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December 24, 2012

Year In Review: Top 10 players

Counting down the 10 best Michigan athletes of 2012.

1. Denard Robinson

Robinson's career did not end the way any Michigan fan expected - without a Big Ten title and with a troublesome elbow injury that sidelined him for two-and-a-half games and forced a position switch.

But the quarterback is still one of - if not the most - explosive players in Wolverine football history. It has been a true joy to watch him run around and make fools of opposing defensive players for the last four years. It's hard to believe his last game in a Michigan uniform is upon us.

2. Trey Burke

Michigan basketball is back - in a big way. As a freshman last year, Burke showed signs of brilliance, leading the Wolverines to their first regular-season Big Ten Championship since 1986.

He's off to a fast start this year, and Michigan is 12-0 for just the second time in program history. What awaits the Wolverines in 2013? More championships? A truly mad March? Only time will tell.

3. Jake Ryan

Dating back to the Sugar Bowl win vs. Virginia Tech, Ryan's 2012 calendar year has been dominant. In the 13 games that took place in 2012, Ryan notched 18.5 tackles for loss - including at least one in 11 games - and 5.0 sacks.

His high point came against the Hokies, when he tallied 4.0 tackles for loss for a whopping 36 yards.

4. Taylor Lewan

Lewan's legacy will be bolstered in 2013, where he can make a big name for himself by taking care of business against South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney in the Outback Bowl and - hopefully - announce his return for his fifth-year senior season.

But the big guy had a great 2012, as the bright spot on an otherwise underperforming offensive line.

5. Zack Novak & Stu Douglass

These two will forever be tied together as the seniors and emotional anchors of last season's Big Ten championship team. The two are off in Europe, playing professionally now, but they still follow the team closely and often Tweet about the games.

6. Chris Brown

The hockey star was a fan favorite last season - every time he score, a giant Texas flag was unfurled in the student section. Although the season disappointingly ended in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, Brown was a bright spot on a talented squad.

7. Jordan Kovacs

The senior captain is gearing up for his last game in a Michigan uniform - and looking toward prep for the NFL Draft. Who could have imagined his career would take him to these heights?

He is not the biggest, fastest nor strongest guy on the field, but he works harder than anyone and is consistently in the right position. Michigan fans everywhere will be rooting for Kovacs, wherever his life takes him. And, if he so chooses, a coaching job may be in his future.

8. Tim Hardaway, Jr.

Hardaway has transformed from an explosive bit player to one of the most important cogs on the No. 2 team in the country. Not only is the guard a talented offensive weapon, but he is the empotional core of the team, pushing the young Wolverines to new heights on a daily basis.

This season, he has proved to be a terrific role model for guys like Glenn Robinson III, Nik Stauskas and Mitch McGary.

9. Roy Roundtree

His production has dwindled since leading the team in receiving yards in 2010. But his impact on the team this season has been huge. He has led the way in overhauling the Wolverines' receiving corps into a physical bunch that takes enormous pride in blocking and helping out away from the football.

And that's not to mention his late-season surge. Who is likely to forget the incredible catch he made in the waning seconds of the Northwestern game to save the team from a sure loss?

10. Kellen Russell

The wrestling capped an incredible Maize And Blue career last season, winning a second consecutive individual national championship.


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