your obligatory Kalis/Braden shots (left: Thomas Ondrey, CPD. Right: Tim Sullivan, The Wolverine)
Recently, Brady Hoke sat down with ESPN and answered questions posed to him about the football team he's in charge of. This business resulted a bunch of personnel questions, and the responses were quite a bit less vague than they might have been.
Offensive line stuffs. The thing that leaps off the page:
Well, I think the interior of both lines, there's going to be a lot of competition. We've got to find a center, and that's between [Jack] Miller and [Graham] Glasgow, and Joey Burzynski will try to figure that out a little bit, too. At the guard positions, Ben Braden is going to move down inside and start out at the left guard, but he'll have a lot of competition because Burzynski is back and so is Blake Bars. Kyle Kalis will move into the right side, and it will be interesting again with [Kyle] Bosch and some of the guys who have been here a little bit. I think it will be a really good competition at all three of those inside positions.
Kyle Kalis was at left guard and is flipping to the right for some reason.
He and Ben Braden sound like your tenuous leaders at the guard spots.
Graham Glasgow is your #2-ish center at this instant.
Chris Bryant does not get mentioned, probably because he's still recovering from injury.
The Braden move puts him on the same path Michael Schofield took to the starting right tackle job: an apprenticeship at LG and then lockdown at RT. Braden's listed an inch shorter than Schofield on the official site, if you're worried about guys getting under him and blowing him up. FWIW, Hoke also talks up Schofield extensively ("really good winter" … "real bright spots" last year, "special deployed").
I'm not sure why Michigan would flip Kalis, but for whatever reason it seems like they prefer future right tackles getting their first playing time to hang out at left guard instead of right. Maybe it's about spatial orientation: when a left guard pulls he ends up on the right side of the line, and if that pull turns into pass protection it's more natural for Once and Future Right Tackle to execute that. Or maybe it's about having Kalis pull to Lewan's side of the line, a prospect that Hoke must be drooling about after a couple years of having the (relatively) slight and inexperienced (at pulling, anyway) Patrick Omameh as the guard pulling to Lewan on power plays to the left.
Hoke also acknowledges that the three tech and SDE spots are close to interchangeable:
Willie Henry, Ondre Pipkins, Ryan Glasgow, Richard Ash and Chris Wormley are all guys who can either play the inside tackle or the strongside end. We'll find out the guys who are competitive.
The other Glasgow is thrown in there, yes; Hoke also brings up Strobel and Heitzman separately; Ondre Pipkins is oddly in this heap of guys. Implication: they will give him a shot to win the three-tech job and if it happens they'll find a backup for Quinton Washington somehow (Ash or Henry, probably). If I was betting I'd put my money on Wormley with Pipkins getting extensive time behind Washington or both guys.
norfleet obsession: still poppin' (Melanie Maxwell, MLive)
Keeping Derrick Green's seat warm. Norfleet is at running back, as you know, and Drake Johnson is building on a bit of bowl practice hype. Then there's this telling sentence:
Thomas Rawls is coming back, and I think he learned a lot last year about the vision he needs to play with, and I like how he's competed through the [winter].
He's the third back mentioned, behind Norfleet and the redshirted Johnson. I'd say he'd still have a role as a short-yardage back, but 1) he wasn't any good at that last year and 2) DeVeon Smith and Derrick Green, especially Green.
Exit? At linebacker it's just a bunch of names, but should we read something between the lines when Hoke brings up Kaleb Ringer returning from injury but not Antonio Poole? Michigan is currently at 87 players. Due to Big Ten rules they've already had to explain to the league where those two scholarships are coming from, so it's just a matter of announcing it.
Dollars to donuts we get the announcement of a couple of departures/medical scholarships Thursday, when the Hoke has his first presser. One guy apparently not on that list: fifth-year-to-be Mike Jones, to-date little used and previously seen to be a candidate for a firm handshake. Hoke brought him up in the linebacker procession of names.
Other stuff. Rittenberg asks about the other position groups as well, but nothing there is particularly surprising. I think Hoke mentions literally every scholarship DB on the roster save Delonte Hollowell*; linebacker is obvious to all; Blake Countess will do "some things" this spring, so his injury is still hampering him. The first WRs up after the senior slots are Darboh and Chesson, and then this is a little worrying:
And I think Jeremy Jackson has had a very good winter; we're very excited about some of the progress he's made. Joe Reynolds is a guy who walked on here, and he's done a very nice job. And Bo Dever, his dad played here and he walked on.
Options other than those two guys include two walk-ons and Jeremy Jackson. Really could have used an instant impact WR guy in this class. Obvious sentence is obvious.
*[Which you might read something into if you were so inclined. Michigan was clearly petrified of putting either Hollowell or Richardson on the field in the bowl game despite the fact that South Carolina's receivers were the best matchup possible for them (ie, short). Richardson can say he's a true freshman. Hollowell not so much. Greener pastures may beckon.]