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August 7, 2013Since the final play of the Wolverines' Outback Bowl loss to South Carolina, Michigan coaches, players and fans alike have eagerly awaited the start of the 2013 season - and another chance to win the program's first Big Ten Championship since 2004.
Now, with the calendar turning over to August, the season is just around the corner.
To count down to the season, The Wolverine is naming the best player to ever wear each jersey number, No. 99 to No. 1.
We'll highlight 3-5 jerseys a day, all the way to the morning of Aug. 31, the day the Wolverines finally kick off the season at The Big House against Central Michigan.
Glen Steele, defensive end (1994-97)
Steele cracked the starting lineup as a redshirt freshman in 1994, starting four games. Over the next three seasons, he became a dominant figure on the Michigan defensive line, terrorizing opposing quarterbacks.
Steele lived in the backfield, racking up 45 career tackles for loss (which ranks sixth in program history) and 24 career sacks (which is tied for third).
As a fifth-year senior in 1997, Steele started with a bang, tallying sixe tackles, four tackles for loss and two sacks in a season-opening win over Colorado. That season, he notched at least one tackle for loss in all but one game, including three tackles for loss and a sack in a 20-14 win over Ohio State that sealed a perfect 11-0 regular season and sent the Wolverines to the Rose Bowl, where they beat Washington State to win a national championship.
After finishing the season with 48 tackles, 14 tackles for loss and seven sacks, Steele earned first-team All-American and first-team All-Big Ten honors and was given the Dick Katcher Award as the Wolverines' top defensive lineman.
Jerame Tuman, tight end (1995-98)
Tuman came to Ann Arbor from Liberal, Kan. as one of the most high-profile tight end recruits in the country. Prep Football Report named him a High School All-American, and Blue Chip Illustrated ranked him the No. 5 tight end in the country.
He earned playing time immediately, catching two passes for 25 yards in the 1995 season opener against Virginia, his first game.
He had a breakout year as a sophomore, hauling in 33 passes for 524 yards and five touchdowns. It's one of just six instances in Michigan football history in which a tight end compiled 500-plus receiving yards in a single season.
He earned his first of three All-Big Ten honors in 1996. He followed that up with 29 catches for 437 yards and five scores in 1997, earning first-team All-American honors as his team went undefeated an won a national championship. Tuman is the only tight end in Michigan history to record five or more touchdown catches in multiple seasons.
Tuman finished his career with 98 receptions (which ranks third in program history) for 1,279 yards (which ranks third in program history) and 13 touchdowns. He is one of just five tight ends who crossed the 1,000-yard threshold.
Jeff Backus, offensive tackle (1997-2000)
Backus came to Michigan from Norcross, Ga., where he was a USA Today All-American and one of the most highly touted offensive line prospects in the country.
And he certainly lived up to the hype. Backus, a four-year starter, notched 49 consecutive career starts, beginning with the season opener against Colorado as a redshirt freshman in 1997 and ended with a win over Auburn in the 2001 Citrus Bowl.
Backus won the Hugh Rader Award as Michigan's best offensive lineman twice (1999, 2000) and the Meyer Morton Award as Michigan's most improved player in spring practice once.
He was a first-team All-Big Ten performer in each of his last two seasons and earned second-team All-American honors as a senior.
Dean Dingman, offensive guard (1987-90)
It's a rare feat to step in an contribute as a true freshman offensive lineman. Just eight Wolverines have ever done so, and just one since 1987.
And in 1987, Dingman did just that. That season, he started three games at right guard and became a full-time starter the next season, starting 20 games at right guard and 18 at left guard in his career.
A member of three Big Ten Championship teams, Dingman was a two-time first-team All-Big Ten performer and was named first-team All-American in 1990. After the Wolverines gained 753 offensive yards in a 35-3 route of Mississippi in the Gator Bowl his senior year, Dingman and the rest of the offensive line were collectively named the game's MVP.