Mike Lantry, 1972
First, the most relevant: Clayton Richard will return in the fall, according to the Detroit News. He's also sporting a 0.46 ERA so far for the baseball team, which I hear is good. Richard will almost definitely be the #3 QB since he has taken the spring off and Gutierrez has recovered enough throwing ability for the coaches to be confident enough to throw him out there.
And with the draft closing in this weekend, everyone is talking about it. Including Marlin Jackson, who had an extensive chat at ESPN.com. I usually skim these things since they don't contain any piercing questions about the defensive breakdowns at the end of last year, and when they do, they work out like this:
guenther(ann arbor): What happened to you guys in the Rose Bowl this year? It seems like you guys couldnt stop Vince Young
Marlin Jackson: You nailed it. We just couldn't contain him and he won the game by himself.
But if you're interested, it's here.
NBCSports, long the eeevil propaganda arm of the flagging Notre Dame football program, has listed Braylon Edwards as a top-5 bust candidate. The snippet on Edwards then damns him by comparing him to... Keyshawn Johnson? Um. The same Keyshawn Johnson with almost 9,000 recieving yards? Weird. It does not mention Edwards' tendency to drop routine balls, which should be the #1 negative mentioned by everybody. No research! Just like I said!
Stewart Mandel at CNNSI has come down on the other side of the coin about Ernest Shazor, labelling him underrated in his latest column. This I am not so sure about, since he's probably going to go in the second round, which is about as high as safeties ever go. One or two a year slip into the first but it's usually the late first. Shazor's valued about where I would take him.
Finally, the Ann Arbor News has an mgoblog-worthy brick of a story on the new trend for players to ship themselves off to specialized NFL-draft boot camps in the hopes of pushing their numbers in the right direction. It contains a quote sure to set some of the strength-and-conditioning doom-and-gloomers' heads afire:
NFL agent John Drana, who represents 2004 draft choices Navarre and former Michigan offensive lineman Tony Pape, said, "If my son was a University of Michigan football player looking at the prospect of being drafted, I would tell him to stay put, don't leave campus. (Michigan strength and conditioning coach) Mike Gittleson is one of the best, if not the best, in the country."
Now, he's an agent so there's no reason to believe he actually believes anything he says. But I like tweaking people who think that the reason Michigan hasn't won 10 straight national championships is Gittleson. The parade of offensive linemen who leave Michigan and immediately claim starting jobs in the NFL should make it clear that Michigan's S&C program is at least as good as the ones at comparable schools across the country. The S&C is not a pressing concern in light of the fact someone like Cato-friggin'-June is the leading tackler of the Colts. June couldn't tackle a dead goat at Michigan, and it wasn't because he was lifting weights differently than the guys at USC.
The NFL Draft is this weekend. I plan on half-paying attention for a while, then checking back on what happens later. But now is the time where I must put my life... er, my reputation, uh... nothing in particular on the line! I'll do this by making predictions related to the draft which will be unerringly incorrect.
Braylon Edwards - goes second to Tampa or the Vikes after a trade. Miami has a glaring need at RB but there isn't a whole lot of difference between the top guys and they'll get one after a trade down.
Marlin Jackson - falls a little bit. Ends up last pick of the first round to the Patriots.
David Baas - goes to the Titans at #37.
Ernest Shazor - Taken in the 2nd round by the Steelers at #62.
Marcus Curry - undrafted.
Roy Manning - undrafted.
Kevin Dudley - goes in the 7th. No idea where.
First Round: They'll take LB Derrick Johnson if he's around, otherwise they'll try to trade down into a good spot to take one of the defensive ends or offensive tackles.
Second Round:DE Matt Roth of Iowa or LSU's CB Corey Webster
Third Round: QB Adrian McPherson from FSU or OT Mike Munoz of Tennessee.
Rodgers falls like a stone. One of the big three running backs, probably Benson, slips out of the top 10. The Bengals take someone way too high. The Raiders take Clarett in round 6. I giggle and pretend I'm retarded when/if Timmy Chang gets drafted. Someone jumps in front of the Redskins at #25 to grab Jason Campbell. Andrew Walter is the best quarterback out of this draft. Alex Smith is a bust of epic proportions.
Check back Monday to see how flagrantly wrong I was. Except about the Alex Smith busty-thing. Check back in five years for that.
EA didn't get the memo on Mike Hart. IGN has some screenshots up of the latest version of NCAA Football and included is this beauty:
Run, David, run! Uh. That dude should be much smaller and wearing number 20. Then there's this one:
This picture is very wrong--it shows Agim Shabaj actually in possession of a ball. The picture should show the ball bouncing along the ground and Shabaj trash-talking for no apparent reason. Also, Shabaj is being tackled by a guy wearing either 12 (decidedly non-black Matt Gutierrez) or 17 (Carl Tabb). The picture does show Ernest Shazor wildly out of position, though, so it has some accuracy to it.
Apparently the big new added feature this year is going to be a "Heisman" mode where you progress through a career as a player instead of a coach, going from a passing camp where your performance will dictate whether you get offered by Trojans of USC or the Trojans of Troy. I think I'd settle for a difficulty level between the incredibly easy All-American and the maniacally difficult Heisman. I can't really get into NCAA any more because I have a choice between annihilating everyone I come across or swearing repeatedly, throwing the controller, turning the Playstation off, and hiding the game so that I don't play it any more (this is NOT an exagerration). Can we have a difficulty level where I can win at home against Vanderbilt but not on the road against Florida? Maybe?
Interesting hockey stuff is coming with great frequency these days. May it last all summer... er, as long as it doesn't include stuff like "Tambellini signs with LA. (You bastards!)"
There's an interesting thread on hockeysfuture.com discussing incoming recruit Andrew Cogliano. HF's boards are an interesting mix of idiotic Canadian 13-year-olds and people who really know what they're talking about, and you can see the difference in that thread. Two people chime in on Cogliano who know quite a bit about hockey.
Canadian hockey journalist extraordinare Bob McKenzie's take:
...I watched him play about 60 plus games this year and let me assure you it is my opinion that there isn't a scared bone in his body (very, very competitive when it matters most) and he regularly pays the price to score goals or to set them up. As with all offensive players, his defensive game needs some work, but I would not say it's a really weak part of his game at all. IMO, the only knock he's going to get is his size, but a lot of scouts I've talked to about him aren't all that concerned for two reasons. One, world class speed. Two, very, very strong, both in terms of strength on his skates and strength (core stability) in fending off hits and playing in traffic. Lots to learn, but he's a great kid from a great family and the upside on this kid is tremendous. If there's a draft, I'll be shocked if he's not a solid first rounder in spite of his height. Dynamic speed, good goal-scoring ability, great playmaking ability, fearless, competitive and a character player, IMHO.
Now, it should be stated that McKenzie is not a disinterested observer here. His son Mike plays on the Buzzers with Cogliano (he's heading to St. Lawrence in '06), so he probably knows Cogliano quite well.
Second is a guy known only as "moosefan." I've been reading HF's boards for years and it's clear that he is a scout of some sort, probably for a junior team. He attends all the important events for kids in Cogliano's age range. He's seen him... a lot. His take:
I have seen Cogliano play many times, I really like him myself. IMO he is possibly up there with Brule, Ryan for overall talent. He and Bertram are the two fastest in the draft, and I would put Coglianos goal scoring ability up there with Brules. I think Cogliano is one of those players that if he goes around 15th to 25th overall in about 4 years teams are going to look back and say "why wasn't he drafted in the top 10 of the draft"
I think myself he would have been better off playing in in the USHL. But he can't change that now so...but this guy proved himself at the U17s last year in NFLD and at the U18s in the summer as one of the best offensive talents that Canada has for his age group...so really I don't think there is going to be much to worry about with him. The only concern I had with him and I don't know if he fixed it or not was his emotions on the ice...I found when I seen him play that he would sulk alot to the ref and try to get his way on the ice, and I found he would overract sometimes over nothing...he may have fixed this I don't know. But I do know that it was said he is scared...well to me I never seen that as he was in traffic and everything so I wouldn't worry about that.
But to me this guy is going to be a world class talent.
That should get you *very* excited to see this kid in a Michigan jersey. He was regarded as a top-10 pick when he committed to Michigan a year or so ago and he has that talent. Concerns about the level of competition he's facing and his size may knock him down to the late first round, but Cogliano will be coming in with more talent than anyone since Brendan Morrison.
Also, the NHL is going to try to bump back their draft age by about nine months so according to, uh, that Bob McKenzie guy. Right now anyone born before September 15th of the appropriate year is draft-eligible, which is extremely confusing to a lot of people. The NHL would like everyone born in a particular year to be draft eligible the same year, and they aren't keen on having 17-year-olds in the draft, so back it goes.
This should be a net benefit for colleges, as most players will now have the opportunity to prove themselves in their freshman year of college before being drafted. This should reduce pressure on players to take the pro-now CHL route. The USHL's emergence is also helping in this regard, as obliquely referred to by moosefan in the above cut and paste. They've moved to "Tier 1," which basically means they're spending more money, and that coupled with the collapse of the NAHL has really improved the level of play in the USHL. The hockey community is picking up on it, too. The USHL is clearly a notch above other junior leagues like the BCHL, AJHL, OPJHL, and NAHL and is attracting a fair share of top-notch talent. If the USHL continues to improve another incentive to head to the CHL--the ability to play high quality hockey at age 16--will evaporate and more high-end kids will find the NCAA route attractive.
Finally, the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle has an extensive article on goalie recruit Billy Sauer with good news and bad news wrapped up in one little factoid: four colleges were recruting Sauer for '05, Harvard, BC, BU, and Michigan. That's a hell of a list of colleges pressing you to enter school early, which speaks well to Sauer's talent. It also implies that if Montoya returns and Sauer is asked to defer his enrollment a year that he'll have at least three sets of coaches in his ear about pulling a Lerg. Will he? Eh... probably not. And Michigan sounds like it has another excellent goalie coming in in Steve Jakiel, so losing him would not be a disaster, but it would certainly be a blow.
1. Lamar Woodley (Jr.) / Tim Jamison (R. Fr.)
2. Pierre Woods (R. Sr.) / Jeremy Van Alstyne (R. Jr.)
3. Rondell Biggs (R. Jr.) / James McKinney (Fr.)
The spot opposite Woodley is one of the biggest tossups on the entire team--expect the battle for that spot to last well into the season. Van Alstyne, Jamison, and Woods all have legitimate shots at the position. The prediction here is that Jamison emerges by midseason, Van Alstyne gets a share of time, and that Woods rides off into "what could have been" history, taking his place in the Colossal Waste of Talent hall of fame next to David Bowens and Kelly Baraka.
1. Gabe Watson (Sr.) / Pat Massey (R. Sr.)
2. Alan Branch (So.) / Will Johnson (R. Fr.)
3. Marques Walton (R. Fr.) / Will Paul (R. So.)
4. Terrance Taylor (Fr.) / Marques Slocum (Fr.)
All eight of these players could see time this fall. Branch was impressive in limited time as a freshman and continued his strong play into the spring. He will probably see extensive time spelling the two starters. Will Johnson seems healed from an ACL tear and has a size/speed combination rarely seen in defensive tackles. Walton and Paul have generated a minor amount of buzz.
Then you have the two freshmen. Taylor will be ready to play in the fall. He'll step on the practice field as Michigan's strongest defensive lineman. Slocum is also a candidate to see immediate time. With six linemen capable of playing in front of them, Michigan will have to quickly assess whether its worth burning redshirt years for Taylor and Slocum.
1. Chris Graham (So.) / David Harris (R. Jr.) / Prescott Burgess (Jr.)
2. Jacob Stewart (R. Jr.) / Scott McClintock (R. Sr.) / Shawn Crable (R. So.)
3. Brandon Logan (Fr.) / John Thompson (R. Fr.) / Pierre Woods (R. Sr.)
The linebackers were far and away the team's most disappointing position group last year. Pierre Woods went AWOL, Lawrence Reid was slowed by a degenerative neck condition that eventually ended his career, and Scott McClintock was all right but nothing special. Next year Michigan seems prepared to throw out three super athletes and see what sticks.
Graham has generated immense buzz since his arrival at Michigan and has a solid lock on the weakside linebacker position. Graham's probably only 5'10" but can fly and arrive with a pop. Harris was looking very good two years ago when he suffered an ACL tear. He's a better athlete than McClintock and will probably split time with him this year; McClintock is the most proven linebacker in pass defense (2 interceptions and 6 PBU's last year) but lacks big-play ability. The strongside position will be Burgess's first opportunity to prove that his five-star rating was for real. He's more of a weakside athlete but since Graham has a death-grip on that spot he'll have to play over the tight end. Crable will also figure in here and potentially as a pass-rushing defensive end.
1. Leon Hall (Jr.) / Grant Mason (Sr.)
2. Brandon Harrison (Fr.) / Charles Stewart (R. Fr.)
3. Darnell Hood (R. Jr.)/ Morgan Trent (R. Fr.)
The thinnest area on the team by a country mile. Lloyd Carr did recently say that Leon Hall "had a chance to be one of the best cornerbacks we've ever had here." mgoblog isn't buying that, but Hall has the capability to be a solid All Big Ten-type in the Jeremy LeSeuer mode. Grant Mason has a season's worth of experience as a nickel/dime back and will probably be all right in a starting role. Past that there is a lot of nothin'. Michigan WRs have been torching the DBs all spring and while it would be nice to think that everyone on the offensive side of the ball is Jerry Rice, the truth probably isn't so nice. Michigan has a major depth issue at CB. Brandon Harrison will be given every opporunity to leap into playing time this fall. Johnny Sears will also be given a close look, but he's probably headed for a redshirt since he's so raw.
1. Ryan Mundy (Jr.) / Brandent Engelmon (R. So.)
2. Willis Barringer (R. Jr.) / Jamar Adams (So.)
The strong safety position is another that probably won't be resolved until midseason. Jamar Adams seemed like Shazor's heir apparent last year but made a couple of glaring errors when he saw the field late in the year. Engelmon has made a push. Michigan seems to want to give the physically imposing Adams the job, but Engelmon is probably the smartest kid on the team and would be the safer choice. After the spate of huge plays the defense gave up last year, Michigan will likely err on the side of caution and Engelmon will win the job.
Mundy will be the free safety. He'll have to improve his tackling and angles to become a net benefit. There has been some mention that Mundy has been playing well, but not a ton.
That's Wild Ass Guess for those of you needing some unabbreviation help. This two deep is largely unchanged from the one posted right after the season's end. The major differences lie in the offensive line, which has been shuffling people all over the place due to injury, and fullback, which has the notable omission of Ryan Allison, who is unlikely to play this year with a nerve condition. At least, it's probably Allison... Carr referred to someone sitting out for an extended period of time, and all signs point to Allison as the unfortunate player.
1. Chad Henne (So.)
2. Matt Gutierrez (R. Jr.)
3. Clayton Richard (R. So.)
4. Jason Forcier (Fr)
No surprises here. Forcier will redshirt unless something catastrophic happens. Gutierrez has returned to the field but is unlikely to unseat Henne as the starter.
1. Mike Hart (So.)
2. Kevin Grady (Fr.)
3. Max Martin (So.)
4. Jerome Jackson (Jr.)
Also no surprises here. Grady has come in and impressed. He keeps getting smaller and heavier (probably about 5'8", 230). At this rate by the time he steps onto the field in September he'll have an event horizon.
1. Obi Oluigbo (R. Jr.)
2. Brian Thompson (R. Jr.)
3. Mike Massey (R. Fr.)
Allison's disappointing injury situation has thrust Oluigbo into the starting spot for the time being, but reports are that he is strictly a blocker--as was Dudley. Mike Massey has practiced some as an Aaron-Shea-esque H-back but blocking isn't a strong suit for him yet.
1. Jason Avant (Sr.)/ Steve Breaston (R. Jr.)
2. Doug Dutch (R. Fr.)/ Carl Tabb (R. Jr.)
3. Adrian Arrington (So.)/ Mario Manningham (Fr.)
4. Antonio Bass (Fr.) / LaTerryal Savoy (Fr.)
All accounts of the spring have had Dutch as one of the standout performers. Tabb over Arrington is a guess. Tabb is a burner who's made some nice plays in the past--most notably a couple of key catches against OSU in '03 when Avant got injured. He was banged up last year. If healthy I think the staff will go back to him.
1. Tim Massaquoi (R. Sr.)
2. Tyler Ecker (R. Jr.)
3. Mike Massey (R. Fr.)
4. Carson Butler (Fr.)
No movement in this position group, either. Carson Butler will definitely take a redshirt.
1. Adam Stenavich (R. Sr) / Jake Long (R. So.)
2. Mike Kolodziej (R. Jr)/ Jeremy Cuilla (R. So.)
Cuilla is a real shot in the dark here. Kolodziej is obviously the primary backup at both tackle spots, having started the '04 season at RT and having played LT in the Rose Bowl. But past him there isn't really anyone else on the roster who looks like a backup tackle, given that there's no chance in hell any of the three freshmen coming in play this year. If two tackles should go down to injury Ruben Riley will probably end up shuffled out to tackle and one of the interior line backups will draw into the middle.
1. Leo Henige (R. Sr.)/ Ruben Riley (R. Jr) / Matt Lentz (R. Sr)
2. Alex Mitchell (R. Fr) / Adam Kraus (R. So.) / Brett Gallimore (R. Fr.)
Major guesswork here as well. Henige hasn't gotten through a season yet without his knees giving out and so must be regarded as a question mark. Lentz will start at RG. Riley will start at LG or C. Kraus was believed to have the inside track to the center job but an injury has halted his progress. Mitchell was singled out for praise by Carr.
All in all, things look settled almost everywhere on offense. FB needs to be addressed and the interior of the line still needs sorting out. Other than that, Michigan looks loaded. One spot that looks thin is RT. Long is a great player, but there isn't much behind him. Kolodziej doesn't have Long's run-blocking power.