Should Michigan football allow freshmen to wear No. 1?
3 freshmen currently listed No. 1 on official roster
DETROIT – It's the most coveted number on one of the most historic uniforms in college football.
And right now, Michigan's official roster shows three freshmen wearing it.
For decades, the No. 1 jersey has been a Michigan football tradition. Anthony Carter put the number on the map when he caught 161 passes for 3,076 yards and 37 touchdowns during his four-year career. When he graduated following the 1982 season, the No. 1 jersey went unused for three years.
In the 35 seasons since, only six players have worn No. 1. The jersey has gone unused for 18 of the last 35 seasons and only NFL second-round draft pick Devin Funchess has worn it this decade.
Former head coach Lloyd Carr valued the tradition as much as any Michigan coach. He made star wide receiver Braylon Edwards wait two years before awarding him the No. 1 jersey. After gaining over 1,000 yards and scoring 10 touchdowns as a sophomore, Edwards slipped on No. 1 and went on to catch 182 passes for 2,468 yards and 19 touchdowns in his final two seasons.
Here's a look at every Michigan player who wore No. 1 as a wide receiver:
Note: Tyrone Butterfield was primarily a kick returner for the 1995 and 1996 Wolverines.
The No. 1 jersey has (usually) been reserved for the best receivers in Michigan football history -- players like Carter and Edwards, who carried the offense. Even Funchess had to establish himself as Michigan's best offensive weapon before earning the number for one season.
But now, it looks like Jim Harbaugh might be ready to put No. 1 back on the field. Maybe even more than once.
Michigan's official football roster lists three incoming freshman as No. 1: Wide receiver Kekoa Crawford, tight end Nick Eubanks and linebacker Elysee Mbem-Bosse.
Crawford is one of the best wide receiver commits on Michigan's roster. He was ranked 23rd among wide receivers in the country, according to Scout.com, and came to Michigan from Santa Margarita, California despite having offers from Stanford, Oregon, California, UCLA, USC and Notre Dame. The four-star is known as a smart player who can be a reliable target, even if he doesn't have elite playmaking potential.
A 6 foot 5 inch tight end, Eubanks fits perfectly into the traditional Harbaugh offense. He's more of a Funchess-type tight end in that he specializes in the receiving game and should develop into a solid short-game target. He came to Michigan as a three-star prospect from Plantation, Florida.
Mbem-Bosse committed to Michigan late in January out of Ellenwood, Georgia. He's 6 foot 3, but has good speed and can get to the edge -- a huge weakness for the Michigan linebacking core in 2015. The three-star had offers from Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Notre Dame, Oklahoma and others, but chose to join his close friend Josh Uche and commit to Michigan.
All three players arrived in Ann Arbor with huge upside, and Harbaugh is a good bet to get the most out of them.
But regardless of their potential, should any incoming freshman wear No. 1?
Harbaugh knows his team better than anyone, so maybe he sees something in Crawford, Eubanks and Mbem-Bosse that pushed him to hand out the jersey. Or maybe he thinks the tradition needs a reset after several years of bad football.
Either way, seeing the No. 1 jersey back on the field will create waves in the Big House, especially if it's on the shoulders of an unknown player. How will a freshman handle that pressure? How will the fans react if he struggles?
With the season opener against Hawaii right around the corner, we won't have to wait long to find out.
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