News bullets and other items:
- Kalis [back] and Funchess were held out of Wednesday's scrimmage
- Hoke is looking for guys along the defensive line to separate themselves
- Your tentative starting offensive line (after Glasgow returns from suspension) is Mason Cole-LT; Erik Magnuson-LG; Jack Miller-C; Graham Glasgow-RG; Ben Braden-RT
- Kalis would likely be a starter if he wasn't injured
- Drake Harris' hamstring injury is taking longer to recover than expected
- The coaching staff is emphasizing putting the players in stressful, game-like situations
"Thanks for coming. We had a good scrimmage yesterday. Got about 140 plays in. It was about 55 for the ones and twos and about 35 for the threes so it was good. We got a lot of work and a lot of different situations of football, I think, that are important. Really thought that we had a lot of energy. Liked how they approached playing in the Big House. Today we did a lot of trying to – some of those guys, because of GPS and all the tracking, played a game and a half, you know, yesterday. We took today – did a lot of walk-throughs, a lot of meetings, a lot of film done, a lot of teaching from that perspective. Think we're in good shape right now. Held a couple guys out: Kalis we held out, Funchess we held out– gosh, I've got to remember who all we held out. Delano Hill, even though he's coming back right now, with no contact status. He's doing more drill work. And then Drake Harris and Jake Butt but everybody else participated, everybody else got a number of plays so was good for evaluations and, you know, you look at those decisions and you see where you're at and, again, Saturday night obviously we're going to go out again. Obviously probably not the same kind of play count but it will be probably 30-30-20 if you look at it which will end up being 40-40-25 most likely. But to get out and play under the lights a little bit will be a good experience for our guys to be with people there. The one thing that we've really talked about a lot of keeping stress on the players. Because there's some youth in there in a few positions, but just overall because of the mechanics of the offense, the mechanics of the defense, the communication process that we need to make sure we have on every play."
You say you wanted to keep stress on them. What kind of stress?
"Well, you know, I think that's a good question because you can do it with crowd noise, music, making where they've really got to focus in and lock in that they're hearing the calls from the guy next to them. I think in the different situations, you know- you put an offense in third-and-10, third-and-8, there's some stress there to pick up first downs and you put a defense in a situation where you're going heavy fronts, half yard line you put some stress on them that way so that's a lot of it, tempo's a lot of it. You know, I don't know which day it was. What day's today? Today's Thursday? It was Tuesday we wanted to get a little tempo for both sides of it. We were going to run what we call racks of 4-4-4 for each group and ended up instead of 12 plays it was a 44 play segment because we wanted to keep the stress on them and the tempo, Get them tired. See how they play tired, see how they think at the same time we had music – we were in Glick that day and in Glick the music can be pretty loud."
Couple things. Drake Harris- how concerned are you about that injury now at this point?
"Well, you know, obviously would like to have back. Obviously it's going probably longer than he wants and we want. I think he's getting closer to getting back out on the field we just have to keep working through it, rehabbing through it. It's not the same hamstring that he heard before and what happens with guys – and this is some of the data that I think is pretty interesting. We're getting in to GPS monitoring and what all that does and believe me, I'm not the expert. There's guys, Aaron Wellman's one of those...how much is a guy, from a symmetry standpoint, pushing off one leg than the other? Monitors all that and guys like Jake Butt, you know, he's using his other leg a lot more than he is but those numbers are coming down where he's getting a little more balance which is part of good news for him and for us. So I think for Drake's case, because he had the one, I think fatigue and some of those things because kids want to compete and that's the thing you love- that part of it and how it effects the other one."
And could you talk about how the defensive line's coming together?
"Yeah. I think as a group they're coming together pretty good. I think this thing that we're looking for, you know, because we've got- Frank has had a good fall camp, Brennen Beyer's had a real good fall camp, inside I think Willie Henry and Chris Wormley have had good fall camps. I think Matt Godin's a good player, then Willie Henry, Bryan Mone, Ryan Glasgow and [Maurice] Hurst have all- they're competing like heck out there, which is great. What I'm really looking for is some separation. You know, they're all talented and have some attributes that are all positive but we've got to look for a little more separation."
You mentioned Delano Hill coming back and participating in some drills. How close is he to participating in contact drills and how is the competition going at safety until he gets back?
"Well, I think that Dymonte Thomas has been competing with Jarrod [Wilson] and Jeremy Clark. I would say when Delano gets back that's another talented athlete that we'll be excited about. How much longer? You know, it could be three weeks, it could be two weeks. I can't really tell you. That's a doctor's deal and, you know, I think we're happy with where he is right now as far as the recovery and how the surgery went and all that but we'll see."
[After THE JUMP: piecing together an offensive line and the competition at linebacker and corner]
3/5 of the starting line for the opener? [Bryan Fuller/MGoBlog]
Brady Hoke held a presser this evening, and while Adam should have the full transcript up later, Brian asked me to do a quick rundown since this was a particularly newsworthy one. Let's start with—you guessed it—the offensive line, which seems to be taking form.
Mason Cole, Erik Magnuson, Jack Miller, Graham Glasgow and Ben Braden is likely your starting OL. per Hoke.
— Michael Spath (@Spath_Wolverine) August 14, 2014
That's from left to right, and confirms what Hoke said on the radio earlier today about Braden solidifying his spot at right tackle, with Mason Cole still holding strong at LT.
While Glasgow looks to be the starter at right guard, he's suspended for the opener; Kyle Bosch and David Dawson are competing to start against Appalachian State. As for concern that Kyle Kalis hasn't been mentioned much at all this fall, there's apparently good reason for his absence:
Sounds like Jack Miller's in position to start game one at center ... Right guard spot? Bosch and Dawson. Kalis' back is ailing.
— Nick Baumgardner (@nickbaumgardner) August 14, 2014
If Hoke is to be believed, Miller is in position to do more than just start the first game—according to the man in charge, Miller is outplaying Glasgow at center. That'd be great news, as it would allow Glasgow to work at guard—where he seems to be a better option than Bosch/Dawson—and let Miller provide an apparent upgrade at center over Michigan's most consistent interior lineman from last year (that is, admittedly, not a distinction worth throwing a parade over).
UPDATE: Per Angelique Chengelis, Hoke actually said that Kalis would be a starter—though one or both of them didn't specify where—if his back was healthy.
Hoke said Kalis has been held out w back (doesn't sound major), would be a starter. Miller has edge at center over Glasgow (out 1st game)
— angelique (@chengelis) August 14, 2014
That could mean Kalis would take over at left guard, Magnuson would slide over to left tackle, and Cole would move to the bench, or it could mean that Kalis would play right guard over Glasgow.
Michigan held a scrimmage on Wednesday, and in addition to Kalis, three other players were held out: Devin Funchess, Drake Harris, and Delano Hill. Harris is dealing with a hamstring injury, while Hill is reportedly two to three weeks away from returning from his broken jaw. No reason was given for Funchess' absence that I could find, so let's hope upon hope that it was simply "you're Devin Funchess, and we have no need to risk you."
Multiple spots are still up for grabs. Hoke praised the scrimmage performances of Derrick Green and Drake Johnson, while saying De'Veon Smith had a slow start. On the other side of the ball, Jake Ryan is the only linebacker who's locked down a starting spot.
Jabrill Peppers "has a handle" on playing nickel, so he's now getting some work in at cornerback. Given Michigan's depth there, that sounds very positive in regards to Peppers' development.
Adam will have the full transcript up at some point, but that should hold you over for now.
"Now everything's just slowed down for me, and it's just me, I can just play ball." — Jourdan Lewis [Photo: Bryan Fuller/MGoBlog]
Michigan's 2014 roster includes six proud graduates of Detroit's Cass Tech High School, including four in the secondary alone and a fifth—Royce Jenkins-Stone, Class of 2012—also on the defensive side of the ball. Remarkably, all six are making a serious push for playing time this fall. At Media Day, I caught up with every former Technician on the team save for Delano Hill, who's recovering from a broken jaw, to discuss their current roles on the team, what it's like to be surrounded by their former high school teammates, and much more.
- The defensive backs, to a man, are excited about the new aggressive playing style, as well as the level of competition at corner.
- Terry Richardson feels physically prepared to be out there after adding "a quick 12 to 15 pounds" this offseason.
- Delonte Hollowell was wearing a small cast on his left hand due to an injury suffered from "practicing hard, you know?" He thinks it's just a sprain.
- Royce Jenkins-Stone says Greg Mattison "critiques the little things" more with his new charges at linebacker, and the group is better for it.
- David Dawson, man of mystery, does not want you to know what position he's playing.
- There's competition everywhere.
- Every single one lit up when talking about playing with a big group of other guys from Cass Tech—they clearly share a strong bond with their former and present teammates.
You made a big move in the spring. Heading into the fall, Coach Hoke talked about how you're one of the top three corners. How do you feel you've progressed since last year and what are your expectations for this season in terms of your performance?
Just be aggressive. Just play good. Just keep playing how I'm doing. Just keep the intensity up though the season, pretty much.
There's been a big emphasis on aggressiveness from the cornerbacks. How do you feel that fits in with your style of play, and what's been the biggest change since last year?
It's definitely a big emphasis on being physical, that's how all of us really like to play. Just doing that, just with how we like to play, it's really suiting us. We're actually better as a whole unit.
Because of how aggressive you guys are playing, has the level of competition been raised between the cornerbacks and the receivers right now?
It's just everybody. All of us just love to compete, and it's not even like—the competition, we don't see it [that way], we just see it as "we're gonna just lock this receiver up every chance we get."
There's a bunch of Cass Tech guys on the team, and a lot of them are competing for time. What's it like to be surrounded by your high school teammates at Michigan?
It's amazing. It's amazing just knowing that you've got somebody who has your back through anything. It's really amazing. It brings everybody together, even the ones that didn't go to Cass Tech, it actually helps us all be together and help us be tight as a unit.
[Note: This is where I wrapped up my Q&A; I caught the audio of a couple questions for Lewis from The Wolverine's Chris Balas.]
How much more confident are you from year one to year two?
Confident? I was about the same, but being consistent and comfortable is a key, really. Right now that's all I'm really worried about, just being consistent and being comfortable in my technique in everything we do.
How much more comfortable are you knowing what you know now compared to what you knew a year ago?
It was way faster last year. Now everything's just slowed down for me, and it's just me, I can just play ball.
[Hit THE JUMP for interviews with Terry Richardson, DELONTE HOLLOWELL, Royce Jenkins-Stone, and David Dawson.]
News bullets and other important items:
- Blake Countess (groin) and Mario Ojemudia (ankle) were held out of practice but should return by Monday
- Drake Harris injured his other hamstring and has been limited to doing rehab reps
- The offensive line could change from morning practice to afternoon practice until they find a combination they like. Don’t shoot the messenger.
- The open scrimmage on the 16th was Hoke’s idea and will feature…football. They’re going to play football.
“Thanks for coming. Number one, it’s always good to get in the pads for the first day. You know, even though you've been in short pads and helmets it was good to get out in full pads. It was good that the energy that we've had all week has been really positive, how the guys have reacted to some adversity that we put them under. Today we did a little crowd noise and certain situational football setting and you could see we've got a lot of work to do. So we'll continue to put a bunch of pressure on our team. You know, Blake [Countess], he's got a little bit of a groin so we held him out today. Mario's [Ojemudia] got a little bit of an ankle, he's in a boot, but talking to him he said that he feels better every day and I think he'll be okay. Blake and Mario, they should be by Monday ready to go so we're excited about that. We've had good practices but we've got a long way to go when you look at where we need to be.”
What would you say, in just the five days of practice, you've seen the most improvement of and where would you say 'we've got to get this better pretty quick?'
“Well, I guess the biggest thing is how they came into camp. From conditioning and all, the kind of shape we're in, to football IQ and where that's at, and that's why we’ve got to continue to put a lot of stress on them. You know, that way things become a little more reactive and automatic when you're looking at it. That's probably in how they're competing with each other, you know, we get a couple scuffles now and then, and most of that is guys just going. And they're going hard.”
Could you talk about the enthusiasm? They were jacked up at the beginning today.
“Well, they were jacked up at the beginning. It was great they were jacked up at the beginning and it was great they were jacked up at the end. I mean, you need both. You can always start fast but you've got to finish. I thought they've come out every day that way, so they've been excited about football. Obviously tomorrow we'll go two practices and that will be a little bit more challenging in some ways. I think we've got a really good plan when you look at the health and wellness and getting them off their feet and trying to get them as much sleep as we can. That's a little different than years past and I think that's a testament a little bit to how they've gone about their team business.”
About the freshman; are all of them participating?
“All of them are participating. Some of them have to leave a little early depending on what they have on the academic schedule.”
They're all qualified?
“Oh yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah, yes. I didn't know you were talking about that. They're all qualified, they're all here.”
With being unsure whether Ty [Issac] is going to be given the opportunity to play or not, how do you decide how many reps to get him in case he can play or in case he doesn’t and you don’ want to take away from somebody else
“Right, right. And I think the one thing we’ve done is we are getting a ton of reps. How we practice—so there’s enough reps there. I think as we get closer, a week from now, when you start really game planning—because he really needs to take some reps to learn what the offense is.I think luckily he’s played at a Division I university and there’s a lot of similarities always but I think this has been beneficial for him and I think everyone’s kind of gotten what we need.
Would you be surprised if Devin [Gardner] wasn’t the guy in week 1?
“I would think he’s had a really good fall camp so far. You know, it’s five days. He’s right now the guy taking most of the reps with the ones but we’re splitting them up a little bit at times and if he’s not playing well, you know, Shane [Morris]—Doug’s not hesitant in practice to make that change and so they both are taking reps with the ones. Devin’s getting the majority of them.
You talked a little bit about multiple running backs. Could you see early in the season, let’s say Devin’s the starter, trying to get Shane in there earlier than later and getting him some playing time?
“You know, we haven’t really talked about what kind of contingency plan or plan to try and get him, if he isn’t the starter, reps yet in that first game, second game, third game, fourth game, whatever it might be.”
You talked before about staying away from ‘I like this team,’ but do you have a sense of this team’s identity yet?
“No, not yet but we talk about it every day, their identity and what they want to make it. It’s things that you do repeatedly and they can be good or bad.”
And what’s the response you get?
“Well, I think from a physical standpoint it’s been real positive. I think from a competitive standpoint it’s been real positive.”
In terms of freshmen getting in the mix, Freddy [Canteen] especially…
“I think Freddy. I think Mason Cole. Mason Cole’s a good football player. I think I said that in the spring. He’s a little different than most freshmen offensive linemen in some ways. I think [Bryan] Mone, Mone’s a little different. Him being here was a big plus. Wilton Speight’s taken some good reps. Drake Harris is the other guy. He’s got a little bit of a ham, hammy, hamstring and so he’s a guy that hasn’t—he’s taken some limited reps but not like we’d like to get with him.
Was that something that he re-hurt this week?
“Yeah. He re-hurt it early in the week. Different hamstring.”
Did you guys think about shutting him down for a while?
“He has been shut down.”
You said he’s been doing limited reps…
“Limited, yeah. And most of those are rehab reps.”
You were in pads for the first time today. Do you know when you’ll have your first scrimmage?
“Yeah I do but I don’t know if I remember right now. Sometime next week, but I couldn’t tell you when it is. I kind of go by it daily.”
Blake’s injury is, you said, a groin. Is that related to the core [injury that caused him to have offseason surgery]?
“No. No, no, no. He’ll be fine.”
Is this just a brief thing with Drake here?
“You know, I’m not a doctor so it’s hard for me to really analyze that. I think it’s something that we’re very weary about. I think Coach Wellman, Strength and Conditioning—I think the rehab that we’ve done, I think Paul Schmidt and the trainers have all handled it very well. You know, is it a nagging thing? Maybe. Some people have those things so we have to think what can we do to help besides this rest and they know much better than I know.”
Who do you see mixing in besides Funchess among the wide receivers at the top spot?
“Jehu [Chesson]. Amara’s [Darboh] done well. Dennis [Norfleet] and Freddy [Canteen] right now have done a nice job. Bo Dever. Jack Wangler’s made some good plays but if I would look at that group I think Funch, Amarah, Jehu, Fleet and Canteen.”
Norfleet and Canteen are at slot?
“They’re at slot, yes.”
What kind of progress has Amara made after sitting out last year with injury?
“He really has come along real well. I think in the spring, probably the last two weeks, we could have put him in live stuff but we just decided not to. He’s done well.”
Where have you seen this week the impact of Coach Nussmeier’s new system on the offensive line?
“Well, I think there’s some things that we like more vertical. I think that the combination schemes that we want to be a little more heavy on the line of scrimmage. When you look at hands, you know, four hands on one man to initiate some movement on the line of scrimmage. I think the backs themselves, Drake Johnson, Derrick [Green] and De’Veon [Smith], they’re downhill guys so it’s punctured the line of scrimmage a little bit.
When it comes to the line right now, how do you balance moving guys around trying different things versus wanting to have one unit building cohesion playing alongside each other?
“How do you balance it? I think it can be tricky but I think it can be massaged very well. I think Darrell [Funk] has done a nice job with it and Nuss and who we’ve put in that first group and maybe that changes daily. I’m sure it will change from a morning practice to the afternoon at times until we really feel this is it with these guys. I think the competition there has been really good for us and I think they’ve come out every day very physical.”
So who was the first group today?
“Today it was Mason Cole at the left tackle position, Jack [Miller] was at the center position, Magnuson was at the left guard position for a little bit, Ben Braden was at right tackle, and the right guard was Graham [Glasgow] and David Dawson.”
Can I ask a question about the open scrimmage [on August 16th]?
“I’d love for you to.”
You talked about in the spring how you didn’t show your cards. Is this going to be the same kind of thing?
“That’s why you have to come.”
You could have opposing coaches come in, right?
“If they’re coming in during two-a-day…”
“Well, they could. Do you think they will?
Yeah, they could have a graduate assistant or somebody…
“Are you going to trust a graduate assistant right now?”
I think you were one once, right?
I don’t know your bio by heart.
“That’s okay. Yeah but what are you showing? We’re going to play football though.”
So you will keep your cards close to the vest.
“No, you said that. I didn’t say that. We’re going to play football.”
Whose idea was it?
You’ve got to put this thing together pretty quickly.
“I think it’s good. You know, the more you look at pro football and for a team that’s got some youth but experience I think it’s good for them to be in front of people. Just like crowd noise today, I want as many distractions as we can get. I also think it’s great for Michigan fans because we love them.”
Do you want to invite us more to distract the players?
“No, probably not. You don’t distract them. You may distract me.”
Playing at home hasn’t been a problem. Have you considered doing a scrimmage at an away stadium?
“You know, we’ve done that. We did that when we were going to Alabama, to Texas. I thought that was really good for us. I thought it would’ve been maybe better if we could’ve opened it up and had people in Ford Field. I think that would’ve been pretty cool but that’s pretty hard to negotiate when they have their security, their event staff, all those things.”
ROTATE [Bryan Fuller]
Per first spring presser:
James Ross and Royce Jenkins-Stone to SAM. Probably inevitable once Ryan move was announced. Obviously Michigan thinking more along the lines of the Stevie Brown style LB/S hybrid there, as Allen Gant is your other SAM at the moment.
And with this shift comes another:
Hoke said will run more Over defense as opposed to Under.
— Matt Pargoff (@MaizeBlueNews) February 25, 2014
That means the line shifts towards the tight end and the linebackers away. Instead of this:
Last year 5 was Clark, 3 Black, 1 Washington/Pipkins, 5 Heitzman/Beyer, LB Ryan, W Ross, M Morgan.
Michigan will run more of this:
Upshot is the MLB gets significantly more protection, the WLB has to be able to take on more blocks (everyone has to take on blocks) and the SAM can be a lighter player as long as the three-tech and SDE create trouble when single-teamed.
This is a significant change, as you can see by everyone flopping about on the depth charts. While it's not switching to a 3-3-5 and back six times in three years, it does signal uncertainty.
A move to the over does make the Ryan move make a bit more sense but either DE spot is probably a better location for him unless he's suddenly a savant.
Heitzman to TE. With Henry seemingly locking down three-tech that potentially bounces out one of Strobel/Wormley/Godin to SDE, where Brennen Beyer is probably your starter anyway. Heitzman gives Michigan a shot at blocking someone, anyone, and won't be missed.
This would be a good time to remind you that Hoke told the gathered folks at the Detroit Athletic Club that Jake Butt would be back by game three; even if that's a weirdly specific prediction this far out given Jake Ryan's recovery timeine that would be about right.
Shallman to H-back. He wasn't already at H-back?
Ross Douglas to RB. Supposedly had been running there on the scout team and impressing. Michigan does need another bullet there with the loss of Rawls and Toussaint and no recruits filling in the gaps, and meanwhile Ross was at best sixth on the CB depth chart. Kind of doubt he makes much impact this year with Hayes presumably a lot like him and more experienced.
David Dawson to (left) tackle. I'd been telling people Dawson was likely to be the G/T tweener thrust outside by a lack of depth, but even I thought he'd be assigned right tackle duties since he's 6'4". Nope. According to Hoke, the current and incredibly nominal first team line reads Dawson-Bosch-Glasgow-Kalis-Braden.
Erik Magnuson is all but certain to side into that LT spot when he returns, leaving Bosch and Dawson to duke it out on the right. You can read Dawson on the left as an endorsement since that's the most important spot, or you can read Braden on the right as an endorsement since they may expect him to start and want to get him settled in at the position he'll play.
The other guy to watch out for is Patrick Kugler, who could bounce Glasgow out to one of the guard spots and give Michigan some depth.
Logan Tuley-Tillman is out right now, FWIW.
Previously: CB Reon Dawson, CB Channing Stribling, S Delano Hill, S Dymonte Thomas, CB Ross Douglas, CB Jourdan Lewis, LB Ben Gedeon, LB Mike McCray, DE Taco Charlton, DT Maurice Hurst Jr., DT Henry Poggi, OL Patrick Kugler.
|Detroit, MI – 6'4", 285|
4*, #144 overall
4*, #165 overall
4*, #91 overall
4*, #65 overall
OSU, Bama, Florida, FSU, USC, MSU
|YMRMFSPA||Chris McDonald (MSU)|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post. Hello post the second. Ace scouts Cass versus OLSM and Renaissance. Oh and Brother Rice. Ace interviews Dawson at SMSB.|
|Notes||Cass Tech (all people ever). Twitter.|
Spent his junior year in Houston, which is why this doesn't look like Cass:
David Dawson's soap opera recruitment was explosive and momentarily depressing but worked out for the best in the end. An early Michigan commit, Dawson had other coaches in his ear and gave into their pitchfork whispers, taking a visit to Florida that the Michigan coaches were blindsided by. They yanked his scholarship offer, Florida seemed not to have room for him—or he just didn't like it much and wanted to stay close to home—and a reeling Dawson started saying unwise things on twitter and putting Ohio State and Michigan State at the top of his list. The jilt was on.
Meanwhile all of this was happening in the immediate aftermath of the tragic death of Dawson's father, a Department of Transportation employee who was struck and killed by a motorist as he attempted to help a guy pulled over to the side of the road. If any recruit has ever deserved a vision quest, it's Dawson.
Dawson's emotions were on his sleeve on Twitter, and eventually they moved away from jilted to regretful. His heart was still in Ann Arbor. So he did a thing. He sucked it up, talked to the coaches, and got them to offer once more. Hatchet buried, Dawson took a moment for dignity and committed shortly after. And they lived happily ever after.
What the last six months have been like for him: It has been crazy. I'm glad it's over. I'm not going to miss this. I'm thankful for the coaches that talked to me, but I'm so happy with Michigan.
If you talked shit to Dawson on twitter, learn.
This is good because Dawson is really good. You can see by the rankings about that the sites have him in the top handful of guards in the country, and since he was a Cass kid those rankings are backed by camp after camp after camp. He was excellent at all of these. I was checking out some 1-on-1s for the Taco Charlton post and stumbled onto a few Dawson reps mixed in. At this point I've seen a fair share of those things and as you might imagine, that's a drill heavily slanted towards the defense. So when Dawson stoned—like, stood up and slow-danced with—OSU commit Billy Price, my interest was piqued.
But don't take my word for it. Take everyone's. Steve Wiltfong($) caught him at SMSB last year, when the main event was Dawson versus touted CA DE Joe Mathis:
David Dawson is one mean cuss. The Michigan commit violently took it to sought after defensive lineman Joe Mathis in two easily won matches of tire tug-a-war. In 1-on-1s, he was a bully of an offensive lineman, going back and forth with Mathis and dominating nearly everyone else he faced. He delivers a good punch and has a great base. Has really reshaped his body from the season and is down 25 pounds to 280. You could tell the nation’s No. 9 offensive guard is not carrying much extra weight on his 6-foot-5 frame.
One mean cuss! If only this had been said about Chris Fox we would be in business, man. I might call Fox "The Fantastic Mr. Fox" anyway. Someone call him a mean cuss.
This was far from an isolated evaluation. Both ESPN and 247 named him the top overall performer at the Columbus NFTC camp (the one that happened mere days after his father passed). 247:
1. David Dawson, OL, Detroit (Mich.) Cass Tech. A player with good length, Dawson showed good athleticism as an edge protector in one-on-ones but really separated himself with his finisher’s mentality. Dawson really fought to win his reps in one-on-ones and many of those reps he won with authority.
The nation's No. 1 offensive guard dominated during one-on-ones, earning MVP honors. Quite possibly there has not been a lineman this year that showcased the power and quickness Dawson did with his initial punch. The future Wolverine is ahead of his years, demonstrating nearly flawless technique in his pass-protection setting.
Various other reviews talk about Dawson in terms that would be uncomplimentary if we were not talking about a football player. 247's Clint Brewster:
Dawson is a bully. Dawson is tough as nails and wont shy away from anyone. He has a great base and an extremely strong core. His technique is nearly flawless and he does a great job with hand-placement and just simply overpowering his opponent.
Tim Sullivan noted he'd move up after leaving a "trail of destruction($)" in multiple camps:
Dawson looks thin at 6-5, 305 pounds - almost like a linebacker - and if that weight is accurate, he has the frame to play at well over 320 pounds in college without sacrificing any of his athleticism. … nearly-dominant in one-on-one drills, pancaking defensive linemen on occasion (something that's not all that common in these drills), and only losing a couple reps, both when he was wrong-footed by a speed rush.
You get the idea. A mean cuss with dominating strength. Probably. ESPN's evaluation is kind of meh for a guy who they rate the #2 guard in the country—a symptom of their fire and forget evaluation style, perhaps:
… very good size, looks to have a thick lower body and the room to potentially add some more good mass… displays the tools to be a productive run and pass blocker. In the run game, he does a very good job with hand placement and will work to reroute his hands when he can't initially gain positioning. He maintains a good base and can generate good leg drive to create push. … playing with his hand down more in the run game could help him to regulate his pad level better. He displays good pull/trap ability and is able to stay under control, locate and get a hat on active second level targets. … doesn't wow you in any particular way, but he is a big kid with the tools to be a good, well-rounded and productive college lineman.
I'm just excising all the stuff about playing lower from now on, as we can agree that there has never been an OL or DL evaluation that does not mention pad level.
Dawson's abilities extended to actual football in pads last fall. Since Dawson was a Cass guy and not Delano Hill (ie, committed to Iowa during the season), Ace had multiple opportunities to check him out. Ace, like everyone else, was a fan. Dawson versus Orchard Lake St. Mary's:
OL David Dawson (2013 commit): Dawson has reached the point where I almost assume that he'll dominate. While the Cass Tech line as a whole struggled, Dawson was a bright spot, getting huge push in the run game and holding up well on the edge in pass protection. His mean streak was once again on full display as he consistently played to—and through—the whistle, and it was obvious that OLSM defenders were frustrated going up against him.
… repeatedly paved the way for big run and physically dominated the man across from him. Dawson has outstanding technique, getting his hands right into the defender and knocking him off the ball. He's also one of the quickest linemen I've seen off the snap; at times, it looked like he was false-starting, but it was just a really good jump. On nearly every play he was the first lineman on either side to get off the snap and set.
… stellar at left tackle, as usual, paving the way for a big day on the ground and keeping QB Jayru Campbell upright in pass protection. … Cass Tech actually pulled Dawson on several run plays—linebackers had little hope of shedding his blocks and often found themselves being escorted several yards downfield. Dawson's reputation of playing to—and through—the whistle is well-earned.
If we can't call him The Fantastic Mr. Fox we might go with David "To And Through" Dawson. Sonny, you don't know about mean cusses these days. Let me tell you about Ol' To And Through. Must have been dickety-six or dickety-seven when he staved a cow's face in on the field. You see, the 'hioans were so desp'rate to prevent their tackles from being flung into the stands like so many Joe Bauserman passes that they press-ganged any livestock they came across, hopin' Ol' To And Through wouldn't stave their faces in. No such luck. Cartilage everywhere. That's why 'hio State changed their nickname to the Bleeding Sobbing Noseless Cows. True story. Fetch me my robot arms, boy.
Dawson did have some technical issues, but ones he worked through. When Mike Farrell caught him at the Rivals Five Star Challenge last year he noted that Dawson tended to dominate reps or get blown through:
Dawson showed a great punch off the snap, and when he got his hands on opponents, he dominated them. However, when his first punch wasn't effective, defensive linemen went past him with ease. With Dawson, it was either win or lose within the first few seconds of each rep.
A couple weeks later at the Opening, Dawson had corrected that:
Dawson has become more patient in two short weeks…. showed the ability to get out, move his feet, keep his arms extended and not rely on a big punch off the snap. This allowed him to effectively ride defenders outside the target area and let him use his long arms much more effectively.
Tim Sullivan also noted that sometimes Dawson's aggressiveness was a detriment:
Dawson has a nasty attitude, and wants to see the player across from him humiliated by the time the whistle blows. Unfortunately, his aggressiveness gets the better of him sometimes, and he'll lunge for the defender instead of locking on and driving. It's effective at the high school level, but he won't be dominant in college without better technique.
That stuff will get hammered out, as Dawson seems to be a coachable guy. You've got the quick-turnaround development story just above and another couple notes about Dawson picking things up quickly as he moved around in various camp environments and across various OL positions. Another Five-Star note:
Though pass protection on the interior is completely different than at tackle he made a seamless transition. He has a strong base and used his lower body strength to hold the big noseguards at bay. Dawson should prove to be invaluable in Ann Arbor because of his versatility and willingness to play wherever he is needed.
And this from the UA game:
…impressed in a very important way Tuesday. It's one thing to have the physical talent the 6-foot-4, 290-pounder possess, but he very much impressed from a cerebral standpoint. Dawson knew assignments, and received praise for that from the coaching staff in a setting in which many linemen look lost on day one and two.
While we are lacking the rapturous quote from the coach about how this guy should be raffled off to the most eligible debutantes in a three-state radius, evident coachability is at least a nod in that direction.
Why Chris McDonald? I had to give up on a reasonable Michigan comparison here. There hasn't been a Michigan guard this century that seems even a little like Dawson except Baas, who I just used for Kugler, and Hutchinson, who I used for Kalis last year. I mean: Heinige, Moosman, Lentz, Kraus, Omameh, Mitchell… none of these folks really evoke mean-cuss run-oriented guard.
So, McDonald. Dawson has higher upside than McDonald, who topped out as an honorable All Big Ten, undrafted FA type, but in terms of how they might play it's a decent fit. TFY Draft's scouting report on McDonald:
Positive: Athletically limited offensive lineman who gets the most from his ability. Strong, stays square, and controls defenders at the point of attack. Keeps his head on a swivel, shows good awareness, and works well with linemates. Keeps the defender in front of him and jolts opponents with good hand punch.
Negative: Gets tall, which robs him of leverage. Stiff and ineffective blocking in motion.
Dawson has more athleticism than a guy ranked in the teens in Michigan his recruiting year; other than that, seems accurate. McDonald was a good pass protector for a guard—one sack allowed in his final two years—and was pretty much the only consistent player on MSU's line the last couple years, earning a reputation as a hard-nosed drive blocker first and foremost.
I did think about re-using the two stars above, particularly Hutch, but I like to keep the bazooka in the holster as much as possible.
Guru Reliability: Exacting. Consensus, high profile, camps, All Star game.
Variance: Low-plus. I never give OL a "low." Other than that, Dawson is already an advanced technician, comes with a mean streak attached, and doesn't have to add too much weight or reshape his body much.
Ceiling: High. Maybe lacks perfect NFL size. Maybe. He's a guard and it seems like you can't give a guard "vast" for a similar reason you can't give it to a middle linebacker. But I mean. You guys.
General Excitement Level: Very high. He has all the things you want. Usually I look owlishly at guys who waver all over the place, but I mean… if you don't have your decisions go a little wonky when you're 17 and your dad dies, you are a robot.
Projection: Is OL, redshirt.
After that he will probably have to push past an established starter if he wants to see playing time. He's rooting for Ben Braden to win the left guard job, as Braden will move outside next year. If it's Glasgow he's got a tougher road to hoe.
Either way it' going to be a knock-down, drag-out fight with Kyle Kalis presumably on track to being a four-year starter, Kyle Bosch equally touted and already on campus, Chris Bryant still being huge, Blake Bars existing, and Glasgow being just as large and possibly more experienced than anyone. Oh and Mason Cole is coming in behind this madness with plenty of recruiting credentials to his name.
I have no idea who wins that melee. I do know that whoever does is going to kick ass. Gun to my head, I cower, void my bowels, and accept my fate. And bet on Dawson. Or Bosch. Please don't put a gun to my head about this.