John Navarre: The Wolverines' All-Time Leading Passer
Michigan has rightfully earned the title of Quarterback U and of all the great signal callers that have donned the maize and blue Navarre leads the pack in almost every major passing category.
Navarre (2000-2003) is Michigan's all-time leader in passes attempted, passes completed, passing yardage and passes for touchdowns. He also holds the single-season marks in the first three categories as well. A three-year full-time starter, the team went 28-10 from 2001-2003 with a Big 10 Championship and a trip to the Rose Bowl in 2003. Nevertheless, many die-hard Wolverine fans are reluctant to give much respect to the accomplishments of the 6'6" QB from Cudahy, Wisconsin. Those skeptics bemoan the fact that the team did not achieve more success during the "Navarre years" such as winning another Big 10 title or winning a Rose Bowl game. What these skeptics seem to conveniently forget, however, is that there is only so much that one player can accomplish on his own. Navarre's gaudy statistics demonstrate that he upheld his part of the bargain.
Navarre was thrown into a tough situation in 2001 as a redshirt sophmore when Drew Henson left suddenly and Navarre became the starter a year earlier than expected. Although Navarre had started the first 4 games of the previous season for an injured Henson, it was still a big responsiblity to inherit the job full-time on such short notice as a young quarterback. Navarre responded like a big-time player as he posted very solid numbers: 207 completions(#7 single-season best total in U-M history); 385 attempts (#4 single-season total); 2,435 yards (#10 single-season total); and 19 touchdowns (#8 single-season total). Although the Wolverines only finished 8-4 in 2001, that season gave them a foundation on which to build for the following seasons.
Navarre led Michigan to consecutive 10-3 seasons in 2002 and 2003. In 2002, Navarre's redshirt junior year, he set Michigan single-season passing records for passes attempted (448), passes completed (248) and passing yardage (2,905). In his 5th yr./senior year of 2003, Navarre broke each of those single-season records as he set new standards for passes attempted (456), passes completed (270) and passing yardage (3,331). Navarre is the only QB in Michigan history to pass for more than 3,000 yards in a season. In his career, Navarre amassed 9,254 passing yards while the passer ranked #2 on the all-time yardage list did not even amass 6,500. (As an aside, Chad Henne has passed for 5,269 yards in two seasons and has a good shot of passing Navarre's all-time yardage mark if he stays and stays healthy for the next two seasons).
The often harsh criticism of Navarre is unwarranted. As previously noted, Michigan won a Big 10 Championship and made a trip to the Rose Bowl during his senior year. Furthermore, as borne out by the statistics outlined above, Navarre played at a high level during his three-year plus stint guiding the Wolverines. Navarre should be accorded the proper respect due him after such a stellar career leading the Wolverines. Go Blue!