Angelique S. Chengelis of The Detroit News reviews the accomplishments of five of the best linebackers in Michigan history.
Ron Simpkins (1976-79): Simpkins remains Michigan’s all-time leading tackler after setting the mark at 516. He also still holds the single-season tackles record with 174 in 1977, and a year later, he had 168 (tied for third). And in 1979 he had 150 tackles. He was a three-time All-Big Ten selection and a co-captain. Simpkins had 25 games with double-digits tackles and against Ohio State in 1977 he had a single-game best 20 tackles.
Erick Anderson (1988-91): In 1991 he became the only Wolverine to win the Butkus Award as the nation’s top linebacker. That season, he was an All-American and Big Ten co-Defensive Player of the Year. Anderson is the only player in history to lead Michigan in tackling all four seasons and ranked third in the program with 428 career tackles. He helped the Wolverines win or share the Big Ten title all four years he played, and he was All-Big Ten three seasons.
Calvin O’Neal (1974-76): In 1975 he set the single-season record for tackles with 151 that was broken two years later by Ron Simpkins. O’Neal was a co-captain and an All-American in 1976, and he twice earned All-Big Ten status. He has the single-game record of 24 tackles set at Purdue in 1976. O’Neal ranks seventh all-time in career tackles with 378, and he had 16 career double-digit tackle games.
Jarrett Irons (1993-96): A two-time team captain, Irons in 1996 was an All-American and All-Big Ten. Irons finished his career second in tackles (440) behind Ron Simpkins. Irons had 19 career double-digit tackle games, tied for second with Erick Anderson. Irons was a consistent performer during his career as shown by his numbers; he had 95 tackles his first season, then 115, 124 and 106.
Larry Foote (1998-2001): Foote twice was All-Big Ten and in 2001 he was an All-American and the Big Ten’s Defensive Player of the Year. He is tied for second in Michigan history with 26 tackles for loss in a season (2001) and seventh in career tackles for loss with 44. Foote still holds the record for most tackles for loss in a game (seven), set at Iowa in 2001.