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August 18, 2013

Countdown To Kickoff: Day 14

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. 47

Bennie Oosterbaan, end (1925-27)

There's a reason Oosterbaan is one of the few former players who has been given "Legends" distinction. He was one of the best athletes in Michigan history. Sports Illustrated named him one of the 11 best college football players of the game's first century (1868-1968), and he was inducted into the College Football Hall Of Fame in 1954.

At Muskegon High School in Muskegon, Mich., Oosterbaan was all-state in football, basketball, baseball and discus - and nearly made the Olympics in the latter most sport.

In his final year of eligibility at Michigan, he was captain, MVP of the team and All-American in football; he led the Big Ten in scoring and was All-American in basketball; and he led the Big Ten in batting average in baseball.

Football was perhaps his most dominant sport. Ooosterbaan was named All-American every season he was eligible (freshmen couldn't play varsity).

As a sophomore, on the receiving end of the Benny Friedman-to-Bennie Oosterbaan connection that helped advance the evolving art of the forward pass, Oosterbaan led the Big Ten with eight touchdown catches.

He led the Wolverines to a 20-4 record during his three years, and he is one of just two Michigan players to earn All-American honors in three different seasons (Anthony Carter).

Oosterbaan decided not to play professional ball, instead staying in Ann Arbor to become an assistant coach in football (1928-47) and basketball (1928-38).

He was the head coach of the basketball team from 1938-46 and took over the coaching duties of the football team in 1948, winning a national championship in his first season.

No. 46

Harry Newman, quarterback (1930-32)

Newman quarterbacked the Wolverines during one of the most dominant stretches in program history, compiling a 24-1-2 record in three seasons.

As a senior in 1932, he led Michigan to an undefeated national championship and earned All-American honors. He also one the Douglas Fairbanks Trophy, the predecessor to the Heisman Trophy which was given annually to the Most Outstanding College Player Of The Year and the Chicago Tribune Silver Football Award, given to the Big Ten MVP.

Newman was inducted into the College Football Hall Of Fame in 1975.

No. 45

Pete Elliott, quarterback (1945-47)

Elliott was the starting quarterback of Oosterbaan's first team, leading the Wolverines to an undefeated national championship season and a 49-0 win over Stanford in the Rose Bowl.

He earned All-American honors for the season. Elliott is the only Michigan player to finish his collegiate career with 12 varsity letters, earning four apiece in football, basketball and golf.

Elliott's brother, Bump, also played for the Wolverines and went on to take over as coaching when Oosterbaan stepped down in 1958.

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