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August 8, 2013

Countdown To Kickoff: Day 24

Since 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.

No. 77

Jon Jansen, offensive tackle (1995-98)

This was one of the most difficult numbers to choose in the entire series, because Michigan has a rich tradition of dominant offensive tackles who have worn the No. 77 jersey.

Obviously, Jake Long (2004-07), a two-time All-American and Big Ten Offensive Lineman Of The Year Award winner (2006, 2007), who went on to be selected with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft. There was also Paul Seymour (1970-72) and Arthur Walker (1952-54), who were also named All-American.

And, of course, Taylor Lewan, an All-American selection in 2012 who decided to return to Ann Arbor for his final year of eligibility instead of entering the NFL Draft, is well on his way to carving out his own slice of the No. 77 legacy pie.

But Jansen stands out above the rest. A four-year starter, Jansen started a record-setting 50 games for the Wolverines, a feat that remained unmatched until Craig Roh notched his 50th career start against Ohio State last season.

Jansen was a mauler, who was at various times an All-American (1998), the Big Ten Offensive Lineman Of The Year (1998), an All-Big Ten performer (1997, 98) and a two-time team captain (1997-98).

Jansen will always be remembered as the captain of a team that ran the table and won a national championship - but he was also a pretty darn good football player.

No. 76

Steve Hutchinson, offensive guard (1997-2000)

Hutchinson is one of the most decorated players in Michigan history. After a redshirt season in 1996, Hutchinson moved from defensive tackle to offensive guard - where he shined almost immediately.

He grabbed a starting spot as a redshirt freshman in 1997 - and opened big running lanes throughout the season, on the way to Michigan's first national championship since 1948.

Hutchinson is the lone offensive player for Michigan who has earned four first-team All-Big Ten honors. He was also a two-time first-team All-American (1999, 2000), and he didn't allow a single sack in either season.

Hutchinson played on three Big Ten Championship teams, including 1997's undefeated season.

A two-time team captain, Hutchinson also won the Big Ten Offensive Lineman Of The Year award and the Jim Parker Award, given annually to the best offensive lineman in the country (2000).

Hutchinson was selected by the Seattle Seahawks with the No. 17 overall pick of the 2001 NFL Draft. He played 11 seasons and earned seven trips to the Pro Bowl.

No. 75

Bubba Paris, offensive tackle (1978-81)

Paris earned playing time in 1978 as a true freshman, taking spot duty as a reserve right tackle.

He cracked the starting lineup at left tackle the following season, starting the final eight games of the season - and didn't look back from there. Paris started 32 consecutive games, a span in which the Wolverines averaged 240.0 rushing yards per game and compiled a 24-8 record.

The Wolverines went 10-2 in Paris' junior season, including wins over Ohio State and Washington in the Rose Bowl. Paris earned the first of two first-team All-Big Ten honors that season.

In 1981, Paris was named first-team All-American and All-Big Ten.

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