Carr: No doubt LaMarr Woodley was going to be great
LaMarr Woodley is likely drawing near the end of his NFL career, signing a two-year deal with Oakland following seven seasons in Pittsburgh, and when it does come to an end, his former coach, Lloyd Carr, will be there to celebrate it.
"I've watched a lot of his pro games, and he's a relentless pass rusher. He is so strong and so powerful, and a wonderful athlete," said Carr. "I don't think anybody involved in his recruiting doubted that he was going to be a great football player, and he was for us. He was, and is, really special."
A five-star, ranked the No. 14 player nationally in the Class of 2003, Woodley was highly sought after, taking visits to Michigan, Michigan State, USC and Oklahoma. However, his final two were U-M and MSU, and both schools recognized he was a potential game-changer.
"I never worked harder in my career to get a recruit," Carr noted. "We had to go until the last few days because Michigan State did a good job staying after him.
"Matter of fact, when he called me a few days before the letter came in, he said, 'Coach, I've decided to go to Michigan State' and I was dead sick because all the indicators were that he was going to come to Michigan, but in recruiting, a lot of things somehow happen, so for like 10-15 seconds I didn't say a word, and then finally he just says, 'I'm just kidding Coach, I'm coming to Michigan.'
"I told him, 'LaMarr, I promise to you that someday I will get even for that.' That was a bad 15 seconds."
Carr recently spoke to TheWolverine.com for a feature in The 2014 Football Preview on Michigan's great pass rushers, of which Woodley ranks third all time with 24 career sacks. He also set the single-season record with 12 in 2006.
Mark Messner ranks first all time with 36 sacks from 1985-88, and he doesn't see that record, or his 70 career tackles for loss, falling anytime soon.
"To break some of my records, you have to have some unbelievable years and it's harder and harder to start as a freshman," he said. "But say you have one or two really good years, you're probably not staying for your senior year.
"To put those numbers together, at least in tackles for loss and sacks, the reason those are still there is because you have to play four years and have four very solid years and most guys won't stick around for that fourth year if they've had three great already."
Had Brandon Graham redshirted in 2006, he might have been a legitimate challenger to Messner's mark. He is the only player in school history to record 8.5 sacks or more in three seasons, and one of only two Wolverines (Messner the other) with a pair of double-digit sack campaigns after notching 10 as a junior and 10.5 as a senior.
As a true freshman, he had just 0.5 sacks, however.
"Brandon was not a finished product when he came to Michigan, but he worked hard and by the time he got into that sophomore year, there was no doubt he was going to be one of the great defensive ends we've ever had at Michigan, and as I watched him the next two years after I retired, he was dominant," Carr said.
Messner's mark of 36 is safe for now. Senior Frank Clark will enter the season with 6.5 in his career while senior linebacker Jake Ryan has seven. Clark could challenge the single-season mark, though, some of U-M's all-time greats say.
"My advice is look at all the great defensive ends, Lawrence Taylor, Reggie White, Simeon Rice, and they basically had one move but they just mastered it," said Glen Steele, who had 24 sacks from 1994-97. "It's good to have a couple in your back pocket, but sometimes when you start to think, that's when you get in trouble. The best pass rushers are guys that just go on instinct."