Fall Camp 2011: Presser Notes 8-26

Fall Camp 2011: Presser Notes 8-26

Submitted by Heiko on August 26th, 2011 at 7:47 PM

(Newsy bits pulled out for easier digestion. Important stuff underlined for better clarity. [Ed: jk, I guess we're still bolding.])

Brady Hoke

Again, from not my file, but we'll get there soon.

News Bullets:

  • Gallon, Dileo, and Vincent Smith handling returns
  • Odoms is healthy
  • Starting O-line, from left to right: Lewan, Barnum, Molk, Omameh, Huyge
  • Shaw starting RB, Fitz likely back-up (based on mention only)
  • Thomas Gordon likely starting free safety, may play nickel along with Woolfolk
  • Cam Gordon starting at SAM, no starter at WILL yet.
  • Gibbons likely kicking FGs. Wile will kick off, also might punt. 
  • Started prep for Western Michigan two days ago.

Okay, on to the poetry.

General, aka fluff:

Footbawww. "It was really good to get up in the stadium, get up there and kind of go through our process on gameday, so guys get an idea what our expectations of mentally preparing for a game -- how you come out, where you go with your group to warm up -- all those things that we don't think about, but they're all organization things you've got to go through. We got to do that, we got to be in that locker room, go down the tunnel, and get a sense for playing in that great stadium."

Consistency. Toughness. Improving. "This was practice 23. We have six opportunities left. We have to keep grinding and keep improving as a team. There were some good things you saw on both sides of the ball, but at the same time we're a long way from where we need to be as a football team."

We need to stop false-starting. "We had a couple penalties today, two of them were composure and poise penalties. We had a full Big Ten crew working the scrimmage. It was a much lighter scrimmage than it was a week ago. Our composure and our poise -- we had a couple procedure penalties offensively that obviously don't help you. Instead of first and 10, you're first and 15 or you're second and 12 or whatever it might be. Those things bother you."

But we didn't fumble or throw INTs! "We took care of the ball pretty well. When you look at the ball security issues ... that's huge for us. We've been minus 32 in turnover margin the last three years. You can't play football that way."

What is the two deep? "I think there are things that are set. We'll do a good job of diving into the tape tonight and further some evaluations on guys. The corner position is hotly contested. I like how JT and I like how Troy have come back, but Courtney Avery and, oh, daggonit, uh..." Talbott? "Calvin! Yeah ... " No, Talbott. " ... Talbott is doing a good job. I just went blank... I'm good with numbers ... Number 18, Blake Countess is doing a good job. Greg Brown is playing well. There's great competition there."

How is health? "We're pretty good health wise." Nothing major? "No, no ... everybody's a little beat up." Tay Odoms? "He scrimmaged today. In fact, he's gone the last three days. He seems fine."

Return game? "Gallon -- both kickoff and punt -- has done a good job. I think Vince Smith in kickoff returns is a guy that would either be the off returner because he's not afraid to go hit somebody in the face, or return the ball. Dileo -- punt -- when you look at punts, you always want to make sure that guy first and foremost is going to be able to field the ball, and isn't scared. I think between those two right now we'll probably start that way."

How many plays did you run in scrimmage today? "We went 126 plays last week. If my count's right, we'll probably get 73-74 today."

How many 4th and 1s? "One."

Did you do anything situational? "We did black-zone coming out, trying to get a first down so you have room to punt and field position. We didn't put it on the 1-yard line. We had a bunch of shots last week at it, and that was a pretty phsyical deal. You're starting to get to the point where you want to get into game week."

Were you surprised by the transfers? "I think you're always surprised, but guys gotta do what they feel is right for them. This isn't for everybody here, and it never will be. They're great kids, and we wish them the best."

But you recruited them! "That happens."

Resolution at some positions, can you share? "Mike Martin's probably going to be the nose tackle. Denard's going to be the quarterback." Oh. Ha ha. "Koger's going to be the tight end. Molk will be center. Lewan will be the left tackle. Huyge will be the right tackle. Patrick will be the right guard, and Ricky will be the left guard. Running-back wise I think we'll look into his tape a little more, but Shaw's had a pretty good camp. Fitz has had a good camp. Safety-wise, Kovacs will be one of those safeties at our base, and I would think Thomas Gordon will be. Thomas is really having a tremendous camp. He had a tremendous summer, and that's why his camp was so good."

Whoa, wait, where did Gordon come from? You never talk about him. "I just think his whole attitude and how he approached the game of football, workin' out, all those things. He's really taken a conscious effort. He'll play some stuff in our nickel. Him and Troy, depending on what unit we have out, they're both playing some nickel. Thomas is basically a dime in another defense. There is a lot of learning that goes on, and he's done a really good job with it, and I'm proud of where he's at right now."

SAM and WILL: "Cam Gordon, I would think, is going to be the SAM. Jake is obviously pushing in there. Brennan Beyer has done a nice job for us. At the WILL ... I don't know yet. Mike (Jones) and Kenny Demens (?) have done a good job, but at the WILL, Hawthorne missed a couple days because of an ankle, and he's fighting his way back. Mike Jones is playing a little bit of both them, both MIKE and WILL. Freshman Desmond Morgan is a good football player. He's got a slight ham, so we held him out today. I don't know if we have a definite guy."

Kicking and Punting: "There's no doubt Wile will kick off. I think Gibbons has done a nice job. He's been accurate. [Ed-M: whaaah?] We did a lot of kicking again today. He's had a good camp. Wile has had a pretty good camp. I think Wile will probably punt, but Seth is a real good possibility there. I think that will probably be a decision made up Wednesday or Thursday to be honest with you."

But that's really late! "You can do that one late I think." 

"They all have a real great mindset about their craft, and I like that about them. I don't know if I would have said that in the spring as much, but I think they all have worked hard at it. Every night they're evaluating their kicks because we film them a lot from all angles. You get a write-up from them, and some of them are a page, page-and a half about each kick and my plant foot and whatever it might be. I'm pleased that they're into football, let's put it that way."

You're a big tradition guy. What does it mean to be in stadium now? "Yeah it's always special to be in the stadium. We talk about that a lot, when we go up there, the expectation, how you play.  We had one other date that we were going to be there, but we had the bad rain and the storm, so we had to stay indoors. We were at [Big Ten Championship site] Lucas-Oil Stadium indoors for that day because all those scrimmages are gamedays. And the championship is played in Lucas-Oil, so we had to go indoors, we just thought it was lucas-oil." (I think Hoke means that they were playing make-believe.)

Minus blitz, how is the pass rush? "Mike gets some good push. I think he is a guy that is aggressive enough, strong enough, pretty good technician in there to push the pocket. I think Jibreel has shown some life as a pass rusher, and Roh. Ryan's kind of a meat and potatoes guy. He works hard at it, and because of that, he'll have some good things happen."

What's your schedule the next two days? "We're going to have a very good mental practice tomorrow at the stadium. Probably about an hour and fifteen minutes. A lot of kicking, a lot of situational stuff. A lot of mental stuff. We'll do a two-minute at the end. We've started Western -- we started about two days ago on some of the switch personnel things, looking at them on both sides of the ball, and we'll have a couple of periods on Sunday. On Monday, they'll be off of meat," (No meat!?) "but there will be no practice for them. We're getting into the school-time schedule where we'll be off as far as practicing goes."

Fall Camp 2011: Presser Notes 8-23

Fall Camp 2011: Presser Notes 8-23

Submitted by Tim on August 23rd, 2011 at 8:02 PM

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photo from file

General

Captains will be voted on Sunday.

Practice #20 done. Eleven days out from the first game [Ed-M: eeee foootbawwww!]. Starting scout team work for Western tomorrow. "I thought we moved the dial in every area." Need to improve consistency in competitive drills. Defense good one day, the next day it's the offense. You're neutral as head coach, but you want to see the consistency.

On the scrimmage: "Saturday, I thought we were physical. You could hear football being played." Great competition still going on. Saturday standouts: "I thought Troy played pretty well... Brandon Herron showed some signs that were real positive. Offensively, I thought Fitz [Toussaint] carried the ball well, Vince Smith carried the ball well, Michael Shaw has carried the ball well." It was a 120ish-play scrimmage.

Team needs to work on finishing, but goal line and 2-minutes drill had pretty good tempo and intensity.

On the two deep: Players will become aware of the 2-deep soon, but spots aren't locked in. "You can lose that [spot] pretty easily, because we're playing guys who can represent Michigan... They have to meet the expectations for that position every day."

On expectations: "We have high expectations. I really don't care what anybody else thinks." They want to help the kids succeed, both on and off the field. He doesn't worry about managing expectations. Gauging toughness starts during winter conditioning. Build mental toughness by making sure the locker room is disciplined, "mentally being tough enough to take care of that locker room."

"I think the jury's still out" on whether the team will be able to run the ball and stop the run to his satisfaction. They have some physical practices upcoming, but will taper that back as the season approaches.

Offense

Are they going to play a second QB in early games? "We haven't really talked about that yet." They may get Devin into early games, to get him experience. It also builds morale to get more guys in earlier.

On running back: Right now, Mike Shaw would be the starter. Toussaint has done good things, Hopkins was better today. "Vincent is a guy on third downs who can do an awful lot. He is a tough, tough guy." Shaw: "He's been more consistent on a daily basis. That's what he really shows the most."

Impressive position groups: The first five on the OL have good chemistry, and they play with good tempo.

Wide receivers: "Our wide receivers, I think they keep... [Ed-M: ?] Jeremy Gallon's a guy we think has done a pretty good job."

On OL depth: "Darrell's got six guys right now that can roll through, I think we're building the seventh." You want five top guys, then develop the young guys behind them as fast as you can. "I think Friday we'll get after it pretty good scrimmage-wise," putting together a couple different lineups.

Defense

On Brink: "If we play tomorrow, he'd be the starting 5-technique defensive end." He has great technique, and has to be because he's a little small. "You feel him a lot out on the field."

On the rest of the DL: "Will [Campbell] can play both the three and the 1, Heininger can play all three, and has." You want guys to settle into a comfortable position, but you also want versatility in their positions, so you have flexibility. "Will [Heininger] has the intelligence to do that, because of those different things."

On linebackers: "I think Desmond Morgan's a guy who we think is gonna play football for us. Mike Jones has played a little bit at MIKE and a little bit at WILL. I would say Kenny right now has a pretty solid lock on the MIKE linebacker. Cam is doing a good job. Jake Ryan and Brennen Beyer... All three of those guys are getting snaps." Desmond Morgan was limited today, but will be good. Brandin Hawthorne will be a good player.

On the secondary: "I can tell you that between Troy, JT Floyd, and Courtney Avery, there's tremendous competition." JT and Avery competing at one corner. "I think Thomas Gordan has had a really good camp... I think Kovacs has done a really nice job." He's smart, understands the concepts, can be a QB of the D. Carvin Johnson also good. "Three safeties and three corners right now that we have good competition with." Those guys are all on the field in the dime package.

Special Teams

On Matt Wile: "I think right now we're looking really at between him and Seth punting, and him doing the kickoffs, and between him and Brendan handling the field goals." They'll kick in the stadium Friday, Saturday, and know what they want by Sunday. Brendan Gibbons is kicking the best overall from distance.

On attrition: "It was the right thing for them and what they felt... Sometimes, kids move on for different reasons. Homesick, or whatever it might be." Too early to think if it will affect 2012 recruiting class.

Football Media Day 2011: Assistant and Player Notes

Football Media Day 2011: Assistant and Player Notes

Submitted by Tim on August 15th, 2011 at 1:39 PM

Apologies for the brevity of the updates, but I wanted to talk to a bunch of different people instead of going in-depth with anybody in particular.

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Players

Denard Robinson

Denard is adapting to the new offense well. He's getting the footwork down, and should be good to go by the start of the season.

Denard is looking forward to the opportunity to stay a little healthier this year, with less of a load carrying the ball on his shoulders.

Fullback John McColgan "is one of the toughest guys I've ever seen in my life."

Thomas Rawls

The upperclassmen are the leaders in the backfield, but the young guys came in because they wanted to compete. Having a number of talented players back there makes everybody better.

Thomas has never had the opportunity to meet Mark Ingram face-to-face, but he really wants to. As a Flint guy, he really looks up to Ingram.

Stephen Hopkins

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Even though Stephen had a couple fumbles last year, it was out of character for him. "I've never been a fumbler. I had maybe two in my whole high school career."

The new offense is a good fit for his skills, and he's looking forward to it.

Roy Roundtree

The new offense is still going to put up points, because that's the goal of any offense. However, the pace will be slower to control the ball instead of running as many plays as possible, so scoring might drop a bit. That doesn't mean it's any less effective.

There are some differences for the wideouts going into the new offense, but it's nothing they can't adjust to.

There's definitely an emphasis on blocking for the wideouts in the new offense. If you can't or won't get out there and block, you won't play.

Taylor Lewan

He's always had trouble being able to gain weight. He was on a similar diet as Ryan Van Bergen. The trick to gaining weight is to eat only the right things, but eat until you're full, and then just a little bit more. Sometimes, Taylor had to lie down in bed for a little bit after a meal and hope it didn't come back up.

Craig Roh

It's exciting to be back down on the defensive line with his hand back in the dirt. "I don't want to worry about the past," but he's excited about the defense going forward.

It's been tough to play in a different defense every year, but again, he doesn't want to dwell on the past.

Matt Wile

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He had a relationship with Michigan's current coaching staff when they were at San Diego State. They had offered him a scholarship when he was a sophomore.

Matt had been planning to go to Boise State, but when Michigan hired the new staff, he set up a visit here. The plan was to head to Nebraska for a visit the following week, but he fell in love with Ann Arbor and committed to the Wolverines. Even though his visit was in January, the weather didn't bother him.

Assistants

Jeff Hecklinski

Jerald Robinson has great potential, and "doesn't know how good Jerald can be." He has good size and athleticism, and just needs to keep working hard to see that potential realized.

Jeremy Gallon has been impressive in fall camp. "Let's hope he keeps progressing."

Curt Mallory

The goal for the safeties is to not have a "second-best strong or free" safety, but have guys who are capable of stepping in at either safety position.

Jordan Kovacs is a tough, smart player, and that's what's helped him be a contributor here. That should continue going forward.

Thomas Gordon is performing well at nickel, and he's also trying to become a contributor at one of the safety positions. They want him to be able to do both roles. Troy Woolfolk is the same way: he's contributing at corner, but they also want him to have the ability to rotate in at nickel.

Fred Jackson

Thomas Rawls and Justice Hayes have really helped push the others at the position to improve, because despite being freshman "they're coming in here like they're sophomores." He's as happy with those two as he's ever been with a pair of freshmen. (Fred kept returning to the freshmen, regardless of what he was asked).

John McColgan is a solid option at fullback. He's doesn't have the skill set of Kevin Dudley (glorified lineman in the backfield) or Chris Floyd (who had plenty of ability with the ball in his hands). However, he's a very smart player, and will get some opportunities, including in the pass game.

Darrell Funk

The left side of the line is mostly set: Taylor Lewan at left tackle, Patrick Omameh at left guard, and David Molk at center. On the right side of the line, there are pretty much three players for two positions. Ricky Barnum (guard), Mark Huyge (tackle or guard), and Michael Schofield (tackle) have separated themselves from the pack.

You always worry about depth, but it is definitely a concern this year. They'll have just a couple backups on top of a "solid top six." They're addressing depth going forward with recruiting.

Mark Smith

Cam Gordon is most impressive in his love for football, and his strong desire to improve his game and get better.

Jerry Montgomery

There are a lot of players on the defensive line who are versatile enough to play multiple positions. Craig Roh, Jibreel Black, and others could see a bit of time on the inside, even though they're primarily defensive ends.

Brennen Beyer and Frank Clark are some impressive freshmen. (Note: Seeing Clark, he was taller than I thought, but also much skinnier: he looked like the second coming of Davion Rogers - OK, maybe not that skinny. Still, it sounds like he'll have an opportunity to play this year).

Football Media Day 2011: Brady Hoke Presser

Football Media Day 2011: Brady Hoke Presser

Submitted by Tim on August 14th, 2011 at 2:18 PM

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Now seven practices in, the kids are "learning more with each practice." They're bringing energy to practice, but need to sustain that throughout to show they can compete late in games and in the season.

The team is healthy, and there's lots of competition

Two-a-days start tomorrow. The adversity of two-a-days can "teach you about who the leaders will be on the team."

On padded practice: "guys are willing, wanting." Need to see consistency between the morning and afternoon practices. Will be in full pads for 3 days of two-a-days this week. Guys are anxious to establish themselves. Want to prove to coaches and teammates how they've progressed since spring.

On kicker Matt Wile: "Obviously he's a San Diego guy. His dad was one of our orthopaedics at San Diego State." Lance Ortega was his kicking coach, the staff knew him. Matt is a 5th generation Michigan grad.

"He's doing well. I think this is a big stage. That mental part of going out there, until you get on Main Street and have 110,000, you've gotta see where the guy's at." He can do a good job coaching himself with fundamentals, etc. Doing punting, KOs, and FGs right now. "I'd be very comfortable" having a true freshman handle those duties.

On running backs: The young guys missed some time finishing up summer school. Rawls is talented, has done a good job. Backfield is unsettled. Need to show consistency from practice to practice. "We'd like to have one guy who could tote it 25 times." Maybe a couple situational guys, 7-10 carries for a secondary back.

"Our base run play will be the power play, and that's no secret." Denard's talents, and opposing defenses wil adjust what they do. 10-15 snaps running for Denard. "The objective is to win, and we've gotta do what it takes to help Michigan and this team win." He's fitting into the offensive system. "We're fortunate enough that he has some other things that he brings to the table."

Denard is a great kid. "Leadership qualities really start to stick out more and more [for upperclassmen]. That's what I've liked that he's done in camp."

On rooming, Koger: "Seniors are rooming with freshmen. Part of that is to get to know them. Set the example, set the expectation." Koger extensively praised for his demeanor and selflessness, the sacrifice he'll give for this team. "He's a tremendous guy. I'm talking about things not on the football field."

The offense question again: "You've got a system that you wanna run, but you're not going to be putting a square peg into a round hole either." Al Borges has a coaching pedigree that proves he can adapt to different personnel. He'll get playmakers the ball. "At the end of the day, we've still gotta block up front, and knock people off the football."

On Mattison: great coach, great integrity. Builds great relationships with players. "He's coached a lot of football, coached a lot of guys. He brings so much from a knowledge standpoint."

On captains:  "They won't get picked for 2 more weeks. The team will vote."

On countdown clocks: "Those are important football games. Those are big rivalries."

On the defense and standouts: "I don't think we've played to the standard that's going to be acceptable, to this point. We need to be more physical at the point of attack."

"Tom Gordon has had a good summer. Kovacs has really taken ownership." Kovacs is one of the guys who shows urgency in getting to the football. Kenny Demens also mentioned as a standout. Nathan Brink shows toughness as a DT/DE. JB Fitzgerald: "you talk about another guy who stands out as far as his leadership goes, and selflessness."

On the two-deep: They'll start penciling that in by the end of the week. "We're gonna scimmage pretty good in six days on Saturday. We'll put them in a lot of situations and see how they respond."

On Woolfolk: Troy Woolfolk has progressed well. Has taken some senior ownership of the team. Had a minor hamstring injury yesterday, there's enough competition at that position that they could afford to rest him and be cautious. JT Floyd and Courtney Avery competing at CB. "We don't have the greatest competition everywhere. I wish we did, because that makes us better."

On McColgan: a tough guy. "When you look at it, he's one of the true fullback bodies that you have." TEs will get a chance to play H-back as well.

On this still being Michigan [tremendous van river]: "I think I've made this comment before: This is Michigan. There won't be any excuses. If we don't win the Big Ten Championship, we've failed these kids, as coaches."

On the offensive line: Elliott Mealer: "He's competing." The rest of the guys: "Our left side of our line with Taylor back, and I think Ricky Barnum's done a nice job. Molk's back." Omameh at right guard. "Patrick and Elliott and Mike Schofield and Huyge - I think that's great competition."

On the backfield again: "I think there's some guys back there who can do it. All of them have shown signs of being able to run the ball like we'd like."

Brady Hoke Roundtable Notes

Brady Hoke Roundtable Notes

Submitted by Tim on August 1st, 2011 at 3:50 PM

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Notes from Brady Hoke's small-group interviews on Friday.

Team, News

Pregame traditions: The Victors Walk will return this year. Brady has never touched the banner (he was already on the field as an assistant), but isn't yet sure if he'll do it going forward.

Captains will be voted by the team in the third week of camp.

Medicals: Teric Jones, Terry Talbott, Christian Pace are all done for their careers. Scholarship numbers: "I don't know... It's maybe 81 guys on scholarship right now.

On the #1 jersey: "They're going to have to earn it. And they're going to have to earn #2 after Vince [Smith] is gone." #1 will always be a receiver, and #2 will always be a DB.

"Football now at this level - for good or bad - is 12 months a year." It's hard not having coaching contact with the players in the summer, but he trusts they did the right work. "A guy like Denard who's played a lot of football and has a voice on our team, you give him that [summer leadership] responsibility." The strength coaches can help with workouts, but it's up to team leadership to hold guys accountable.

Strongest positions: "I think the wide receivers as a group, from what I can digest coming back, have done a good job. I think the O-line have done a good job." It's not fair to evaluate the overall talent level on the team at this point, but "I like our kids, how they've reacted to a transition." They're not a finished product at this point though. "We'll always have those discussions" about who will get serious playing time, but at the end of the day, the coordinators will get a lot of leeway, with Brady helping.

"I tell our coaches, when we start [summer camp] on the 9th, assume [the players] know nothing." They'll re-teach fundamentals to make sure everything is up to par. They didn't follow this approach following the 1997 season because they thought they could get by with three returning starters on the defensive line, and it backfired at the start of the '98 year.

Defensive line and offensive line are the two most important positions on the field. Everyone wants a great quarterback, but you can't move the ball (or stop the opponent) without winning battles up front. I think Al Borges [a QB-centric coordinator] would tell you that our offensive line has gotta be the lead for our football team."

Michigan is fortunate to have so many rivals. Lloyd did a great job handling the number of rivalry games, so Brady learned from him.

Possessing the ball, running it, and taking care of the football is an important part of team's success. "Mike Martin I'm sure would love to get zone-blocked all day long."[ed: bler.] The pro-style offense brings a different physical aspect that helps build team toughness. They need to hold onto the ball to help the defense, and the pro-style offense brings that. "We like points, don't get me wrong," they aren't going to hold the offense back from scoring, though, except in end-game situations.

Freshman contributors: "As we look at our depth, the two backs will get a chance. There's maybe some depth issues we have a little bit up front on the offensive line, there's maybe some depth issues on the defensive line." They might use freshmen to fill those roles, but he can't say which ones until he sees them play in camp.

"I think it's a shame - and I said this in my initial press conference - that we splintered or fractured, or whatever you want to call it, because that's not Michigan. We've moved forward from there." On "Michigan Man": There are just some guys who have integrity, love for Michigan, etc., that deserve the distinction.

Offense

"My expertise is not offense, and never will be. That's why we've got a great offensive staff." He meets with Borges about the offense twice a week during the season, and they discuss the offensive gameplan. "For me to go to Al and say 'we need to do this' ... that'd be a mistake." [ed: yes!]

The first thing Denard said to Brady was "Coach, I'm all-in." The value of a Michigan degree was important to his dad and him. He even said he'd help the team at another position if need be - but that didn't need to happen. Denard's speed is impressive, but his instincts and vision are great as well. "We're going to still keep some elements of what the spread gives you, because of his ability. But we're going to move to be pro-style offense, which he happens to be pretty good at that, too."

"There's no better running backs coach in the country" than Coach Jack. If they're three weeks into fall camp and there's still no starting RB emerging, then the concern will start to set in. He wasn't surprised or disappointed that nobody emerged in spring. They want to have one lead back carry the load (about 20-25 carries), and have a couple other guys help out with some carries. Stephen Hopkins can play both fullback and running back. He didn't shy away from blocking in the spring, which is encouraging. "Thomas [Rawls] is a bigger back who's got really good vision and balance and has explosion to him. Justice, I think he's got a real explosiveness to him, but also is physical enough to run over a guy."

"Kevin [Koger] I think is a guy who's on the line of scrimmage in some things we ask." There should be more tight end playing time available as well, because they'll use some bigger sets. Steve Watson has a great work ethic, and his skill set is a great complement to Koger. With so many tight ends on the roster, there will be some packages where they can get in and play FB as well, as an Aaron Shea-like position.

There are some pretty tough guys at wideout, which is where evaluations start for every position. WR blocking is crucial to creating big plays. "I think Junior has got a chance to be really a good player, I like Roy's work ethic, I like his attitude, I like Odoms's attitude. There's more guys there: Jerald Robinson has done some things that I'm a little more pleased with." He has matured, as players often do in their first couple years on campus. Junior has been doing great.

The players will weigh in at the start of fall camp. From the guys that have stopped by to talk to Hoke in his office, Taylor Lewan is 304. "By the time he's done, he'll be a 317 pound left tackle, or 320." All the other guys look pretty good. Molk is a bit bigger.

Defense

"I was talking to Bo a little bit - Pelini - and he had to build a confidence in the defense. We have to do that too, but the only way you do that is by stopping people." They still need to identify some guys who are playmakers, and put those guys in positions to succeed. That will take more than just fall camp.

Mike Martin has good movement skills, which is why they've been able to use him in different ways (along with his intelligence). That doesn't mean he is a perfect player, and they gave him some technique things to work on over the summer. Martin has the potential to be mentioned among some of the great defensive linemen at Michigan. He needs to improve using his hands.

Will Campbell has dropped 17 or 18 pounds - he was out of shape this spring. "Hopefully he doesn't eat it all back in the next 8-10 days." He has enormous potential that hasn't been realized yet. "Part of that is moving back and forth on both sides of the ball, and really finding a home. I think he's learning how to play up front, the expectations of how you have to play up front." He's had the opportunity to work with his teammates this summer, and hopefully he's taken advantage of that.

Craig Roh has matured, and has a better approach to the game now.

Jake Ryan can cause a lot of havoc on defense "because of the fanaticism that he plays with." He plays at a high level of energy, and the scheme needs to adjust to the personnel on the roster right now. "When you look at some of the different packages within a defensive scheme, I think there's some things he'll do a tremendous job with."

Kenny Demens is healthy now. He got scheme work in spring, just didn't do as much of the physical aspects because you want to be careful with shoulder injuries.

JB Fitzgerald needs to play more consistently to see significant playing time. "We'll have hopefully enough guys to have a rotation in there." They want to have guys playing hard for four quarters, which means depth is important. "He's had a really good summer, I'm sure of that."

Marell Evans did some pretty good things in spring practice, but there are some things he has to do better. "When you look at him from a guy who can be a good special teams guy for you, he fits that role. That's a big deal, because we need to play our best players on those teams also."

"I think Carvin [Johnson] had a good spring. He's a guy who is passionate and hungry and loves to play." He'll compete for a safety position. He's an intelligent competitor who likes to drop big hits. Courtney Avery had a good spring as well. "There will be a great competition between Woolfolk - because Troy'll be healthy - Courtney, JT Floyd will be healthy, and a young man named Greg Brown." Fall camp is important for Marvin Robinson, because he didn't get all 15 spring practices due to a class schedule. JT Floyd and Troy Woolfolk are both moving around fine and doing everything.

"We probably have more safeties than we do corners at this time, but it'll be fun to watch those guys compete." Corners need to learn to have a short memory if they get beaten.

Special Teams

Kicking will be resolved in fall camp. The young guy will be coming in (Matt Wile), but even during camp, they might not know because "kicking on State Street is different than kicking on Main Street." They won't know how guys kick in front of 113,000 fans until they get the chance. Dan Ferrigno will coach the kickers, and he's studied the fundamentals of kicking. However, they trust that the kickers are getting good advice from their external kicking coaches. "We're not settled in anywhere, honestly." There will be competition and expectations in fall camp.

Will Hagerup has an extremely good leg. "It's a weapon for you, and we want to make it part of our offensive package. From fakes and things that we might have to pooch punts." He needs to keep working on the finer points.

There are some candidates in mind for return duties, but it's too early to say who it might be.

Recruiting

Ohio recruiting: "There's a lot of familiarity, being from there." He's been recruiting there for 20 years. Michigan has 2 Heisman winners and plenty of great players from the state. Recruiting in the midwest is going to be an important part of the effort, but "also we're very fortunate that we're a global education." You can recruit nationally at Michigan, in addition to hitting the base areas. Georgia, Texas, Florida, California are other places to get talent. Big Ten Network is a good selling point for out-of-area kids, because it's nationally available.

Recruiting others' verbal commits: "We have a Signing Date for a reason, and that's the first Wednesday in February." In Brady's experience, the contact with soft commits has been from the kids reaching out, not the other way.

"Guys recruit well because they're honest and they work at it. Period. Michigan's not for every player. It's hard academically, and we're gonna have expectations of how you go to class."

It's tough to get junior college players into Michigan, so they won't really pursue that route. He didn't recruit JCs much at Ball State or San Diego State, either.

Etc.

IMG_3528.JPG

"Winning's fun."

Jim Delaney's meeting with the Big Ten coaches on Thursday wasn't addressed specifically to Hoke and Fickell (whose schools he singled out in his speech at the podium), but to everyone, a reminder of the value of the Big Ten brand, and the importance of upholding that brand. "It's probably something that we all needed to hear to some degree. But at the same time, it's something that he felt - as the guy who leads this conference - he needed to make sure that we all were on the same page." Every conference commissioner that Hoke has encountered has taken advantage of similar opportunities. With so much change happening in the Big Ten (new coaches, new team), it was a good time.

Game day is more fun and easier with tough practices during the week. Even Hoke is hoping to have fun coaching.

It'll be a tough situation to play against San Diego State this fall, because there's a great group of kids there. They'll be a good team, with a 5th-year QB and a solid running back, and all 5 OL starters back. "Tremendous linebackers, that unit will be real solid for them." Rocky Long is a tough, no-nonsense coach.

Hoke is open to Full Cost of Attendance scholarships at Michigan, but there's a question of how far it goes. It is different from paying players, though. "I honestly don't have time to figure it out. That doesn't mean I don't care about it." It could create a bigger gap between the big and small schools. "Right or wrong, there's a division. We're fortunate because we're Michigan, with 110,000."

Hoke hasn't thought about proposals to raise minimum GPA requirements. [The interviewers tell him Bo Pelini and Kirk Ferentz said they support it, but SEC coaches were not in favor]: "I can't understand why" [Sarcastically].

Hello: Matt Wile

Hello: Matt Wile

Submitted by Tim on January 22nd, 2011 at 6:25 PM

Extremely positive articles over the past week leave this as no surprise, but Michigan has gained a commitment from CA K Matt Wile following his official visit to Ann Arbor.

INFORMATIVE PORTION

wilearmy.jpeg

GURU RATINGS

Scout Rivals ESPN
NR K 2*, 5.3, NR K 2*, 73, #44 K

Wile is a bit more under-the-radar than Michigan's previous few options at kicker; ESPN calls him the #44 kicker in the nation, while the other two services place him outside their "top kickers" rankings (Rivals ranks 20 and Scout only 11). ESPN on his game:

He has a field goal approach that is repeatable. The ball jumps off his foot and he has a smooth rhythm. He does need to finish down field more on his FG at times. There are times where he pivots and comes across his body slightly. His kick offs are solid for a high school kicker. He generally drives the ball into the endzone and gives his team good hang-time to run underneath his kicks... Matt should be able compete early in college.

So: reasonably strong leg, needs to refine technique to make sure his kicks are accurate. With excellent size (6-2, 200) he is also a big, athletic prospect who played several sports growing up. His coach talked up that leg strength to Sam Webb:

"I think he went to Northwestern camp this past summer and hit a 63 (-yarder) off the ground, and he did it again in San Antonio for the Army All American game just this two weeks ago. He hit a 58 off the ground. I've got some film of him putting kickoffs through the goalposts from the 40 off a 1-inch tee when he was a sophomore in high school."

He's been training in field goals without a tee (college-style) for the past two or three years, so the transition will hopefully be a smooth one. Wile kicked in the Army All-American Game, so he has been recognized by at least somebody as a top prospect:

Wile is a versatile player who could kick or punt equally well in college. He could see the field as a freshman due to his strong leg on kickoffs. Wile’s mechanics on field goals are picture-perfect, leading to consistent results.

All services mention that he's a candidate to punt at the next level as well (which is what he did in the Army Game), so as a senior or redshirt junior, he could replace Will Hagerup.

He is not listed on Chris Sailer's recruits list.

OFFERS

Rivals lists offers from Air Force, San Diego State, and Washington in addition to Michigan. Michigan's current staff offered him at SDSU, which makes sense as he's a local recruit for them. He also has a greyshirt offer from Washington.

He was planning to visit Nebraska next weekend ($, info in header), and he was likely to be offered by the Huskers at that time. However, the opportunity to be a 5th-generation(!) Michigan student was too much to pass up - although he hadn't planned to commit on the visit.

STATS

The Army website has junior stats:wileaction.jpg

Wile’s kickoffs ended in touchbacks an astounding 89 percent of the time in 2009, including four that went through the uprights. He also converted on 9 of his 12 field goal attempts, with a long of 48 yards. Wile also serves as his school’s punter, showing good consistency while averaging 42 yards per punt.

So there's that.

FAKE 40 TIME

Matt is a kicker, and therefore 40 times are irrelevant. I couldn't find one online anyway, though ESPN hints that he's good covering kickoffs. I give five FAKEs out of five.

VIDEO

Highlights (yes, kickers with highlight videos -- this is our world):

PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE

Michigan's pursuit of Wile shows that the coaching staff is not confident in Brendan Gibbons and Seth Broekhuizen going forward. This means that Wile is likely to start as a true freshman, and probably to be a four-year starter. However, if he can't beat out Gibbons or Broekhuizen as a freshman, he could redshirt then start for the following four years.

As a capable punter (mentioned above), he could also punt once Will Hagerup graduates. That means there's a possibility he punts as a senior or a redshirt junior.

UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS

The kicker is here! Since this was a position of need, the spot was almost certain to be filled, so it's already been accounted for in the commitment breakdown. Michigan still needs a defensive tackle, a safety, and a quarterback.

Any unused spots will either go to newly emerging prospects, or be banked for the excellent midwest class of 2012.

Wednesday Recruitin' Scrambles, Sprints

Wednesday Recruitin' Scrambles, Sprints

Submitted by Tim on January 19th, 2011 at 1:57 PM

With the wheels seemingly falling off the Class of 2011, it's going to take one heck of a finish for the Wolverines to end with a respectable commitment list. For current targets, commits, etc., check out the 2011 Michigan Football Recruiting Board. If you have recruiting tips or questions, tweet @varsityblue or e-mail [email protected].

Visits

frankclark.jpg

With only two weekends before Signing Day left for official visits, each one carries a lot of importance for Michigan's new coaching staff. Here's this weekend's roster:

  • OH TE/LB Frank Clark (pictured at right). The Cleveland Glenville product was also a target under the former staff. Rivals got a reaction to the hiring of Greg Mattison ($, info in header), so it's safe to say the Wolverines want him on defense.
  • MI CB Raymon Taylor. He's an Indiana decommit who has already visited once this winter, for a bowl practice. Former teammate of Devin Gardner.
  • CA CB Stefan McClure. Offered by Michigan (see below). He is a friend of former Michigan DB Leon Hall, and was a target of San Diego State. He speaks highly of Hoke and it sounds like he may have even committed to the Aztecs if they had played in a more prestigious conference.
  • FL OL Tony Posada. Visiting Michigan this weekend, and plans to remain committed to the Wolverines, despite listening to what other schools have to say. He took an official visit to Mississippi State last weekend, but still says he's a Wolverine if they'll have him (and use his talents properly).
  • CA K Matt Wile. Michigan has offered Wile, and the Army All-American is a strong possibility - who Michigan saw in-home the other night. With Matt Goudis out of the class, Michigan is looking for replacements. Derrick Mitchell, currently a minor leaguer in the Philadelphia Phillies system, considered walking on, but it doesn't seem likely at this point.

As always, things are liable to change as the week progresses.

Commits, Kinda Commits, Ex-Commits

TX LB Commit Kellen Jones visited Colorado last weekend and is still being recruited by Miami (YTM), Florida, and Arkansas. However, his dad says:

"I think it will have to be a really rare circumstance for Kellen to not be a Michigan Wolverine, but we have to be prepared.”

That article was published the day before Hoke was named, and after the naming of Greg Mattison as DC, Jones is excited about Michigan, canceling his upcoming visits to other schools.

MD CB Blake Countess seemed only a little iffy, but took an official visit to Penn State last weekend, and enjoyed himself enough to tweet about how it was better than expected, and "making this decision a lot harder." Michigan is in-home today, and Penn State tomorrow. By the end of the week, we should have a much better idea of Countess' ultimate plans.

MI DE Brennen Beyer sat down with Coach Hoke ($, info in header) the other day, and seems solid to Michigan.

MI OL decommit Jake Fisher visited Michigan State last weekend, and has Florida this weekend, and Oregon the weekend following that. If Brady Hoke wants to get him on campus before Signing Day, it will have to be on a midweek unofficial. Fisher has officially decommitted from Michigan, but the Wolverines are hopeful to re-secure him. According to his high school coach, he's still considering Michigan, but will take his remaining visits. Tom says it's not looking good for the Wolverines.

The next trio of former Michigan commits, on the other hand, are not going to come back to the maize-and-blue, as all have decided to take their talents to South Beach:

  • OH LB Antonio Kinard probably wasn't going to be accepted as a class of 2011 commit.
  • FL CB Dallas Crawford eliminated Michigan last week, and now he'll be a Cane.
  • CA K Matt Goudis officially visited Coral Gables along with Crawford, and has also pledged to join Miami's class of 2011.

Finishing the Class

It sounds like Michigan is the favorite to land SC WR Hakeem Flowers. He announces on Sunday.

IL OL Chris Bryant was waiting to hear from Brady Hoke, and took matters into his own hands over the weekend. On his way home from a visit to Pittsburgh (where former Michigan assistants...), he talked with Coach Hoke, and things went well:

My parents are both comfortable, and so am I. They asked their questions and said it was a great conversation overall. I feel comfortable with him too. He was a funny guy, he's a player's coach. He's someone that you would want to coach you... I had a good relationship with the coaches there before, but coaching is a business. It's just an adjustment and you need to go on with it. Michigan is Michigan, and they're not going to just bring anyone in. I still really like Michigan.

Before the visit, Tom said there wasn't too much worry as long as it went well, so Michigan is in very good position with Bryant. He announces a week from Friday.

Michigan may have extended an offer to Minnesota commit KS QB Max Shortell, but the kid says he's only interested in Minnesota. Sounds like a similar situation to FL DT Travarris Saulsberry and his teammate, DE Jordan Williams, both of whom are committed to Tennessee.

Among other new players on the radar, CA DB Stefan McClure and IL OL Pat Flavin (an Illinois commit) are now getting Michigan attention - with McClure already netting an offer.

The Wolverines have also offered LA CB Floyd Raven ($, info in header), and are still showing interest in another Louisiana prospect at the position, Daren Kitchen ($, info in header).

Peace Out, Ya'll

Happy Trails, NJ TE Jack Tabb. He committed to North Carolina ($, info in header) after being unable to get in touch with Brady Hoke.

Auburn has accepted a commitment from NC WR/LB Kris Frost. Michigan might continue pursuing him ("hey, that other school doesn't even want you"), but he seems set on being a Tiger.

Last week, Tom said Michigan had "a great chance" with CA WR Devin Lucien, but Michigan now intends to recruit him only for defense, so it seems unlikely he'll end up a Wolverine. Lucien announces January 30th.

PA DE Deion Barnes will announce tomorrow between Georgia and Penn State. He crossed Michigan off his list with the coaching change.