Top 10 University of Michigan Wide Receivers of All-Time

While there are many iconic moments throughout Michigan football history, there are not many that top Desmond Howard doing the Heisman pose in the endzone after a punt return touchdown against Ohio State. Another great moment owned by Desmond Howard is known as “The Catch” in which Howard caught a diving touchdown pass late in the game against Notre Dame which helped solidify the win for the Wolverines. I will be going over the best wide receivers to wear the maize and blue. Is Desmond Howard the best with his contributions to the success of the Wolverines? These are my thoughts on who ranks the best. Here are my top 10 Michigan wide receivers of all-time.

RankPlayerSeasons Played
1Braylon Edwards2001-2004
2Anthony Carter1979-1982
3Desmond Howard1989-1991
4Jeremy Gallon2010-2013
5Mario Manningham2005-2007
6Amani Toomer1992-1995
7Jason Avant2002-2005
8Tai Streets1995-1998
9Marquise Walker1998-2001
10Steve Breaston2003-2006

1. Braylon Edwards

There is no good reason to not have Braylon Edwards at number one. With a Big Ten-best three 1,000-yard seasons and many more Michigan records, there is no reason to have him anywhere else. After not doing much his freshman year, he exploded on to the scene in his sophomore season, never again dipping below 1,000 yards or double-digit touchdowns. Braylon set both the most career receptions and most single-season receptions with 97 in his senior year. He also holds the most receiving yards (3,541) and touchdowns (39) in Michigan history. His seventeen 100-yard games also stand as the most at Michigan. He led the Big Ten in both receiving yards (1,330) and touchdowns (14) in 2004. He recorded three touchdowns in Michigan’s close loss in the Rose Bowl to Texas in his senior year which stands as tied for the most in Rose Bowl history. With all these records and accomplishments, it is clear the Edwards should be number one on this list.

Receiving Yards: 3,541
Receiving Touchdowns: 39
All-Purpose Yards: 3,631
Accolades
-Michigan’s Leading Receiver
-2004 Fred Biletnikoff Award
-2004 Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year
-2004 Big Ten MVP
-2004 First-Team All-American
-3rd Overall Draft Pick

2. Anthony Carter

Anthony Carter was a stud during the flip of the 70s into the early 80s. He obliterated the receiving leaderboard by the time graduation rolled around and still stands as number two on the list with 3,076 yards. He is a 3x All-American and led the Big Ten in touchdowns twice. He currently stands as 2nd only to Edwards in career touchdowns for Michigan which is also 2nd best in the Big Ten. Not only did Carter do work on offense, but he also was a special team maniac. He had the best punt return yards per return in the Big Ten in 1979, 1981, and 1982. He also led the Big Ten in kickoff return yards in 1980 and in kickoff yards per return in 1982. Carter was a leader and the numbers show his dominance. He remains a crystal clear #2, but would no doubt be number one at many other schools.

Receiving Yards: 3,076
Receiving Touchdowns: 37
All-Purpose Yards: 5,802
Accolades
-1980, 1981, & 1982 All-American
-1980, 1981, & 1982 All-Big Ten
-1980 & 1982 Michigan Team MVP
-1982 Big Ten MVP
-Team Captain

3. Desmond Howard

I mentioned Desmond Howard earlier for his highlight plays which, combined with his numbers, put him at number three on my list. Howard’s receiving stats do not make him look incredible at 9th place on the Michigan receiving leaderboard because he only played 3 seasons. What stands out is how much of a force he was in the endzone with 32 receiving touchdowns which rank 3rd in Michigan history. He did lead the Big Ten in receiving yards and touchdowns in 1990 and 1991. He also led the whole NCAA with 19 receiving touchdowns and 23 total touchdowns in 1991. Like Carter as well, his dominance can also be seen on special teams as a returner. He led the Big Ten in punt and kickoff yards per return in 1991. To cap everything off, he won the Heisman trophy in 1991 which only three players have done at Michigan. His #21 was honored at Michigan and was worn by one receiver which has a Desmond Howard patch on it. That has since been changed to completely retire the number along with just five other numbers. He later solidified his insane career with a Super Bowl XXXI MVP. Being both the top receiver and one of the top returners of his time, he deserves at least number three.

Receiving Yards: 2,146
Receiving Touchdowns: 32
All-Purpose Yards: 3,943
Accolades
-1991 Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year
-1991 All-American
-1991 Heisman Trophy
-1991 Maxwell Award
-1991 Walter Camp Player of the Year
-#21 Retired at Michigan
-2011 College Football Hall of Fame
-4th Overall Draft Pick

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4. Jeremy Gallon

Jeremy Gallon may not be one of the most memorable names at Michigan, but he is among the best. He was my favorite player to watch during his time. The most memorable part about Gallon is his incredible 369-yard game against Indiana which stands as the Big Ten record for most receiving yards in a game and 2nd in the NCAA. Gallon also set Michigan’s single-season receiving record with 1,373 yards, breaking Edward’s previous record. Like many of these players, Gallon was also active in the return game early in his career of which he compiled nearly 1,000 combined return yards. He sits in 3rd place on the all-time Michigan receiving leaderboard in yards and 2nd in total receptions.

Receiving Yards: 2,704
Receiving Touchdowns: 17
All-Purpose Yards: 3,792
Accolades
-Big Ten single-game receiving leader
-2013 Second-Team All-Big Ten
-7th Round Draft Pick

5. Mario Manningham

Mario Manningham was another fun player for me to watch growing up and his success on the field shows. He sits at 5th in receiving yards (2,310) and 4th in receiving touchdowns (27) in Michigan football history. A knee injury and going into the draft before his senior season all contributed to cutting his numbers down, but nonetheless, he showcased his abilities. The biggest moment of his Michigan career was against Penn State in his freshman year. He caught a game-winning touchdown as time expired to upset an undefeated Penn State football team. Manningham went on to be a dominant NFL receiver and even won a Super Bowl with the Giants. Manningham’s dominance at Michigan will forever stand as one of the best.

Receiving Yards: 2,310
Receiving Touchdowns: 27
All-Purpose Yards: 2,501
Accolades
-2006 & 2007 First-Team All-Big Ten
-3rd Round Draft Pick

6. Amani Toomer

You can easily flip Amani Toomer and Manningham, but my bias has him behind. But do not discredit Toomer’s success as a Wolverine. He ranks 4th in receiving yards at Michigan with 2,522 yards. During Toomer’s reign, Michigan saw great success against its bitter rivals, Michigan State (4-0) and Ohio State (2-1-1). In 1994, he led the Big Ten in receptions (54) and receiving yards (1,096). He also had decent success as a punt returner in which he has 2 additional touchdowns. Toomer went on to be one of the best receivers for the Giants of all-time. While his NFL success is the main reason for his name being known, his dominance as a Wolverine still stands as one of the best as well.

Receiving Yards: 2,522
Receiving Touchdowns: 16
All-Purpose Yards: 3,240
Accolades
-1994 First-Team All-Big Ten
-1995 Second-Team All-Big Ten
-2nd Round Draft Pick

7. Jason Avant

Jason Avant is another name I liked to watch. Avant took the backseat to Edwards the majority of his time, but in his final season, he erupted. He posted 82 receptions, 1,007 yards, and 8 touchdowns which rank, respectively, 1st, 2nd, and 4th in the Big Ten for 2005. In his sophomore season, he brought in 772 yards as the #2 receiver which was impressive. Avant was the player to make the big-time play that would start a fire in the offense. He was an honorable mention to be on the All-American team in 2005 and went on to make himself an NFL career with the Eagles, Panthers, and Chiefs. He stands on the Michigan receiving yards leaderboard in 7th place which is also where I leave him in my rankings.

Receiving Yards: 2,247
Receiving Touchdowns: 13
All-Purpose Yards: 2,247
Accolades
-2005 Michigan Team MVP
-4th Round Draft Pick

8. Tai Streets

Tai Streets is similar to Avant in which he had better sophomore and senior years. His career stats do not make him appear very impressive, but there is one part about Streets that makes him climb up the list for me. He holds the 12th position for Michigan receiving yards along with 17 touchdowns, both of which normally would not make him much of a candidate for this list. Now for why he is 8th. The Wolverines took a share of the National Championship in 1997 and we all have Tai Streets to thank for winning it that season. He finished the game with 127 yards and 2 touchdowns. The win was the first National Championship for Michigan since 1948. Michigan has yet to contend for the Championship since then which makes Streets’ performance that much better. That is the reason why Streets finds himself at 8th on my list.

Receiving Yards: 2,016
Receiving Touchdowns: 17
All-Purpose Yards: 2,027
Accolades
-1998 Michigan Team MVP
-1998 Second-Team All-Big Ten
-6th Round Draft Pick

9. Marquise Walker

Marquise Walker is yet another Michigan receiver to blow up in his senior year. He finished the season with 81 receptions, 1,043 yards, and 11 touchdowns which respectively rank 1st, 3rd, and 2nd in the Big Ten for 2001. During his time, he set many records for the maize and blue, including single-season receptions and yards, both have since been broken. He was a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award which goes to the top receiver of the season. While it was not until his final season that he produced record-breaking numbers, the build-up combined with that one season is enough to carry him to one of the best Michigan receivers of all-time.

Receiving Yards: 2,004
Receiving Touchdowns: 17
All-Purpose Yards: 2,339
Accolades
-2001 First-Team All-Big Ten
-2001 All-American
-2001 Michigan Team MVP
-3rd Round Draft Pick

10. Steve Breaston

Steve Breaston finishes off this list as one of the best returners to play for Michigan while also being involved in the receiving game. While only averaging a touch above 400 receiving yards per season, he was a punt return beast. He holds the most career punt returns (127) in the Big Ten which ranks 4th in the NCAA. He also holds the most career punt return yards (1599) in the Big Ten which ranks 5th in the NCAA. His 619 punt return yards in 2003 holds the single-season record in the Big Ten and 11th in NCAA history. He holds the record at Michigan for most combined return touchdowns (4 punts and 1 kickoff). His kickoff and punt return yards are also both records at Michigan. Like I mentioned earlier, his receiving yards are nothing to turn heads. He did reach 670 yards in his senior year and ranks 18th on the receiving yards list at Michigan, so while he was not great, he was not bad either. When adding how insane he was at returning punts and kicks with his receiving, I put him at 10th on my list to cap it off strongly.

Receiving Yards: 1,696
Receiving Touchdowns: 10
All-Purpose Yards: 5,609
Accolades
-2003 Big Ten Freshman of the Year
-5th Round Draft Pick

I am a student at the University of Michigan studying Sport Management. I have been involved in sports as long as I can remember, playing football, baseball, and basketball. I also love learning how to play songs on the piano and ukulele.

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