Peppers at 10, which seems low.
MGoQuestion: Which receivers have impressed you the most since spring started?
“Well, you know, we haven’t had Jehu [Chesson]. Amara [Darboh] has had a very good spring so far. Really working hard at his craft. I mean, just you would think—you know, it felt like he just picked up where he left off against Florida. Grant Perry, same thing. Really good spring so far. Picked up where he left off. Drake Harris had a really good last two days. Had his best day today. Really making some plays with his—we all know he’s a basketball player, right? But he’s shown that ability. And then Ahmir Mitchell’s come in and he’s competing. These guys are supposed to be in high school right now and he’s practicing as hard as he can. And Moe Ways has improved a lot. Moe Ways, I’m not sure I can remember a drop in spring. I think Moe Ways leads us with the least amount of drops, so it’s been a good—you know, those guys have all come in and they’ve all done a nice job coming back and kind of letting us pick up where we left off.”
What kind of things are you able to do with them this year now that you’re not building the foundation like last spring? How much further ahead?
“Yeah, well, we’re a little light on numbers until the next batch comes in in terms of we’ve got four or five guys coming in. So in terms of what we’re doing, we’re just building off of what we did and asking these guys to really push themselves and fight through it and they’ve become really well conditioned, and then you’re able to tweak a route or tweak a release or change some things up. ‘Hey, this is how we did it all of last fall. Here’s you on film’ rather than ‘Here’s Allen Robinson on film’ or ‘Here’s Brandon Marshall on film,’ [it’s] ‘Here’s you on film. How can we make that better?’”
With so few, are you able to do more individual tweaking?
“Yeah, that’s one of the benefits of where we’re at right now is you can really hone in and focus in and spend the time getting Ahmir caught up to speed, time getting Grant ready to play outside and inside, really focusing in on Moe Ways playing both spots on the perimeter and just kind of making those ‘Hey, in one-on-ones, here’s you running the route; here’s you last year running the route. Look at the difference.’”
After what Amara and Jehu gave you last year, what do you still need from a third wide receiver or a fourth wide receiver?
“Um, well, we need more production. We need someone else to be in that range of 40 or 50 catches. We need Amara and Jehu to be in the range of 75 catches. You know, they need to get up and the third receiver then needs to bring his numbers up. Maybe our third receiver had like 20 catches or something. Let’s get to 40. Let’s get to two more first downs a game. You know, give us two more first downs a game. Give us one more explosive play a game. Keep us on the field for one more drive, and then allow us to play with more guys. Let’s play with more receivers, you know, and get more guys ready to go. It’ll be fun to see what these guys can do.”
[After THE JUMP: if you would like to be considered for the starting quarterback position please leave your application at the front desk]
Playing three different positions in three years isn’t usually the recipe for success, but what about defensive end works for Chase Winovich that you think he’ll fit better there?
“Well, Chase has had a very good spring. We saw that in the bowl practice, and that’s why bowl games are so important. I’ve always felt—I recruited him, and I always felt he had a real high motor, he’s a very, very tough young man, and he can really run. When we got a chance to get him back on defense we just put him in in practices and I would have played him in the game. I would have put him in the bowl game at the end except our offense did such a great job of controlling the ball I didn’t have time to get him in at the end. Then this spring, he’s added some weight. He’s got a lot of learning to do with the technique but he’s willing to, and I think you’re going to be—you know, he’s got a very high ceiling and I’m excited about it.”
How about Bryan Mone? Is he at full health?
“Yeah. Bryan’s, you know, he’s rusty; you don’t take a whole year off [without rust]. But every practice you see it getting more like the guy when he was a freshman but older, and he’s working really hard. I’m very pleased. Obviously he’s very hungry. You know, you take a year away from a young man, it’s hard. And he seems to be really excited about what’s happening, and he’s getting a lot of great reps.”
On the other side of the ball, can you talk about what you see in practice from Chesson and Darboh and Butt in terms of they’re so experienced and so talented that whoever the quarterback is how much they’re going to help that guy?
“Yeah, again, you’re talking about three guys that are veterans now. They’re very talented. I don’t follow our offense. You know, you’ve got so much to do with your own side, but they just have such a great attitude and they seem to be the ones that make the plays. And they’re leaders. They’re leaders by how they play, leaders off the field, leaders in the cafeteria. They’re big-time guys and it’s fun to be on a team with them. I’m really excited about what they’re going to do this next year.”
You’ve talked a lot over the years about how you remember coaching Chris [Wormley] and Hurst when they were really young. Now they’re old. This is the most veteran line you’ve had. Are your expectations, I assume, that much higher?
“Yeah, very high. You know, they know me that if a guy shows that he has talent that I’m going to expect him to get all the way to the top of that talent, and so sometimes things that might be acceptable some places are still not acceptable. I’m always after them for perfection. I want them to be as good as I know they can be, and that’s hard to do in a four-hour practice but they’re being pushed to do that.
“You see those guys, you know, Glasgow, he can’t go right now but he’s doing some things that he wouldn’t get injured with. But all those guys, Taco, it’s four years for them now and you’ve seen them. It’s funny because when you see a Shelton Johnson or a Carlo Kemp or Winovich, you see a young guy and you remember that’s just what they looked like, so you want to get them there faster so they can be up with them. But it’s good. The bar is very, very high for this defensive line.”
[After THE JUMP: If tickets for the Rashan Gary Hype Train weren’t already sold out…]
[Isaiah Hole/ 247]
Just talk about what a day this is for the three of you to be together here at the clinic and then across the street tonight [AA Pioneer Hall of Fame induction ceremony]?
Jim: “It’s just like so many things that we’ve all done together through the years. It’s one more thing to be done, but I mean great memories of all the times we were doing stuff together. The three of us have done a lot together through the years.”
Jim: “We’ve done a lot of things with mom and Joani as well and our wives, but the three of us, we’ve done a lot of cool stuff together. You know, this is certainly one of those shining star days.”
You gave the coaches a lot to chew on. Is there one thing that you hope they take away from it more than anything else?
Jim: “My personal feeling is that during a clinic or even a talk or speech of some kind is try to give something that somebody can use, even if it’s just one or two or three things. And I think we did that. Think there was—they at least got one or two things.”
John: “They had a lot to choose from. They had a lot of options.”
Like a salad buffet, you take what you need and what works for you?
Jack: /laughs “I wish I’d had that line.”
Jim: “Talking to, listening to coach Tim Tyrrell talk, you know, we were all there and I took probably 20 really good coaching points and took furious notes. That’s what you want to get when you’re a listener to somebody at a clinic or a speech, that there’s something you get that you can use and incorporate into your own team and own coaching staff.”
Jack, I think you said something along the lines of you wished you could have coached with your two sons.
Jack: “Yeah, no question.”
What about them would you want to share with them on a staff?
Jack: “Well, as I sit back now without a coaching assignment-- and they are so good with Jackie and I, they bring us into their families’ lives, they bring us into their professional lives—but to just sit back at the back of a room and watch how they address their team or sit into a coaches meeting and watch how they address their coaches, the great trust that they have with their team and their coaches, I marvel. I say, ‘Why wouldn’t the lord put me on the earth earlier in my coaching career?’ Then I could have had an opportunity to experience that. I think I would have been better. I think my record would have been a lot better as a coach.”
Jim, you ever think about hiring him here?
“My dad? Oh yeah. We got him daily. Sometimes he’s over in Baltimore and sometimes he’s in Bloomington, but when we do get him we learn a lot and cherish it. I mean, he’s an honorary member of whatever staff I’ve ever been on. Same with John.”
John: “He’s full time. More than full time. He works for three coaches right now. He’s got three staffs.”
Jack: “It’s a blessing.”
[After THE JUMP: Twisted blue steel, Judge Judy, Mark Emmert, and the Super Bowl]
How’s the running back group progressing through six practices?
“Progressing well. Just trying to get certain guys like De’Veon [Smith] and Ty Isaac to what I call a mastery level, meaning that it’s progressing past the things we did last year. Instead of going through the hole and getting tackled by a guy it’s really working some moves, try and improve your game.
“With the younger guys, they’re doing well. They’re right where I’d expect them to be. A little overloaded in some aspects in terms of the information coming in on them, but they all look good. They all look good.”
How do you keep De’Veon healthy for a whole year?
“How do I keep him healthy for a full year?”
Yeah. I mean, that was obviously the challenge last year.
”He was healthy. He was relatively healthy. I mean, any football guy who lines up and takes that first—it’s like a car. Once you take that car off the lot it depreciates. It’s never going to be 100% value. So in terms of De’Veon, I think he was healthy besides the toe. But in terms of being healthy, some of the things we’re talking about now: being able to not run down the middle of guys, taking so many hits, being able to make some guys miss. That will improve his health, but I think relatively compared to last year he was relatively healthy.”
WelpThisWasGoingToBeMyMGoQuestion: What’s a realistic expectation for the two freshmen?
“Expectation? They’re true freshmen.”
So how much would that be?
“They’re freshmen! We won’t know. Right now it’s too hard to put anything on it. I’ll just put it to you this way: it’s freshmen. They’re freshmen. I mean, they’re good freshmen, but the fact of the matter is they’re freshmen. So to put an expectation on it is really unfair right now.”
For Ty [Isaac], who probably didn’t see as many carries as he wanted to last year, getting to the mastery level, has he put in more work? Has he taken to that a little bit differently this year?
“Yeah. I mean, regardless the point of the snaps, it’s still just age and being around and hearing it, so trying to take his game to that next level. So yeah, I mean, he’s working. He worked last year. He’s working this year. Sometimes a guy may just outwork you. That’s just a thing. It’s not that he did anything wrong last year. But he’s working hard. Yes, he is. Putting in the work.”
Do you feel like Drake [Johnson] is finally back to finally maybe 100%? He’s running track, too. He said that’s helping his leg and knee strength.
“Well, unfortunate part about me, I never was here when Drake was Drake Drake. So what I saw last year and just seeing a guy who’s coming off an ACL, he looked pretty darn good. So if we can improve him and get him past that, we should be looking at a much improved Drake, and he is looking good. In terms of track, he has a little more burst to him. But just in terms of football-wise, we’re trying to get Drake to that mastery level as well. It’s moving past little things like getting tackled, little better in pass-pro, things of that nature. So he’s one of those guys we’re trying to get to that mastery level.”
[After THE JUMP: some good news re: fullbacks, more on achieving RB mastery level]
One of your big focuses in coaching has always been on the defensive line. What’s the adjustment been like for you to coaching linebackers?
“Well, yeah, so no, it really hasn’t. I’ve been a linebacker coach pretty much my whole career. I played it and coached it. I spent a year coaching d-line is all. It’s been pretty smooth. In December, you know, getting prepared for the bowl and just being surrounded by those guys who played so much football here in Joe Bolden and Des [Morgan] and [James] Ross, they helped my transition there in December and it’s been real smooth.”
You’re at a position where there’ve been a lot of losses so it’s kind of a key focus for you to get that ready. What’s that been like so far?
“Oh, it’s awesome, you know. It’s a challenge. We got to get some young guys ready to go, and we’ve got some great guys that are coming back that have played a lot of football, too. Ben Gedeon has stepped in and been an incredible leader right off the bat. And then coach Brown, coach Brown’s right in there with me with the backers. He’s a seasoned, veteran coach that understands how to get guys ready to go so it’s been pretty smooth. We’re working hard.”
Has Mike McCray been full go? He’s had a lot of shoulder issues over the years. Is he doing alright with that?
“Yeah, he’s been incredible over the past first five practices. He’s a pleasant surprise. You know, you kind of knew he had it in him and just his first five practices have been phenomenal.”
And is Jabrill working with you, or is he working with the safeties coaches still? What’s that situation?
“Uh, Jabrill works with a lot of people. You know, he’s with me, he’s with the safeties coaches, he’s kind of everywhere. He’s a smart football player that can take on a lot and we’re going to ask him to take on a lot, so I think the sky’s the limit on what positions he can play. We might even line him up at nose tackle this year if we can.”
When he’s up close to the line, what’s the biggest threat he presents to an offense?
“He can get to the quarterback in under a second off the ball. He’s got quickness. He’s going to put some o-linemen in some tough situations coming off the edge, and he can also drop and get to the flat real quick. And he can cover a guy from the line of scrimmage, be it a tight end or a back out of the backfield, so he can do some real dynamic things for us there.”
[After THE JUMP: “It’s their third defense here in three years and they’ve picked it up really well. It’s exciting to see. It hasn’t been as hard a transition as people might think.”]
[this is obviously not from the presser but is obviously the photo I was going to use]
[I missed the question but it’s something about the goals of the event]
“That was the main objective, to celebrate these youngsters and all their hard work. Their parents made so many sacrifices; I had a chance to see it up close. So many sacrifices: their money, their energy. This needs to be celebrated, need to have some fun. We’ll go back to work at 2:30 but great to have some fun. ”
Is this everything you hoped it would be?
“It was. Mainly it was inspired by Chad Carr, the ChadTough Foundation, their family, the entire family. Got to see it for an entire year. Got to see the love, a family that loves this youngster and a community that loves Chad and to see all him loved back, it brings you closer to God. Or at least for me it does. And also the sanctity for life. Have been very inspired by Chad Carr
[something about the recruiting class]
“We are so excited about all of our signees. We are tremendously- I’m standing here with you, so…yeah. But from top to bottom, this recruiting class is youngsters that have a real heart for competing and heart for football. They’ve got football faces. Competitive in the classroom. As we said before, they’ve worked so hard to put themselves in a position to be here and they love ball. I have a real appreciation for the families that trust us to coach their sons, to teach them, because when you’re a family it doesn’t matter what you have monetarily or what you don’t have, your most prized possession is your son or your daughter. When you trust somebody to develop them, I take that very seriously. Just happy that they respect us and that they trust us.”
Where did you get the idea for today and how long has it been in the works?
“I guess just how could we do something fun and a celebration. I’ve been watching this process for years and experienced it myself; you pull a fax out of a fax machine and a coach stands up and talks about them and usually says kind of the same thing, so wanted to do something different. Wanted to do something awesome, and was really pleased. Thought today did that.”
On paper this is a great class. Can you talk about the expectations moving forward for this class?
“Yeah, I mean, it’s a process. I love that word, and talk about it especially going from high school to college. That’s…it’s uncharted waters. It’s the unknown. If you have sons and daughters of your own you know that step and what it takes, [and] it’ll be a process. It’s gonna be a team effort to it. Everybody here at the University of Michigan, the love that you surround the youngsters with, and also a team effort with parents and families. Really appreciate the trust there and with that we can do great things and expect great things. I think that’ll happen, especially with the group we have. All these youngsters all come from great families. They have great places to go and get advice from their parents or from their family, and I think they’re going to make the transition very well.”
What’s the cap number on the class? How high can it go?
“Well, there’s going to be some coming. There’s going to be another announcement later today. Youngsters that are going to be preferred walk-ons that we’ve been recruiting for a long time, they’re going to sign as well. It’s gonna be a good, big number.”
Do you know what the number of scholarships you can give out in this class is?
“Uh, yeah, in terms of scholarships I think it’s going to come in somewhere around 29.”
Did you guys use any grayshirts?
Did you guys backdate the early kids?
[After THE JUMP: sleepovers, honesty with early commits, non-apologies]