good luck with that
Got this idea from Ryan Nanni: name the rival player you don't actually hate.
1. Be very good, 2. Lose to Michigan.
David: I don't have a great answer for this question. At least in the last decade or so...most likely due to Michigan's lack of success against their chief rivals. I thought of Mike Conley—whom I do like and respect—but he was only in Columbus for a year. Or Manti Teo? But...his whole career ended super weird. Pass. Let's go back...how about: Eddie George.
George fits this really well, I think. I remember watching him during his final year in 1995, enough games, anyway. He had a fantastic Heisman Trophy-winning year but was unbelievably upstaged by Tim Biakabutuka in The Game that year. George was held under 100 yards, while Biakabutuka set records with his 313 yards, as Michigan derailed Ohio State's National Championship hopes.
In the NFL, Eddie George was very fun to support. On top of being a model NFL citizen, he was a consummate professional. Never missing a start in Tennessee ('96-'03), George rushed for 1,000 yards in every year except for 2001 (where he had 939). He also had 300+ carries every season as a Titan, including 403 (!!) in 2000. He was also a prolific pass catcher out of the backfield with 259 receptions for 2144 yards and 10 TDs over those same 8 seasons. After 2003, the Titans chose to cut him and he played in Dallas for a year, but he was pretty much done.
Unfortunately, as happens to too many athletes, George had an up-and-down time in his post-playing career; here's a really neat article about it. However, some highlights do include dabbling in multiple platforms in front of the camera, constructing a life-preparation class, and even getting his MBA from Northwestern, no easy feat.
Seth: I have two because the one isn't at all interesting or controversial. That no. 1 is Drew Stanton. I was supposed to hate him because in high school he was one of the kids who moved to Farmington Hills just to play for Coach Herrington—such athletes would come from all over the state then blow through D-III by an average score of 46-9. I knew some good men—future attorneys and financial advisers—who were in that D-III.
Stanton never beat Michigan. As Jeff "smoke green, snort white!" Smoker embodied the Saban-Williams program, Stanton was the JLS era: likeable football-loving dudes with hot piss who played spread 'n shred football with a heavy portion of Sparty No! Among these: Stanton ruined his knee on punt coverage, and initiated Braylonfest by getting knocked out of it.
Drew then had the incredible misfortune to be drafted in the 2nd round by Matt Millen for a Lions team that never had any intention of using him. I felt bad, more so because he was also the one local athlete celebrity you were most likely to see at a volunteer thing.
[After the jump: I am going to piss someone off.]
Willie Henry has always possessed incredible physical talent, but consistency issues have limited his playing time over the past two seasons. At Media Day he discussed taking stock of his strengths and weaknesses and what he chose to work on in the offseason. This was a one-on-one interview, so all questions below were asked by me.
What were your goals for the summer individually and as a defense?
“To be a better player than I was last year, of course. Get down, cut body fat. Come faster off the ball, quicker twitch, play-action reads so reacting to the play action fast than I did, which I feel like was a weakness of mine. Working on a lot of weaknesses and also sharpening the skills I thought I was good at, whether it was bench press or coming off the ball, explosion, stuff like that. So I tried to work on a little bit of everything this offseason.”
How do you go about working on things like play-action reads?
“Play action, a lot of times we’d do hand drills with each other. Timing with each other, work off a quick move or something like that off a quick set, or moves with the offensive line and how they come off the ball on play action. So a lot of times it’s like seeing something to get used to seeing and reacting to it. A lot of times we’d do reaction stuff to see and react to it, stuff like that.”
Going into fall camp, what goals do you have for yourself?
“One is to be as best as I can be to help the team be as best as we can be. Everybody wants to come out here and be a starter, so that’s the goal is to come out here game 1 and be a starter. So I go out here every day to compete and challenge and may the best man win. I’m quite sure everybody’s going to be out here giving it their all.”
You have a very deep defensive line. Do you see anybody who’s poised for a breakout year in that group?
“To be honest, everybody. Everybody’s been working their butts off this whole offseason. Everybody’s dedicated, everybody’s got a whole different mindset. Everybody’s been grinding. You know, a lot of people been in the weight room doing extra, on the field doing extra, doing extra stuff just so they can be the best that they can be so there’s a lot of people that’re going to come out here in fall camp and compete for a starting job. I’m not thinking that since I’ve been playing a lot it’s going to be handed to me because everybody out here wants to play. A lot of people competing for playing time with new coaches.”
We’ve heard a lot about multiple fronts with this defense. What positions have you been playing?
“Three [tech] and the end. I can play a little nose. I play a little bit of everything, to be honest, so it’s good to be versatile. I play a little bit of everything on the line.”
What are your team’s expectations for this season?
“To win every game. To be the best in the Big Ten and be the best in the country. That would be our goals.”
Next up in our series of Media Day interviews is Royce Jenkins-Stone, who talked about surviving four-hour practices, some operational differences between the last staff and this one, and being the Buck linebacker. This was a one-on-one, so all questions below were asked by me.
What were some of the things you worked on over the summer?
“Over the summer we were just working out. You know, getting bigger, getting stronger, getting faster. But spring ball was very interesting.”
In what way?
“Just different. I never had that type of practice. Four-hour practices can definitely take a toll on you. I’m just happy I made it out. Made it out in one piece!”
How have things changed since last year? We’ve heard about the four-hour practices, but what else is different?
“Really not too much is different. It’s still the same attitude toward winning and wanting the team to get better and wanting people to be more about the team and not about themselves. I feel like it’s getting better. Definitely getting better, especially after spring ball. Everybody endured thus far in practices and having a struggle between you and your team and knowing that ‘Hey, I went through the same things you went through’ is bringing everyone together and making people think about [things] more as a team and not about themselves.”
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest]
|Saginaw, MI – 6'2", 200|
|Scout||4*, #75 overall
#9 WR, #1 MI
|Rivals||4*, #101 overall
#4 ATH, #2 MI
|ESPN||4*, #148 overall
#11 ATH, #2 MI
|24/7||4*, #65 overall
#5 ATH, #1 MI
|Other Suitors||OSU, MSU, Neb, Wisconsin, Tenn|
|YMRMFSPA||Braxton Miller, WR Edition or… Braylon Edwards|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post from Ace. Live scouting from Ace an Dave. Ace caught him at Media Day as well.|
|Notes||UA game. Early enrollee. Twitter.|
Cole's Hudl film is kind of sparse, with nothing from this year. Here's the first four games of his junior year:
Still not bad, eh? Scouting film from Ace and Dave:
Here is why recruiting sites throw up their hands and give certain players the extremely non-informative "athlete" designation:
Cole is an incredibly versatile athlete who did just about everything but drive the team bus and cook the pregame meal at Saginaw Heritage. He played quarterback, running back, wide receiver, defensive back and returned kicks. He was even a punter.
And he drove the bus and cooked the pregame meal.
In Brian Cole, Michigan has an… uh… well, an athlete. But more like an ATHLETE! Here are some people going "like wow dang":
- Bud Elliott, SBNation: "…absolutely fantastic athlete, easily one of the best in the country … deadly on the football field … quick-twitch to the max. His ability to stop, and then get right back up to top speed is excellent. He can sky to get the football as a receiver if any defender has managed to keep up with his top-end speed, and he snatches the football well with his hands, naturally."
- ESPN: "…really impressive on the hoof. Big, strong and fast. Good height, long arms and has huge upside for frame development over time. He is an explosive 0 to 60 player with great feet and a second gear. Possesses an ideal combination of physical prowess and speed with excellent agility on both sides of the football. … When he gets to the second level he can be a hold your breath type of guy."
- Josh Helmholdt, Rivals: "[has] a combination of great size - he's built like a guy who could grow into a linebacker - but he has the speed and athleticism of a top-end wide receiver … it's the run-after-catch ability. He'll be a threat with the football once he has it in his hands."
- Allen Trieu, Scout (evaluating a single game in which Cole was a tailback): "…[showed] good feet and elusiveness for a kid of his size. He can make people miss and cut back and change directions like a smaller player. Defensively, where he had 10 tackles, he showed excellent closing speed and a lot of effort in pursuit. That extra gear and acceleration was surprising and impressive."
And then there's 24/7's Clint Brewster, who has a bit of a self-contradictory scouting report. In it he gives Cole a 9 for "explosiveness" and then:
"Cole is a bigger/stronger wide receiver that is more in the possession type of receiver mold. He runs outstanding routes and has un-matched physicality and competitiveness catching the ball in traffic or in one-on-one coverage. … game at wide receiver really reminds me of the NFL’s Anquan Boldin"
I dunno man. There's always one evaluation that seems like it's of another player, even if it's generally positive.
One thing about that scouting report that is echoed by others is heavy praise for Cole's ball skills. Anquan Boldin is a human vacuum and may be taking things too far, but both ESPN…
…will high point the ball from his safety position, naturally plucks the ball in contested match-ups and is not a player that fights the football or allows it to get into his frame. Shows good hand-eye coordination to time jumps, elevate in a crowd and pull ball away from receivers. Shows very good body control in conjunction with his ball skills."
…and his current WR coach…
The guy should be a senior in high school and he goes out there and I told him, I said, ‘Your ball skills are unbelievable. When you actually know what you’re doing it’s going to be unreal,’ because he makes some plays that are just tremendous.
…are on board.
Of course, there is that catch in there: "when you actually know what you're doing." Cole's high school team had little passing game and he missed a couple games because he got ejected. When he was on the field, his team wasn't helping him much. That tape Dave got at the top of the post is the exact opposite of Ty Isaac's high school film: you can't tell anything because there are 11 guys around him instead of 0.
- So he's raw at whichever position you'd like to project him to, including wide receiver. Take it from a man named Brian Cole:
“To be honest, I’m not even the best route runner … I’ve progressed and gotten better at it. But I’m still not where I want to be.”
Helmholdt echoed that in his evaluation, saying "he gets by mostly on pure athleticism" and that "route-running is something [he wants] to see more of from him." When Ace and Dave scouted Cole in person, this was the extent of what they saw from him at his college position:
Cole was far and away the best athlete on the field, made a few spectacular plays, a couple poor ones, and couldn't find any space to maneuver against a defense hell-bent on containing him. Unfortunately, the only half-decent look we got of him as a receiver—he's expected to play the slot at Michigan—came when he torched a corner off the line, got over the top of the safety, and... that's it, because his quarterback couldn't get the ball to him.
His coach at the Under Armor game even suggested he would end up redshirting. That is both an uncommon opinion and one that's based on the coach's projection that he'd play safety. Which he probably will at some point, because HARBAUGH, but given Michigan's crying need at WR—crying need for anyone who can outrun a traffic cone on offense—this evaluation isn't going to consider that.
Despite that rawness, Cole immediately impressed upon his enrollment. While the universe waited to see Jabrill Peppers assume the Woodson mantle, Cole may have been the #2 guy Michigan fans wanted to see after a solid month of hype. Hype like Sam Webb and Marcus Ray talking about a particular play on which Cole outran Michigan's (projected) superman. This is Ray after being prompted by Webb:
"He defeated double coverage, caught the ball with both hands with no fear, came down with it, hit a burst, split the safeties, scored a touchdown and got up and celebrated with his teammates. That was one of those plays where if you’re a parent or a recruit standing there and you’re over there talking about whatever and (someone says), ‘did you guys just see that play?’ It got your attention. He’s going to be a difference maker."
"Cole looks like a natural out there," Swenson said. "He must have made about six or seven plays when I was watching practice. He's just really smooth in running his routes and the way he was playing the game. He's definitely the guy that stood out to me overall on offense. It was really impressive."
Hoke's staff planned on starting Cole off in the slot, and Harbaugh seemed to go along with that—probably because in the absence of Dennis Norfleet, the list of scholarship slot receivers this spring consisted of "maybe Freddy Canteen unless we need him on the outside" and walkons.
Cole certainly has the skillset to play on the outside eventually. 6'2" leaping athletes generally get stuck out there, and if Cole comes close to matching his hype he will be on the field with a lot of tight ends, thus making him an outside receiver by default.
As far as this year goes… well, there's freshman receiver hype and freshman receiver reality. Cole did little in the spring game. The most recent true freshman wideout to make any sort of impact was Mario Manningham. Manningham spent his high school career demolishing secondaries across Ohio and would develop into one of the smoothest, most natural wide receivers Michigan has ever had; he still did not crack 30 catches his first year. An athlete(!) like Cole, even one who comes with an exclamation point attached, will do well to see the field on actual passing plays.
I mean, remember last year and Freddy Canteen? Yeah. I'd be way less surprised if Canteen started delivering this year and people were momentarily disappointed in Cole. Momentarily.
Early in the first quarter – Cole who is also Heritage’s punter – botched a low snap, and then, well, he improvised. First he ran left, no room, so then he ran right and took his speed to a new level as he outran the entire Arthur Hill defense for an electrifying 59 yard touchdown run.
If we run out of Australians, worth a try.
Why Braxton Miller, WR Edition? Miller is a 6'2", 220-pound-ish freak of an athlete with full-throttle speed and agility he should not have. Also he has spent the bulk of his career in the backfield so no one knows if he can play wide receiver. I mean, you'd think… but Darryl Stonum never got the hang of it so clearly there are hurdles to overcome.
Miller was a bigger recruit than Cole, around 30th nationally, but not by that much and since he clearly projected to a college position and played tougher competition sites were more comfortable sliding him up the list. Athleticism may be (should be?)comparable.
Braylon? Not as tall, might be as fast, needs some work his freshman year, can go get the dang ball.
Guru Reliability: Moderate. Mostly same thing, but ATH gonna ATH.
Variance: Very high. ATH gonna ATH and in this case you could see Cole never figuring out any position in particular and fading away or being ridiculous.
Ceiling: Huge. Clearly the guy with the most upside in this class unless Zach Gentry is 6'8" Denard.
General Excitement Level: High. Daddy needs a new pair of Braylons.
Projection: He's probably going to play, because Michigan needs something slot receiver-shaped. While Grant Perry may fit the bill in the Drew Dileo way, they need something more Breaston-esque with an offense that doesn't look like it has a lot of big play potential. I'm still skeptical he gets heavily involved just because of the precedents. Also I think Canteen will be pretty good.
With zero seniors in this year's receiving corps, Cole will face a slightly uphill battle for playing time in year two. It's not one he couldn't easily overcome if he hits the exponential section of his growth curve on the early side. 30/70 he passes someone to start; as a junior the depth chart will be open and the world will hopefully be his oyster.
The first rule of Draftageddon is "you must complain about Draftageddon." The second is "the four people drafting assemble teams of Big Ten players in an effort to seem the best at drafting."
THAT WHICH HAS COME BEFORE
Previously on Draftageddon:
- Adam takes a guy with a ~33% chance to start first overall! Joey Bosa lasts until pick 3! Seth is generally sensible! For him that counts as Heiko-ing, I think!
- Brian takes back to back QBs! Several additional Ohio State players go off the board! 24-12!
- Ace takes Braxton Miller as a QB and then shrugs expansively when he ends up a terrifying H-back!
- Seth takes a one-down pass rush specialist! Brian takes a kicker! These are both totally defensible selections! Big Tennnnnnnn!
THAT WHICH IS THE CURRENT SITUATION
THAT WHICH IS HAPPENING CURRENTLY
ACE: Round 16, Pick 2: Billy Price, G, Ohio State
Price (#54) made the key block to spring Elliott 85 yards against Bama
OFFENSE: QB Jake Rudock (U-M), RB Josh Ferguson (IL), OW Braxton Miller (OSU), WR Michael Thomas (OSU), WR DaeSean Hamilton (PSU), OT Jack Conklin (MSU), OG Billy Price (OSU), OC Dan Voltz (UW)
DEFENSE: DE Joey Bosa (OSU), DT Darius Hamilton (RU), NT Austin Johnson (PSU), OLB Darron Lee (OSU), OLB Joshua Perry (OSU), CB Eli Apple (OSU), CB Darius Hillary (UW), S Tyvis Powell (OSU)
If you don't want to watch a season's worth of Ezekiel Elliott highlights while focusing on the left guard, which I can understand, at least skip to the 3:17 mark to see Billy Price chip a defensive tackle and then seal off a linebacker with surprising suddenness for a 6'4", 315-pound human. Then take these things into account:
- He started all 15 games as a redshirt freshman on Ohio State's offensive line, which became arguably the best run-blocking unit in the country by the end of the season. Incidentally, Price only got better as 2014 wore on.
- Just one year prior, Price was adjusting to offense after moving from defensive tackle, his primary position in high school.
- "The 6-foot-4, 312-pounder is regarded to be the strongest guy on the team. He bench-presses 475 pounds, has done 34 reps at 225 pounds and has a vertical jump of 30 inches."
- 34 reps at 225 would've placed Price fourth among offensive linemen at this year's NFL combine. He's still a year away from draft eligibility.
- He's learning from Ed Warinner, one of the best offensive line coaches in the country.
Assuming Price develops at a reasonable rate he'll be one of the best guards in the conference this year. He might've reached that level by the end of last year and he'll be much more comfortable as a second-year starter. He got a lot of praise for his play in the spring after he showed enough command of the offense to fill in for a banged up Jacoby Boren at center. The term "night and day" was thrown around a couple times. He's got a ton of physical ability; if the light comes on, he'll be really good, and he's already shown he can reliably push around defensive tackles.
SETH: Round 16, Pick 3: Graham Glasgow, OL, Michigan
OFFENSE: QB Connor Cook (MSU), RB Corey Clement (WIS), WR Leonte Carroo (Rut), WR Jalin Marshall (OSU), OC Jack Allen (MSU), OG Pat Elflein (OSU), OT Alex Lewis (Neb), OT Mason Cole (Mich), OG Graham Glasgow (Mich)
DEFENSE: DE/OLB Kemoko Turay (RU), MLB Desmond Morgan (Mich), WLB Steve Longa (RU), HSP Jabrill Peppers (Mich), DB Jordan Lucas (PSU), S Michael Caputo (WI), CB Will Likely (MD)
We've now exhausted the preseason all-[thing] lists and NFL mock drafts, and Brian is taking the Aussie kicker we all desired. He just did this despite having zero anybodies on the interior OL to protect Hackenberg, because that always turns out well. So I feel bad for taking this one, since it's totally Brian's fault that I know Graham Glasgow is good at football.
MGoBlog has said enough on that subject since 2013 that we can save most of the details for next month's O-line preview. I'll add that two springs now two coaching staffs have threatened the OT depth chart with Glasgow sliding outside if they don't outplay the interior guys too. Graham's probably the center this year, but we've seen him mostly at guard, where he's strong enough to hold up against very good DTs (+4.5/-2 in PSU UFR) and blast light ones (+9/-1 vs Rutgers).
More importantly he has often been Michigan's only lineman making the quick heady adjustments that good running games must have for consistent success. I've also noticed a trend in that he gets better as the game progresses and he starts to pick up opponents' tendencies. The last link is Glasgow recognizing his second-level target is backing out and there's no chance against the blitzer, so he just seals Cole's guy.
Ironically for such an exceptionally bright player on the field, this pick is in jeopardy from an offseason repeat of the same bad judgment that cost him last season's opener. From here to January, the margin for further error is .001 percent. But if you're going to put your faith in something, it might as well be a Glasgow.
ADAM: Round 16, Pick 4: Nate Gerry, S/HSP, Nebraska
Round 17, Pick 1: Josh Campion, OG, Minnesota
OFFENSE: QB J.T. Barrett (OSU), WR Jordan Westerkamp (Neb), OT Jason Spriggs, (IU), TE Jake Butt (UM), C Austin Blythe (Iowa), RB Justin Jackson (NW), OG Brian Allen (MSU), WR De'Mornay Pierson-El (Neb), OG Josh Campion (Minn)
DEFENSE: DE Shilique Calhoun (MSU), DT Adolphus Washington (OSU), S Vonn Bell (OSU), CB Eric Murray (Minn), LB Raekwon McMillan (OSU), DE Drew Ott (Iowa), OLB Ed Davis (MSU), S/HSP Nate Gerry (Neb)
Gerry is nominally a free safety, but I can't help but watch him and think that he's an ideal hybrid space player. He's the same weight (205) as Peppers and an inch taller, and his stats—88 tackles (49 unassisted), 7 TFL, 2 forced fumbles, 3 QB hurries, 5 interceptions, 4 PBU—paint a picture of a guy who's adept playing near the line or in coverage.
He isn't lined up over the slot, but there are shades of HSPness in this interception. Nebraska lines Gerry up as a linebacker to disguise the coverage. That he can line up there on 3rd-and-11 and the only red flag is what he's wearing says something about his versatility. Gerry then bails as the ball's snapped. He adjusts to an underthrown ball, jumping in front of the receiver for an interception. More evidence: Gerry ran a state-record 10.3 second 100-meter dash in high school; with that speed I'm confident he can linger in space near the line and carry a receiver into coverage or blow up a run in the backfield.
I'm going to move my next pick to a different position as well, but this isn't as much of a stretch as turning Gerry into a HSP. Campion is a former tackle, though Minnesota has decided to move him to guard this fall. At 6'5" and 310 pounds I'm inclined to leave him at tackle, especially considering he's started 39 straight games there; the versatility is a nice bonus. He garnered an All-Big Ten honorable mention on a Minnesota line that wasn't bad—19th in adjusted line yards, 26th in standard downs line yards per carry, and 56th in opportunity rate. He has also been compared to former Gopher Adam Haayer, because "...both share a bond as very dependable Gopher starters with a love for the outdoors." Minnesota, man.
[After THE JUMP: HEY WE DRAFT A BUNCH OF MICHIGAN GUYS IT'S SAFE TO CLICK]
Jabrill Peppers was constantly surrounded by cameras and sound recorders, but he answered every question with candor typically reserved for one-on-one interviews. Below he addresses the Woodson comparison, playing offense, defense, and special teams, and critics of the program. Note: the following questions were from a media scrum and aren’t MGoQuestions.
On deleting his Twitter:
“Camp, I don’t want any distractions. I don’t want any distractions from camp.”
Where’d you get the idea? Someone else do it and you said ‘I should do this’?
“No, it’s just for me, man. These past couple months I’ve noticed that they look at my Twitter a lot.”
You’ve been vocal on lots of issues.
“Yeah, so for me it was just a kind of thing where I don’t want anything that can put a negative connotation on or anything that they can spin or do anything with. We just as a whole are going to go complete darkness. Let them speculate what they want- how good we are, how good we aren’t. We don’t really care what anyone else thinks. We care what the guy next to us thinks. We care what our coaches think, what our family thinks. All of the outside outliers, you know, we could really care less about. We just want to put the ball down and play football, you know. That’s it.
“We didn’t come here to worry about the media or how good they think we are. The only thing that I would tell people is this is Michigan and this is always going to be Michigan. That’s it.”
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest]
Media Day photos. Via Eric Upchurch:
Events! Upcoming things:
- TONIGHT, Ann Arbor: we have an HTTV thing at Literati at 7 PM.
- August 11th, Washington DC: Season preview. Intimately titled.
- August 12th, New York: Season preview. Seventh(!) annual. Wow. Do not attend both, they will be the same thing.
- September 1st, Ann Arbor: John U Bacon discusses BRANDON'S LASTING LESSONS at Rackham.
Events this year with the Chicago and Philly clubs did not come off, but Philly has an event with half a dozen lettermen on the 29th.
Trollin' trollin' trollin' trollin'. Jim Harbaugh took questions from adorable children.
Great question to start Coach Harbaugh's press conference from this 1st Grader! pic.twitter.com/euskP0lsXY
— Zach Eisendrath (@zeisendrath) August 6, 2015
Moments later he said Michigan was about to go in a "submarine" and that you wouldn't hear from them for a while. Media members in attendance snapped their pencils in dismay.
Except this one. Drew Sharp, everybody!
— Jeff Moss (@JeffMossDSR) August 7, 2015
Wear some damn socks.
Simplified, maize-r. Michigan wore last year's jerseys at Media Day but even so there was a clear change to the uniforms this year:
players r wearing last years' game jerseys. I believe the darker toned pants are the 2015 edition. pic.twitter.com/0BVhsdDRc5
— MVictors (@MVictors) August 6, 2015
This naturally leads to a discussion about lighting and camera stuff but multiple reports from media day report that the maize is darker. Also: Harbaugh was probably so incensed by uniform clutter he sewed the flaps that cover up the superfluous block M himself.
Fewer seats. Michigan loses 2,300 seats, mostly for ADA compliance reasons:
The most noticeable changes to Stadium seating relate to ADA accessibility, as seats had to be eliminated in order to widen aisles and install hand railings around the entire bowl with the exception of the student seating section.
Michigan still has the largest capacity in the country, and they will actually fill it this year. Also:
J. Ira and Nikki Harris Head Football Coach Jim Harbaugh
Did they drop the "Family" from the still-very-unwieldy endowment there?
Sounds un-good. Linebacker Mike McCray told Mike Spath that he's going to miss a chunk of this season with an undisclosed injury. The way he talked about it seemed a bit ominous for his recovery prospects, as well. McCray on Durkin:
"He told me they're not giving up on me, and to keep fighting to get back, so I've been coming out to 7-on-7s and doing everything I can to stay part of the team, and my teammates have been helping me out with that a lot too."
If we don't see him at all this year he would be in Chris Fox territory, wherein everyone is waiting for the news he's transitioned to a student assistant. Hopefully it doesn't come to that and we at least see him on special teams some.
Okay then. Harbaugh had a direct answer to the minor fifth year kerfuffle caused by Keith Heitzman's comments to the Columbus Dispatch:
"The fifth year has to be a mutual decision," he said. "Nothing is guaranteed except the opportunity to take that spot. Do you want to come back for a fifth year and does the football team want you back?"
Apparently some guys were put on the "impress me" block and some were not. FWIW, I've heard that Countess was not one of those guys—they expected him to stay and were expecting to play him a lot.
Somebody didn't read BRANDON'S LASTING LESSONS. Minnesota's AD has resigned because he started drunk-sexting colleagues late at night. Athletic directors: typing anything after 9 PM is like feeding Gizmo after midnight.
Battle bracket. Basketball's tourney has a bracket:
UConn first, then one of Syracuse/Charlotte. Looks like we get to find out what "AXS" is and if anyone in the state gets it, as the opener is on it.
UConn was 20-15 in the American last year and bounced from the first round of the NIT; they lose Ryan Boatright, their highest-usage player, but return everyone else. Syracuse was 18-13 and 9-9 in the ACC; they did not have a postseason because they took the ever-popular midseason NCAA sanctions after Jim Boeheim got nailed for all manner of malfeasance. They lose C Rakeem Christmas but return everyone else. Charlotte was 14-18 last year and looks pretty bad.
Shooting is shooting. Brendan Quinn profiles Duncan Robinson:
The thought of Robinson playing for Beilein -- "He's born to play the system," Maker says -- made too much sense, so a phone call was made and film was sent.
Trusting Maker, Beilein called Robinson before watching the game film. He reached out as a courtesy to tell Robinson that Michigan might be interest in him as a preferred walk-on.
Robinson was flattered, but not interested. Plenty of Division I programs were offering scholarships now.
Then, one week later, a second phone call was made.
"OK, I saw you play," Beilein told Robinson. "Forget the walk-on stuff. We're talking about a scholarship. I want to get you here for an official visit."
Excellent piece; go read it.
One return. Zach Werenski will return to Yost:
Werenski confirmed for NHL.com that he will return to the University of Michigan for his sophomore year.There was speculation that the 6-foot-2, 221-pound left-handed shot would play for London of the Ontario Hockey League in 2015-16. London selected Werenski in the second round (No. 24) of the 2013 OHL draft.
Losing him would have been very, very bad on top of the Copp and Larkin departures.
Etc.: Hiring NFL people to coach college offenses is usually a disaster. Lawnmower men. The Ferry Field gate. BYU loses its starting running back. The Big Ten's new scheduling rules are also about money.
Drake Harris is ready to put on the pads and play. [Fuller]
Redshirt freshman wide receiver Drake Harris hasn't seen game action for the better part of two years because of hamstring injuries, but the talented Grand Rapids native says he's healthy and ready to contribute this fall. This was part of a scrum, so only a few of these were MGoQuestions, and there's a little bit of overlap with injury questions.
[walked in partway through question] …do you know you’re ready?
Oh yeah. We ran 40s, that’s sprinting. We had one-on-ones, seven-on-sevens basically every day during the spring and summer, so I was basically sprinting and running every day, working.
So you’re ready to go, you think?
Oh yeah. I’m good. … I feel great. This is the best I’ve felt in I don’t know how many years. Running 40s and everything, I feel good.
So you’re planning on being a starter?
(Laughs.) I mean, that’s the goal for me, to start. I just have to take it day by day and take it from there.
Are you playing anything outside of wide receiver? Punt returns? Kick returns?
They had me playing a little bit of corner in the spring, but my primary position is wide receiver.
What’s it been like working with Jedd Fisch coming in with all the experience he has at the professional level?
It’s been great. Like you said, he’s worked at the professional level, so he’s worked with great wide receivers like Brandon Marshall. I’m learning different drills from him, different techniques, it’s helped me out a lot being a wide receiver and growing.
What’s been the biggest difference in terms of what you guys are doing in practice versus previous years?
We have four-hour practices, basically, so they’re long practices. It’s not really that much different. It’s more up-tempo, very up-tempo, all the practices. They split teams so you get a lot more reps, like for younger players, so it’s good for all of us.
It’s pretty wide open with the receivers this year. Do you think that’s helped with the competition, getting more reps in?
Yeah, for sure. Being able to get more reps and learning the plays and throwing with all the different quarterbacks, it’s good. It’s good for all of us.
I know you’re sick of getting asked about it, but how’s the hamstring feeling?
It’s good. This is the best I’ve felt in I don’t know how long. I haven’t had any problems with it for the last six months, I’d say. I’ve put on some weight and I think that’s helped a lot with it.
What are you up to?
You mentioned playing corner a little bit in the spring. It seems to be a pretty common thing with this team. What was that experience like?
It was a learning experience. I’ve never really played corner. I played it a little bit in high school but I never thought I was going to play it in college, but my primary position is still receiver. I think they were just trying me out at corner a little bit because I have length and me playing basketball, those skills translate to playing corner. It was a learning experience for sure.
While I was looking for someone to talk to one-on-one yesterday, our photographer Eric Upchurch said redshirt freshman tight end Chase Winovich, who moved from outside linebacker this spring, seemed like a great interview. He was not wrong.
How is the transition from defense to offense going for you?
At first I wasn’t sure how to think about it, and just a little hesitant. I feel like, as most people are, going to a position that you’ve never played before and weren’t recruited as going through the recruiting process—it goes through your mind, here’s what you’re going to be, and then to go through a season playing [linebacker], you’re just having a blast with it, going up and hitting people and just playing physical and the chase. I always joked, I said, “they named me Chase, they didn’t name me Block or something else.”
But as the time went on I grew to really start liking it. The practices were more fun, [I was] more engaged, more versatile, you could take mental reps a lot, it was easier to see how people break, especially Jake Butt, and just go about their business, and I started to love it. So going into camp, I’ve never been this excited to go into a camp in my entire life.
With Coach Harbaugh and his styles of camps and his history with Stanford and San Diego and San Francisco, it’s going to be a battle, man. I want to be in the trenches or in the Apache helicopter this camp, you know, shooting the machine guns. That's how I view it. Every day is going to be a grind and if I can maximize the transition from summer to camp and linebacker to tight end and have those coincide, I think the days are going to go by great.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the interview.]
“Hello, everybody. Nice to see you. Good to see everybody here. Exciting day for us. The first day of football fall camp, so…glad you made it.”
Kids Go Blue Club member question: Other than football, what is your favorite thing about being back in Michigan?
“Autumn, that is a wonderful question. Thank you for asking that question. Being with my family is my favorite thing about being back in Michigan.
“How old are you?”
“So I have a six-year-old daughter named Addie and a four-and-a-half-year-old daughter named Katie and Jack is two and a half. My son James is 18- he’ll be a freshman at Michigan. My son Jay is coaching at Michigan. He’s 26.
“And then, so seeing all my kids back here in Ann Arbor and doing some of the same things that I did when I was your age and their age- went over to St. Francis elementary school and met some of the teachers for the first grade and the kindergarten class and just walking down the hallway, seeing them in the same school that I went to. It was…it was- might have been the best moment about being back in Ann Arbor.
“St. Francis is a typical Catholic school. It’s old and it’s clean. There’s a lot of memories. Pretty neat to think that my kids are going to be experiencing some of the same things I did.
“Are you excited for school to start?”
“When does school start for you?”
I don’t know.
“How about a big smile for all the cameras? How about a big, pretty smile for the cameras. Look at all these cameras!”
There was some stuff earlier this week or a couple weeks ago about the fifth-year players. Keith Heitzman, I think, said he was asked to try-out for a spot on the roster. What’s your take on the fifth year guys? Are they given a spot? Earn a spot? How’s that work?
“Well, it’s- you know, fifth year is mutual. When it comes to a fifth year, if you have a fifth year of eligibility and then it becomes do you want to come back to the University of Michigan for a fifth year and does the football team mutually want you to come back for the fifth year.
“All the fifth-year players that were on the team were not asked to come to a try out, but in his particular case I said, and [with] a couple of the other youngsters too, I haven’t coached here before [so] couldn’t guarantee a spot for the 2015 team but could guarantee an opportunity. And that opportunity would have taken place during spring practice. Some did want to come back who were fifth-years and some didn’t. That’s about as simple as it is.”
[After THE JUMP: Harbaugh tells the football rebirth story again and you should read it because why would you not want to read that]