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All-Time Michigan Basketball Players As Football Players

Which former Wolverine hoopers would make good basketball players? Here's a starting offense and defense worth discussing.

Michigan football pays the bills, butters the bread and greases the wheel. However you want to put it, Michigan football is king. That's why when the offseason rolls around, it still needs to be talked about. Obviously the Jim Harbaugh situation is the elephant in the room right now, but with no new, concrete updates to report about, we have to get a little creative from time to time.

With the NFL playoffs starting this week while the NBA season is in full swing, I saw a random tweet that asked which NBA players would make good football players. It made for some interesting chatter and I immediately thought about which former Michigan basketball players would make good football players. So without further ado, here's a starting offense and defense using Michigan basketball players going back to the 1980s (when I was actually alive).

Offense

QB - Trey Burke

One of the best to ever do it at Michigan, Burke embodies everything you want in a quarterback — leadership, moxie, determination, competitiveness, a high IQ and the "it" factor. Just think about transferring Burke's numerous clutch shots, timely plays, scrappy encounters and incredible vision from the hardwood to the gridiron. I just have a feeling he'd win a lot more than he'd lose. I'm not sure how far he can throw a football, but he was a hell of a shooter at Michigan and if he had to use his legs, he's fast, quick and very decisive. I'd let him run my offense any day. 

RB - Frankie Collins

At 6-1, 185 pounds, Collins looks like a running back. He's got big, strong legs, really knows how to get downhill and is extremely explosive both as a runner and as a leaper. As a point guard, he's got good vision and knows how to value the ball as well. I really like Collins' build and willingness to go to the basket hard as traits I'd like in my running back. 

WR - Charles Matthews

Matthews obviously transferred to Michigan but he became a fan favorite because of his athleticism and bounce — two things that all wide receivers should possess. At 6-6, 205 pounds, Matthews can fly, both along the ground and through the air. He also has great hands as evidenced by his ability to catch lobs. He'd be a problem on the outside.

WR - Tim Hardaway Jr.

Another 6-6, 205-pounder, Hardaway Jr. also can really run and has great bounce. He's a little more muscular than Matthews, which makes him the perfect compliment. He could be a deep threat along with Matthews or settle in as more of a possession guy who makes plays after the catch. 

Slot - Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman

It's fun to think about MAAR on the football field because he might be the fastest guy on this entire roster. Obviously as a basketball player he's a little tall for a slot receiver, but at 6-4, 190 pounds he's got incredible speed and quickness and always put that on display as a slasher who could get to the rim at will. Those characteristics would likely make him great in and out of his breaks and after the catch on short and intermediate routes.

TE - Mitch McGary

At 6-10, 255 pounds, McGary is a unit. He's got great size, great feet, soft hands and plenty of athleticism for his size. With a skill set like that, he's basically Travis Kelce, right? Ok, maybe he's not quite that athletic but as a tight end he'd be a lot to handle. It would be interesting to see if he could block because it definitely seems like he'd be able to run routes and catch the ball consistently.

LT - Jon Teske

It gets a little tricky with the linemen because these dudes are just so tall, but isn't it fun picturing 7-1, 265-pound Teske protecting Trey Burke's blind side with monstrous kick steps and those long arms? Teske doesn't have the quickest feet in the world but it would be hard for any edge rusher to get around someone that long.

LG - Ricky Doyle

Doyle finished his career at Florida Gulf Coast but while at Michigan he showed that he can be a strong, wide body in the post. At 6-9, 250 pounds with those big, wide shoulders, he'd make a great interior lineman. He might need to pack on another 40 or 50 pounds, but he's got the frame to do it.

C - Max Bielfeldt

Remember Max Bielfeldt? Remember Max Bielfeldt's calves? I'm not sure if he's ever snapped a ball in his life but at 6-8, 245 pounds and with those tree trunk legs, I'm sure he could move some people off the line. He finished his basketball career at Indiana, but would be a lot of fun to watch at Michigan in the winged helmet.

RG - Austin Davis

Big. Country. I actually had Davis at a few different spots when putting this team together but I quickly realized that there's just not that much beef on basketball rosters so guard is where he lands. At 6-10, 250 pounds he's got great size and, according to every post player that ever played against him, he's as strong as an ox. Davis has never been billed as a great athlete, so guard suits him better than tackle even though he actually looks like some young OTs before the bulk up.

RT - Terry Mills

Mills was listed at 6-10, 230 pounds while at Michigan, but pumped up to 280 while in the NBA. If we're talking about taking T Mills in his prime, he'd be damn near as big as some college offensive tackles. He's not very fleet of foot but he's got long arms, great size and pretty solid feet. Again, these dudes are all tall as hell and not very hefty, but it's still pretty fun to think about how their skills would translate.

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Defense

DE - Chris Webber

For obvious reasons, Webber might be the most intriguing player on this list. He's 6-9, 245 pounds, very athletic and twitchy, with long arms and huge hands. He's got defensive end written all over him. Just think about how good he would be at batting balls down if he couldn't get home. I would actually love to see a prime C Webb go through some pass rushing drills. He'd probably be pretty damn effective.

DT - Robert Traylor

If Webber is the most intriguing, Traylor might be the biggest no brainer. While at Michigan, Traylor checked in at about 6-8, 285 pounds but he blew past 300 pounds after his collegiate career. He was always billed as a very quick, athletic big man and awed people with his burst, not only because of his size but because of his build. Tractor Traylor was overweight for a basketball player, but he succeeded because he was a rare athlete. That sounds like a professional defensive tackle all day long.

Rest in peace, Tractor.

DE - Jordan Morgan

When Morgan got to Michigan he didn't look like much, but by the time he finished at U-M he was a chiseled 250 pounds at 6-8. He's not as athletic as Webber, but he's close and he's just as big. He always ran the floor very well for a big guys and had a knack for banging with dudes much bigger than him. If he could do those things on the football field, he'd rack up sacks in a hurry.

OLB - DeShawn Sims

I decided to go with a 3-4 base defense since there really isn't anyone else who could play along the interior of a defensive line. That means four linebackers, including 6-8, 235-pound DeShawn Sims. In a 3-4, this is the Aidan Hutchinson, David Ojabo type, so Sims qualifies. He was a plus athlete with long arms and fluid body control. If he hit the weight room hard in order to prepare for football, he could probably be 265 pounds and look pretty similar to Hutchinson. 

MLB - Chaundee Brown

Of everyone on this roster, Chaundee Brown might be the most like a football player. Brown is 6-5 and 215 pounds of rocked up muscle. He always played tenacious defense while at Michigan and had no problem stepping in and taking charges. He can run, jump, move side to side and always had solid hands. Those are all very nice traits for a middle linebacker.

MLB - Zack Novak

I mean look at that picture, you're not not having that guy on your football team.

zack novak

At 6-4, 210 pounds, Novak has pretty good size for a middle linebacker and as all Michigan fans remember, he had no problem taking on dudes much, much bigger than him. He's hard-nosed, smart, scrappy and a really good leader. That's the kind of guy you want in the middle of your defense making calls, taking on guards and fullbacks and sticking his face in the fan.

OLB - Ray Jackson

Jackson was one of the last people I put on the team because frankly, I forgot how big he was. At 6-6, 220 pounds, he's plenty big enough to play the hybrid/edge role. Jackson was the unsung member of the Fab Five but he was really good at everything on the basketball court. He's strong, smart, athletic and can really defend. That's the kind of skill set that translates well to a hybrid linebacker in today's world of football.

CB - Derrick Walton

I like cornerbacks who are just like Walton — 6-0, 190 pounds, long arms, quick feet and hands, feisty, smart, tough and always up for the challenge. Walton was never the most heralded guy on the court but he acted like he was. That's how cornerbacks have to play. They are often left on islands against some of the best athletes on the field and have to rise to the occasion. I'd trust Walton to do just that.

CB - Zavier Simpson

The same goes for Simpson. I remember when Simpson took over at point guard for Walton, I thought they were very similar players in terms of their size and overall disposition. Walton was better on offense, while Simpson was more of a dog on defense, but both could do both at a high level. Because of that, I think Simpson might be a little more wired for football. In my opinion, he's a little grittier but not quite as long or smooth. He's just as athletic and has a lot of the same qualities that Walton does, though in terms of getting after it. Between the two, I see Walton being more of a true cover guy, while Simpson would be more physical, sticky and bothersome. I like both kinds of corners.

FS - Glenn Robinson III

I love the idea of GR3 roaming the deep part of my secondary. At 6-6, 220 pounds with about a 45 inch vertical, I can see him being extremely rangy and able to go up and make special plays. We know he has good timing when it comes to high pointing the ball because we've seen him do it on alley oops and as a rebounder. I'm not sure how physical he'd be, but he's got ballhawk written all over him.

SS - Jimmy King

King has a lot of the same qualities as Robinson when it comes to his size (6-5, 210 pounds) and athletic ability. He probably can't jump quite as high, but he can absolutely run and get off the ground with the best of them. I like him at strong safety because he has that grimy feel. King is a scrapper and would have no problem laying someone out if they came over the middle of the field. Couple that mentality with the ability to make plays on the ball and you have your startign strong safety.