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August 16, 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.
Mel Owens, linebacker (1977-80)
Owens' career got off to a promising start. He earned playing time as a freshman in 1977, seeing the field nine games. The highlight of the year was a 10-tackle performance in Michigan's 41-3 win over Texas A&M.
He finished his freshman campaign with 37 total tackles. Heading into his sophomore campaign, Owens was poised for a big season. He started the first two games of the year, but he unfortunately suffered an injury in a 28-14 win at Notre Dame, sidelining him for the remainder of the season.
But Owens came back with a vengeance, tallying 157 total tackles and three interceptions over the next two years.
He racked up 89 tackles as a senior in 1980, including a career-high 14 against Northwestern and Wisconsin.
He earned first-team All-Big Ten honors in 1980, as well as honorable mention All-American distinction from the Associated Press.
Rod Payne, center (1993-96)
Payne came to Michigan by way of Miami, Fla., and cracked the starting lineup as a freshman, starting three games in 1993.
He became the full-time starter at the position in 1994, owning the spot for the next 37 consecutive games, through Michigan's loss to Alabama in the Outback Bowl at the end of the 1996 season.
Payne was a man of many talents. The Cincinnati Enquirer reported that Payne, an ambidextrous player, broke his right wrist during a Michigan State game one season and finished the game by snapping with his left hand.
Payne was a two-time first-team All-Big Ten player (1995, '96) and earned first-team All-American honors as a senior.
He was the Wolverines' offensive captain in 1996, and then-Michigan coach Lloyd Carr named him the team MVP after the season.
Payne went on to play three seasons in the NFL before moving to the coaching world. He is currently the head coach at Spanish River High School in Boca Raton, Fla.
Steve Everitt, center (1989-92)
Everitt, who has gained cult hero status since his playing days as the huge guy with long, blond hair and camo shorts on the Michigan sideline during games, is regarded as one of the toughest and most physical offensive linemen in Michigan history.
This is a man who broke his jaw during the 1990 season and refused to sit out - and wanted to just wire it shut and keep playing.
Everitt was a four-year starter, earning 35 career starts.
He led the potent 1992 offense, helping the Wolverines to a 9-0-3 record, including a 38-31 win over Washington in the Rose Bowl, his last game as a Wolverine. Everitt was first-team All-Big Ten that season.