You should really change all of the "Pipkens" to "Pipkins".
Michigan Museday Isn't Just Big Boned, Part I
If Strobel/Pipkins/Godin/Wormley/Ojemudia had Mii's
Body Mass Index (metric weight divided by height-squared) isn't supposed to apply to athletes. It's a health heuristic used to calculate obesity, and according to the health professional I asked, it's not really that good at calling you fat because it doesn't say how much of that weight is muscle. It just guesses that your ratio is normal; for athletes that ratio is definitively not normal. Fortunately I'm not interested in whether our extant and incoming defensive linemen are in shape; I care about identifying which DL are what shape, how this applies to what positions the 5-man 2012 DL class* will likely play, and what the success/ failure/ mehness of similar looking players might suggest what we might expect out of next year's linemen.
* There's a chance Ojemudia may move but for now I'm counting him as a WDE.
The data. Thanks to Bentley we have an historical record of player weights: Google doc'ed here for your ease. For our purposes I'm taking the mid-'90s—when player size made its big leap—through the present. Height and weight data are bountiful, but making any use of them has been hard going. However the BMI seems to have one good use in determining who plays what spot in an unbalanced defensive line. Right away there's a noticeable difference among the playing BMIs at the four DL positions:
|Pos||Ht.||Wt.||Fr BMI||Playing BMI|
|1T (Nose Tackle)||6'2 2/3||299.4||35.4||37.7|
|3T (Def. Tackle)||6'4 2/3||291.6||32.1||35.0|
|7T (WDE)||6'3 2/3||260.4||29.4||32.0|
As you go from outside to inside height remains steady as weight goes up. Interestingly NTs are the shortest on the line as well as the largest, speaking to a certain shorter/stouter body type preferred at the position. Reported heights are not always accurate but the listed height on Rivals tends to match the freshman heights in Bentley's database, so I've used those across the board; the DL I expect has the least amount of height gain (most of these guys have more facial hair at 18 than I could produce at 22). It tells the story:
Lots of these guys moved about too, especially between SDE and DT, but you can kind of see why. What I'd like to do from here is take a position-by-position look at the size of all of these guys as freshmen versus the Class of 2012, and their growth over their careers (to test if hanging weight on a large frame can "build" a great DL) and finally put the playing BMIs versus the guys left on the roster to see if the 2012 DL at least looks like defensive lines of yore.
Renes talking down to lil bro | Bowman not being held | Watson being gravitational
Nose Tackle (NT, Nose Guard, 1-Tech) is the guy usually lined up shaded over the center. This job (most recently Mike Martin's) in a 4-3 under and 3-4 is similar in that the lineman must often stand up to double-teams or fight off a single-block lined up playside of him in order to cover two gaps. (Current players in bold, 2012 recruits in italics).
|Name||Class of||Ht.||BMI as Fr.||BMI-Ply||% Change|
Good news: Ondre Pipkins is as large as any NT to come in, in the top group with Watson, Kates and Ash. Watson and Ash both were asked to lose weight (Ash is now being rebuilt) while Kates lost his ability to play after adding another 4.1% to his body weight. The comparable here is something between freshman Gabe Watson (2002) and freshman Terrance Taylor (2005). The recruiting hype is in that range as well, but this is a kind of hard position to rank out of high school because most of these dudes just murder your typical suburban offensive linemen/future economics majors. They also get chopped a lot. Watson's high school career is responsible for at least three later shoulder surgeries I know of.
This is not necessarily such good news. Both Watson and Taylor played as true freshmen which suggests Pipkins's size should make him instantly plug-in-able. However they both had to wait to become starters; Watson was behind Lazarus and then Bowman before playing as a junior, and Taylor sat behind Watson (and Pat Massey at DT) for a year. The other guy with the same BMI as Pipkins—in fact he's almost identical—is current depth guy Richard Ash. But then here's where knowing the background of the players helps because Ash was kind of an out-of-shape flier expected to be Barwicized , while the book on Pipkins, like Watson and Taylor, is that he's carrying a lot college muscle already.
By BMI, Campbell is in the second group because of his height. Like OL/DL/Fck Lion Proprietor Marques Slocum, this method shows BWC's height as a disadvantage, making it harder for him to get his weight under offensive linemen. However his prodigious 5-star strength is still occasionally on display, and he admits part of his thing is effort. Quinton Washington, if he was an NT, would fit in this group.
The shorter guys in this part of the list finds some big successes among people coached by Hoke or Mattison: William Carr, Rob Renes and Mike Martin. But we don't have a guy like that right now.
The ones that had to be built—Bowman, Patterson, Wilson, Lazarus, Miller and Horn, came in about the size of Godin and Wormley and put on a lot of weight to be productive as upperclassmen (or in Patterson's case, a much needed body with functioning circulation and eligibility). Wormley could turn into a Lazarus or Wilson, who like Chris had the proverbial "frames" to put on a lot of muscle, and did so.
Next week: the DTs, the SDEs, and the WDEs.
Both of those are fantastic, especially Ojemudia's eyes in the line-up.
I think we need more Mii avatars around here. Who wants to do one for Brian Cook?
I'm really looking forward to you finishing this, as I am a big believer that this recruiting class is ultimately going to be closer to a 3-4 than a 4-3 under because of its size on the DL.
I will be very interested in what you find with WDE. The only one I have looked into is Brandon Graham, and I believe he actually shed weight from his freshman year to his senior.
I know that the personnel for a 3-4 and a 4-3 under are extremely similar. I just don't see Ojemudia putting his hand on the ground more often than not.
If Ojemudia wins a starting spot, it will be as a zone blitzing linebacker who comes from different locations, not as a WDE lining up on the same tackle play after play. I also see Wormley and Godin panning out more as the double-team-eating DE you would see out of a 3-4 rather than the explosive 3-techs you see out of a 4-3 Under.
Michigan will run a 4-3 under most likely but you are correct on Ojemudia being smaller than effective WDEs in a 4-3 under. How much so I will save to next week.
The 4-3 Under uses the same personnel as the 3-4.
Interesting info. But too bad your picture of Will Carr is from that horrid game against Purdue in 96.
i guess I don't know the story of OL/DL/Fck Lion Proprietor Marques Slocum. What's up with his nickname?
I just wanted to thank you for reminding me of the pleasure of the Fuck Lion. A wonderous time in all our lives assuredly.
another criticism re: BMI is its failure to account for different shapes. people with different frames (broad shoulders? wide hips? both?) should have varying expectations for what their mass would be, relative to height. tall skinny dudes will have less mass than tall wide dudes.... and that's.... okay.
for purposes of this exercise, i think you're in the clear, since DL as a population will select out most skinny types.
I think Gabe Watson is the parallel I most hope for with Ondre Pipkins. Watson was a large space eater with good height who came in with high rankings and contributed right away. He also was a solid player for four years and has hung around the NFL for a while now. In addition, Watson was known for his good personality and Michigan-Man persona. He was known for stopping by Marching Band practices just to support them since they supported the team so much.
Unfortunately, Watson never went from "good" to "great" despite his 4-year contributions and eventual NFL seasons. While I'd like to see Pipkins have the upside of an Alan Branch, I can live with a solid 4-year anchor in the middle. I think part of the problem is that space eaters don't get the recognition of more athletic guys like Mike Martin.
Your chart shows just how miscast Pat Massey was for most of his career given how tall he was. He was a man without a natural position, though seeing him play TE like his brother could have been interesting at 6'8".