Happy birthday to the tallest man ever to sling the pigskin for the Michigan Wolverines. At six foot, six inches John Robert Navarre was as big as they come. He was also a pretty good player. (Officially, Wilton Speight now shares the title of “Michigan’s Tallest Starting Quarterback” since the 2016 roster lists him a six foot, six inches tall as well!)
John Navarre (#16) came to Ann Arbor from Cudahy, Wisconsin which is a suburb about two miles south of Milwaukee. Navarre grew up on the western shores of Lake Michigan. He was a very successful football player in Wisconsin and came to play quarterback for Lloyd Carr in 1999. After redshirting behind Drew Henson and Tom Brady in 1999 he was thrust into the starting job in 2000 when Henson was injured in fall practice. Young Navarre performed admirably in four consecutive starts, but stayed on the sidelines for the last eight games to watch a healthy Drew Hensen do his thing.
John won the starting job in 2001 and over the next three years led the Wolverines to an overall record of 28 wins, 10 losses and 0 ties. He started a total of thirty-eight games and set numerous Michigan passing records during his last three years at Michigan. Navarre’s record in Big Ten games for the last three years was 19 wins, 5 losses and 0 ties. After leading his team to back-to-back second place finishes in 2001 and 2002, he capped his career with a conference championship in 2003.
John Navarre finished his Michigan as an All-Big Ten quarterback and was honored by his teammates when he was named as a team captain in 2003 along with Grant Bowman and Carl Diggs. As a Junior, he was named the Meyer Morton Award winner for his continued development and future promise. John Navarre also received the Robert Ufer Award at the end of the 2003 season for his enthusiasm and love for Michigan football.
It is only fitting that the “biggest quarterback” in the history of Michigan football was the one to lead the “biggest comeback” (21 points) in team history. Check out the great You Tube video below to see how the visiting Wolverines stunned the Gophers on a Friday night in the “Dome.” Also, check out the great article and pictures in Bruce Madej’s “Where Are they Now?” link.
So, Happy Birthday John Navarre and thanks for some great Maize and Blue memories!