Great write up Seth. I am going to miss these guys. They have been through so much but stuck it out when it mattered most. Odoms and his blocking, Martin and his smashing, Koger and his miraculous catching... man it's going to be weird not seeing them on the field next year. Can't wait to read tomorrow's post about the '07 class.
Michigan Museday: What We Asked of Them, Part I
EDIT: Moved Grady to this group
I've written plenty about the guys from the classes of '07 and '08 who didn't make it to this week. This one's for the guys who did.
Many had to overcome hideous, season-ending injuries to get here. They also stuck around through two paradigm-shifting coaching changes, or watched the guy and the system they committed to run out of town.What they signed up for was multiple Big Ten championships and Rose Bowls, but what they got was the most tumultuous years at Stadium and Main since Yost dug a hole in the ground.
What they leave is a program on the verge of a BCS bowl, on the verge of another reshaping, on the verge of one final chance to beat Ohio State. The leadership they provided helped Michigan avoid another painful transition, and set the tone for more success to come. There have been many great seniors to graduate from Michigan, but it is no derogation of them to say that this class is a bit special. Here are their stories (in reverse order of commitment):
EARLY RICH-RODIGAN JET-SMURFS:
Michael Shaw was the wizard hat to Trotwood teammate Roundtree's snake oil, a Penn State commit (Carr had wanted him as a CB) who switched to Michigan at the last minute. Unlike fellow '08 RB recruits he had neither captured the imagination of the Internet by hurdling fools, nor did he have a name that 13-year-olds use on prank calls. What Shaw had was speed, hands, and a cut-and-bounce move. People thought he might be a slot receiver. The era Shaw played in was replete with RBs of various skillsets, and proximity to Carlos Brown made for exaggerated comparisons. Various injuries made for sporadic appearances. He started the '09 Ohio State game and was nominally the starter at the beginning of this year. Everyone will have to pick their endearing memory of bouncy Shaw; mine will be the block on McNaul against NU (the purple one) and Batman.
"Normally they're keying in on me. I don't know why, but they're keying in on me, so that's where [Denard] gets his yards from … We had an idea they were going to try to contain Denard, but we also thought Notre Dame was going to try to contain him."
Martavious Odoms was billed as the perfect slot bug, the prototypical Rich Rodriguez Pahokee speedster with skillz who's completely overlooked because he's tiny. He was brought in to return kicks and punts, block like a mountain goat, and catch bubble screens. Whenever someone of the old guard complained about "little Florida guys" who "won't make it in the Big Ten," they were talking about Odoms.
Tay almost immediately grabbed that slot position and led the team in receptions as a somewhat fumbly true freshman. His sophomore season it was his mountain goat blocking and magnificent TD against Indiana that prevented a Hoosier loss from ever being added to the pile of Rodriguezian indignities. But he sprained a knee against Penn State and missed the rest of the season while redshirted classmate Roy Roundtree exploded. Odoms returned as the world's smallest outside WR in 2010 until a broken foot knocked him out for the second half of the year. This year several broken bits kept Odoms on the sideline as Gallon emerged, until Odoms reprised the Indy TD (@8:51) against Nebraska.
Denard, can you talk about what you saw on the Odoms TD?
Denard: “Me and Martavious had a race, what, two years ago? So I saw that he can run, and he went right past the defenders and I put it in the air.”
What happened in that race?
Odoms, to Denard: “… What happened?”
Denard: “You have to tell them. You have to tell them.”
Odoms: “No, you should tell them.”
Denard: “Ah … he beat me. He got a win there. He got a win.”
Kelvin Grady committed to Michigan before any of these guys, but for basketball. After his sophomore ('08-'09) season Grady left the backcourt to join his brother in Rich Rod's basketball on grass. Grady also left his sure scholarship, and had to compete with the rest of the walk-ons to earn a football one (he did). Grady19 immediately pushed for playing time in the now crowded slot rotation, showing great route running but not so great hands. Then last year the hands improved—as in he caught almost everything thrown his way—and also became the designated reverse guy.
This year he's rotated in every game, despite there being another guy who's "emerged" at his position every year he's been here (Odoms, Roundtree, Gallon). His eligibility will run out after this season, but Kelvin has already received his Bachelor's degree, and is a year into his Master's in Social Work.
"It crossed my mind that I wouldn't have anything," said Grady, who started 25 basketball games as a freshman before seeing his time reduced last year. "I'd be out. I'd be just like the rest of the guys back home who dropped out of college and didn't have anywhere else to go. But I'm too strong. I've got too much will. I've got a family that supports me. I've got a brother [Kevin, a senior running back for Michigan] that's working hard.
"I just want to say to you Florida boys it's not so bad in Michigan."
Terrence Robinson may not get a 5th year; the Texas 4-star was another slot bug who actually won the job in '08 before Odoms. He caused a Nebraska fumble on special teams this year—I don't know what his plans are if there's a scholarship available.
J.B. Fitzgerald got the Victor Hobson designation in the four-man YMRMFSPA haul of Foote-Hobson-Crable-C.Graham. This was thanks to um, large hands? Fitz also was considered quite raw, needing considerable coaching on his read and reaction skills. In this, it's hard to argue that Michigan didn't fail him, provided Jay Hopson then GERG as his position coaches. Fitzgerald was never a threat to displace Obi Ezeh or Jonas Mouton, except when the coaches got so fed up with those guys they put Fitz in (after they tried Kevin Leach). He did see some starting time at OLB late last year due to injuries, but has since been passed by the likes of Ryan and the freshmen. An academic All-American, Fitz will graduate with a degree in sport management.
"Physical's how we like it." (half of this guy's quotes can be taken out of context, the other half are about his family).
Until 2011, Kevin Koger (not Kroger) was the last head-to-head recruiting battle with [glances around, whispers] you know who in Ohio that Michigan actually won. Brian said he was Carson Butler minus the attitude and projected a future move to defensive end. Damn right about the attitude – Koger is a 2011 team captain and the Ryan Van Bergen of the offense.
Koger raised the hype meter a bit by scoring that TD versus Wisconsin in his first career catch, and then hauling in a one-handed flying stab in garbage time versus WMU in '09 that was more entertaining than Coner throwing D.O.'s to walk-on receivers with Mets' last names. This year he made another ridiculous catch over the middle versus Western. Koger's production on the field hasn't changed much from sharing time with Webb in 2010 (14 catches for 199 yards and 2 TDs) to being the guy in Borges's offense (17 catches for 195 yards and 3 TDs). Blocking Purdue's DEs (at top of screen, blocking 49) was a lot of fun.
In parts of the internet where trite metaphors are allowed, the phrase "Mike Martin is a beast!!!" is stated repeatedly, the number of exclamation marks varying from one to however many it takes to break a keyboard depending on how many yards backwards the poor sap charged with blocking him traveled before reestablishing radio contact. In less savage parts of the internet, people made things like this:
all the time. You can even put him in a micro fleece Balaclava and put Greg Robinson behind him (below) and he still looks like he's about to kill a quarterback any second. So of course Michigan put him in a micro fleece Balaclava and put Greg Robinson behind him. He was still the best player on the defense once Brandon Graham left; actually he beat out Graham for Michigan's '09 DL award.
A late-blooming prospect, Martin got his offer in June after Georgia DT Omar Hunter turned Michigan down. He committed immediately, and remained committed when a flood of others, including ND, came in after the coaching change. Martin arrived able to bench press like NFL first rounders, and ESPN said he looks like a crab.*
He immediately entered the DT rotation with Taylor and Johnson, and then spent the rest of his career here as a nose tackle because Michigan didn't have any other guys on the interior who could demand double teams. GERG's great idea to utilize Martin was to make him the centerpiece of 3-man rushes. After his junior year, Martin's personal accomplishments matched those of Alan Branch, with a far worse supporting cast.
*I think when people say "crab" what they mean is pad level. From now on when I hear "crab" I will declare that prospect someone Michigan must get. I want an entire DL that consists of nothing but crab people who squat 520 and chase QBs like they're Shawn Crable.
Despite having NFL prospects, despite a new coach and staff again again, he stayed. He said:
"‘What are we going to do as a team? Where are we now? We can either not be all in and do what we need to do, or we can work hard together and make sure we’re successful.’ ”
Hoke was also in the room. He remembered Robinson being upset at the media speculating his departure. He remembered fifth-year senior center David Molk getting up in that same meeting and telling everybody the team was going to stick together. …
“When (Robinson) came to us, he was addressing that we as a group — including him — need to make sure that none of the younger guys have doubtful thoughts or might want to stray away,” Martin said. “We didn't want there to be a repeat of last time there was a transfer of a coach.”
Tomorrow: Those Who Stayed (the Class of '07):
I'm gonna miss that kid-- always fighting, always playing without any awareness or concern for his size, and always going to work out there. No matter how desperate or bleak things became, he's always played with heart, and hope.
That, and he once stood up to Magnus:
Lego Martavious is a dick.
Great idea for a tribute to men who really stuck through it all. Rooster Cogburn would approve.
No one has exemplified that more than the seniors on team 132. Sincere thanks to each and every one of them. Pure class act.
Beat Ohio! Go Blue!
How to define Michigan man, but I know it when I see it. These kids are as big of michigan men as have ever been on this team. I want so badly for them to beat Ohio and play in a bcs bowl. Those who stay....and they did
Is this supposed to choke me up so much?
around my computer screen.
Most of the people on here will turn on them and say how much they suck and "failed". But everyone will still be the same guys deserving of great praise today, yesterday, and tomorrow.
I don't think that is fair for any of us to say from our vantage. We may criticize their play on the field...but to say any of these who stayed has failed does a diservice to them. This is becoming more and more clear after all the events detailed in 3&O and that we previously knew about...they've stuck with the program and represented the spirit of Michigan no matter what happens Saturday.
But that's how fandom goes. If Denard turns the ball over enough to lose the game, you can bet there will be 8 threads Saturday night saying he shouldn't be the starter next year. Even though he'll have still lead the team to a 9-3 season. I'm just saying remember this thread after our next loss as well as after 2 big victories (with the expectation of another) before one decides to post. Because the players and coaches don't become different people; so if you admire time today, it shouldn't change on Saturday...or January.
"Most of the pepole on here will turn on them"
Come on now... give us a little credit.
Sure there are a few of us who flip out after a loss or during games, and there are a few bad apples who say they "suck and failed".
Don't lump "most of the people on here" with the rotten apples. Most of us will criticize certain plays, but will never say how much they suck and failed.
Unless we're talking about a Liveblog, then I totally stand behind it.
Is that a picture of Taylor Lewan in the top right? It looks like him, but he's not a senior...
That's Huyge, not Lewan.
I wish all of these guys good luck, and thanks. A special good luck to Mark Huyge (NA& ME major).
Regardless of the outcome Saturday morning, I wish these guys nothing but the best. They have endured more than any class in the history of this great school and by staying saved us additional years of pain and suffering. Thank you and best wishes!
that RVB is the kid in the red jersey.
I'm gonna miss these guys terribly.
and helped with a new beginning.
Gotdam, I love these guys. Can't wait for tomorrow. I wish Coach Schembechler was here to see these guys. No matter what happens Saturday, these guys are Champions. No one can take that way from them.
When Coach Hoke got here, when Coach Harbaugh was being rumored...there was so much talk of "what is a Michigan Man."
Look no further than this class.
Growing up in a time before the Internet, I always just cheered for Michigan. It didn't matter who was behind the face mask because you seldom saw them. I still loved them but it was always just a name and a number who would be gone in 4 years.
Thanks to things like MGoBlog and others, all of these players are real people to the fans now. I'm so glad that's true, because knowing who these guys really are, reminds you of who and what you are really cheering for.
Go kick Ohio's ass and Go Blue (each and everyone of you). Thank you seniors!
Michael Shaw, Kevin Koger, David Molk, Mark Huyge
Mike Martin, Will Heininger (I think), Kelvin Grady
Ryan Van Bergan
Troy Woolfolk, Tay Odoms, JB Fitzgerald, Junior Hemingway
Close - I accidentally have JB's layer hidden behind the other guys; that's his background behind RVB's shoulder.
The man you identified as JB is Brandon Herron.
Oddly enough, he does look like JiBreel Black, lol.
I think it was JiBreel Black at first, but that obviously wouldn't make sense. It's gotta be Fitz. After looking up some of his high school recruiting profile pictures...I can see it. He's just never "tough" in pictures. Black always is.
Some classes have obviously had more success...but when people say They can tell the measure of a man when he faces adversity...these are the kids that became Michigan Men and then proved it over and over as they Persevered and Stayed and Led
Finish this regular season against that Team from Ohio and cement your place as Leaders and Best in every way that counts because you deserve it
Even if they do not beat Ohio, this team will still be my favorite by far. And that's no easy feat. They'll be replacing the Hart/Henne/Long monsters of Lloyd's final teams. My man-crush (slight homo) for Mike Hart especially seemed like it could never be eclipsed, but then #16 came into my life, and it made me want to do cheesy 80's movie things to gain his affection.
But all joking aside, I think those who have followed the program closely the last 4 years and have struggled along with the team, from putting up with MSU fans and unbelievable losing streaks and terrible loses (both close and...not-so-close) will always feel a surge of affection towards these players. When you go through something like this together, it brings you closer, and I love that out of the rubble has arisen a bond that was missing the previous years between fans and players.
We've learned from this team more than any before that they are human beings with real trials and problems and feelings like the rest of us, except amplified. They go through hells that many of us would have crumpled under, and on top of all that, they have to go to class and earn a degree...all at the tender ages of 18-21. One day, I'll teach my children about the toughest damn team of Wolverines I've ever seen, and use the likes of Martin, Koger, Grady and Molk as examples of how to stay tough when you think the whole world is against you.
Fergodsakes....please. Beat. Ohio.
I won't even ask for "Beat Ohio into submission and with extreme malice". Just win.
Win for Team 132.
They've been through football hell. They've been questioned, cajoled, mocked, put down, and ransacked, and yet they stand here ready to recieve a massive cheer on Saturday during senior day.
And let me say this, I will miss Martavious Odoms a lot. Not just because he's a slot ninja. Not just because he blocks like a mountain goat. But because he kept fighting and fighting and fighting through. That's what the kids from the muck of Pahokee do and even if we never get another Pahokee kid at Michigan, we're better for having had Tay Odoms here. The fact that he had a nice little going away present last week just felt right. If he'd like to take a kick back to the house this weekend, I don't think any of us would mind. Thank you senior class. Thank you.
I will be honest. I love Tay Odoms like...as a guy, as a person, and I've never even met him. Which is sappy, foolish, naive, and idealistic. But I'll be damned if I don't. For Tay, for guys like him, for everyone: Beat. Ohio.