappuis’ nephew and wore number 49 from 1964-66. He played halfback, fullback, quarterback, and defensive back positions during his time in the maize and blue and was named All-American following the 1966 season. He went on to a stellar career in the NFL that included three Pro Bowl selections, and he was inducted into Michigan’s Athletic Hall of Honor in 1989.

Other notables to wear number 49: Jay Feeley (1994-98), Ed Frutig (1937-39), Dhani Jones (1996), Andy Moeller (1982-86), Kirk Moundros (1999-2002), Chuck Ortmann (1948-50), Bob Ptacek (1956-58)

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Otto Pommerening was an All-American tackle in #50

#50 – Tom Strobel

The first player in Big Ten history to play in every minute of every game in a season was Otto Pommerening, a tackle from 1926-28. A unanimous All-American in 1928, Pommerening was only 5’11″, 178 pounds, roughly the size of current Michigan defensive back Courtney Avery. Despite his small stature, he is widely regarded as one of the greatest linemen to every play at Michigan. Somehow he finished fourth for the Chicago Tribune Silver Football trophy, given annually to the Big Ten’s MVP.

Another star to wear number 50 is a guy whose number Strobel is replacing, center David Molk. Molk started 41 career games at center and won the Rimington Trophy last season as the nation’s best center. He was a consensus first-team All-American and team captain. His departure leaves a huge hole to fill, both on Michigan’s line and in senior leadership.

Other notables to wear number 50: Howie Auer (1929-31), Paul Girgash (1979-82), Mark Messner (1984), Jeremy Van Alstyne (2002-06)

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#52 – Royce Jenkins-Stone

Rod Payne was an All-American center in #52

Jenkins-Stone will share number 52 with center Ricky Barnum this season, but the man who was best known for 52 was center Rod Payne. He started 40 games during his career in which he was named first team All-Big Ten twice and first team All-American in 1996. He was drafted in the third round of the 1997 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals and battled injuries throughout his career. He currently coaches Spanish River Community High School in Palm Beach, Fla.

Payne was, ironically, the last Michigan starting center to wear number 52 before Barnum this season. The last linebacker to wear the number prior to Jenkins-Stone was Kevin Leach (2007-10).

Other notables to wear number 52: Kevin Brooks (1981-84), James H. Lincoln (1935-37), Stephen Schilling (2006-10), Chris Ziemann (1997-99)

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#53 – Mario Ojumedia

Archie Kodros blocked for Tom Harmon in the late 30s

No Michigan player has become an All-American while wearing number 53, but a very good one just graduated. Ryan Van Bergen started 38 games in his career and was named All-Big Ten honorable mention a year ago. He was an important part of Michigan’s success in 2012, teaming up with Mike Martin to form a formidable defensive line.

Another great number 53 was Archie Kodros in the late 1930s. He was a center paving the way for Tom Harmon for a couple of seasons. In 1939, one Ohio reporter said of Kodros, “One reason why Tom Harmon plays so sensationally each Saturday is shown here. The Michigan line, led by Captain Archie Kodros, No. 53, blocks beautifully and opens the way for Tom to get into the secondary where the star Wolverine back can peddle his own papers.” That’s pretty high praise. He also intercepted a pass against Ohio State to help Michigan win 21-14.

Other notables to wear number 53: Tom Cecchini (1963-65), Richard O’Schaughnessy (1951-53), Shantee Orr (1999-2002), Mel Owens (1977-80), Al Sincich (1981-84)

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#56 – Ondre Pipkins

LaMarr Woodley won the Lombardi Award in #56

Pipkins will share number 56 this season with offensive lineman Joey Burzynski who is battling for the starting left guard spot. From 2008-10, Ricky Barnum wore 56 before switching to 52 last season. The most successful 56 in Michigan history was relatively recent, defensive end LaMarr Woodley. The Lombardi Award winner in 2006, Woodley led the Big Ten and ranked eighth nationally with 12 sacks that season. He also earned a unanimous first-team All-American selection and was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. He was drafted 46th overall by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2007 and continues to be a dominant defensive end.

Other notables to wear number 56: Jim Brieske (1942-43, 46-47), Harold Goodwin (1992-94), James Hall (1995-99), Frank Maloney (1960-61)

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Julius Franks was the first African-American All-American at Michigan

#62 Blake Bars

No Michigan player has earned All-American honors while wearing number 62, but one wore the number and became an All-American a year later after switching numbers. It was Julius Franks, who has the unique honor of being the first African-American All-American at Michigan. He was just the third African-American to play for Michigan and was said to be the hardest working player Fritz Crisler ever coached. He was named to the Michigan Hall of Honor in 1983.

Bars certainly isn’t the most highly-ranked incoming freshman, but he has a unique chance to become the first superstar to wear number 62 if he sticks with it his entire career.

Other notables to wear number 62: Tim McAvoy (2005-09), Quentin Sickels (1944-48)

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Merv Pregulman was an All-American in 67 during the early 1940s

#67 – Kyle Kalis

Defensive tackle Nathan Brink will don 67 this season along with Kalis. Two former Wolverines have been All-Americans while wearing number 67. One is Merv Pregulman, a lineman who played all positions on the line from 1941-43. He was named a Grantland Rice All-American honorable mention his sophomore season and first-team his senior season. He played on a line with Julius Franks (above) and Al Wistert, whose number is getting Legend designation this fall. He was inducted into the College Sports Hall of Fame in 1982 and Michigan’s Hall of Honor in 1988.

The other All-American to wear 67 was John Vitale. A four-year starter, Vitale played guard his freshman year and center the other three. He was All-Big Ten twice and first team All-American in 1988.

Other notables to wear number 67: David Brandt (1997-2000), Matt Lentz (2001-05), Matt Patanelli (1935-36), Terrance Taylor (2005-08)

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Stay tuned for part three next week: #71 Ben Braden, #78 Erik Magnuson, #82 Amara Darboh, #84 A.J. Williams, #86 Jehu Chesson, #99 Matthew Godin