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August 20, 2013

Countdown To Kickoff: Day 12

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. 41

Rob Lytle, tailback (1973-76)

Lytle's freshman year did not foreshadow his dynamic future. He rushed just three times for six yards in 1973 - but it didn't take long for Lytle to burst onto the scene as a sophomore.

In 1974, he racked up 140 carries for 802 yards and two touchdowns, averaging 5.7 yards per carry - impressive numbers, to be sure.

But that wasn't enough for Lytle, putting together back-to-back 1,000-yard campaigns in 1975 and '76. Lytle is one of just nine players in Michigan history with multiple 1,000-yard seasons (Anthony Thomas, Jamie Morris, Denard Robinson, Chris Perry, Mike Hart, Butch Woolfolk, Gordon Bell and Tyrone Wheatley).

Lytle rushed 193 times for 1,030 yards and 10 scores as a junior and set a Michigan record with 1,469 yards in 1976 (on 221 attempts with 14 scores). That record stood until Jamie Morris racked up 1,703 rushing yards in 1987.

Lytle's 3,307 career rushing yards set a new Michigan record, too. That stood until Butch Woolfolk finished his career with 3,861 yards in 1981.

Lytle earned first-team All-American honors for his impressive senior season, and he finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting behind winner Tony Dorsett and Ricky Bell.

No. 40

Ron Johnson, halfback (1966-68)

Johnson still holds a Michigan program record that may stand for a long, long time.

On Nov. 16, 1968, he obliterated the Wisconsin defense for 347 rushing yards, setting an NCAA single-game record (which stood for three years).

The record is now held by LaDainian Tomlinson, who rushed for 406 yards in a single game in 1999.

The closest a Wolverine has gotten to the 347-yard mark was Tim Biakabutuka, who ran for 313 yards against Ohio State in 1995. Those two marks are the only single-game performances above 300 yards in Michigan history.

Johnson also ran for 270 yards against Navy in 1967, which, at the time, set the Michigan single-game record. That performance currently ranks fourth in single-season program history.

Johnson finished the 1968 season with 255 carries for 1,391 yards and 19 touchdowns, earning first-team All-American honors and finishing sixth in the Heisman voting.

He racked up 477 carries for 2,417 yards and 25 touchdowns in his career.

No. 39

Henry Hill, defensive guard (1968-70)

Hill, 5-10, 200, wasn't the biggest guy on the field.

A tight end at Martin Luther King High School in Detroit, Mich., Hill wasn't heavily recruited. He attended Michigan on a Michigan Opportunity Grant, a scholarship that sent kids from underprivileged areas to college and tried out as a walk-on for the football team.

He quit the freshman football team midway through the 1967, but made the cuts at the 1968 tryouts.

He played in 10 games as a sophomore, with seven starts, and racked up 72 tackles and 16 tackles for loss.

Hill started 21 games over the next two seasons, tallying a total of 159 tackles. He earned All-American honors in 1970.

Hill was voted by his teammates as the team defensive captain as a senior and was given Michigan MVP honors at the end of the year.

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