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August 22, 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.
Tom Peterson, fullback (1947-49)
After playing as a backup on the 1947 squad that went undefeated, won the Big Ten, beat Stanford in the Rose Bowl and finished the season as the No. 1 team in the Associated Press poll.
The next year, Peterson was named the starting fullback and helped the Wolverine backup pick up where it left off, despite the loss of Bob Chappuis, who finished second in the 1947 Heisman Trophy voting.
With Peterson in the backfield, the offense wasn't quite as high-powered as the previous year - scoring 28.0 points a game as opposed to 39.4 points a game in 1947 - but it was good enough to lead the Wolverines to a second straight undefeated, national championship season.
Statistical records for the season are incomplete, but Peterson did have a huge impact on the season.
In the first game of the year, he threw a 40-yard touchdown pass to All-American tight end Dick Rifenburg and scored the winning touchdown on a five-yard run in the fourth quarter of a 13-7 win over Michigan State.
He scored 10 touchdowns on the year, all by either throwing or rushing, finding the end zone in eight of the Wolverines' nine games.
Russell Davis, fullback (1975-78)
Davis was a four-year contributor for the Wolverines, racking up 2,550 career rushing yards and 18 touchdowns. He also added 226 receiving yards and two scores.
After tallying 775 rushing yards in his first two seasons, Davis earned the starting nod as a junior and exploded.
He compiled career highs in carries (225), yards (1,095) and touchdowns (eight) and a junior in 1977, earning team MVP honors after the season.
Before the 1978 season, he was elected team captain and rushed 153 times for 686 yards and three scores on the year. Afterward, he was named first-team All-Big Ten.
During Russell's career, Michigan won three Big Ten Championships and appeared in three Rose Bowls. He finished his career with 149 rushing yards in the Grand Daddy Of Them All.
In a 51-0 win over Stanford in 1976, Davis was one of three Michigan backs to finish the game with more than 100 rushing yards. Harlan Huckleby tallied 157 yards, Davis had 116 and Rob Lytle had 101. It is the last time in Michigan history that three backs received the 100-yard plateau in a single game.
Anthony Thomas, running back (1997-2000)
Thomas burst onto the scene as a freshman, pitching in 137 carries for 583 yards and five scores in 1997, helping the Wolverines during their undefeated, national championship season.
It only got better from there. Thomas - or "A-Train" as fans called him - bullied his way to three straight stellar seasons as the Wolverines' starting running back.
In 1998, he rushed 167 times for 893 yards and 15 touchdowns, including 21 carries for 139 yards and three scores in a 45-31 win over Arkansas in the Citrus Bowl, earning game MVP honors.
He topped that in 1999, with 301 carries for 1,297 yards and 17 touchdowns in 1999.
As a senior, Thomas, who was voted a team captain before the year, carried the team, rushing 319 times for 1,733 yards and 18 touchdowns, earning first-team All-Big Ten honors. He also won the Michigan MVP award.
Thomas finished his career with 924 carries, which broke Chris Perry's program record (811); 4,472 yards, which broke Jamie Morris' record (4,393); and 55 touchdowns, which broke Tyrone Wheatley's record (47).
Thomas is now No. 3 in career rushing yardage, behind Mike Hart (5,040) and Denard Robinson (4,495) and No. 2 in career rushing attempts behind Hart (1,015). He still holds the record for career rushing touchdowns.
Ed Shuttlesworth, running back (1971-73)
Shuttlesworth was a dynamic runner in the Wolverines' wishbone-style offense.
As a backup in 1971, Shuttlesworth demanded playing time with his athleticism. In his second game - a 56-0 win over Virginia - he led the team with 16 carries for 107 yards and a score.
Despite coming off the bench, Shuttlesworth rushed for at least 50 yards in 10 games, including a season-high 125 yards at Purdue, finishing the year with 876 yards and six scores.
Shuttlesworth racked up more than 700 yards every season he was on the team, finishing with 532 carries for 2,339 yards and 26 touchdowns.
He was first-team All-Big Ten in 1972 and '73.
Shuttlesworth ranks 12th in program history in career rushing attempts (532), 17th in career rushing yards (2,339) and 12th in career rushing touchdowns (26).