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August 29, 2013

Countdown To Kickoff: Day 3

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 3-4 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. 10

Tom Brady, quarterback (1996-99)

When Tom Brady first arrived in Ann Arbor, no one predicted he'd turn into the legend he has become.

At one point in his first two years - which included the 1997 national championship season - Brady was seventh on the depth chart. Struggling to stand out, and finding it hard to find playing time, Brady, a California native, considered transferring back home to Cal.

Brady stuck it out and earned the starting nod over highly touted quarterback Drew Henson in 1998 and 1999.

The Wolverines dropped their first two games with Brady under center (36-20 to Notre Dame and 38-28 to Syracuse), but Brady tossed for 371 yards in those games.

He - and the Wolverines - broke out after that. Michigan won 10 of the next 11 games (including a 45-31 win over Arkansas in the Citrus Bowl) to earn a share of the Big Ten crown.

That season, Brady set a program record for completions in a single season (214), a record that is now held by John Navarre (270).

Brady earned All-Big Ten honors that season, and was voted team captain before the 1999 season. He once again complete 214 passes in 1999, earning All-Big Ten honors.

In his final game with the Wolverines, Brady tossed for 369 yards in a 35-34 overtime win over Alabama in the Orange Bowl to cap a terrific 10-2 season.

The Wolverines went 20-5 during Brady's starting tenure. He is seventh in Michigan program history with 5,351 career passing yards.

No. 9

Dennis Franklin, quarterback (1972-74)

Franklin, a native of Ohio, came north to play for the Wolverines and was a three-year starter at quarterback.

During his three years under center, the Wolverines went an incredible 30-2-1 and won at least a share of three Big Ten Championships.

He was the first player since Tom Hamon to lead Michigan in passing and total offensive for three consecutive season.

He finished his career with 2,285 passing yards and 18 touchdowns and 1,212 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns.

In 1974, he was voted team captain and earned All-American honors while finishing sixth in the Heisman voting.

No. 8

Jason Avant, wide receiver (2002-05)

During his first two years as a starter, Avant was a reliable No. 2 receiving weapon behind standout Braylon Edwards. In those two years, Avant compiled 85 catches for 1,219 yards and five touchdowns.

Once Edwards graduated, it was Avant's time to shine - and he took the message to heart.

In 2005, Avant hauled in an incredible 82 passes for 1,007 yards and eight touchdowns, coming close to doubling his career statistical output in one season.

Avant's 2005 season marks one of just 12 instances in which a Michigan receiver topped 1,000 yards on a season.

He was a semifinalist for the Blietnikoff Award, which Edwards won the year before, earned honorable mention All-American distinction and was named the Michigan MVP after the season.

Avant, who still plays for the Philadelphia Eagles, has compiled 259 catches for 3,199 yards and 10 touchdowns in the NFL.

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