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August 25, 2013

Countdown To Kickoff: Day 7

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. 24

Butch Woolfolk, tailback (1978-81)

Woolfolk got a little playing time as a freshman, rushing 77 times for 359 yards and two touchdowns. But he really showed flashes of future brilliance in a game vs. Minnesota that season, taking 22 carries for 120 yards (5.5 yards per carry) and a 49-yard touchdown.

Woolfolk took over starting duties as a sophomore, breaking out in 1979 to rush 191 times for 990 yards and 13 touchdowns, including a 92-yard touchdown against Wisconsin.

He held the starting job for three seasons, topping the 1,000-yard mark in both 1980 and 1981 (1,042 yards in '80 and 1,469 in 1981).

After Woolfolk ran for a career-best 253 yards on 39 carries against Michigan State in 1981, coach Bo Schembechler said, I didn't plan on this, but he proved he can do it. Butch is going to be our all-time leading ground gainer. There isn't any way they're going to stop him now. And so be it."

And Woolfolk did go on to set the Michigan rushing record, topping Rob Lytle with 3,850 career rushing yards. He held the record for six seasons, when it was broke by Jamie Morris (4,392).

Woolfolk is now sixth in career rushing yards behind Mike Hart (5,040), Denard Robinson (4,495), Anthony Thomas (4,472), Morris and Tyrone Wheatley (4,178).

In the 1981 Bluebonnet Bowl, Woolfolk's final game as a Wolverine, he ran 27 times for 187 yards and a score, earning game MVP honors in the 33-14 win over UCLA.

Woolfolk was a three-time All-Big Ten performer and earned All-American honors and the team MVP award in 1981.

No. 23

Jamie Morris, tailback (1984-87)

Morris, 5-7, 183, was certainly not the biggest guy on the field, but he didn't let that stop him from putting up huge yardage.

Schembechler once said, "I told Jamie when we recruited him he was too small to be a running back and we wanted him for running back kicks. I did, however, promise him the chance to try to be a running back for us. Good thing I did, isn't it?"

He set records for single-season rushing yards (1,703) and career rushing yards (4,392), both of which have been broken since. He is now fourth in program history in career rushing yards, behind Hart, Robinson and Thomas.

His 1,702 yards in 1987 is now the third-best single-season performance by a Michigan rusher, behind Tim Biakabutuka's 1,818 in 1995 and Thomas' 1,733 in 2000.

But Morris, a skilled kick returner, is still the Michigan all-time leader in career all-purpose yards, with 6,201.

His best statistical game was against Ohio State in 1986, racking up 302 all-purpose yards (210 rushing, 70 kick returns and 22 receiving).

Morris was first-team All-Big Ten in 1986 and 1987. He won the team MVP award in 1987.

No. 22

Ty Law, cornerback (1992-94)

Law finished his three-year career with six career interceptions and 17 pass breakups.

While those aren't eye-popping numbers, they don't accurately depict is importance to the Michigan defense during his career.

Law was such a dominant cover cornerback, he would lock down a team's No. 1 receiver - and opposing quarterbacks refused to throw his way.

Law earned first-team All-American honors in 1994 and was first-team All-Big Ten in 1993 and '94. He finished with 154 career tackles.

Leaving before his senior year, Law was selected by the New England Patriots with the 23rd pick of the first round of the1995 NFL Draft. He played 15 years in the league, making five Pro Bowls.

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