All-Time Interception Leaders

All-Time Interception Leaders


February 15, 2019
Tom Curtis (image via Pinterest)

Not long ago, I posted a list of the players with the most interception returns for touchdowns in Michigan history (LINK). Here I present the all-time interception leaders for the Wolverines. I meant to post the top 25 only, but the 25th spot is shared by 19 guys. UPDATE: I have added a few names from Michigan’s record book.

  1. 25 – Tom Curtis (1967-1969)
  2. 18 – Charles Woodson (1995-1997)
  3. 13 – Wally Teninga (1945-1949)
  4. 12 – Gene Derricotte (1944-1948)
  5. 12 – Leon Hall (2003-2006)
  6. 11 – Brad Cochran (1983-1985)
  7. 11 – Vada Murray (1988-1990)
  8. 11 – DeWayne Patmon (1997-2000)
  9. 10 – Charlie Lentz (1948-1949)
  10. 10 – Keith Bostic (1980-1982)
  11. 10 – Evan Cooper (1981-1983)
  12. 10 – Lance Dottin (1988-1991)
  13. 10 – Marcus Ray (1995-1998)
  14. 9 – David Brown (1972-1974)
  15. 9 – Mike Jolly (1977-1979)
  16. 9 – Marlin Jackson (2001-2004)
  17. 8 – Dwight Hicks (1975-1977)
  18. 8 – Tony Jackson (1980-1981)
  19. 8 – Tripp Welborne (1988-1990)
  20. 8 – Ty Law (1993-1994)
  21. 8 – Todd Howard (2000-2001)
  22. 7 – Thomas Darden (1969-1971)
  23. 7 – Marion Body (1980-1982)
  24. 7 – Shonte Peoples (1991-1993)
  25. 7 – Steve Morrison (1991-1994)
  26. 7 – Markus Curry (2002-2004)
  27. 7 – Morgan Trent (2005-2008)
  28. 6 – Brian Healy (1967-1969)
  29. 6 – Tom Drake (1973-1974)
  30. 6 – Jerry Zuyer (1976)
  31. 6 – Jim Pickens (1975-1977)
  32. 6 – Michael Harden (1976-1979)
  33. 6 – Andy Cannavino (1978-1980)
  34. 6 – Brian Carpenter (1980-1981)
  35. 6 – Mike Mallory (1983-1984)
  36. 6 – Ivan Hicks (1984-1986)
  37. 6 – Doug Mallory (1984-1987)
  38. 6 – Clarence Thompson (1993-1995)
  39. 6 – James Whitley (1998-2000)
  40. 6 – Garland Rivers (2004-2006)
  41. 6 – Donovan Warren (2007-2009)
  42. 6 – Thomas Gordon (2011-2013)
  43. 6 – Raymon Taylor (2012-2013)
  44. 6 – Blake Countess (2013)
  45. 6 – Jourdan Lewis (2014-2016)
  46. 6 – Channing Stribling (2015-2016)

In case you’re wondering, the current players on the roster most likely to join this list are Lavert Hill (3 career interceptions), Josh Metellus (3), Khaleke Hudson (2), and Ambry Thomas (1).

This was originally posted on February 15, 2019.

8 comments

  1. DonAZ
    Comments: 426
    Joined: 8/12/2015
    DonAZ
    Feb 15, 2019 at 9:48 AM

    This list conjures up a question in my mind … why is it the leader on that list comes from an era where passing was secondary to running? Is it that Tom Curtis was just that good at ball-hawking? Or maybe QBs back then weren’t as good at reading defenses and threw up more INTs in general?

    • Thunder
      Comments: 2910
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Feb 15, 2019 at 11:46 AM

      I think there are a lot of factors, and I have doubts about whether ball-hawking skills were just that out of this world. I could be wrong, of course, because I never saw Tom Curtis play.

      1. The passing game just wasn’t very well refined back then. Teams concentrated on running, and they only threw to a) keep defenses honest and b) try to come back in desperation.
      2. Teams put everyone in the box to stop the run and “max protected,” often sending 1, 2, or 3 guys into routes. Whereas QBs now have up to 5 targets, checkdowns, hot routes, etc., if you’ve got 2 guys running routes and neither one is clearly open, sometimes you just chuck the ball up, even if it might be double coverage.
      3. If your opponent throws the ball 150 times a season with just, say, 2 primary receivers (a flanker and a TE), you might be throwing the ball to the flanker 70 times, meaning the cornerback covering the split end gets 70 chances to intercept it. But here in 2018, if you throw the ball 350 times, you might still target your guy 70 times or more…but you’re moving him into the slot, you’re throwing away from a shutdown corner because you have advance scouting reports and film, you’re throwing smoke screens to him that are very unlikely to get intercepted, etc.

      Also, Michigan’s QBs during that era (Dennis Brown and Don Moorhead) completed 50% and 46.4% of their passes, so like I said above, accuracy and efficiency were not the strong suit at the time. Moorhead had a 22-to-15 TD-to-INT rate on 425 attempts.

  2. GKblue
    Comments: 277
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    GKblue
    Feb 15, 2019 at 2:11 PM

    I would like to commend DonAZ, Thunder and Lanknows for seeing a list of accomplishments/stats and apply some discriminatory weight to them.

    Curtis said that as a former QB he could think like one and read formations. I have been of the opinion that the knowledge and confidence of a former QB is beneficial and we have taken advantage of this both defensively and at TE etc. I think this is a real advantage that Edelman has reading defenses and knowing how to run a pattern, find a seam and come back for the ball to help out Brady at NE.

    Woodson’s athleticism and speed separate him when dealing with the complexity of modern offenses and the willingness of the offenses to simply throw away from him. Can’t forget that.

    However, I gotta add that back in the day when most of our games were never televised a hero like Curtis was just as large, maybe more so as Ufer described him.

    • Thunder
      Comments: 2910
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Feb 15, 2019 at 2:15 PM

      I agree about the QB thing. That’s why I liked Desmond Morgan, Courtney Avery, and others who might have been very nondescript players who never saw the field based on their straight-up athletic talents. But Avery had one good season as the nickel corner, and Morgan had a pretty solid career all-around, even starting for a chunk of his true freshman year. A meh recruit like him probably wouldn’t have been in the mix as a true freshman without having the brains of a QB.

  3. DonAZ
    Comments: 426
    Joined: 8/12/2015
    DonAZ
    Feb 16, 2019 at 8:34 PM

    Speaking of Tom Curtis … according to Wikipedia, Curtis’ daughter Tammi is married to Lloyd Carr’s son Jason.

  4. Avatar
    Comments: 3
    Joined: 7/7/2017
    rdlwolverine
    Feb 17, 2019 at 11:30 AM

    Your list is missing a few old-timers. Wally Teninga had 13 INT from 945-49; Gene Derricotte had 12 from 1944-48;and Charlie Lentz had 10 in 1948-49, with nine of those coming in 1949 alone. http://grfx.cstv.com/photos/schools/mich/sports/m-footbl/auto_pdf/2015-16/misc_non_event/fbl-guide-15-record.pdf

    Another thing to keep in mind is that someone like Tom Curtis had only 3 seasons of 10 regular-season games per year to compile his total and bowl games were rare with Big Ten teams limited only to the Rose Bowl.

You must belogged in to post a comment.