Panther fans don’t think of Michigan as a big feeder school for their franchise. In fact, there have only been six Wolverines to ever play for the Killer Kitties, but one stands out from the early days of the franchise. Tshimanga "Tim" Biakabutuka put himself and Carolina on the map very early on, etching his name into the memories of the faithful from 1996 to 2001. Back then, Michigan had a lot of skill guys making a lot of noise in Ann Arbor on their way to the NFL. Desmond Howard, Jason Avant, David Terrell, Braylon Edwards, and Mario Manningham all went on to catch passes on Sunday (I guess you could say that Charles Woodson tries to catch passes too), and Jim Harbaugh, Elvis Grbac, Todd Collins, Brian Griese, Chad Henne, and Tom Brady were the ones throwing to them during their tenure.
This year, the Maize and Blue is fielding a group of guys that work in the trenches, and they’re hoping they can make a living at it. Leading the way is Rimington Trophy winner David Molk along with fellow OL Mark Huyge, whose size and speed (6-6, 305, 5.0) makes him worthy of a Panther shopping list. At the tight end position, Kevin Koger and Steve Watson have the prototypical size for the job (both at 6-4 and 255), but they weren’t headline grabbers in that they didn’t get the ball much. After a year that saw the emergence of Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham as fantasy monsters, we can’t forget that a tight end has the mundane blocking tasks that fill out their job descriptions. Conway, SC native Junior Hemingway is the lone skill player on the Michigan roster at WR, who was invited to the combine after being named the Sugar Bowl MVP last month. On the other side of the ball, NT Mike Martin is on the list for Indianapolis and DE Ryan van Bergen will likely need to wear a suit on draft day.
Which brings us to what the Panthers need. Longtime readers of CSR and charter members of the Panther fan club will know better than I, and will likely have many different opinions. One thing is for certain: they need quite a bit after a 6-10 season, and it is conceivable that there might be room for a Wolverine in a Panther locker room.