Spring Practice Presser Transcript 3-16-12: Brady Hoke

Spring Practice Presser Transcript 3-16-12: Brady Hoke

Submitted by Heiko on March 16th, 2012 at 2:01 PM

Oh herro prease. I'm back for spring practice. There will be two or three pressers every week leading up to the spring game, and I will be transcribing all of them. Huzzah!

News bullets and other important things:

  • Ricky Barnum is practicing at center.
  • Rocko Khoury, Terrence Robinson, Mike Cox, and George Morales are all graduating this spring and will not return for the 2012 season
  • Justice Hayes is staying at running back but will be considered for kickoff return duties.
  • The spring game will be a scrimmage due to lack of bodies on offensive and defensive line.

Brady Hoke

On wearing pants today: “I put them on just for you guys.”

Opening remarks:

“First, this is off-topic a little bit, but we had severe weather yesterday and the damage and all that was out there in Dexter, and I don’t know too many other places -- I think that was the worst hit, but our thoughts and prayers are with those folks who went through that. We had our guys here for training table and when the campus alert went out they were all in the locker room and it was one of those situations. Our thoughts and prayers really go out to those people who were affected by it.

“We also yesterday had our pro day, which is a part of your program that the guys who have given so much, the opportunity, the dream they may have about continuing after they get a great degree from Michigan and continuing to play the game of football. I thought they represented Michigan well, and we’re proud of them for that.

“As far as this team, Team 133, I think we have a lot of questions. I know I do from the perspective of who’s going to emerge as the leaders, who’s going to have the toughness to lead and the sacrifice to lead. I think we’ve had a good winter. You can see some guys developing, you can see some guys really working hard, but I think you put the pads on, spring football, those things, you learn a little bit more about your football team. Starting tomorrow morning we get to do that. It’s going to be fun because you get to wear shorts again, get out on the field … it’s going to be good.

"When you look at where we’re at, there’s some obvious holes that we need to fill from the standpoint of our defensive line with the three seniors graduating at the position who played a lot of snaps for us a year ago. When you look at our offensive line there’s some good competition, but at the same time we’ve got to see improvement from young guys like Chris Bryant. He’s done a good job with the weight room and that part of it, but how he continues and matures. And Ricky Barnum, we’re going to play him at center to start with and see where he ends up there. Elliott Mealer getting an opportunity at the guard position, and Schofield will go out to right tackle, and obviously Taylor will obviously be the left tackle. Really for us we were very fortunate from an injury (standpoint) on both sides nad both fronts when you look at the guys up front defensively who stayed relatively healthy until the bowl practices and the six guys who were really responsible for the front. Those were the obvious places. Obviously Junior, Odoms, and Kelvin Grady. There’s a rotation there, and Junior obviously having most [contribution] statistically and all those things. There’s heavy competition and there will be competition.

"That’s probably the longest I’ve ever spoke.”

On your defensive line, how big of a spring is this for Will Campbell?

“I think it’s big, but I think he’s made great progress [in] what he’s done from a physical standpoint how he looks and all those things. I think his leadership and that part of it, with Quinton Washington, Richard Ash, when you start looking at that nose position, the ability for Will to slide from the 3-technique to the nose position is important.”

What’s the biggest issue with moving a guy like Ricky from guard to center?

“I think number one, snapping the football is always a little different. Now we did quite a bit with Rick when he got back healthy last year, playing both. I think Darrell and Al both had that mindset, if we did get beat up somewhere else where we had to rotate those guys -- at the end of the day the best five guys have to play, however that rotation works out. But I think snapping the ball, the shot gun snaps, you’d like to see centers be able to snap and step at the same time.”

Is the reason you’re moving Ricky to center because you’re not confident in guys like Rocko Khoury or Jack Miller?

“Well …” (ominous pause) “… I think there’s some unknowns there. I think that’s the best way to put it.”

How has Craig Roh embraced the move to strongside and Jibreel Black with the move inside?

“I think they’ve really embraced it. I know when we had the conversation and Greg met with Craig after we discussed it staff-wise. It was like, okay. I get to eat a little more. If someone said that to me I’d be happy. He really has embraced it. They’ve done some senior drill work and all that where all those guys -- him and Jibreel both are really excited about it.”

Do you expect there to be greater competition on the offensive and defensive lines since a lot of positions are up for grabs?

“I think so. I think these guys have learned to compete more and more as far as what our perception of competition is and our expectation of competition. I think they understand what’s at stake and I think they also understand that September 1st is going to be here before we know it.”

Borges said on the radio that he wished he would have spent more time using the spread early on in the season before transitioning to the pro-style. Is there an opportunity to spend more time in the spread now?

“I think the more we get comfortable in this scheme, you may see a little more, but for us, I think Al when he’s talking about that, [he meant] maybe we could have had a little more success, but we were pretty good early. I think you could because of some things that we’ve looked at.”

How have the three early enrollees progressed through the winter?

“I think they’ve had a really great winter. The first thing you always look at is how they adjust from being away from home, mom not cooking, mom not doing your laundry. I think classes, and that responsibility -- I think Joe and Kaleb and Jarrod have all really done a good job. Talking to coach Wellman in the weight room and how their work ethic is, I think all three of them have done a tremendous job.

Have any of the three stood out in any way?

“I think they all have maybe not exceeded but have adjusted well.”


“Yeah, we’ve got some guys … George Morales is going to graduate. Rocko’s going to graduate. Terrence Robinson will graduate, and Mike Cox is graduating. I think that’s it.”

Is that this spring?

“Yeah. A couple of them have like six hours in the summer, because this is the winter quarter.”

So they will not be back in 2012?

“Hmm mm. (No.)”

Ws that their decision?

“I think it’s their decision.”

Could they take advantage of the post graduation transfer rule?

“Mm hmm. (Yes.)”

What do you expect out of Roy this season? Who do you have hope for at the receiver position to step up?

“I think the first guy you look at is always Roy. I think that Jeremy Gallon is a guy who has shown tremendous ability. You look at his year and he was pretty successful. You look at Jeremy Jackson and his development and his growth. Dileo is a really valuable guy to our team. Jerald Robinson is a guy -- he was down most of the year with us. He can be pretty productive. Joe Reynolds is a guy who’s worked awfully hard.”

What’s different going into the second spring here vs. a year ago?

“For us, I don’t know if you look at it a whole lot differently. I mean you’re always trying to meet expectations of competitiveness, toughness, leadership, development, discipline, and all those things. At the same time it’s probably a little -- I never want to say the word easier -- but they do know what certain terms mean now from an offensive schematic or defensive schematic in how we coach or how we call things.”

What’s the next step in leadership that you want to see Denard take?

“He’s done a really good job of leading this winter. He’s done a good job when you look at -- he’s always been an unselfish player, so that’s always something that his teammates have seen. But he’s always taken it and been a little more … you hear him a little more I guess. Holding guys accountable a little more.”

From a passing standpoint, how big is going back to the fundamentals and footwork?

“There’s no question. That’s an everyday thing, and that’s an everyday thing for every position. The fundamentals and techniques. Our guys do a lot of seven-on-seven in the offseason. Continually they work drills at every position, so that’s huge.”

Last year the defensive line set the tone for the defense. Do you set that kind of expectations for this group?

“No question about it. Your expectations don’t go down. They better increase because the bar is always going to be set high here at Michigan and should be. Those expectations are for the position, not the person who plays the position.”

How does their lack of experience change the way you approach that this season?

“It doesn’t. Maybe you are a little more patient when they don’t do it exactly like we want them to, so that might be part of it, but it really doesn’t.”

Do you anticipate growing pains with that group? What’s the kind of thing that will drive you crazy during spring practice?

“A guy not playing with toughness and a guy not running to the football. That will drive me crazy.”

How good do you feel about your back seven? All of them are returning.

“I think as a whole, as a unit, I feel good -- I feel good about the kids themselves. As a unit that’s going to play at the level we need to play, I don’t feel very good because we didn’t play as well as we needed to a year ago. I’m not a huge statistic guy, but you go in and you look at opportunities that we missed either in passes broken up or interceptions on that end or supporting the end, getting off a block and doing that, and you’re looking at your linebackers a little bit -- your inside guys, are they missing tackles or making tackles? I’ve always been from the school that we’re going to be really critical, so I like the guys who we have. I like the guys who are coming in. I think we’ll have great competition by the time September 1st gets here. That part of it’s good, and I like that. I like having guys how have had some experience. Now where can they take the next step with the fundamentals and schematically of what we’re trying to do so that we don’t get beaten by Michigan State or we don’t get beaten by Iowa or we don’t give up this many points against somebody.”

With the attrition, you seem to be pretty low in terms of numbers.

“Well we’ve been low in numbers for a while, especially at the offensive line position from a scholarship standpoint. I think last year we had eight guys. Usuaully that number is 14 to 16. From a defensive line standpoint, if you’re going to have a four-man front, you better have 14 to 16 scholarship guys. We weren’t even close.”

Are you happy about how 2013 recruiting is going?

“Well number one, this is not an exact science and you don’t really know what you get until they get here because this is a hard game to play and hard to be championship teams and play. I think our coaches have worked extremely hard. I think they do a tremendous job evaluating and we’ll see. That’s why there’s a signing date. First Wednesday in February. But we’ll see. We have a long way to go.”

Punting struggles with Will Hagerup?

“The punting situation is one that will be competitive. I think both guys are very capable. I think the consistency we need to have by whoever that guy is is going to be an important part.”

How do you see the running back situation shaping up since Fitz locked down the starting position last season?

“Well he’s going to compete. He’s going to compete there. I think I’ve said this since day one. There’s nothing sacred. There’s no position that’s given an entitlement. He ended the year doing a nice job for us. You have to love the kid -- I do -- because of his competitiveness. I think he grew up a lot during the course of the year with whatthe expectiations are for a Michigan back. But Thomas Rawls and Vince Smith and Hayes, you know, there’s guys there. He can’t have a bad day.”

You mentioned Justice Hayes. Are you keeping him at running back or moving him to another position?

“No, he’s a back. We’ll see how he transpires. The good thing about him, he does have that talent where he can go out and catch the ball and he’s got great explosion. Kickoff returns -- he’d be a guy we want to look at because he’s got a gear to him that’s a little different.”

Spring game format?

“It’ll probably be a lot like last year. We’d love to have a true spring game, there’s no doubt about it. I said some numbers earlier about your most physical two positions on your team, and our numbers aren’t where they need to be.”

Are you taking walk-ons this spring?

“We’ll wait more until the fall.”

Wednesday Presser Transcript 10-26-11: Brady Hoke

Wednesday Presser Transcript 10-26-11: Brady Hoke

Submitted by Heiko on October 26th, 2011 at 4:52 PM

[Coordinator transcripts will be up shortly after I figure out how to turn .wma files into Quicktime compatible files.]

News bullets and other important things (forgot this earlier, sorry, FML):

  • Barnum and Lewan have been practicing, should be healthy.
  • Justice Hayes is getting a redshirt.
  • Coaches are working on getting Marell Evans a sixth year of eligibility.

Brady Hoke

Opening remarks: “I thought we had a good day yesterday. Thought we had a lot of spirit to us, a little chippiness to us that I always enjoy. I think we competed really hard. I thought we played fast on both sides of the ball.”

Will Heininger said he’s been focused on playing lower. How much has he improved? “Well anytime you play with good pad level, and I think Will played his [best] football game two weeks ago to this point in the season. That has to translate to him playing better this week and better next week. I think he’s playing with a little more authority, which you like to see out of a guy who’s a senior, but I was pleased with his performance.”

Would you like to see Will and Mike not just push the pocket but also get past their guys more? “Well yeah, I mean the name of the game is football. That’s the object. You always want to be able to -- not just your block, your initial protection if you want to call it that ... the ability to ragdoll off and get to the football or get to the quarterback is a critical issue … We want more pressure from them, no doubt about it.”

What does chippiness at practice tell you about your team’s mentality? “Usually, and I’m sure you’ve all done the same thing, when you have a little bit of edge to you, no matter what your’e doing, it seems there’s a little bit of energy in there, a little bit of focus, and a little bit of wanting to get back out there on the field or do it again.”

Is it fair to say that your running backs are never going to be as productive as you want because of what Denard’s able to do? “I don’t know about that. I think that there’s enough in the system -- either it’s out of the two backs or split backs, I-backs, one back -- I think there’s enough diversity to it. [What] we all know is this thing gets a little harder as you go because you’re playing better football teams. The defenses you’re going to play against in the Big Ten, they’re obviously well-coached and the athletes are out there.” But does it change things at all because your best runner is your quarterback? “I don’t think so. Not for where we need to get to.”

*What are the keys to improving linebacker hesitancy problems? “I think the biggest key is your focus on that key. I was an A-gap linebacker years ago, now I’m a nose tackle. I think the initial reaction, the play recognition, the aiming points when you’re going downhill, there’s a lot of things. Playing with the speed that you need to play with. If you’re hesitant at all, that half a step that you’re behind can cost you as a defense.”

*Is that something you emphasized this week in practice? “Yeah, I think, in fact after watching all the tape last night as a defensive staff, we played faster. We played more downhill. That’s going to be something that constantly we have to do a good job of coaching and focusing on.”

Is Ricky Barnum healthy enough to take his job back? “Yeah. Well, we’ll find out. It’s competition. But he’s healthy. Lewan’s healthy. They all practiced.”

How confident is this group? “You know, the way they practiced yesterday, I think there was a confidence that they have. I think that part of it was one thing you wanted to see as a coach. And they were good on Sunday. Sunday they came out and flew around, but there was even more physicalness to how we practiced yesterday.”

Any update on Marell Evans? “No. I tell you what, he busts his butt out there though as a scout team linebacker. On the scout team, with the kicking game, and everything else. He’s been a great teammate.” Does he have a chance of getting another year of eligibility? “There’s a lot of hoops to go through and it’s pretty daggone complicated trying to obtain a sixth year and all those things.” Is that what you’re trying to do? “That’s what we’re trying to work towards.”

Do you feel like you need to give the running backs a certain number of carries in order to establish them? “I think you do have a get a number of carries. We’ve talked about that as a staff, that carries are important, and that probably sounds really dumb, but it’s important to get a number of carries that you can get with them. That’s one thing that we all felt that we maybe should have had a little more touches for them two weeks ago.”

Is there a number of carries you try to hit every week? “At the end of the day, you want to win the football game, so whatever you can do or whatever you’re going to do, that’s going to help you offensively … in saying that, I would love to have between the two of them maybe 20-25 touches a game. Now every situation changes. You get down, you think you can exploit something else maybe, and you don’t execute it as well as you should have -- those things happen in the course of the game plan. One thing, we talked about this, I thought Al and Greg both have done a great job of adjusting game plans in the course of games. They’re both really good football coaches. I don’t know if I answered your question. I think I did. I just think, we’d like to run them, but we’ve got to be able to run them.”

Are Fitz Toussaint and Vince Smith the two running backs at this point, or is Shaw included? “Michael can be in there, too. You see who gets a little bit of the hot hand, to some degree. Vince is very multiple in what he can do. Not saying Fitz won’t be, but Fitz, he’s a young guy still.”

Could Thomas Rawls get more carries? “He could. We’re trying to get him some work on some of the kick game and all that, but he could.” What about Justice Hayes? At this point are you redshirting him? “Oh yeah. Yeah.”

Anyone else (Ed: I think this person means freshmen) who hasn’t played yet that might play, barring injury? “Barring injury, I don’t think so. I think what we’ve done so far, we’re at our limit.”

Re: Perimeter defense … How do you think Purdue’s going to attack you? “Well, I would attack our perimeter. The stretch play they run and all those things are ready made for it.” Similar to what Michigan State did? “Similar. Not quite the same. They’ll TGO (Ed: ?) pull it, or do some different things depending on if the tight end’s on the line, in location or not in location, depends if it’s weak back, strong backs -- there’s a lot of different ways you can get to it. They throw the bubble. They throw the rocket. They run the outside zone, the stretch play. Yeah, that’s where I would start.”

How are you doing in terms of containment? “Obviously it’s been something we’ve done a very good job of emphasizing. Our attacking the blocks, getting off blockers, all those things that go along with it, our inside-out pursuit, all those things.”

What do you see out of Caleb TerBush? “Well I think he’s been very active in a lot of different areas, but I think he’s been accurate. I think he’s got a good arm, throws the ball well. He’s taking care of the ball pretty well for them. You don’t see him panic. He’s elusive enough to get out of some problems. They’re going to look at what you’re doing a little bit defensively, and they’re going to check. He’s done a good job of getting them in and out of plays. I think he’s a pretty daggone good quarterback.”

*asked by yours truly

Wednesday Presser Transcript 9-28-11: Brady Hoke

Wednesday Presser Transcript 9-28-11: Brady Hoke

Submitted by Heiko on September 28th, 2011 at 1:52 PM

News bullets and other important things:

  • Troy Woolfolk is, once again, fine.
  • Ricky Barnum didn't practice yesterday. He's questionable.
  • Cam Gordon is practicing a lot better but still trying to work himself in. 
  • Brandon Herron is also fine.
  • Team hasn't started tapering physicality of practices yet.
  • No decision on Justice Hayes' redshirt yet.
  • Hoke is being all weird about the punting situation, but Will Hagerup looks better in practice according to all observers named Angelique Chengelis.


Brady Hoke

“We got a new table. It’s rusty --” Rustic. “It’s rustic.”

Opening remarks: “We had a very good practice yesterday. I thought both sides of the ball we had a lot of energy. I thought it was physical -- how we want to be physical during the course of competing against each other. I thought that was good. I thought game-plan wise I think they responded well to those different things that you do, so it was good.”

Are you going to be less physical now than you were in camp to keep players healthy? “Not really. Not too much. Not right yet. As you get into the marathon that a season is, you may lighten up a little bit later, but this isn’t the time for us to do that.”

Was Troy Woolfolk able to do everything? “Yeah. I think I was asked Saturday, and Sunday he did everything. And he did eveything yesterday.”

Ricky Barnum? “I’m not saying he’s out, but he’s trying to take care of that ankle.” Is he practicing? “Not today. Er, not yesterday, let’s put it that way.”

How much is Cam Gordon practicing? “A lot. He’s just working himself back into it. He did some good things yesterday. I think he feels better.”

How difficult is it to stay intense and also pick up new schemes mid-season? “Well the schemes -- they’re new to a standpoint of how you want to tweak your base things to take advantage of an offense. From a defensive standpoint, most of the offenses are different, but I think when you look at a guy like Cam. He had a pretty good spring. What he did during the summer was pretty good from what I can tell. Fall camp, until he got hurt, he was fine. He’s a smart kid, so he’s in tune with everything that’s going on. Learns well. So for him it’s maybe not as difficult as it is for someone else.”

Brandon Herron? “He did everything. He’s fine. He’s 100%.”

Thomas Gordon said Will Campbell needs to get lower. What does he have to do to take that next step? “I’m glad Thomas is coaching him up. I really am. Thomas is right. Will just has to -- and this happens with a lot of guys who are big guys, and they’re big in high school where technique and fundamnetals are taught and they’re important, but it’s just one of those things where he’s got to play lower. He’s got to be more consistent with that part of it. His get-off the football is something he’s got to be conscious about and make good habits with.”

You say Mike Martin plays with great leverage. Is that what you want Will to do? “Well yeah. But Mike, when he has a bad play in there, it’s usually because his knees start to lock out and they don’t bring their feet with them. This is a good conversation because it’s D-line play and that’s what I like to talk about, so I can do this all day. But that part of it with Mike, I thought, last week he did his best job with it. Will did some real good things in there. And he’s improving.”

Craig Roh’s good performance two weeks in a roh (do you see what I did there?), is that a better sign than just seeing it for only one week/flash in the pan? “Well I think you always have to be guarded, and you always have to make sure the consistency you want from your players is there. Craig takes it very seriously when he works and he prepares from the mental side of it to the physical stuff that we do.”

Is it harder to build consistency with front four than with an individual when you’re trying to get max effort? “Well it starts with that individual pride and ownership of who that guy is. We talk about that quite often. And then there’s always a unit pride that you want to have. I always think, and we always think that kind of permeates through that unit.”

Is this team better suited to play against a mobile quarterback because of Denard? “It probably helps. I think our team, facing Denard and Devin both, and Russell Bellomy -- I mean, he’s a little slippery. So when you look at it that way, there’s some familiarity with what we do, which is kind of a great thing because of what we do with the spread part of it and out of the gun to what we do with the I-back stuff. I think it really helps us as a team.”

What do you tell your defensive linemen when you play against a running quarterback? “I think gap integrity is always important in part. The critical thing to me is you have to chase the rabbit. You have to stay after it through the whistle because you see a lot of those guys make plays on cutbacks and those kinds of things, and you have to be a part of the 11.”

Are you going to look at other Big Ten games any differently now that divisions are in place? “You know, I was asked that once before. I don’t think so. Maybe I need to go back and look at it. But within the framework of the divisional play and crossover play, I don’t see much difference.”

Depth is a concern, particularly in the trenches. How does that affect you during the year? “It affects you in practice. It does. Guys you have to bring up on both sides of the ball. Guys who might be fighting for two and three in there who are down. They have to go over, so you take a good look from your look teams. That’s one reason we do so much against each other. I started doing that when I went to Ball State because of the competitive nature of going ones on ones, twos on twos, and the speed and all those things.”

What’s the situation at nickel? Two weeks ago you had Raymon Taylor but then last game it was mostly Thomas Gordon. “We’ll use both. Raymon’s a young guy who’s learning. Thomas is more of a veteran, obviously. We’ll use both guys, though. I think they both are doing okay. Not quite what we need.”

Are there any other freshmen that haven’t played at all that still could? “Good question. I hate to count anybody out because you never know. You get guys twisted up and those kinds of things and you never know when that’s going to happen.”

Is it safe to say that Justice Hayes will redshirt? “I wouldn’t say that yet.”

What’s punting situation? “What do you guys think?” Angelique only saw a couple yesterday. “I think they were both punting well yesterday.” Would you say one has a leg up on the other? “Not yet. That’s pretty good, I like that. You’re giving him good material, Angelique.”

Are you a stats guy? Mattison said yesterday he’s not much of a stats guy. “Huh uh. Why?” Well Idunno … “No no no. I’m not asking you why. My point is … no. I mean, the only statistic that's important is the outcome and winning. So no.”

Mattison also said he wasn’t pleased with Jake Ryan down the stretch. Is that because there were some one-on-one situations he didn’t win? “Oh, I think that’s part of it. I think we have a high opinion of Jake, and at the same time we have to remember he’s a redshirt freshman. He can do some good things. He can make plays, and part of that is he runs around the field and plays with good effort. He’s always not doing exactly what Jake should do in the framework of the defense, but he has an opportunity, because he plays hard, to make up for those things. That’s contagious, a little bit, and he’s got to keep growing with everything that we do.”

Have there not been enough carries for Thomas Rawls for you to properly evaluate him? “I think we gave him a pretty good look during the course of camp. And then he got banged up a little bit. Fred does a nice job of rotating those guys through, number one, to keep them healthy. Because we do compete against each other. I think the second part of it is trying to see where guys are at.”

Are you resigned to the fact that Denard’s your lead back? “You could say that probably. But he carries the ball. I know that. But I don’t know if I’d consider him a back, personally.”

Borges said if he has two backs running for over a hundred yards combined, he can live with that. Do you agree? “Sure. Sure. I’m fine with that. And again I go back to the statistic that counts: Winning.”

Wednesday Presser Transcript 9-14-11: Brady Hoke

Wednesday Presser Transcript 9-14-11: Brady Hoke

Submitted by Heiko on September 14th, 2011 at 5:52 PM

News bullets and other important items:

  • Cam Gordon is healthy, but conditioning might be a problem at this point.
  • Troy Woolfolk is fine, so stop asking.
  • Fitz Toussaint will return for EMU.
  • Ricky Barnum is clear starter at left guard.
  • Will Campbell will get more playing time.
  • Freshman RBs may play depending on how things go.
  • Justice Hayes is lining up as a receiver on scout team at times.
  • Brendan Gibbons is still primary placekicker, with Wile/Paulowski handling long FGs.
  • No redshirting decisions made yet.
  • Blake Countess looks likely to be a contributor at some point.
  • Saturday is Hoke's 100th game as head coach, but it ain't no thang.

Brady Hoke

"Let’s not be sticklers on what’s morning and what’s not."

Opening remarks: “We’ve got a lot of work, and I’ve said that before, and you guys say, ‘Yeah, right,’ but we have a lot of work to do as a football team. Tuesday, yesterday, was an okay day. I didn’t think it was a great day. A lot of that was the mental things of game planning. It always seems to happen that way. Every Tuesday is not near as good as Wednesday and not near as good as Thursday, because you tweak your plan a little bit, and you’ve got to have something that your kids, number one, can execute and perform well, but at the same time, you want to take advantage of some things that you want to from your opponent.

“Eastern is a very good football team. I’m talking about how they play the game. You can tell Ron’s done a great job in his footprint on that program. I’ve known Ron for a number of years, and his toughness that they want to have as a team is evident. If you look at 331 yards per game, I don’t care who you’re rushing the ball, if you’re averaging that, that’s pretty significant. So they’re blocking pretty well up front. There’s a number of guys that have spent time here in Ann Arbor on that staff who are very good coaches, and guys who understand and have a philosophy on how you play the game of football. We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us. We’ve got to play much better. We have to have some improvement as a team if we want to reach our goals, so believe me. We’ve got full attention on what Eastern Michigan does."

What’s practice like during game week, re: position drills, scrimmaging, etc.? “Tuesday and Wednesday are big work days -- big physical days and we’re going to compete against each other in some of the drills because of the speed and the look that you want. You break up part of practice to get a good switch of personnel so you can get a look at the plays that you have to defend and the defenses that you want to try and block. The kicking part of it – we do coverage teams on Tuesday, return teams on Wednesday, and do them both on Thursday. All those things, as you look at your opponent, you’re trying to put the best plan together.”

Does Eastern’s emphasis on the run help you shore up things up front? “I don’t know if it helps. I think they’re very good with formations. I think they leverage defenses pretty well. I think they do a nice job in and out of personnels and formations to leverage a defense. It all goes back to the same thing on defense -- you have to play with your eyes, and you have to make sure you’re honed in on what that key is -- that key at every position so you can react in the proper manner.”

Has Cam practiced this week? “He practiced yesterday, ran around, did some things. My biggest concern right now for him is his conditioning level because he’s missed a lot of time. I think we’ll get through that, but right now he’s available.”

You’ve talked about improving from week one to week two. What did you do better against Notre Dame, and how do you plan on continuing that trend? “I think there’s a lot of truth to that, and then you've got to continue to be championship teams, you’ve got to continue every week. A lot of that comes from the mental process of how you prepare, and that’s what we as a team have to do a good job of -- the way we prepare every week.

“I think we did some good things on third downs in the second half from a defensive standpoint. I thought we adjusted well offensively at halftime. When you look at some of the runs Denard had, and how Al changed up some blocking offensively to expose it a little more and help it. So there was good reaction from what Notre Dame was doing. I thought that was a good part. I think kickoff coverage was good.”

Do you expect to get Fitz back for Eastern? “Yeah he should be. He did everything yesterday, so we hope to.”

Taylor Lewan got pissed off yesterday because someone told him that the running backs didn’t really do much in the run game. What does O-line have to do to allow RBs some consistency? “You have to be better at the point of attack. You have to finish if you’re combination blocking, make sure you get up to the next level, make sure you’re getting the movement that you want on the line of scrimmage. There’s multiple things, because there’s perimeter people you have to count on harassing the guys from the secondary so your bigger plays can come from that. I think Taylor and all those guys have a lot of pride, and it’s good to hear that.”

Did you think Vincent Smith made a bigger difference in the passing game than rushing game? “I couldn’t tell you that. I think we have to block better. That’s where the game starts, so it’s like everything else. It’s all of us, coaches, players, and everybody.”

What does Vince bring on third down? “He’s tough. He knows what he’s doing, he’s tough, he’s not afraid to put his face on somebody, and he’s good out of the backfield. Catches the ball well. I like that little guy.”

Is there ongoing competition at left guard (Barnum vs. Schofield)? “I think Ricky has probably cemented himself decently to some degree in there, but if he practices badly or plays badly, then it’s nice to have a little bit of an option with Mike.”

Have you given any thought to Saturday being your 100th game as a head coach? “No.” Does it mean anything to you? “Not really.”

You referenced improvement on third down stops. Overall number isn’t very good yet, but is there a common theme in what worked on those plays? “I would think a couple things -- number one, we’ve got to challenge a little more in the back end. That would be first. We let some runs that were … I think there were one, two … three runs on third downs that broke because of one reason or another that we’ve got to execute better.”

Mike Hart’s going to be on the opposite sideline. What’s your relationship with him like? “I know Mike. I wasn’t here when Mike was here, but I have a lot of respect for Mike, and what he did for Michigan. I know him well enough. He’s a good man, and I like the heck out of him.”

If the opportunity arose, would you welcome him back to Michigan? “I think all of those guys are welcome back.”

After you get done with a noon game, do you spend the rest of the night looking at other teams? “Well, I’ll take the laptop home and first thing I’ll do is watch what we did, and then there’s usually next opponents on there gamewise, and may look at that a little bit.”

Are you going to give Will Campbell more playing time? “Yeah, in fact I asked him -- I guess I’m a little naïve -- I said, ‘Is that the most you’ve ever played?’ and he said, ‘Yes,’ and I said, ‘Really?’ I guess I should have known that. He did some good things in there. I think he’s gaining a little bit more confidence. He is a guy that can help us an awful lot if we can get the consistency and the improvement.”

Has lack of PT lit a fire under him in practice? “I think he just is -- I think we all get to a point that he’s settled in a position, number one, and I think that helps on a daily basis on what you do from a fundamentals and technique side. I think that part of it is real positive for our football team, and positive for him.”

Just makin’ sure … Is Troy limited at all in practice? “No. He did everything yesterday. I really like where he’s at in a mental state right now.”

Michael Floyd got his yards, but JT had him one-on-one and did a nice job considering it was against Michael Floyd. What did he do well? “I think JT’s improved. I think he’s got a long way to go, but I think he’s done some things better. I think he has the confidence level you want to have as a corner, without being too cocky. I think that’s an important part of it. There’s a lot of plays in there where he’s got to play a little better, too.”

Can you talk about your depth at linebacker position? “I think with Mike Jones, and Hawthorne being healthy, Fitzgerald and Desmond being healthier than he was Week One, that helps. Brandin’s still trying to get himself back. Cam, we’ve talked about, he’s an outside linebacker. Kenny’s done a pretty good job. I would say we’re okay. We’re not the deepest group anywhere, to be honest with you.”

Lots o’ guys playing at the WILL position during the last two games. How much of that is just rotating them, and how much is just trying to find a clear starter or two? “Some of that depends on what defense you’re in. If you’re in a nickel or dime package, who’s out on the field, or if you’re in our base package. So with what Western Michigan wanted to do, it was more of a nickel/dime kind of setup [with their four-wide formations]. But [with Eastern Michigan] rushing the ball for 331 yards a game out of two base personnel groups, you’ll be a little more with your base defense.”

Does it help having stability in the middle with Kenny Demens? “I always think it does. You have a guy who has experience, you have a guy who’s pretty sharp when it comes to making the calls, setting the front, and adjusting at that level, so yeah. Kenny does a good job, and J.B. does a good job when he’s in.”

Will you consider playing your freshman RBs? “Maybe.” What will that depend on? “It will always depend on how fast they learn, maturity-wise, and all those things.” Have they caught up a little more? “I think they’re okay. Depending on where we get, they may play.”

What have you seen from them? “I think Rawls is a strong runner, he’s got good vision and pretty good balance. He’s got a pretty good burst. Justice is a guy who’s got great quickness. Catches the ball well. He’s doing a lot of things for us now on our look teams, sometimes lining up as a wideout, just because of numbers, and he’s matured.”

You’re not Kirk Ferentz, so you’re probably not going to take a knee on third down just to kick a field goal, but how important is it to get a couple attempts in the next couple games to get to the meat of the schedule? “I don’t know if it’s as important as we all may think. I think we’re kicking everyday. [Gibbons] is going up to the stadium everyday. He’s shown good consistency. We’ve come at him everyday. We put pressure on him, and I think right now he’s hitting the ball pretty well.”

Is that still one of those things where you don’t really know how well he kicks until you get into a game situation? “It’s like anything else in life. I don’t know what’s going to happen ten minutes from now. I don’t worry about that.”

It looked like Wile was taking a few practice kicks during the Notre Dame game when it looked like the FG attempt would be longer. Is Wile still handling long field goals? “I would say him or Paulowski. Either one of those two guys. They to have a little bit of a stronger leg.”

How were the players mentally yesterday? “They were pretty good that way. I think your Tuesday, no matter what -- because of a couple wrinkles here or there, and they are students also -- they come in here and they have to focus on this part of it now, and some do a better job than others.”

Any scholarships for walk-ons? “Bum. Bum bum. Bum. Um … I don’t think so. I think we’ve renewed some that were given a year ago.” No one new? “No.”

Any redshirting decisions? “You know, not really. We’re not going to be afraid to play freshmen, obviously. The best player's going to play. They’re still learning to some degree, but from the fundamentals standpoints, if they’re the best, they’ll play.”

How do you get more out of your return game? “Gotta block better. The punt return that Gallon had the other night was huge, when you look at field position, but on the kickoffs, we have to do a better job of picking guys up. I think our vision was okay back there as far as the return part of it. We just have to be more consistent staying on guys longer.”

Is Countess putting himself in a position to contribute? “I think so. I think he will.”

Like Our Running Backs, Only Faster

Like Our Running Backs, Only Faster

Submitted by Seth on August 23rd, 2011 at 2:17 AM


Photo from Media Day 2010 by Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com.
LtoR: Phil Monolo, Stephen Hopkins, Michael Shaw, Fred Jackson, Fitgerald Toussaint, John McColgan, Vincent Smith. Not pictured: Cox.


Scheduling note: I'm gonna start separating the Dear Diary and rambling musings/studies/logorrhea stuff into two separate weekly posts. DD is moving to Friday to service your weekend reading demands, with the other stuff (name suggestions?) on Tuesdays. Also I'm going to try to make these ramblings less wordy, starting…uh, next time.


By now you know the meme: Fred Jackson likes to hyperbolize his running backs. This being the most active position battle, I figured a review of Jackson's current stud stable of studly running studs, half-studs and tail-studs might be in order.

Close your eyes, think of your favorite Michigan back of all time, and then imagine he's FASTER:

Mike Hart/Jamie Morris, Except Faster and More Agile!
Alias: #2 Vincent Smith (Jr/Jr)

Video evidence of reincarnation:

This is not the greatest song in the world; this is just a tribute.



Omameh and Molk do the hard stuff but watch Smith do a Hart-y shoulder thing then almost get caught by a Hoosier DB.

Stats, Recruiting Profile

Style: Pahokeean scat-back who can catch. Vincent is small, like Hart, and plays with ♥, like Hart, but when Smith tries to burrow the pile forward like Hart he looks like a 6-year-old trying with all his might to batter 10-year-olds, ie he ends up earning more respect than yards. And there's this:

As junior:

Name Ht Wt.
Vincent Smith 5'6 172
Jamie Morris 5'7 179
Michael Hart 5'9* 196

* Yeah right.

Darren Sproles would be more accurate. I just can't think of another jackrabbit, and honestly I think he's more Hart than Jamie, except Hart is more like Jamie than Smith. Before his injury Smith was a vintage spread scatty RB who could also be a devastating receiver in the flat. He can jump out of a run into a big lateral juke and accelerate faster than any other back from a dead stop.

Of all M's tailbacks you want him in there when: It's 3rd and 8, and that nickel back needs some strong incentive to keep him from blitzing or dropping back to help cover the slant.

Is he THE ONE? Smith's nominally the returning starter and also the leader in rushes, career yards, and receptions/rec yards among the RBs. But probably not, since he's leeeetle, and physics. If the Spring Game is any evidence I-form man-ball means sending the RB into the 2nd level with Force, which is acceleration times something Smith lacks. Jackson says he's chosen a 3rd down back and inference leads to obviously Smith, therefore Smith's not the every-down back.


Mike Hart, Except Faster, and Bigger, and like Chris Perry…
Or Lawrence Ricks. Except Faster.
Alias: #28 Fitzgerald Toussaint (So/Jr)

Video evidence of reincarnation:



Just a freshman…



Having trouble with time stamps. There's a good one of Ricks at 38 seconds, but the whole day's basically Ricks rushes broken up by great defense and AC highlights so deal.

FWIW that BG defensive back is actually pretty fast.

Fred Jackson:

"Michael Hart ability with speed. The kind of guy that can do Michael's cuts, he can sit down, sink his hips and explode by making steps. He's faster than Mike and a very, very tough guy, like Mike was. He's very similar to Mike. He's not the type of inside runner Mike was -- but he's going to get there."

Fred Jackson 2:

"He's got great feet, acceleration, strength, power," Jackson said. "I can compare him to somebody -- he's like a fast Chris Perry. He's going to be very good."

Stats, Recruiting Profile

Style: I keep hearing people say Hart and I see it in that Fitz has those same thick, powerful legs that put his center of gravity lower than Pat Massey can bend. But Hart was sly with subtle plants that threw off tackle attempts. Fitz's highlight reel is full of knee-poppers and sideways slides he used to make lower-division Ohio high schoolers look like fools the way Barry Sanders made NFL players look like fools. Makes great moves and great cuts. Vision is unknown – he ran and reacted in high school. Then he goes to plaid.

Of all M's tailbacks you want him in there when: The practice hype (it started swelling last year at this time as well) turns into Fitz Toussaint atop the roster.

Is he THE ONE? The shift to I-formations and man blocking seems to favor him over Brown or Smith, but he's still a guy made for picking through zone, not taking on linebackers with his face.


Carlos Brown, Except Faster
Alias: #20 Michael Shaw (Sr/Sr)

Video evidence of reincarnation:



Woop. Gone.



At 3:38. Warning: Pam Ward at her all excitement- and joy-devouring Pam Wardiest; mute advised. Stats, Recruiting Profile

Style: Glider who runs upright and a little leaned back, waiting to unleash a ridiculous gashing move from which he accelerates like an overused metaphor at the Woodward Dream Cruise. The move can be used to clear traffic or cutback, but with Shaw, like Brown, you only get to press the juke button once, and then you're mashing speed boost. Track star speed plus that move make him murder on bad teams.

Of all M's tailbacks you want him in there when: The playside hole is blocked perfectly and the backside DE for whatever reason (out of position, MACrificial) might not get there in time to fill before it's open green to the end zone.

Is he THE ONE? Probably not, but when you say "change of pace" back, Shaw is exactly what you're talking about. The kill-shot or bust nature of the slasher means they usually come paired with a softening agent: Carlos Brown & Brandon Minor, Tony Boles & Leroy Hoard (& Morris), Butch Woolfolk & Stan Edwards, Woody Allen & Bette Midler. Shaw will push a pile a bit and isn't as shoelace trippy as Brown was, but other guys can do much more with less. My sense is he's best deployed when the defense is way overmatched against Michigan's blocking, either because they're exhausted from chasing Smith/Toussaint and being battered by Hopkins, or because they aren't so good to begin with.


Jerome Bettis/Leroy Hoard, Except Faster
Alias: #33 Stephen Hopkins (So/So)

Video evidence of reincarnation:



FF to 1:28 for Hoard. Optional: stand out in the middle of U.S. 23.



Where's Keith Jackson with his rising"He's a HOSS!" when you need him?

Stats, Recruiting Profile

Style: Hopkinstruck. The Bus also comes to mind.

Of all M's tailbacks you want him in there when:


Also when the offensive line has done its job, but so has the defense, and that means there's a linebacker headed for the same, only hole the running back can go through, and physics takes over.

Is he THE ONE? Well he might not be available early, and in a crowd that could hurt. Hopkins earned more carries as his freshman season went on. The offense seems to 'liek mudkipz' (I have no idea if I got this reference right). Count me among those holding back on visions of Wheatley (who was a bona fide track star as well as bruiser) or A-Train, who ran high and fell forward for those extra yards. Hoard but faster could be accurate, and not at all a bad thing.


Tshimanga Biakabutuka & Chris Perry, Except Faster & Stronger 
Alias: #15 Michael Cox (Jr/Sr)

Video evidence of reincarnation:



You knew this was coming.



Just flip to a random spot, it's probably Perry running for 8 yards.



Somebody's been messing with the sliders on Junior Varsity mode.

Stats, Recruiting Profile

Style: Like Shaw/Brown he waits for the opponent to make a mistake he can exploit before hitting the gas pedal (Perry would just go). But Cox is built much thicker than the pure speed guys, and while he can burn in his way, he can also use his thick build for power. His main asset is great balance, which makes him hard to take down without crazy moves, and that's where the Biakabutuka reference comes in. Plus I wanted to link that video of him tearing apart Ohio State again because I was 15 when that happened and not yet sure if it's okay to develop strong feelings for people who dismantle Ohio State. I am pretty sure it's not okay to do so for people who dismantle Delaware State.

Of all M's tailbacks you want him in there when: You're drafting your 3-on-3 basketball team.

Is he THE ONE? Practice word since freshman year is he's the most naturally gifted, but practice hype from teammates et al. is refuted by observer reports mentioning Cox running the wrong direction, and missing his lanes. Latest is he's learning the playbook and might challenge later on. OTOH the guy does have ridiculous balance, and has broken a long one in every game he's appeared. On the other-other hand, most of his career yards were gained with Cone in at QB making DO throws to LaTerryal Savoy and Anthony Reyes. Unless he makes his move this year, this former camp offer from nowhere likely ends up a running back Notorious C.O.N.E.


Mark Ingram, Except Faster
Alias: #38 Thomas Rawls (Fr/Fr)

Video evidence of reincarnation:



Look how slow highlight reels were before high school coaches learned about 1.2x playback.



Hurray for "Higlights!"

Recruiting Profile

Style: He's 5'10 and almost 230 lbs. as a freshman. That means lots of mass relatively low to the ground. He makes that lower, giving Rawls the same P.J. Hill-ishness that makes guys bounce off him.

Of all M's tailbacks you want him in there when: This guy was born to run between the tackles.

Is he THE ONE? Thickly built backs like him tend to be early-playable since their game is pretty straightforward. Watch Ingram's highlight reel – or Clarett's – as underclassmen. Such men are immune to arm tackling. To anyone not from Flint or with the last name Jackson, Rawls is almost certainly a lite version of those guys. How lite will determine how useful he is this year, and down the line.


Bobby 'Bomber' Nussbaumer, Except Faster
Alias: #5 Justice Hayes (Fr/Fr)

Evidence of reincarnation:

Actually in Nussbaumer's day bloggers got our video feeds from buying packs of chewing gum with cardboard prints of badly-colored newspaper clippings. Then we swished the cards around so it looked like their subjects were moving…

Reverse from 1948 card:


Halfback – Washington Redskins
Weight—170 lbs.                 Age—24
Height—5'11"       College—Michigan

…Set all-time Redskin pass-catching record, finishing 2nd in league play to Bud Keane of Bears with 47 passes good for 597 yards. Named All-Big Ten halfback in 1945 while starring for Michigan. Is all-around athlete. Plays baseball, basketball and participates in track.

Recruiting Profile

Style: Kind of like a less hyped McGuffie, no? And like McGuff, he hurdled some fool, and lost most of his senior year to injury.

Of all M's tailbacks you want him in there when: It's January 2014, Heisman-winning QB Devin Gardner takes the snap and suddenly Tennesse's defense is through the line and coming toward him – but WAIT, it's a screen to Michigan's playmaker Justice Mercury Willie Mays Hayes. He's loose in the open field with just one man – 7'2 safety JAWS – to beat…Hayes leaps OVER him. Touchdown Michigan! Michigan has put this game out of reach and barring a miracle Gardner and Hayes and the Wolverines are going to be your 2013 season National Champions! Hi dad!

Is he THE ONE? As in can he lead us to victory over the machines and free us from the Matrix? Yes. As in will he claim the job in 2011? No. But next year Shaw's gone and then Smith's gone, and Hayes should be a more filled out sophomore.

The smart money says all of these guys except Hayes will probably touch the ball this year. So if you really want to know what Michigan's backs will look like this year, put this on fast forward..

…or watch lots of games from 1980:

Name Att Net Yd Yd/Att TD Lng
Butch Woolfolk 196 1042 5.3 8 64
Stanley Edwards 192 901 4.7 8 42
Lawrence Ricks 167 850 5.1 6 29
Jerald Ingram 33 145 4.4 2 26
Rich Hewlett 21 73 3.5 0 17
Anthony Carter 10 68 6.8 0 21
Kerry Smith 8 46 5.8 0 16
Tom Hassel 6 17 2.8 0 9
Steve Smith 9 8 0.9 0 9
John Powers 0 7   0 7
John Wangler 32 -122 -3.8 0 6
Total 674 3035 4.5 24 64

2011 Recruiting: Justice Hayes

2011 Recruiting: Justice Hayes

Submitted by Brian on August 18th, 2011 at 3:26 PM

Previously: CB Greg Brown, CB/S Tamani Carter, CB Blake Countess, CB Delonte Hollowell, CB Raymon Taylor, LB Antonio Poole, LB Desmond Morgan, LB Frank Clark, LB Kellen Jones, DE Keith Heitzman, DE Chris Rock, DE Brennen Beyer, OL Jack Miller, OL Tony Posada, OL Chris Bryant and RB Thomas Rawls.

Grand Blanc, MI - 5'10" 176


Scout 4*, #14 RB, #131 overall
Rivals 4*, #3 AP back, #4 MI, #85 overall
ESPN 4*, 79, #22 RB
Others 247: 4*, #6 APB, #3 MI, #149 overall
Other Suitors Notre Dame, Iowa, Michigan State, Tennessee, Wisconsin
YMRMFSPA Steve Breaston
Previously On MGoBlog Commitment post from Tim.
Notes Has a twitter.


Junior film:

He got injured early this year so no senior film. He did McGuffie some dude as a sophomore:

When Justice Hayes suddenly dropped Notre Dame($) for Michigan in November he was switching one spread for another. While the offenses of Rich Rodriguez and Brian Kelly have significant differences they both have room for a cat-quick tailback who looks like "a big cornerback" and can change direction on a dime. They have yet more room for a guy like that who can double as a slot receiver. So that made sense.

A couple months later Rich Rodriguez was panhandling, Brady Hoke was the new coach at Michigan, and Justice Hayes was proclaiming his undying loyalty to the Wolverines. That makes… well, less sense. Hayes is Michigan's consensus top recruit of the 2011 class, but the question remains: can Michigan use him effectively?

Don't take it from me. Ask his high school coach:

"He's okay in between the tackles, but I see him more as a slot," said Delaney. "But he's so versatile you can line him back up with the quarterback and have a dual threat back there that way. You could put him back there and motion him, bring him across and sweep… a lot of things."

Allen Trieu's assessment upon Hayes's switch($) is ironic, declaring him a "good fit" because Hayes "would have had to grow into an I-Back type role at a power running school." Boilerplate about Borges's creativity and experience with wide-open passing attacks goes here; doubt about his role in an I-form, TE-heavy power-running offense is not erased by it.

Still, Hayes seems like the kind of kid you might have to build some offense around. The scouting reports portray him as one of those proverbial Weapons. His Rivals profile praises him as a "very, very quick back": before getting into some intangibles:

His body structure is reminiscent of Notre Dame running back Theo Riddick.
… will need to add some more strength and size in order to make yards after contact at the next level. He could work on his balance. …. Hayes is very versatile and could player defensive back, wide receiver or running back at the next level. He is a high-character kid that possesses serious leadership skills. ... He adds instant speed and will be hard to keep off the field.

Rivals rates his size and strength as average, his elusiveness and speed "blue chip," and his agility "as good as it gets." ESPN($):

Flashes great elusiveness and suddenness through the hole and second level. Sees the field well and redirects through the small creases sharply. Can stop-start and make tight cuts showing great balance and body control. A great jump-cutter who consistently makes the first guy miss but will also stick his foot in the ground and get north; elusive but a decisive runner as well. … Feet and body never stop on contact allowing him to spin out of a lot of arm tackles. Very slippery and does not give defenders a clean shot. … projects to be more of a change-of-pace, multi-purpose type of back at the major college level; at least until he fills out his frame and gains more downhill power. … has big-play potential with his initial burst and ability to reach top-speed extremely quick. Would make an ideal space-player in a spread offense at the next level; could develop into a great weapon [ed: see?] if used creatively.

The copious scouting reports from his camp appearances follow much in the same vein. A Rivals eval from the Army Combine praises his excellent change of direction and soft hands while claiming he'll need to gain "at least 20 more pounds" if he's going to be a feature back. As a result of that and his killer shuttle (4.09, third at the event) he was named to the All-Combine team($) at the Army Game ("excelled as a pass receiver … could play three different positions").

He hit up the Columbus Nike Camp, where he was "the best route-runner" at RB and "caught everything smoothly," looked like "the perfect physical cornerback" and displayed "superb" ball skills. He made that All-Combine team, too. At the Michigan Showcase he was "unstoppable" because of "ability to get in and out of his cuts and explode past defenders."

His catches are often spectacular. One from the Army Camp($):

"He ran a wheel route down the sideline. He caught the ball at its highest point - he had to have been 35 inches off the ground - like he has been doing it all his life. He is just a natural athlete."

One from his high school season—the play he broke his wrist on:

Hayes broke his wrist on what Delaney called one of the better catches he's ever seen. "We had the football right at the end of the half and our quarterback threw a bullet with no time remaining to the back of the end zone, 25 yards or so, and he split the defenders but came down on his wrist," he recalled.

You get the idea. Hayes is a 7-on-7 god.

Meanwhile, being a feature back isn't totally out of the question. Multiple analysts praise his decisive cuts and ability to run through traffic. Scout:

Very conscious of clearing his feet from the arm tacklers going low. Runs bigger than his listed size. Makes people miss with subtle moves rather than exaggerated lateral movement. Very good runner in traffic helps him eat up chunks of yardage quickly despite not having blazing top end speed. Very little wasted motion in his running style. Vision in traffic makes him valuable between the tackles despite his size - Scott Kennedy, Scout.com

ESPN's Billy Tucker says the usual stuff about 7-on-7 godliness but also mentions some ability to hit it upfield:

"Now this guy is not just an extremely quick and sudden east-west cutting runner. Hayes runs hard for 180-pounds and will stick his foot in the ground and get North when he sees a crease. That decisive cutting style and fluid change-of-direction skill should allow for good production in Ann Arbor."


oh, no reason

This guy is a Weapon. Michigan will use him.

Hayes will be a test for Borges's ability and Hoke's flexibility. The evidence suggests Hoke is going to be flexible enough to allow Borges to play with his toy. If so, Hayes has the ability to be a guy people pine for whenever a screen goes for four yards. "Justice Hayes would have gotten eight yards," they'll sigh, "and returned that kickoff to midfield." His size and a logjam in front of him will prevent that from happening right away, but his exciting combination of hands, quickness, and vision promise spectacular plays. It'll be up to Michigan's offensive brain trust to mine his assets with sufficient frequency.

Etc.: Chooses Notre Dame, temporarily. Name found worthy of "CALL HIM JUSTICE HAYES AND THEN SEE DEATH" EDSBS headline. Jim Stefani says he actually changed his name to Justice from "Will McDaniel," which good call. This massive, free breakdown from Vol Nation says all of the above and more. If you want to get irrationally excited about Hayes, read it.

May return kicks:

“Kickoff return,” Hayes said. “We’ve got a great amount of running backs and they’ve been peaking lately. So probably not this year, but I’m definitely going to compete to try and get a spot in the kickoff return.

“It doesn’t matter (what I do), just coming in to compete.”

Why Steve Breaston? Michigan hasn't had an all-purpose Weapon like Breaston since his departure and hadn't really had one before. While Breaston is a couple inches taller and was therefore strictly a wide receiver, his out-of-this-world quicks made him a guy to get the ball to any way you can—as long as it's not between the tackles.

Breaston, like Hayes, entered Michigan a rail-thin consensus four star who needed to gain weight. Hayes would have to scrape the very top of his potential be as elusive as Breaston but he does have one major advantage: hands. Breaston's hands were underrated by a pack of perfectionists who saw every dropped slant as a hanging offense but they weren't much better than okay. Hayes sounds like he's got Jason Avant's hands in a tailback's body.

Guru Reliability: Very high. While the injury robbed him of much of his senior season he'd already attended every camp he could; rankings and scouting reports are near-unanimous, with the only disagreement about whether or not he can be an effective runner between the tackles. The injury is a wrist injury and should not impact his speed.

General Excitement Level: High. Would be "very high"—the only ranking short of "eeee"—except for nagging concerns about his role in what projects to be a very pro-style offense. At worst he'll be a third down back and slot, but that role is something less than he might have become in the spread.

Projection: His versatility will allow him to see the field quickly on special teams and spotting various players on offense. With no slots in the class—no receivers at all—and the pending departures of three of the top for WRs he could find himself being groomed for a significant role as a sophomore. If that doesn't happen he's a heavy favorite to become the third down back when Smith graduates; at that point he'd also be in the WR rotation. Nonzero chance he puts on enough weight to be a feature back but that's not particularly likely.

If everything goes pear-shaped and he just does not fit in the offense it sounds like he'll have a shot at corner, too. Seems like that would be a waste, but not as much of one as not finding a role for him at all.

Friday Night Lights 2010: 11-23

Friday Night Lights 2010: 11-23

Submitted by Tim on November 24th, 2010 at 10:15 AM

For live updates of the games I'm attending, follow me on Twitter @varsityblue. If you can help out finding articles on any of the commits, @reply me on Twitter or e-mail me, and I'll try to include your contribution.

New Commit MI RB Justice Hayes


Game 1. Grand Blanc defeated Carman-Ainsworth 21-7. Hayes had a good game:

Hayes finished with 149 yards on 18 carries. He also threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to quarterback Ryan Morley, who began the play by tossing a lateral to Hayes. Hayes attracted a pass rush, then threw to his left to Morley, who had plenty of room down the left sideline with 8:20 left in the first quarter.

"There were guys in my area, so I had to hurry up and get if off quick," Hayes said. "It was a very difficult throw for me."

...but also fumbled in the end zone, giving Carman-Ainsworth their only score.

Game 2. Grand Blanc was pasted by Canton, 20-62. Hayes had just 20 yards on 9 carries.

Game 3. Grand Blanc dropped an overtime decision to Milford, 35-42. Hayes did most of his damage as a receiver:

Justice Hayes caught 11 passes for 98 yards and one score

His junior teammate Detrick Goff got most of the rushing yardage.

Game 4. Hayes missed the game with a wrist injury as Grand Blanc beat Brighton 27-20. More on the wrist injury:

As for Hayes, Delaney doesn’t know when his star running back will be able to play again. “At first it was thought to be a bad sprain, but the swelling never went down,” Delaney said. “It looked as bad last week on Friday as it did on Saturday morning the previous week. He’s gone around to different places and gotten different opinions. It seems to be a problem in the wrist with a small bone. We’re trying to get it figured out.”

The injury turned out to be a broken wrist, and Justice missed the remainder of the season. Grand Blanc would finish 7-4, losing in the second round of the State Playoffs to Lake Orion.

FL RB Demetrius Hart

Last Week: Hart is a nominee for the US Army All-American Player of the Year. Dr. Phillips crushed Olympia 52-3 in Round 1 of the State Playoffs:

Running back Demetrius Hart rushed for 118 yards and accounted for three touchdowns — two rushing, one receiving — to lead the Panthers in a 52-3 rout.

Official stats from the Dr. Philips website. Demetrius settin' records. Video:

Demetrius Hart 2010
Game Rushing Receiving Returns
Opponent Result Att Yds TD Avg Rec Yds TD Avg Ret Yds TD Avg
Edgewater W 48-7 20 79 2 3.95 1 8 0 8.00 3 47 0 15.67
Osceola W 49-7 19 98 3 5.16 3 47 0 15.67 2 23 0 11.50
Olympia W 49-0 17 224 3 13.18 5 68 1 13.60 1 20 0 20.00
Cypress Creek W 52-0 14 168 4 12.00 1 7 0 7.00 3 24 0 8.00
Boone W 45-0 18 142 3 7.89 5 132 1 26.40 1 0 0 0.00
Evans W 62-6 8 178 3 22.25 1 5 0 5.00 3 57 0 19.00
Oak Ridge W 56-28 21 126 3 6.00 4 37 1 9.25 1 5 0 5.00
Gateway W 59-0 11 190 5 17.27 0 0 0 - 2 36 0 18.00
Freedom W 56-13 23 229 3 9.96 2 26 0 13.00 4 34 0 11.33
West Orange W 49-6 11 121 4 11.00 4 24 0 6.00 2 69 1 34.50
Regular Season 10-0 162 1555 33 9.60 26 354 3 13.62 22 315 1 14.32
Olympia W 52-3 14 118 2 8.43 1 93 1 93.00 1 4 0 4.00
Totals 11-0 176 1673 35 9.51 27 447 4 16.56 23 319 1 13.87

This week: Dr. Phillips hosts Oak Ridge in Round 2 of the State Playoffs next Friday.

FL OL Tony Posada

Last week: Maxpreps picked this as an upset special. Eh, not so much, as Plant smashed Plant City 47-18 in Round 1 of the State Playoffs.

This week: Plant faces Newsome in Round 2 of the State Playoffs.

OH OL Jack Miller

Last Week: Pregame Fluff:

“Even though we're only 16, 17, 18-year-old kids,” Miller said, “we kind of know what this means in the big picture [of Toledo football history]. For us seniors, this is our last year and it's the last year of the City League [for St. John's, Whitmer and others]. On so many different levels, this game is very meaningful.”

Miller was also named 1st-Team All-District, and the District Lineman of the Year.

St. John's Jesuit fell to Whitmer 10-14 in Round 3 of the State Playoffs. Article 2.

This week: 11-2 St. John's has ended their season with both losses coming at the hands of Whitmer.

MI DE/LB Brennen Beyer


Last week: Plymouth upset Rockford 20-17 in the State Semifinals. Beyer was the star of the show:

"Obviously, (Beyer) is an outstanding athlete," said Rockford coach Ralph Munger, whose team ended its season 11-2. "The quarterback made the throw and he made the catch with two guys in coverage. But you have to make plays and deny plays, and we didn't make enough big plays today." ...

"(Beyer) is a great kid, and he just keeps playing," Plymouth coach Mike Sawchuk said. "As a coach, obviously, you have doubt (when they score that touchdown with just over a minute to play), but these kids never quit.

Beyer made plays on both sides of the ball for Plymouth. He caught his team's first touchdown early in the first quarter and, on defense, he caused problems for the Rockford offense all game from the defensive end position... Beyer had five catches for 105 yards.

PlymouthCantonSports has much more:

"I ran a streak and our coach said to high-point the ball," said Beyer, describing his incredible reception. "That's what I did. It was surreal. I didn't even know what was happening. I was so dead tired, but it felt incredible. This feels so great. I just want to close my eyes and try to remember this moment for the rest of my life." ...

Plymouth's defense was outstanding the entire afternoon. Beyer led the way with seven tackles and three sacks.

Plymouth fluff. You can watch the whole game on MHSAA.tv.

This week: The 11-2 Wildcats will take on Lake Orion at Ford Field on Friday at 1PM. The game will be televised on FSN+ and MHSAA.tv.

TX LB Kellen Jones

Last week: Game Preview. St. Pius X fell to Bishop Lynch 21-22 on a last-second field goal. I'l update Kellen's stats when Tom hears from his coach. UPDATED:


Kellen Jones' team lost 22-21 on the last play of the game, a 38 yard field goal. Kellen left in the fourth quarter with a high ankle sprain, but he had 9 total tackles, 6 solo, 3 TFL, 1 sack, 1 FF.

So there's that. Final chart below:

Kellen Jones 2010
Opponent Result Tackles TFL Sack FFum FumRec PBlock
Trinity Christian W 33-7 11 5 1 0 0 0
Sealy L 7-56 13 3 0 2 0 0
Episcopal W 31-27 6 3 1 0 0 0
Worthing W 20-12 DNP - ankle
St. Thomas W 28-10 11 3 1 0 0 0
Kelly W 28-0 14 4 1 1 0 0
Houston Christian W 37-13 9 3 1 0 0 0
Kelly W 35-7 9 2 1 0 0 0
Houston Christian W 49-7 8 1 1 0 0 1
St. Thomas W 33-28 13 2 0 0 0 0
Regular Season 9-1 73 23 6 3 0 1
Antonian W 40-6 5 2 1 0 2 0
Bishop Lynch L 21-22 9 3 1 1 0 0
Playoffs 2nd Rd 14 5 2 1 2 0
Totals 10-3 87 28 8 4 2 1

This week: St. Pius has seen their season come to an end.

MI CB Delonte Hollowell

Last week: Cass Tech lost to Lake Orion 21-24 in the State Semifinals. You can watch the whole game on MHSAA.tv.

Next Week: The 12-1 Technicians have seen their season end.

FL CB Dallas Crawford


Last week: Game preview. South Fort Myers beat Barron Collier 33-2 in Round 1 of the State Playoffs (click through for quarter-by-quarter videos):

South had 161 rushing yards and Crawford completed 11 of 14 attempts for 163 yards and two TDs.

Sammy Watkins had... a 23-yard TD pass to Crawford.

Dallas dedicated his performance to his father, who passed away last Friday:

“He was my biggest fan... He taught me everything I know,” Crawford said. “He taught me how to throw a football.”

Article 2. Rest in Peace, Steven Crawford.

Dallas Crawford 2010
  Passing Rushing Defense
Opponent Result Comp Att % Yds Yds/Att TD Int Rush Yds Yds/Att TD Int TD
Estero W 49-7 6 7 85.71 156 22.29 2 0 3 30 10.00 3 1 0
Cypress Lake W 39-0 9 10 90.00 118 11.80 1 0 6 24 4.00 2 0 0
Bishop Verot W 35-3 18 23 78.26 299 13.00 4 0 9 12 1.33 1 0 0
Gulf Coast W 49-7 12 16 75.00 277 17.31 3 1 11 34 3.09 1 0 0
North Fort Myers W 34-0 7 13 53.85 88 6.77 2 0 5 38 7.60 0 2 1
Baker W 41-0 3 5 60.00 61 12.20 0 0 1 28 28.00 0 1 1
Fort Myers W 43-10 10 13 76.92 144 11.08 1 0 12 38 3.17 2 0 0
Riverdale W 39-3 6 8 75.00 138 17.25 2 0 11 88 8.00 1 0 0
Mariner W 50-7 6 8 75.00 151 18.88 2 0 3 29 9.67 1 0 0
Regular Season 9-0 77 103 74.76 1432 13.90 17 1 61 321 5.26 11 4 2
Barron Collier 33-2 11 14 78.57 163 11.64 1 0 7 -21 -3.00 0 0 0
Totals 9-0 88 117 75.21 1595 13.63 18 1 68 300 4.41 11 4 2

This week: Undefeateds square off as South Fort Myers travels to 11-0 Naples in Round 2 of the State Playoffs.

Seasons Complete

FL QB Kevin Sousa

Lake Nona's season has ended with a 1-9 record. Sousa finished with 125/226 passing for 1936 yards with 13 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. Rushing, he had 120 attempts for 835 yards and 6 touchdowns. For a full game-by-game stat breakdown, check out last week's FNL post.

MI WR Shawn Conway

Seaholm's season is over, with a 4-5 record. Conway finished the year with about 22 catches for 375 yards, and 11 kick/punt returns for 393 yards.

MI OL Jake Fisher

Traverse City West's season is over, with a 6-4 record and a loss in the first round of the State Playoffs.

OH DE Chris Rock

DeSales's season ended at 5-6 with a loss in the first round of the State Playoffs.

OH CB/S Greg Brown

Fremont Ross's season is over, with a 9-2 record and a loss in the first round of the State Playoffs. Brown was named All-District.

Yes, Hello: Justice Hayes

Yes, Hello: Justice Hayes

Submitted by Tim on November 23rd, 2010 at 9:58 AM

Surprise! MI RB Justice Hayes is the newest member of Michigan's class of 2011.



That's more like it.


Scout Rivals ESPN
4*, #14 RB 4*, 5.9 #3 APB, #84 Overall 4*, 79, #22 RB

The three recruiting sites are in approximate agreement on Hayes' size: he's 5-10, and with weights listed from 175-182, I'm inclined to go with the weirdly specific one. We'll settle on an average of 180 pounds. Scout Profile:

Very conscious of clearing his feet from the arm tacklers going low. Runs bigger than his listed size. Makes people miss with subtle moves rather than exaggerated lateral movement. Very good runner in traffic helps him eat up chunks of yardage quickly despite not having blazing top end speed. Very little wasted motion in his running style. Vision in traffic makes him valuable between the tackles despite his size - Scott Kennedy, Scout.com

On himself, also from the Scout profile:

“I’m quick and have great speed. I can make defenders miss and take it to the end zone on any given play. I’m also not afraid to go up the middle, but I’m more of a shifty, all-purpose back. I still want to continue getting faster and work on my flat out speed. Plus, I want to get bigger and stronger and be more of an every-down back.”

The top-end speed comment is echoed by the scouts. ESPN:

Has good top-end speed and an extra gear to separate when he turns the corner but does appear quicker than fast at times. That said, Hayes has big-play potential with his initial burst and ability to reach top-speed extremely quick.

This sentence fragment essentially says "Justice Hayes has good top-end speed, but does not have good top-end speed." The Worldwide leader has much more:

Hayes is a quick, gliding running back with a lot of natural ability... Flashes great elusiveness and suddenness through the hole and second level... A great jump-cutter who consistently makes the first guy miss but will also stick his foot in the ground and get north; elusive but a decisive runner as well... Very slippery and does not give defenders a clean shot. Polished hands and receiving skills out of the backfield add to his upside...

Which all leads to the payoff:

Would make an ideal space-player in a spread offense at the next level; could develop into a great weapon if used creatively.

Though he's been exclusively evaluated as a running back by the recruiting sites, that seems to imply that he's athletic and versatile enough to play multiple positions at the next level, including slot. In fact, the main body of ESPN's breakdown sounds like the ideal slot.

Hayes's coach breaks down his game a bit, in comparison to former Michigan signee Reggie Benton and reigning Heisman winner Mark Ingram:

"They'll find a way to get themselves in the open, make guys miss and get into the end zone... Either they've got vision and can see things other kids can't - those cutbacks, those lanes, those little areas - or they don't." ...

Delaney said the one area in which Hayes stands out is as a receiver. Hayes has caught 41 passes for 448 yards and four touchdowns the past two seasons. "If nothing else, Justice could be a receiver in college," Delaney said. "Being able to bring him out of the backfield allows us to do so much more. His hands are better than Mark's, and Mark has real good hands."

"Could be a receiver in college," given everything else we've read, and the current composition of Michigan's recruiting class... sounds like a future slot to me.


Since Hayes recently decommitted from Notre Dame, he obviously held an offer from the Irish. He picked Michigan over the Domers and Tennessee in his short re-recruitment. Hayes also held offers from almost the entire Big Ten (he lacked Ohio State and Penn State), including Michigan State, who cannot recruit in-state, it appears.



Hayes had a senior-year injury (fear not, just a broken wrist - unlikely to have long term effects, since he isn't Brandon Minor), which limited his production, but Scout brings the details on his sophomore and junior stats:

He rushed for 1,122 yards on 163 carries and five touchdowns as a sophomore. Also caught 22 passes for 239 yards and one touchdown.

Justice Hayes finished his junior season with 1,400 yard rushing for 15 touchdowns on 175 carries.

Those don't seem terribly specific (his Youtube highlight, embedded below, has sightly different junior numbers), so I'll look for more precise stats when researching Friday Night Lights. Speaking of which, expect a slight delay today, as I add numbers for Michigan's newest commit.


Scout and Rivals are nearly in agreement: The former says 4.45, the latter 4.44. Hayes is a guy who's forthcoming about his own lack of top-end speed, and those are very impressive numbers. I'll bestow three FAKES out of five.


Here's his junior year:

I couldn't find any free senior video on the tubes.


As implied above, it sounds likely that Hayes's eventual destination is as a slot receiver. It'll be a crowded backfield for the next few years, and the Wolverines will have an option in Dee Hart that seems more like a perfect fit for the RB position in this offense than Hayes is. He may get some backfield carries here and there, but the majority of his contributions should come as a slot. There's a chance he plays defense instead, but that seems unlikely.

So, likely position change, coming off a senior year injury, going to a spot that will have lots of experienced depth? Sounds like a certain redshirt to me. After a year to watch and learn, Kelvin Grady and Tae Odoms will graduate, leaving just Terrence Robinson, Jeremy Gallon, and Drew Dileo competing for a spot opposite Roy Roundtree.

So, it sounds like he won't be an every-down type of contributor until his redshirt sophomore season, which gives Justice plenty of time to learn the offense, and get a bit of experience as a sub before he'll be relied upon. I'm not sure if he might get a bit of time on the return unit before that, but it's another way to get him on the field.

As a junior and senior, Hayes has the potential to be an All-Conference performer. I also predict at least three years of horrible "Justice in Ann Arbor" jokes from TV announcers.


Hayes has probably taken the only available scholarship for an RB/slot player, meaning DeVondrick Nealy and Prince Holloway are probably out of luck. Justice's commitment gives the Wolverines the #1 and #3 All-Purpose Backs to Rivals, a formidable duo to say the least.

The story in recruiting stays the same: The Wolverines are probably looking for one outside receiver (though it's not imperative), a tight end, and one more offensive lineman. The rest of the scholarships should be spent on defense.

Speaking of that outside receiver spot, with Sammy Watkins's surprising commitment to Clemson, might Hayes be able to convince his buddy DeAnthony Arnett to consider the Wolverines again? I'm not sure, but it would be welcome.

Hello: Justice Hayes?!

Hello: Justice Hayes?!

Submitted by Brian on November 22nd, 2010 at 10:16 PM


not so much

So this is a deeply bizarre thing: The Wolverine is reporting that Grand Blanc RB Justice Hayes has seen the snake oil and committed to Michigan just a couple days after dropping his ND commit.

I'm all UFRing this Wisconsin debacle and Tim is away from the computer tonight so the full "Hello: Recruit" post will have to wait for tomorrow morning but in brief, Hayes is a highly-touted RB in the same mold as Demetrius Hart, the #84 overall player to Rivals and #3 "all purpose back"—Hart is #1. ESPN has him a 4-star 79 and #22 running back. Scout has him a 4-star, the #14 running back and #118 overall player.

Literally everyone reading this post is thinking "can he play corner?" He's 5'10", so hypothetically, but everyone ranks him as a tailback and ESPN's evaluation doesn't mention defense at all, so even if he ends up switching it will be after a while. Hopefully by that point the secondary won't be Kosovo in pads.

Michigan was looking for a second RB in this class but people thought it would be Thomas Rawls, not Hayes. Michigan appears to have picked up a duplicate of a player they've already got but both guys are widely praised for their receiving talents and could bounce back and forth—this commit likely ends any thought Michigan will pick up a slot in this class.

More tomorrow from Tim.

Thursday Recruitin' Welcomes Kellen Jones

Thursday Recruitin' Welcomes Kellen Jones

Submitted by Tim on August 5th, 2010 at 1:02 PM

Remember that you can check out the 2011 Michigan Football Recruiting Board for the updates over time.

Kellen Jones Goes Blue

TX LB Kellen Jones has been moved to committed. For some details on his game, check out Hello: Kellen Jones. Tom interviewed Kellen shortly after his commitment:

"We were in Coach Rodriguez' office, and my family was in there with me. I told Coach that I was committing, and my whole family broke into the Michigan fight song. My Dad, Uncle, me, everybody was singing the fight song. Coach Rodriguez laughed and said he had never seen that before. He was shocked."

He also told Tom about getting to see the Big House. For video evidence, you can see a Youtube video that a family member (I presume) uploaded. I'll warn you in advance that it's not particularly interesting:

Other outlets have covered Jones's commitment as well. Check out breakdowns from GBMWolverine:

He is an outstanding blitzer, shows excellent timing getting to the ball, and has a nice closing burst. Kellen will need to improve his scraping and coverage skills.

The Wolverine Blog:

[T]he thing that jumps out at me about Jones is his playmaking ability and athleticism. He uses his speed and quickness to get into the backfield, and has a great nose for the football once he’s in position to make a play

Jones takes a bit of pressure off linebacker recruiting, though there are still a couple spots open in the class.

Happy Trails

Happy Trails from the future for FL S LaQuentin Smith? He's close to a decision, and Michigan gets no mention other than as one of his offers. I'll leave him on the board until we have a better idea how the Dr. Phillips recruits shake out. His teammate, fellow safety Roderick Ryles, has committed to Arkansas, but will visit other schools ($, info in header).

More Updates

Rivals' Michael Langston caught up with FL RB Demetrius Hart at Gridiron Kings, and Dee talked about Michigan and Alabama, his decision timeframe, and what other Florida players he finds impressive:

That decision could come as early as the UConn game, and it's encouraging to hear how much he gushes about his friendship with current Wolverine Ricardo Miller. Brice's Recruiting has the highlights from Hart's performance at Gridiron Kings.

OH WR AJ Jordan has pushed back his timeframe for making a final decision ($, info in header). He's planning to announce a favorites list soon, and Michigan is likely to be on it.

Added FL WR Quinta Funderburk. He's a possibility for Michigan's second receiver spot in the class, and according to MGoRecruit, Michigan is in his final five, along with Arkansas, West Virginia, Penn State, and Florida.

FL Slot WR Prince Holloway wants to take an official to Michigan ($, info in header). He's the only true slot receiver Michigan has given an offer, to the best of my recollection.

NJ TE Jack Tabb was offered by Michigan last week, and promptly made a visit to Ann Arbor. Following the visit, Michigan moved into his top group ($, info in header). Tabb was under the radar until recently, as he didn't put up big stats his junior year.

FL OL Tony Posada will be announcing his decision August 11th at 4:30. Michigan USF, Missouri, and Texas Tech are his finalists.

Michigan: "I have been talking with Michigan about their offense. It's the kind of offense I would like to play in and I am used to playing in. I know things haven't been the best up there but they have been recruiting well and I think this team is ready. They are close and this will be their breakout year."

Prevailing wisdom had been that he'd pick the Wolverines, but South Florida has made a strong push lately. Keep an eye out next Wednesday to see if Hello: Tony Posada comes to fruition.

Added NJ OL Josue Matias. I'd seen a few semi-credible reports of a Michigan offer, and now it seems legit. He's still wide open, and plans to make a commitment in December.

Kentucky-oriented fluff on IN OL Nick Martin, who recently visited campus ($, info in header). The offensive tackle plans to narrow his list within a couple weeks, and make a decision shortly thereafter.

Rivals says OH LB/DE Austin Traylor is a similar player to recently-departed Ed Davis, and briefly breaks down his game:

Traylor can play a hybrid defensive end/linebacker role in a 3-4 defense... With Traylor’s unique skills, Ohio’s defensive coordinator can switch formations without having to change personnel much

Traylor told Tom that's he'll narrow his list soon, and Tom thinks Michigan will make that list.

VA LBs Travis Hughes and Curtis Grant are both "considering" Michigan, but neither is likely to become a Wolverine any time soon. Grant did talk to Sam Webb about Michigan ($, info in header), so maybe he more interest than it seems.

Local fluff on FL S Wayne Lyons. Michigan is in his final 14, and he'll announce at the Army All-American game.

Lyons, who raised his GPA entering his senior year to a 5.0 by getting straight A's in every one of his classes except Biology (one of his classes at BCC), doesn't need anyone to put a positive spin on anything he does.

Sounds like he'll be a great asset on and off the field to whichever program he ultimately chooses.

averywalls.jpgGA S Avery Walls has transferred high schools to seek out a christian-oriented education. Michigan still has a great shot at landing him, but he's no longer playing for Wolverines in high school (as he had been at Union Grove, pictured to the right).

MI CB Valdez Showers has announced a top 6 of Florida, Michigan State, Michigan, Northwestern, Auburn, and Iowa, in no particular order. He plans to make a decision at the end of August.

Local fluff on PA LB Branden Jackson and PA DT Delvon Simmons. Simmons doesn't mention the Wolverines among the schools he intend to visit, and the Wolverines have a much better chance with Jackson.


MI DT Danny O'Brien grew up an Ohio State fan, mostly to rib his older brother:

"I've always loved Ohio State," O'Brien said. "I was a Michigan fan when I was really young. Me and Pat had a little rivalry. He'd go for Michigan and I went to Ohio State. We'd always talk trash to each other during games. Pat and I could never like the same teams."

That doesn't seem like the most deep-seated fandom in the world, and Michigan is reportedly among his early favorites. He's already holding a Tennessee offer, so he's likely to be a big-time prospect down the road.