Preview 2012: Defensive Line

Preview 2012: Defensive Line Comment Count

Brian August 29th, 2012 at 10:30 AM

Previously: Podcast 4.0, the story, quarterback, running back, wide receivers, offensive line.

A note before we start: this preview relies heavily on the defensive UFRs of last year because there’s a convenient numerical system that does a decent job of summing up a defensive player’s contributions. One caveat: the system is generous to defensive linemen and harsh to defensive backs, especially cornerbacks. A +4 for a defensive end is just okay; for a cornerback it’s outstanding.

campbell-iowa

Depth Chart
STRONG DE Yr. NOSE TACKLE Yr. THREE-TECH Yr. WEAK DE Yr.
Craig Roh Sr. Quinton Washington Jr.* Will Campbell Sr. Jibreel Black Jr.
Nate Brink Jr.*# Richard Ash So.* Ryan Glasgow Fr.# Brennen Beyer So.
Keith Heitzman Fr.* Ondre Pipkins Fr. Matt Godin Fr. Frank Clark So.

Okay okay okay. Breathe. Breathe in. Breathe out. Feel the lung expand and contract, and feel a calmness wash over you. Yeah. Calm. Calm.

Michigan lost three starters, may be starting a 280-pound three-tech, moved the only returning starter, and has a walk-on seriously pressing for playing time. If they're not starting a 280-pound three-tech, they're starting a 280-pound WDE. Will Campbell inherits a starting spot essentially by default.

No no no no. Calm. Callllm.

Defensive Tackle

Rating: 2.5

The big piece of news that hit when the Big Ten Network was let inside the velvet rope at Michigan practice was Jerry Montgomery naming Quinton Washington one of his starters instead of Brennen Beyer. This was followed up by a depth chart confirming this fact.

Clarity came Monday when Hoke made an appearance at the UM Club of Greater Detroit's kickoff dinner that I was at, waiting for the Q&A session with Greg Dooley and Angelique Chengelis. Hoke took questions, someone asked him about the defensive line, and Hoke gave a straight answer. To paraphrase: Michigan is planning on rotating six guys. Washington will be the nose in certain packages with Campbell at three tech and Black at WDE. In other packages they'll remove Washington and slide everyone down, inserting Beyer at WDE and going with Roh-Campbell-Black-Beyer.

Who's the sixth guy? You got me. I'd guess it's Nate Brink, but it didn't come up.

Anyway…

William-Campbellworld_thumb[1]

this year he'll totally live up to this image. really! (probably not really.)

This time we mean it, Will Campbell: it's now or never. The one-time five-star recruit is now a senior. He's been handed a starting spot by the graduation of three DL starters and Rodriguez's crappy recruiting. This makes everyone nervous because obviously.

There is some good news on this front. After a couple years in which Campbell appearances were all but guaranteed to draw this sort of commentary…

I'm not at the point where I can tell you the ten different things Campbell did to get blown four yards downfield, but I can blather on about pad level: man, pad level. Am I right?

…his cameos were fairly effective last year. He got limited snaps, of course, but only ended up negative against Iowa, when he got cut twice on big Coker runs. He had a +5 against ND, a +3.5 against SDSU, a +4 against Minnesota, and a +4 against Illinois, three of which came when he blew up a third and one by himself:

You can also watch him annihilate another Illinois OL to set up a Desmond Morgan decleater and flatten Max Shortell.

Unfortunately, these positives and highlights are all against the worst offensive lines on the schedule (and ND, oddly). Michigan didn't put him out there much against tougher competition; now they've got no choice.

Campbell's giving it a go. He's taken to showing off his chest after shedding 20 pounds in the past couple years. Taylor Lewan:

"The most dramatic change I've seen in a body on our team is Will Campbell," said left tackle Taylor Lewan. "His body is transformed. He was a sloppy 350 and now he's a toned down 308 kind of guy. He looks real good. His conditioning shows it. You should see him run. He's like a gazelle. It's unreal. I think Will is going to do some special things this year."

Come on, baby. He's getting the full-court press from Michigan's three-headed DL coaching staff, and I wished and hoped my way to thinking he was a lot better this spring:

Last spring game guy was a lump who managed to not get blown off the ball most of the time and just about never did anything. During the year he was largely that with some nice plays mixed in, but too infrequently to be encouraging. In the spring game he had clearly progressed enough to actually beat his man to the gap more than once.

You know all those runs Rawls had where he had to abort mission and find another hole? Most of those were headed at Campbell. Since we got a baseline for Ricky Barnum in the time he got before his ankle injury last year—decent Big Ten player even then—that's a hopeful sign.

While that hasn't kept the coaches from grousing about things, their expectations are not my expectations.

Finding out that Campbell will flip between three tech and the nose is probably a positive tea leaf. Leverage has always been a problem, and at 6'5" he's never going to be a great burrower. Get him one on one and he can deposit folks on their butts. That is what he'll generally be allowed to do at the three. His ability to do that on passing downs is going to be a huge factor in how effective that line configuration is—three techs can get good rush, and Michigan's ability to get pressure out of the WDE spot is very much in doubt.

What to expect here is a mystery. My WAG: adequate play that's on average a few points to the good on UFR charts (which is average for DL, as it measures MAKING PLAYS more than not doing so). Maybe a fringe draft pick if Michigan is pretty lucky. I don't think he'll be worse than Heininger, and he was pretty decent by the end of the year.

[hit THE JUMP for the GREAT MYSTERY beyond the KEN OF MAN (and Craig Roh)]

Comments

Practice Items: Devins Will Catch

Practice Items: Devins Will Catch Comment Count

Brian August 25th, 2012 at 1:16 PM

[The Mott practice this year was not a punting exhibition (at which my internal monologue went WOOOOOO) so there are a few things to discuss.]

Michigan's Devin Gardner high fives fans as he runs out of the Michigan Stadium tunnel for pregame warmups before Saturday, November 6th's Michigan versus Illinois football game.
Lon Horwedel | AnnArbor.com

The biggest takeaway. Devin Gardner took zero QB snaps and was on the first team as a WR. I think they moved him full-time. Swingin' for the fences.

Gardner didn't do anything spectacular in his limited opportunities, dropping one long ball and not quite bringing in a high hard one, but he certainly looks the part. Seeing him in 12 is still weird, and now Dileo is 9, and if I was Brady Hoke I'd be all like "you get one number and that is your number" but he might have different priorities. Maybe.

Devin Funchess. As first impressions go… wow. He is lanky and doesn't look like he'll be much use as a blocker early, but man is that guy a big target. Looks all of 6'5" and has freaky long arms. He was the only TE to get targeted in their kind-of-actually-playing segment; he caught a touchdown on a corner route (it got raked out but after the catch was secured) and was targeted on a late-release wheel route. If he can catch, he is going to crush Mandich's TE receiving record.

Not a whole lot to decide. I expected to have a blizzard of things to try and figure out but when the first team defense came out in a nickel package I was like "oh, right, they return basically everyone." Other than the line, there were zero surprises except for a couple of Mario Ojemudia WDE cameos.

On offense, it was "is Mealer starting" and "OMG Gardner"… and that was it. Consistency is good.

DL starting Washington? This is tentative, but the first DL set they ran out there was Roh-Washington-Campbell-Black. (IE: Washington at the nose, Campbell at the three-tech.) Beyer also showed up at WDE; Brink was the backup SDE.) Apparently Jerry Montgomery told someone that those guys were the starters as of this instant, but I can't find it. People are talking about it on message boards like it's a real thing, though.

Anyway: they showed the usual nickel package where they lifted the nose tackle types and moved the SAM down to DE and the heavy package where both SAM linebackers are in the game. All was as expected except for a couple snaps in a dime package that they didn't show at all last year.

[UPDATE: Ace points out that this comes from Tom Dienhart's BTN coverage.]

James Ross. Ross was your backup WLB, which isn't much of a surprise with Poole and Ringer hurt. He'll play.

Richard Ash. I kept an eye out for Ash as I'm hoping he can give Michigan some snaps as a rotation DT after he made a couple of nice plays in the spring game. He didn't get in much, if at all, but he certainly looks a lot better conditioned. He used to look like a battleship that had no chance of moving; now he looks relatively trim.

Mealer started. Your first team LG was Mealer.

Chris Wormley. Hasn't had surgery yet for whatever reason.

No Rawls. No idea why. They ran some passing stuff with Justice Hayes that seemed to work pretty well, and did the Vincent Smith throwback screen that always works.

It was good to see football. You're just sitting in the stadium and there's actual snaps being taken in front of you and your lizard brain is going FOOTBALL FOOTBALL FOOTBALL and you're like "I know exactly how you feel, lizard brain."

Heiko takes. Are on the board. FWIW, they ran that hook and ladder a dozen times last year. I think it's just for show.

Comments

Michigan Museday If the Dudes Get Dinged: D-Line

Michigan Museday If the Dudes Get Dinged: D-Line Comment Count

Seth July 18th, 2012 at 7:46 AM

BWCNebraska-Heiko2  BarnumRoundtreeRohSpringGame-Heiko
Heiko|MGoBlog

♪ Well a whole season played with the first string guy is usually quite lucky.
And a squad who plays with the second team out can be anything but fussy.
But a team whose seen an important guy down—head concussed, knee on the ground!
If they ain't got depth around, then
all goes to poopie.
To poopie, to poopie, to poopie, but depth is hard to get!
To poopie, to poopie, to poopie, but we can get there yet! /♫

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This is a continuation from last week when I went through the expected offensive depth chart and tried to predict what would happen—what's the dropoff? how do we react?—if each starter is injured for an extended time. Now, I'm not here trying to roll into town and stir up trouble, see? I'm a purveyor of portents and hedger of predictions only. What I seek to do is prepare us for any one of these dings, so that if one occurs we can say something intelligent like "it hurts to lose Roh but Black is probably the less replaceable!"

Why not all defense? Things slow down from here because the defense has a lot of intermeshing parts, and because there actually is depth in places to speak of. Mattison's er Michigan's defense has been characterized by interchangeable positions but really each spot is more of a sliding scale from NT to field corner where each one overlaps the things on either side of it. The listed spring/recruiting weights play this out (click e-bigitates):

Roster for HTTV

saturn-puntingzoltanQuickly again. Photos are all by Upchurch unless otherwise noted. Ratings are given in Saturn-punting Zoltans. Think of them like stars except more heavenly. Five is an all-conference-type player (Denard to Kovacs); four is a guy you'd call "solid" (RVB to Demens); three is an average B1G player (Morgan to Hawthorne); two is a guy with a big hole in his game (freshman Kovacs); one is trouble with a capital T, and that rhymes with P, and that stands for Poole.

Nose Tackle (Avengers)

thor_385F717860141950
Geeks / O. Ryan Hussain|TheWolverine / 247 Sports

Starter: Will Campbell 4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o.5 ???

Backups: Ondre Pipkins 4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o ???, Richard Ash 4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o.5 ???

In case of emergency: I'll be honest; this one is impossible to call straight. The 4-3 under is like the 3-4 in that it leans on the nose to suck up double teams and create mismatches elsewhere. The ideal is a superhero, and for the last few years we've had one of the best (by Ghost of Bo).

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Hulk is gone but the franchise must go on, and for now that means we are 100% committed to making Thor work.

thorcampbell

If the old 5-star takes up the hammer he's the pivot point of a great defense. If he doesn't then one of two mystery men could be anything from serviceable to disasters, and most things in between.

The upside on all three of Michigan's nose tackles is mighty. Weirdly, we think we know more about the true freshman, Ondre Pipkins, than the redshirt sophomore. Pipkins was a 4 or 5 star whose huge, squat, Tongan frame and jovial, Hoke-impersonating character made him and Michigan's need for nose tackle a cosmic destiny. If he's got the goods we'll see Pipkins early in spells of Campbell. True freshmen (Martin, Gabe Watson) of his caliber have fared well enough in rotational duty. The later this season goes, the more comfortable you can feel about Pipkins when he's called upon. Caveat: until he's called upon you have no idea if he can hack it, and for every huge dude you can name who could play right away (Marcus Thomas, Suh, Ngata, [sigh] Johnathan Hankins, DeQuinta Jones) there's 30 who need to spend a year as Ben Grimm before being The Thing. /metaphor used up.

In case of dire emergency: …break glass on Richard Ash. Nobody knows on this guy, who was recruited by Rodriguez as the last Pahokeeian project for Barwis to tear down and rebuild. The tear-down went unnoticed through 2010 and '11 and we caught a glimpse of possible rebuild when, 20 lbs. svelter, he made a few plays nice in the backfield. Ash could be anything from ahead of Pipkins to Adam Patterson. If that's where we are I could see Quinton Washington sliding down.

Rush Tackle (3-Tech)

6932489716_dcc6100ca6_oIMG_5048 - CopyKenny Wilkins
Right: Dell Callihan|
UMGoBlog

Starter: Jibreel Black 4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o.5

Backups: Quinton Washington 4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o.5, Ken Wilkins 4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o, Matt Godin ???, Willie Henry ???, plus nose tackles

In case of emergency: The coaches have made it clear that Jibreel Black can play, and moving him two slots down the size/speed slide chart of defensive positions means they want him on the field, and that they want 5-tech-ish skills at the 3-tech. This being a swing position means the backups could be different things.

Quinton Washington is a big dude who was an offensive guard until he and Will Campbell were swapped for each other in that experiment. He still looks like a guard, and has yet show much at tackle besides easily dismissible coach hokum right after the move in 2010 so it wouldn't look like Rodriguez was throwing substances at surfaces to see what sticks.

Q stuck although the OL he left is now about as leaky as the DL he came to save. That the coaches moved Roh and Black down the line tells you something about their faith that Washington is ready, and going into his redshirt junior year that might mean he'll never be. He's seen time on goal line situations and is likely to again. Early in the year I wouldn't be surprised if he or Ash—whichever wins—is backing up both interior line spots, and that later on we see some Pipkins and Campbell together time.

In case of dire emergency: Ken Wilkins has been absent enough from chatter that people email me asking if he's still on team. Yes he is on the damn team, and he's still just a RS sophomore, but yeah, there's room for true freshmen on the three deep. Those two seem to be Godin and Henry, the lesser heralded of the heralded class, both of whom would benefit from redshirts. Henry is the larger. Chris Wormley, whom I rate at 5-tech, seems a more likely backup.

Strongside End (5-Tech)

IMG_0886-- Chris Wormley

Starter: Craig Roh 4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o

Backups: Nate Brink 4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o, Keith Heitzman 4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o, Chris Wormley ???, Tom Strobel ???, plus 3-techs.

In case of emergency: Craig Roh has to be the hardest four-year starter to project in history, thanks to many different careers as too-small WDE in a 4-3, a miscast OLB in the 3-3-5, then as the edge rushing WDE in Mattison's 4-3 under. Now he moves to RVB's old spot.

The backup here is almost assuredly Nate Brink, whom the coaches love but the fans hardly know because he's been hurt (he missed Spring because of it). When the coaches talk about the one-time walk-on they make sure to hit all of the Ecksteinian points: "coachable", "hard worker", "toughness", "great technique", "great motor." To that I might add he's 6'5 and 263, which is normal for the position. He's not Heininger (who as a sophomore backed up Brandon Graham), except in that he's some of the things you wrongly thought about Heininger. Then again I remember Brady Hoke making all sorts of guys into effect tech linemen.

If you'd rather see stars, Keith Heitzman is your guy. The beneficiary of the spring time Brink missed, the redshirt fresham was rated higher at tight end out of high school yet apparently good enough at SDE that the coaches moved Jordan Paskorz instead of him. Either this was a promise made at the time of his last-minute recruitment—likely since Tim reacted strongly when I say him and the TE depth chart together—or an endorsement by Hoke that he can play, or both. Best guess is it's both.

In case of dire emergency: Any of the freshmen linemen but Pipkins and Ojemudia are ready built for 5-tech. Of these Chris Wormley was a longtime high school star, which tells me he is probably physically ahead of the other guys right now. Tom Strobel is the other proto-RVB here. One day I expect we'll see the two of them playing next to each other at 3- and 5- respectively.

Weakside End

DEsojemudia

Starter: Brennan Beyer 4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o.5, or Frank Clark 4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o.5

Backups: Mario Ojemudia ???, plus 5-techs

In case of emergency: Well if one goes down the other starts. Following a trend, both Clark and Beyer were OLBs last season, while this spot was rotated between Black and Roh. Though technically a unit change, the job they did last year—outside rusher—and what they'll be called on to do this year are not all that dissimilar. It speaks well to both that they played as true freshmen ahead of once-touted Cam Gordon. Read less into that, since Gordon was hurt to give them the opening and their skillsets are different from his.

They're also different from each other. Beyer was the more highly regarded and will get called "solid" more often because he's less eventful than Clark. Clark has the greater athleticism (see: interception in Sugar Bowl) though has been convicted of multiple accounts of giving up the edge, a freshman mistake repeated in spring. The rest of the D-line by design is meant to free these guys up for sacks, thus I see both rotating. If one goes down we lose the rotation.

The only other designated WDE is freshman Ojemudia, who is about 200 lbs. right now and would be 2009 Craig Roh'ed by most of the OTs and TEs on our schedule. Far more likely, in the event we lose one of the sophomores, we'll see one of the 5-techs or SLBs move in before the shirt is lifted from Mario. Craig Roh has played WDE more than any other spot, and Brink has the coaches' trust to fill in at 5-tech.

In case of dire emergency: Packaging still covers but there's Ojemudia if you need him. Packaging means in pass situations you just put Jake Ryan here and have Cam Gordon or Brandin Hawthorne or a nickel corner come in; otherwise go "big" (for a certain definition of such) with Roh back to wide and whichever backup DT/SDE in the game instead.

Comments

Michigan Museday Isn't Just Big Boned, Part I

Michigan Museday Isn't Just Big Boned, Part I Comment Count

Seth January 24th, 2012 at 8:15 AM

D-LineMiis
If Strobel/Pipkins/Godin/Wormley/Ojemudia had Mii's

Body Mass Index (metric weight divided by height-squared) isn't supposed to apply to athletes. It's a health heuristic used to calculate obesity, and according to the health professional I asked, it's not really that good at calling you fat because it doesn't say how much of that weight is muscle. It just guesses that your ratio is normal; for athletes that ratio is definitively not normal. Fortunately terrancetaylornotredameI'm not interested in whether our extant and incoming defensive linemen are in shape; I care about identifying which DL are what shape, how this applies to what positions the 5-man 2012 DL class* will likely play, and what the success/ failure/ mehness of similar looking players might suggest what we might expect out of next year's linemen.

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* There's a chance Ojemudia may move but for now I'm counting him as a WDE.

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The data. Thanks to Bentley we have an historical record of player weights: Google doc'ed here for your ease. For our purposes I'm taking the mid-'90s—when player size made its big leap—through the present. Height and weight data are bountiful, but making any use of them has been hard going. However the BMI seems to have one good use in determining who plays what spot in an unbalanced defensive line. Right away there's a noticeable difference among the playing BMIs at the four DL positions:

Pos Ht. Wt. Fr BMI Playing BMI
1T (Nose Tackle) 6'2 2/3 299.4 35.4 37.7
3T (Def. Tackle) 6'4 2/3 291.6 32.1 35.0
5T (SDE) 6'4 271.0 29.7 33.1
7T (WDE) 6'3 2/3 260.4 29.4 32.0
AVERAGE 6'3 2/3 283.0 31.9 34.8

As you go from outside to inside height remains steady as weight goes up. Interestingly NTs are the shortest on the line as well as the largest, speaking to a certain shorter/stouter body type preferred at the position. Reported heights are not always accurate but the listed height on Rivals tends to match the freshman heights in Bentley's database, so I've used those across the board; the DL I expect has the least amount of height gain (most of these guys have more facial hair at 18 than I could produce at 22). It tells the story:

ALLinM

Lots of these guys moved about too, especially between SDE and DT, but you can kind of see why. What I'd like to do from here is take a position-by-position look at the size of all of these guys as freshmen versus the Class of 2012, and their growth over their careers (to test if hanging weight on a large frame can "build" a great DL) and finally put the playing BMIs versus the guys left on the roster to see if the 2012 DL at least looks like defensive lines of yore.

------------------------------------

void(0)21-t1264826-500medium_031308watson

Renes talking down to lil bro | Bowman not being held | Watson being gravitational

Nose Tackle (NT, Nose Guard, 1-Tech) is the guy usually lined up shaded over the center. This job (most recently Mike Martin's) in a 4-3 under and 3-4 is similar in that the lineman must often stand up to double-teams or fight off a single-block lined up playside of him in order to cover two gaps. (Current players in bold, 2012 recruits in italics).

Name Class of Ht. BMI as Fr. BMI-Ply % Change
Gabe Watson 2002 6'4 40.7 40.3 -0.90%
Jason Kates 2006 6'3 40.6 42.4 +4.10%
Ondre Pipkins 2012 6'3 40.6 -- --
Richard Ash 2010 6'3 40.0 37.6 -6.30%
Terrance Taylor 2005 6'2 37.9 41.0 +7.50%
Will Campbell 2009 6'5 37.7 38.2 +1.20%
Marques Walton 2004 6'0 37.3 39.6 +5.80%
William Carr 1993 6'0 37.3 39.2 +4.80%
Marques Slocum 2005 6'6 35.8 38.8 +7.70%
Mike Martin 2008 6'2 35.7 39.0 +8.60%
Rob Renes 1995 6'2 35.3 37.0 +4.50%
Grant Bowman 1999 6'3 32.2 36.1 +10.70%
Adam Patterson 2006 6'2 32.1 35.4 +9.40%
Eric Wilson 1996 6'4 31.0 34.7 +10.50%
Shawn Lazarus 1998 6'3 30.6 37.1 +17.50%
Nate Miller 1994 6'4 29.2 33.7 +13.40%
Jason Horn 1991 6'5 27.9 32.8 +15.20%

Good news: Ondre Pipkins is as large as any NT to come in, in the top group with Watson, Kates and Ash. Watson and Ash both were asked to lose weight (Ash is now being rebuilt) while Kates lost his fucklion_plaqueability to play after adding another 4.1% to his body weight. The comparable here is something between freshman Gabe Watson (2002) and freshman Terrance Taylor (2005). The recruiting hype is in that range as well, but this is a kind of hard position to rank out of high school because most of these dudes just murder your typical suburban offensive linemen/future economics majors. They also get chopped a lot. Watson's high school career is responsible for at least three later shoulder surgeries I know of.

This is not necessarily such good news. Both Watson and Taylor played as true freshmen which suggests Pipkins's size should make him instantly plug-in-able. However they both had to wait to become starters; Watson was behind Lazarus and then Bowman before playing as a junior, and Taylor sat behind Watson (and Pat Massey at DT) for a year. The other guy with the same BMI as Pipkins—in fact he's almost identical—is current depth guy Richard Ash. But then here's where knowing the background of the players helps because Ash was kind of an out-of-shape flier expected to be Barwicized , while the book on Pipkins, like Watson and Taylor, is that he's carrying a lot college muscle already.

By BMI, Campbell is in the second group because of his height. Like OL/DL/Fck Lion Proprietor Marques Slocum, this method shows BWC's height as a disadvantage, making it harder for him to get his weight under offensive linemen. However his prodigious 5-star strength is still occasionally on display, and he admits part of his thing is effort. michpurdQuinton Washington, if he was an NT, would fit in this group.

The shorter guys in this part of the list finds some big successes among people coached by Hoke or Mattison: William Carr, Rob Renes and Mike Martin. But we don't have a guy like that right now.

The ones that had to be built—Bowman, Patterson, Wilson, Lazarus, Miller and Horn, came in about the size of Godin and Wormley and put on a lot of weight to be productive as upperclassmen (or in Patterson's case, a much needed body with functioning circulation and eligibility). Wormley could turn into a Lazarus or Wilson, who like Chris had the proverbial "frames" to put on a lot of muscle, and did so.

Next week: the DTs, the SDEs, and the WDEs.

Comments

Monday Presser Transcript 11-28-11: Brady Hoke

Monday Presser Transcript 11-28-11: Brady Hoke Comment Count

Heiko November 28th, 2011 at 4:10 PM

Brady Hoke

News bullets and other important items:

  • Brennen Beyer should be fine for bowl practice.
  • Team will go back to fundamentals and technique during bowl practice and develop younger players.
  • Quinton Washington, Keith Heitzman, and Chris Rock are improving on the D-line. Coaches also trying to coach up Richard Ash.
  • Bowl practice schedule will depend on which bowl they go to. Team will be active this week.

Press Conference

from file

Opening remarks:

“It’s great to go out and play well enough to win. I think there’s some things we all know we have to do a better job with when you look at the whole football game, but I think our guys responded well. As a team, I’ve said it many times, but they really complement each other offensively and defensively and in the kicking game. It’s great to win a football game. Anytime you can win that great rivalry game, it’s good.”

Borges has been saying all season that the offense is eventually going to come along. Have we been seeing that the last two weeks?

“You know, I think a couple things: number one, [Denard has] grown and matured as a Michigan quarterback throughout the course of the year. I think the decisiveness that he has run the football with when he’s made that decision, that there’s some open area or whatever has really been good the last couple weeks. I think that’s helped his confidence. I thought he ran extremely hard with the ball on Saturday. When we can rush the ball for 277 yards, it helps you obviously when you get into the throw game. And in the passing game, I thought he made three really good throw again. He was 14 of 17, so his accuracy and completion rate was pretty doggone good. I think he just keeps growing.”

What was the mood like the last 36 hours? Have you been hearing from a lot of people?

“Yeah, I mean there’s a lot of text messages that I haven’t even seen yet to be honest with you. It’s nice and it’s great that people want to congratulate you, but we’re not done with this year yet. Our goal was to win the conference championship and we didn’t do that, so we have a lot more to prove.”

What do you think about the Urban Meyer hire?

“You know, he’s not going to play a down and neither am I. To me, I’ve known Urban. He’s a good football coach. He’s a good guy, I’ll welcome him in, but this is still Michigan and Ohio. It’s still going to be that rivalry. Neither one of us is going to play a game.”

(more after the jump)

Comments

Preview 2011: Defensive Line

Preview 2011: Defensive Line Comment Count

Brian August 30th, 2011 at 4:42 PM

Previously: The story, the secondary, and the linebackers.

Depth Chart
STRONG DE Yr. NOSE TACKLE Yr. THREE-TECH Yr. WEAK DE Yr.
Will Heininger Sr.* Mike Martin Sr. Ryan Van Bergen Sr.* Craig Roh Jr.
Nate Brink So.* Richard Ash Fr.* Will Campbell Jr. Jibreel Black So.
Chris Rock Fr. Quinton Washington So* Kenny Wilkins Fr.* Frank Clark Fr.
 
If Will Campbell had just taken to a trio of defensive line coaches breathing down his neck for eight months the top line of that depth chart would be almost great: two seniors, two juniors, three returning starters, a couple all-conference types, and one moon-sized five-star recruit emerging into the starting lineup. The depth… eh… not so much, but as far as lines go that's a pretty good start en route to defensive competency.
 
Campbell didn't. Halfway through camp Ryan Van Bergen got flipped into the interior of the line and the coaches started talking about Nate Brink, then put near 300-pound Will Heininger, who sat out last year with an ACL tear, on top of the depth chart. Both are walk-ons. Yipes.

Defensive Tackle

Rating: 4.5

mike-martin-indianamike-martin-nd-2010

We'll start with the good. Last year, freshman Jibreel Black showed up and got an eyeful of what college defensive linemen were like when he laid eyes on Mike Martin. He came away from the experience with his eyes opened and his grammar damaged:

"When I see some plays that Mike (Martin) makes in practice, I be like dang. His explosiveness, his technique that he uses. You can tell the work that he put in with it.”

MIKE MARTIN
lolblocking
LOL single block
LOL zoning him
LOL pulling
LOL double block
LOL triple block
beast mode
authoritatively sacks
blasts through line
driving the center
zips between the C and G
consumes Chappell's soul
made every play
bad occassionally
easily scooped

In the right situation (three-technique instead of the nose) with the right amount of healthy ankles (two instead of zero), Martin could make All-America selectors be like dang.

Unfortunately, it seems like Martin is never going to get to move to that three-tech spot it seems he was made for. It's not that he's a bad nose tackle. Martin is big and strong and can take on double teams just fine. But he's also amazingly quick for a 300-pound squat-beast, so much so that the first thing Greg Mattison thought when he saw him was "we should use him like Shawn Crable." In the spring game passing downs Martin was in on often featured him in a two-point stance, hopping around like a linebacker. This is not your typical nose tackle.

If permitted to go one-on-one with guards used to holding off slugs and the results could be spectacular, like Jonathan Babineaux 28-TFL spectacular. But with no one else on the roster who won't get annihilated at the nose, Martin will have to tough out the double teams.

If you flip through the videos at right you'll see an awful lot of Martin crushing people until the Michigan State game, and then hardly anything. That's because a Spartan lineman chop-blocked Martin at the end of a game that was well in hand. Martin limped off and was diagnosed with the dreaded high ankle sprain. From then on he was not himself.

Sometimes this manifested by not being on the field at all. Martin missed most of the Iowa and Penn State games, big chunks of Illinois, and didn't play at all against Purdue. He started to get his mojo back afterwards but only gradually. You can see the effect in his UFR chart:

Opponent ++ -- TOT Notes
UConn 8 3 5 Late minuses for getting too pass-rush-y. Demands doubles. Good start.
Notre Dame 12 0.5 11.5 Beast mode. Best game of career.
UMass 25 - 25 I just write the numbers down!
BGSU 7 1 6 Quick passing offenses reduce DL impact; still did well when called upon.
Indiana 11.5 3 8.5 Actually got beat out by someone, also round this down to +7 or so.
MSU 8 1 7 A good performance, but coming down from his ridiculous nonconference level.
Iowa 0.5 1 -0.5 Clearly hurt.
Penn State - 1 -1 I'm going to throw myself off a bridge.
Illinois 8 1 7 Was more back than it looked live, but still out a lot more than usual.
Purdue - - - DNP
Wisconsin 8.5 2 6.5 One old-style "I destroy this play" plus a few more scattered good bits and some half points.

Martin was a nonfactor the next two weeks and only moderately effective against Illinois (remember that the wacky nature of that game meant more plays for DL to rack up points). To preserve my sanity I didn't UFR the dismal final two games of Rodriguez's career. Martin had two tackles and four assists against OSU and one measly assist in the bowl game; none of those were behind the LOS.

Healthy again and less abandoned in the middle of the defense, Martin's numbers should soar. Before the sprain Martin was on pace for 11 TFLs and 4 sacks; after it he got just a half TFL the rest of the year. While the front of the schedule is a bit easier, Martin had 8.5 TFLs and 51 tackles a year ago. Reasonable progression should have gotten him to 11.  Add in further progression plus three DL coaches plus a bit more help on the line plus a free-roaming QB attack role and 15 to 18 TFLs plus a little more QB terror should be within reach. He should be All Big Ten. He might be better.

rvb-notre-dameMichigan's Ryan Van Bergen, #53, hauls down Michigan State University quarterback Kirk Cousins during secind quarter action of Saturday afternoon, October 3rd's clash between the in-state rivals at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing. 
Lon Horwedel | AnnArbor.com

Ryan Van Bergen is your new starting three-tech. Great at nothing but consistent and durable, Van Bergen is a lot better than he gets credit for. As a put upon 3-3-5 DE last year he had 5 sacks and 9.5 TFLs despite getting very little help from the structure of the defense. He was often left by himself against two defenders, especially when it came to the passing game. GERG loved him some three-man rush.

/shakes fist

Van Bergen graded out almost as well as Martin over the course of the season thanks to his steady acquisition of points and half points for standing his ground against doubles or pushing offensive linemen into places they don't want to be. The UFR chart is really impressive:

Opponent ++ -- TOT Notes
UConn 3 - 3 Not exactly BG, but I don't think he has to be if it's a stack.
Notre Dame 4.5 3 1.5 Unproductive until late; irresponsible on midline zone read.
UMass 5 1.5 3.5 Lots of half points for doing decently on run plays.
BGSU 5.5 2 3.5 Decent impact in little opportunity.
Indiana 12 - 12 Excellent against the run, got some pass rush, mentally round this down to a +8.
MSU 9.5 1 8.5 One impact sack, some additional pressure, solid against the run. Good player.
Iowa 5.5 1 4.5 Best performance on the day but that's just average.
Penn State 10 3 7 The solitary player to have a good day.
Illinois 10.5 3.5 7 Developing into a fine player. Now consistently putting up points.
Purdue 7 3 4 May have been unfairly blamed for the big Henry keeper.
Wisconsin 3 6 -3 Did not make many plays; seemed to give up big cutback lanes easily. Maybe an RPS thing.

Van Bergen got better as the season went along and kept playing well in the face of total annihilation. He produced, and then Martin went out and he kept producing. A lot of the things he did were not explosive look-at-me plays, but the meat-and-potatoes grunt work required to keep your linebackers clean. This is emblematic:

That's not even an assist but by slanting past his blocker and then holding his ground he occupies two blockers and closes the hole so far that the RB runs into one of the guys trying to block him.

There were also a few explosive look-at-me plays, like this one:

RYAN VAN BERGEN
pass rush
stunts effectively
tough customer
annihilates guy trying to downblock him
slants into the lane
swims past Iowa OL
bounces off to tackle
picks off a pulling guard
all too easy
needs more beef
Wisconsin too much

That is Van Bergen lined up as a three-tech between Craig Roh and Mike Martin smoking MSU RT J'Michael Deane. Deane was apparently not much of a pass protector, but he's representative of the sort of guys RVB will be going up against this year—guards who are crushing run blockers but maybe not so good at pass pro.

His rushing isn't on Brandon Graham's level—last year's prediction he would "brush up against double digit sacks" fell three or four short. As the third-most-threatening guy on the line he's pretty good. If Michigan can get him single blocked by rushing more than three guys he might get there this year. He had five sacks from the three-tech spot as a sophomore; two years of experience and the luxury of being flanked by Martin and Roh will give him opportunities to slant past one-on-one blocking.

What's more, Van Bergen was an ironman last year. On a defense saddled with mediocre or worse backups at every spot, Van Bergen saw more snaps than any DL, often going entire games without being substituted. This year's line has no depth, either. That trait is going to be useful.

The move to three-tech won't be an issue. He played it two years ago and when Michigan went to a four man front last year they stuck him back inside. He's now 290, a three year starter, and a senior. He's a good bet to crack double-digit TFLs and get some All Big Ten mention.

Come On Backups

will-campbell-bgsuwill-campbell-backfield

yes, I wrote this section when I thought he was going to start

Well… there's Will Campbell. The all-everything recruit (except to ESPN, where he was their #22 OT) has languished on the bench, bounced to OL, and then gotten bounced from the starting lineup by a walk-on.

ESPN's skepticism about Campbell's tendency to stand straight up turned out to be right. When placed on the field as a freshman he struggled badly. Canonical example recycled from last year:

Description recycled from last year:

I'm not at the point where I can tell you the ten different things Campbell did to get blown four yards downfield, but I can blather on about pad level: man, pad level. Am I right?

You'll note that Campbell was playing a three-tech and got smoked one on one. The hype about how Campbell is an obvious three-tech and having him at the nose was another symptom of GERG's madness still has to combat Campbell's pad level, man.

At least his weight is back on the downswing. Last year he was listed at 333, significantly up from his freshman weight. Rodriguez was openly displeased with his conditioning last year, and he never saw the field outside of the goal line package. That's not good; it's even worse when Greg Banks and Renaldo Sagesse are the guys getting time instead of you. He's down eleven pounds this year and it's safe to say that's for the best. There is no good weight above 320.

Teammates and coaches have started talking Campbell up. While anyone who remembers the three weeks that Ron English spent talking up Johnny Sears knows that's not necessarily an assurance the player in question will be good, or even not-awful, at least this time around the conditioning grumblings are being directed elsewhere. Nose tackles do tend to take some time, as last year's West Texas Blue diary on Campbell's DT classmates demonstrated. Most redshirted as freshmen; few of the ones who didn't had any impact. (DeQuinta Jones was instantly productive for Arkansas, of course. That's just what happened under Rodriguez.)

He's further behind the curve now but even fellow uber recruits like LSU's Chris Davenport (one tackle), and Texas's Calvin Howell (two tackles) are struggling to find the field. They're not idling behind Greg Banks, sure, but Campbell's not dead yet.

He can be okay if protected. I spent large chunks of the spring game focused on him and he was mediocre:

All eyes were on Will Campbell and Will Campbell was all right. He got single blocked the whole day, alternating his time between pushing into the backfield to force cutbacks on unsuccessful runs, getting blocked out of rushing lanes, and (on passing downs) sitting at the LOS being the guy who looks for screens and scrambles. Unsurprisingly, reports that Campbell was "unblockable" as a three-tech turned out to be fiction—Campbell didn't beat a block all day. His contributions were limited to getting a moderate amount of penetration when single blocked on running plays. It was far from dominant; it could have been worse. I'm still pretty worried about what happens on stretch plays.

A moderate amount of penetration is worlds better than that clip above. He'll feature in the goal line package and against teams that want to run.

Past Campbell the only player anyone's seen on the field is redshirt sophomore Quinton Washington, who Rodriguez flipped from guard during the bye week last year. Washington got in on a few goal line plays, proceeding to drive his guy back and fall over.

That's fine on a goal line play. Taking that limited skillset and expanding it to the point where he can play defensive tackle on the other 98 yards is going to be trickier.

With Terry Talbott's medical redshirt there are just two other options, both redshirt freshmen who have survived the harrowing that's befallen much of Rodriguez's recruiting classes. Richard Ash is a nose tackle sort from Pahokee who briefly featured offers from USC and Florida before abruptly losing those. Over the course of a year he went from 260 to 320, which scared a lot of people off. Last year his corpulence was notable even amongst the defensive tackles. He's back down to about 300 now and will have to see some time spelling Martin. The sum total of Ash knowledge other than his weight loss is still in his recruiting profile.

The other option is Kenny Wilkins, who was initially supposed to be a weakside DE but showed up at 270 and is now 280. He's now listed as a DT and presumably will back up the three-tech spot. Wilkins was memorably pwned by walkons in the spring game on Mike Cox's long touchdown and has been called out by the coaches as a guy who needs to get his act together; if he plays this year he probably won't play well.

Strongside Defensive End

Rating: 1

heiningerheininger-2

This was Van Bergen until Campbell's failure to emerge sucked him back into the interior. Now you get your choice of walk-on. First on the depth chart is senior Will Heininger, who missed last year with an ACL tear and used that opportunity to expand alarmingly fast. After adding six pounds two years ago he threw on 28 over this offseason to end up at 295.

My assumption was that kind of weight gain from an injured guy who'd been in the program for years was a Posada-like sign, but after being all but ignored during fall camp he popped up on the two-deep as a starter and Hoke said that was a real thing. He must have spent every waking hour in the weight room.

"Experience" was why he got the nod; that experience consists of backing Brandon Graham up. In is time on the field he rarely did anything wrong; he rarely did anything right, either. He was a non-factor. As a guy spotting Graham from time to time that's cool, but as a starter or a guy rotating with another equally obscure walk-on that's a recipe for zero production out of a spot that should see its fair share of plays. If this spot averages out as a zero next year that's probably good—and that's not good.

One mitigating factor here: Michigan showed a three-man line in their two-minute defense. That package removes the walk-ons in favor of a zone-blitzing 3-4. These guys aren't playing on passing downs and may not see a lot of time against spread outfits. All these guys have to do is not get pounded on the ground. Pass rush is a bonus.

Backups

Nate Brinkbolivia

Nate Brink; where Nate Brink came from

More walkons! Sexy. With Van Bergen held out, Nate Brink was the starter at SDE in the spring game. Everybody assumed that didn't mean anything and focused on Campbell, so no one can tell you word one about how he did.

He faded back into Bolivian until the Van Bergen move, whereupon press conferences started talking about him and insiders started dropping what knowledge they had. The insiders said their usual bits about Brink being a diamond in the rough—one report claimed Mattison said he'd be in the two deep of any college team he'd coached. The press conferences were similarly predictable. This bit from Mattison is the most encouraging:

He's played like a Michigan football player. I hate to talk about a young man because I think when I do that they go right down in the tubes but this guy has come out every day as tough as he can. He listens to Coach Montgomery on every word. When he tells him to step a certain way, he tries, and he's really, really physical.

I think he was probably 250 in the spring and we told him to get to 265 and when he was reporting, I yelled, 'What do you weigh?' He said, '265' and I told him to drink some water and sure enough he started drinking water. Now I think he's 267 or 268.

In the spring, his toughness showed up and he was only 250 at that time. But his want-to and toughness stuck out like crazy. And that's what we want - 11 guys that play with that kind of attitude.

He's a guy that if he keeps doing what he's doing, Michigan people are going to be very happy with him.

I know this will end in tears but that's actually coachspeak that seems meaningful.

Holding The Rope has the complete presser dossier and all of his other biographical information. It adds up to:

  • is 265 pounds, up from 220 in high school
  • is a redshirt sophomore
  • coaches have said nice things about him
  • named "Nate Brink"

Brink will play. After mentioning Heininger's experience he said Brink has "practiced very well, played well, been productive" and promised to rotate six guys on the line. Six is a weird number because it means one of Black, Campbell, or Brink is on the fringe. Given the lineups Campbell seems the most likely even though that seems unlikely.

There's obviously no depth when the first two guys are walkons. In the event injuries hit them, Michigan will grit its teeth and slide Van Bergen back outside. True freshmen Chris Rock (Not That Chris Rock) and Keith Heitzman should be headed for redshirts (Heitzman actually might be headed for TE). If they don't it's a Ray Vinopal situation.

Weakside Defensive End

Rating: a speculative 4.

craig-roh-gergcraig-roh-uconn-2

what do you mean by "I don't want to play corner" again?

The only thing Michigan fans will miss about the deathbacker position is the name, and even then the group of people who know its true nomenclature is even smaller than the already-pretty-small group who know Craig Roh was a "spinner" and vastly smaller than the masses who know Roh is "that defensive end Michigan insists on pretending is a linebacker."

Craig Roh is not a linebacker. He has never been a linebacker, and this year he cranked himself up to 270 pounds to evaporate the last vestiges of confusion. Look at my giant skull crushing muscles, he says. Just try to put this in a two point stance.

CRAIG ROH
you can't see me
avoids a cut
Chappell hurry
speed rush for sack wsg Martin
smokes Illini T for holding call
sweet spin move
crunch, fumble, TD
not a lb
no depth on drops
frustrating dink
bubble overrun
dl run game
comes through TE
slants into lane
chucks lineman
slants under TE
power right at him

And the thing is, last year Roh wasn't that exploitable as a defensive end. He was certainly no more so than the other non-Van Bergen options, and when Michigan put his hand in the dirt against Notre Dame they got dividends from it:

Hit up those videos on the side to confirm. For a guy who was supposedly a liability he made his share of plays against the run in trying circumstances. Notable is that many of those were plays on the backside where he got under his blocker in a flash and sped down the line. On the weakside in the 4-3 under this is what he's going to be doing a lot.

Roh was so badly misserved by the previous defensive staff that he had to tell them what the hell he should be doing on defense. He requested a move back to the DL and got it, whereupon he was decent despite all this 3-3-5 business not suiting him at all. Talking about what happened to Roh last year makes me stabby. I called him the "Denard of the defense" because he was a uber-touted recruit forced on the field way too early by necessity; Denard became Denard and Roh dropped into short zones. Other than everything else, that was the clearest evidence GERG was sacrificing our defense to Xenu.

This year, though… this year Craig Roh is 270 pounds and will be playing the spot literally every scouting evaluation ever issued about him has begged—demanded—plead for him. This could yield one of those breakout year things. Here's what he did in the games Michigan played him mostly as a lineman:

Opponent ++ -- TOT Notes
Notre Dame 11 - 11 By far best game of his career.
MSU 6 1.5 4.5 Wasn't a liability in the run game against a pounding team.
Iowa 5 1 4 Okay, but not making a big impact.
Illinois 10.5 8 2.5 Eventful; some minuses may be someone else's fault.
Purdue 7 2.5 4.5 Good day.
Wisconsin 3.5 2 1.5 Basically one nice play and then not much.

He was much less a part of the tire fire when he had his hand in the dirt, and that was frequently as a 245-pound DE on a three man line. He is now 270 and going one-on-one with weakside tackles. He should improve from average-ish (remember that UFR slants towards the DL) to good.

At least good. We've yet to see the much of the pass-rushing skill that made Roh a top 50 recruit. He's displayed hints of the ability to zip past tackles before they know what hits them when suffered to rush the passer—there's a chance that when he puts hand to ground and is told to let it rip that he goes bonkers. Roh is the biggest X factor on the team. He could end up with anywhere from a half-dozen to twelve sacks.

Backups

jibreel-black-msujibreel-black

There is one. Hooray. The aforementioned Jibreel Black saw time spotting Roh last year; he showed some pass rush flair. His run defense was abject. He prominently featured on a Michigan State touchdown drive where cutback lanes were always open because Black wasn't flowing down the line. He was targeted for dismantling every time he hit the field, and more often than not opponents got exactly what they wanted. Except Penn State, weirdly.

    True freshman and all that, though. Black should be significantly better this year. Like Roh he'll benefit from the extra protection afforded the WDE in the 4-3 under and the triple threat DL coaches in the Hoke era. There is a significant downer, though. Black actually lost weight over the offseason, going from 265 to 260. This is one weight gain/loss that is not always good. After the spring Black was a guy who needed to change his body:

"Jibreel is a guy that, as his body composition changes a little bit, he's gonna be a good football player. I think him and Craig at the rush have had pretty good springs."

    Though I can't find the quote I'm thinking of, the coaches seemed irritated when he came into camp five pounds lighter than he was as a freshman. Early in camp, Mattison responded to a question about Black by highlighting his inconsistency:

“Jibreel has a lot of talent, but right now, Jibreel is a little inconsistent. … That’s not a knock on him, but he’s just like a lot of talented young guys. I’m not ready to say this guy is the next Terrell Suggs (of the Baltimore Ravens)."

    They have to play him; he might need another year to get his head right and muscles all powerful and stuff. Brandon Graham, who everyone has compared him to, took a couple years to get his head and body right, too.

frank-clarkjordan-paskorz-bowl

Clark @ Glenville; the only extant photo of Paskorz on the field

But wait, there's more! On scholarship, even! True freshman Frank Clark defied his middling recruiting rankings and status as a WR/TE/LB/DE tweener to feature on the depth chart at WDE. He's supposed to be fast—very fast. An insider I've corresponded with noted that players say "he can catch Denard." He "just has a lot of athleticism" according to Van Bergen.

Clark's quick rise caught Mattison's eye when he was asked about freshman in general, not Clark specifically:

I think Frank Clark has a lot of ability. You can see a different speed at which he goes.

In his recruiting profile I said he had a long road ahead of him to productivity. Clark drove fast.

    Redshirt freshman Jordan Paskorz may as well have been in the witness protection program since he enrolled. Not a peep has been heard about him since he arrived, and I have no recollection of the guy even playing in the spring game. But he is totally a defensive player on the roster who is not a true freshman. So we've got that going for us.
    Paskorz was a generic three star coming out of high school; his recruiting profile is where the infos are. I wasn't that enthused about him a year ago but just by remaining on the roster he's ahead of a lot of his classmates. With Clark impressing and a serious need at TE he's another candidate to switch.

Comments

Fall Roster Overanalysis 2011

Fall Roster Overanalysis 2011 Comment Count

Brian August 9th, 2011 at 4:24 PM

It's a useless tradition around here to look at the roster and see who's grown to massive size and who is lean destructive sinew because All Weight Changes Are Positive.

Presenting weight changes that are all positive. I bolded things I find interesting:

QUARTERBACK
Player 2009 2010 2011 09 to 10 10 to 11
Denard Robinson 185 193 195 8 2
Devin Gardner N/A 210 205 N/A -5
RUNNING BACK
Player 2009 2010 2011 09 to 10 10 to 11
John McColgan 227 231 240 4 9
Fitzgerald Toussaint 185 200 195 15 -5
Michael Cox 208 211 214 3 3
Michael Shaw 178 187 195 9 8
Vincent Smith 168 180 172 12 -8
Stephen Hopkins N/A 230 228 N/A -2
WIDE RECEIVER
Player 2009 2010 2011 09 to 10 10 to 11
Junior Hemingway 220 225 222 5 -3
Darryl Stonum 196 195 195 -1 0
Je'Ron Stokes 181 193 193 12 0
Jeremy Gallon 165 180 185 15 5
Kelvin Grady 168 176 177 8 1
Martavious Odoms 172 175 173 3 -2
Roy Roundtree 170 176 177 6 1
Terrence Robinson 171 175 177 4 2
Jerald Robinson N/A 199 206 N/A 7
Drew Dileo N/A 172 172 N/A 0
TIGHT END
Player 2009 2010 2011 09 to 10 10 to 11
Kevin Koger 249 255 258 6 3
Ricardo Miller N/A 217 234 N/A 17
Brandon Moore 243 250 255 7 5
OFFENSIVE LINE
Player 2009 2010 2011 09 to 10 10 to 11
Mark Huyge 288 306 302 18 -4
Michael Schofield 268 293 299 25 6
Ricky Barnum 275 286 292 11 6
Rocko Khoury 283 295 287 12 -8
Taylor Lewan 268 294 302 26 8
David Molk 275 285 286 10 1
Elliott Mealer 299 313 310 14 -3
Patrick Omameh 276 299 299 23 0
DEFENSIVE LINE
Player 2009 2010 2011 09 to 10 10 to 11
Mike Martin 292 299 304 7 5
Quinton Washington 325 315 302 -10 -13
William Campbell 318 333 322 15 -11
Kenny Wilkins N/A 270 280 N/A 10
Craig Roh 238 251 269 13 18
Will Heininger 261 267 295 6 28
Ryan Van Bergen 271 283 288 12 5
Jibreel Black N/A 265 260 N/A -5
Richard Ash N/A 320 301 N/A -19
LINEBACKER
Player 2009 2010 2011 09 to 10 10 to 11
Brandon Herron 220 220 221 0 1
Isaiah Bell 220 245 250 25 5
J.B. Fitzgerald 232 244 241 12 -3
Kenny Demens 236 250 248 14 -2
Cameron Gordon 208 207 222 -1 15
Mike Jones 203 208 224 5 16
Jake Ryan N/A 225 230 N/A 5
CORNERBACK
Player 2009 2010 2011 09 to 10 10 to 11
J.T. Floyd 183 183 185 0 2
Troy Woolfolk 193 195 191 2 -4
Courtney Avery N/A 174 173 N/A -1
Terrance Talbott N/A 179 178 N/A -1
SAFETY
Player 2009 2010 2011 09 to 10 10 to 11
Brandin Hawthorne 198 203 214 5 11
Floyd Simmons 185 200 194 15 -6
Jordan Kovacs 194 195 197 1 2
Josh Furman N/A 208 208 N/A 0
Carvin Johnson N/A 198 200 N/A 2
Marvin Robinson N/A 203 200 N/A -3
Thomas Gordon 205 205 208 0 3

Items!

  • Where is the addition of beef? I highlighted the starting offensive line above. They gained a total of 11 pounds between them, or one pound more than David Molk did last year, when he was the least inflated OL on the team. If Michigan's running power with these guys it might not go so well.
  • Where is the addition of beef: answer. It's in the outside-linebackery parts of the defense. Craig Roh's added 18 additional pounds; now up 31 from his arrival at Michigan he is legitimately DL sized. The projected starters at SLB and WLB both put on around 15 pound.
  • The subtraction of beef. Is where you'd expect it: the tubby tubs on the interior of the DL. Will Campbell, Quinton Washington, and Richard Ash are all relatively svelte now.
  • Maybe Wilkins is eventually plausible. I was shocked to see Wilkins came in at 270 and is now 280. He got blown up in the Spring Game but in a couple years he could be a reasonable option at three-tech.
  • All weight gain is good! Michael Shaw is eight pounds heavier and better able to take the pounding of the Big Ten.
  • All weight loss is good! Vincent Smith lost eight pounds and will return to the jackrabbit ways he flashed as a freshman.
  • BEEFCAKE. I hope Ricardo Miller loves protein shakes, because he's added 17 pounds and is still ridiculously small at tight end.

Notable freshmen:

  • Tony Posada and Chris Bryant. Good lord: both enter at essentially 340. They should form a tag team themed around natural disasters. Neither can be in any shape to play right now and unless Posada sheds a ton of weight he is a guard all the way at 6'4". Also monstrous: walk-on Gary Yerden at 6'5", 333.
  • Antonio Poole. With Kellen Jones gone he's got a major opportunity to play right away and at 212 he's not much slimmer than Jones. Big difference between that and the 195 he was reputed to be.
  • Greg Brown. While the rest of the freshman defensive backs enter at a willowy 176 or less Brown is packing 192. Good or bad… eh, probably not so good. But he did play well in spring.
  • Chris Rock. Enters at 267. Will be a three-tech by WMU.
  • Chris Barnett. Enters at 278. Redshirt coming with the knee and all; will be interesting to see if that goes down next year.
  • Thomas Rawls. 5'10", 219 is pretty compact. Hayes is listed at the same height and a cornerback-like 176.

Weight gains or losses are the key to domination. We has them. Get out of our ways.

Comments

Unverified Voracity Levitates Hair

Unverified Voracity Levitates Hair Comment Count

Brian March 10th, 2011 at 11:36 AM

Just like Haloi Ngata. Tom points out that Jake Ryan's twitter photo displays the first fruits of hiring Greg Mattison—redshirt freshman Richard Ash's levitating hair:

richard-ash-levitating-hair

So we've got that going for us.

Too awesome to don't click here. Irrelevant, but here's three of my favorite things in one thing:

Further position clarification. Just to highlight something from Tim's post:

Cameron Gordon will play outside linebacker, because they want to get the guys into the best position they can to make plays. "And then what's the most upside." He has great ability to grow, and has that upside at OLB. "As compared to being a safety, I think he can do that too, but we have other guys that can do that."

Specifically, Gordon will be the SAM linebacker, which is a spot fairly similar to the "spur" Michigan used last year in their disaster of a 3-3-5. This answers one of the main questions from the Hello Old 4-3 posts. It seems like your starting front seven next year will be:

DL: Van Bergen-Campbell/other three tech-Martin-Roh
LB: C. Gordon/Demens/Winner of massive WLB free for all

Only the WLB spot and three-tech are up in the air.

SPARKZZZZ. A Daily article on Sparks does seem to confirm the only possible reason Lindsay Sparks would mostly hang out in the press box on a team decidedly lacking in… well… spark:

By the time Michigan headed into the stretch run, the offensively-skilled forward had played in just 10 of his team’s 34 games, mainly due to concerns about his defense. … According to Michigan coach Red Berenson, Sparks took his game to another level in practice in recent weeks. It paid off. He took the ice in both games of the final regular-season series.

Sparks picked up an effort-y assist against Northern and flashed near-Hagelin speed against Western. Surely he's a regular next year with all the departures. Prepare for me to badly overrate him.

SNUBZZZZ. Michigan didn't have a whole lot of individual stars this year but it's a somewhere between disappointing an enraging that Shawn Hunwick didn't get even a single vote for All CCHA. Spath has numbers:

Hunwick went 14-6-1 in 21 CCHA games - the coaches are only supposed to consider conference statistics - ranking second in winning percentage (.690) to Notre Dame's Mike Johnson … Hunwick also ranked second in save percentage (.931) and second in goals against average (1.95). He was the lone netminder in the CCHA to rank in the top two in winning percentage, save percentage and goals against. …

Nagle went 12-12-4 for the Bulldogs, ranking seventh in winning percentage (.500) while his .920 save percentage also ranked seventh among conference netminders and his 2.11 goals against average left him fifth. Greenham …. ranked sixth in save percentage (.921) and seventh in goals against average (2.19).

And Hunwick has the CCHA's most entertaining twitter feed. Watch him talk smack to Steve Kampfer:

@SteveKampfer47 If I was in the NHL and playing in boston, I wouldn't be still flying girls in from Ann Arbor. #boom

.010 in save percentage + twitter should be a slam dunk for All CCHA, especially since the team that, you know, won the league only scored two of 12 players. I guess people are still hung up on the fact that he's just two cells pasted together.

Q: what was the last time Michigan had a goalie as good as Hunwick was this year? If you go by the stats, Billy Sauer's junior year is the recent best by a Michigan goalie. (The online database appears to start midway through the Tuco years.) He put up a .924  before his spectacular Frozen Four meltdown. Hunwick's .920 in 27 games is the next approximately qualifying season—if you want to roll his junior year in to get to 38 games that hardly changes the number—and then it's Montoya, Hogan, Montoya, Turco, and Josh Blackburn's four identical .905s.

If you think Sauer's meltdown poisons his whole year this is Michigan's best goaltending since Al Montoya was a sophomore who gave a crap.

Fab Five preview. Dylan got his hands on a promotional copy of Sunday's Fab Five documentary and provides first thoughts:

The brash exuberance of the Fab Five is not just captured through the clips on the court, which are obviously entertaining. A majority of the interviews do a great job of portraying the same energy. Whether it’s listening to the Fab Five describe their feelings on Duke and Christian Laettner – using words like “Uncle Toms” and “soft bitch” – or one of the many hip hop icons of the time explaining their cultural influence.

This is a no punches pulled documentary even without the presence of Chris Webber:

The range of topics discussed spans just about everything that you would expect to see. There are pictures of Jalen chugging beer out of a 40 and he discusses his drug house incident. There are also other ugly sides, such as shots of all of the racial hate mail from Michigan alumni and the inevitable discussion of the NCAA sanctions.

As I said, prepare to be massively conflicted. Sounds like it will be appointment television: 9PM, Sunday, ESPN.

Back to being an insufferable thing. Now that Jim Harbaugh is just another fish in the sea instead of the Chosen One we can resume thinking of him as kind of an asshat. This won't come as a surprise to anyone who perused the Stanford roster in the aftermath of Harbaugh's comments about Michigan funneling kids into easy classes, but—surprise—Stanford funnels its players into easy classes.

Not news, but this is a quote from the quote gods, one every Cal undergrad will be wearing next year:

"(Stanford) accommodates athletes in the manner that they accommodate students with disabilities."

Etc.: Bruce Ciskie has a good take on the brutal hit Max Pacioretty took from Zdeno Chara a couple days ago. UMHoops previews the BTT.

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2010 Recruiting: Richard Ash

2010 Recruiting: Richard Ash Comment Count

Brian July 12th, 2010 at 1:33 PM

Previously: S Carvin Johnson, S Ray Vinopal, S Marvin Robinson, CB Courtney Avery, CB Terrence Talbott, CB Cullen Christian, CB Demar Dorsey, LB Jake Ryan, LB Davion Rogers, LB Josh Furman, DE Jordan Paskorz, DE Jibreel Black, and DT Terry Talbott.

Pahokee, FL - 6'4" 300

 
richard-ash-pahokee

Scout 4*, #25 DT
Rivals 3*, #52 DT
ESPN 3*, 77, #55 DT
Others NR
Other Suitors WVU, USC(?), Florida(?), Florida State, UCLA, South Carolina
YMRMFSPA The Fat Elvis edition of Brandon Graham, or a less severe Jason Kates
Previously On MGoBlog Commitment post.
Notes Pahokee has sent Martavious Odoms, Vincent Smith, and Brandin Hawthorne to Michigan in the last couple years.
Film

 

For a brief moment, Richard Ash was white-hot. In early July of last year he added a USC offer to go with his Florida, Tennessee, and Florida State ones, establishing himself as one of the top defensive tackle recruits in the country. A couple months later, with those offers seemingly off the table he committed to West Virginia. Two weeks later, Doc Holliday was Marshall coach and Ash was on campus committing to Rich Rodriguez.

Michigan fans will be interested, then, in determining which Ash is the real one. All-conquering fire hydrant that uses centers as shot-put practice, or just another guy who could be second-team All Big East some day? There's a long way from favoring Florida in May to two of three scouting services giving you a ranking of "meh."

The internet's conventional wisdom is that Ash's appearances at various camps, most prominently Florida's, disappointed. "Work ethic issues" are commonly cited. I can't vouch for that opinion from a random South Carolina message board, but that's as good as a narrative as we're going to get until Urban Meyer opens up Jerry Jones-style about a random three/four star recruit. A couple other sources with a bit more credit do have the same story. This appears to be a Q&A session with some Rivals guy replicated on a Florida message board:

No idea where this is from but it looks like a Q&A on some Florida site or another:

I did talk to someone who recently spoke to Ash, and he said Ash’s workout at Florida’s camp might not have been to the coaches’ liking.

I watched Ash at Florida’s camp a couple weeks back and yes, he didn’t look as in shape, but it’s also the summertime and spring football has been over with for a while. He looked a little slow and tired, but displayed a frame that probably builds a lot of muscle fast. Not everyone was in the best shape and that’s to be expected in June. Things change when kids start going to more camps as the month progresses and July comes around. Speaking of July, Ash was supposed to work out at Friday Night Lights, and when I spoke to him last that was the plan. I haven’t heard anything different, but anything could happen between now and late July.

That's followed up with an assertion that Florida's DL coach was "pushing him harder" than other guys in the camp, with his "focus for the afternoon" mostly on Ash and uber-recruit Ronald Powell. After that hard look, Florida decided to move another direction.

Finally, when FlaVarsity.com analyst Michael Langston evaluated Ash for the Wolverine($) he flatly stated that Ash "started the season off way too big" because he didn't "take care of his body in the offseason." His fluctuating weight provides supporting evidence. At the time of the Trojan offer he was listed at 263 and was being recruited as a three-tech:

He runs a 4.85 40 and is known for his combination of speed and strength. The Trojans are recruiting him for the three-technique position and he has been recruited to USC by defensive line coach Jethro Franklin.

(QFJ: Quote for Jethro.) That number was not fictional. It was measured at '>the Nike camp early in his recruitment that put him hunting lists of big time schools. One of the skeptical reports from summer camps noted he wasn't in great shape because he had reached "265-270 pounds." By December he was telling folk he was 290($) and in May he reported to GBW that he was an even 300. Even without the reports that he was out of shape last summer, it's impossible that Ash put on 60 pounds of good weight in a high school program.

So there's your script: very promising prospect from Pahokee who fell off the radar because of too much ham and should spend the next twelve months in a sweat lodge with Barwis communicating with his workout chi.

As to why he's promising, that aforementioned Nike camp had observers all a-flutter. Ironically, the first positive scouting-type mention of him on Rivals notes his frame($):

Chandler and Lemonier were the top defensive linemen along with a very strong performance out of Pahokee (Fla.) High School's Richard Ash. Ash has the body to carry a lot of weight and maintain his athleticism and his aggressiveness and explosiveness was evident on Sunday.

Rivals analyst Barry Every took in the same camp, praising Ash's "great body structure and really long arms," declaring him "easily the best-looking interior lineman physically," and projecting he'd triple his offers by the end of May. Every also projected that he would grow into a DT, although he didn't say this would happen by August.

ESPN makes the chorus complete($):

…a bit of a 'tweener between the tackle and end spot. He could start off in college as a defensive end, but in the long run we think he projects as a defensive tackle or at least as a swing guy like he is now. He has good size and should be able to add more good bulk. He has a good get-off and is a kid capable of getting some quick penetration. He is a physical kid at the point of attack. He does a good job of using his hands to create some separation and he can hold his ground. … We feel he will grow into a defensive tackle and his skills will be better used there, but he offers some versatility also.

Scout's version of that:

Ash is an excellent athlete and has terrific size for a DT prospect. He has a quality first step and gets into the backfield quickly while having the speed to pursue to the edges. Ash needs to continue to develop his technique, particularly his ability to disengage blockers. He should add plenty of size which will help him against the run.

So in three years Ash could be 300 pounds and everyone would be happy with that, especially a nose-deficient Michigan defensive line. Depending on how 3-3-5 Michigan's new 3-3-5 actually is, he could find himself in the lineup anywhere in the front three.

For his part, Ash on his own game:

“I’m quick off the ball. I have a good first step and have great hands. I use them good and have great technique. I like to play quick and fast.

“I want to run better and get faster in the forty. I’d like to be more explosive because that would help me get more sacks.”

The analysts disagree about the technique, with many reports citing his tendency to get high and failure to use his long arms as effectively as he should. Langston suggests($) he needs to gain more upper body strength but has good burst and that Michigan told him that they wanted him as a defensive end because "they told him they needed a pass rusher like him, a guy … with speed around the edge."

!!!

For what it's worth, even after the drop Ash was still a guy worth pursing. In July he was the #27 player in Florida—which would be solidly in the top 250 range nationally—to the Orlando Sentinel. There were a number of BCS teams willing to overlook whatever issues caused the Floridas and USCs of the world to back off. He took officials to UCLA and West Virginia, committing to the latter and aborting a planned Rutgers visit. South Carolina was trying to get him on campus. LSU was in his top two (with USF) as late as mid-October.

Michigan probably won't know what they plan to do with Ash for a year, maybe two, as they figure out what weight they actually want him to play at and what his strengths indicate the best spot for him is. Ideally, he'd end up an angry, lithe 280 and play as the three-tech DT/3-3-5 DE Ryan Van Bergen or Mike Martin could end up as. With the roster in the state that it is and Ash's apparently ability to get up to three bills in both good and bad fashions, he may be drafted to play nose tackle. Whatever he ends up as, there's a lot of work to do to get there.

Etc.: GBMW eval. A couple of pictures from the team featuring Smith and Hawthorne that won its third straight championship in 2008. Random profile.

Why Fat Elvis Brandon Graham or Jason Kates? Graham was a vastly touted high school middle linebacker who claimed he wanted to play LB in college, too then showed up to Michigan at 290 pounds. He burned his redshirt (not that he would have used a fifth year anyway) coming in as a nose tackle on passing downs and spent some of his sophomore year on the interior, looking ponderous, until Barwis came in and shaped him into Michigan's golden calf. Ash briefly had the same sort of hype but added his weight earlier and fell down boards as a result; he may have the same sort of trajectory as Michigan takes the time to turn him into the player that could have gone anywhere he wanted in May.

Jason Kates, meanwhile, was a frighteningly large DT prospect who got four stars from Scout… and two from Rivals, which explicitly expected him to wash out of football because he could not get his weight under control. Rivals won. Ash is 50 pounds lighter than Kates entering college and doesn't have that same sort of explicit risk, but the sort of thing where he's always a "yes, but what if he wasn't carrying around a small child too" is possible.

Which will it be? Well, Langston said the reason he switched to Michigan is that "he feels the best chance" of getting to an impact level is with this staff. Kates, on the other hand, was a last-second add, not a hotly pursued prospect.

Guru Reliability: Only moderate. Boom/bust sort of player, one that the sites may have fairly ranked despite his high upside.
General Excitement Level: Moderate. On the one hand, Ash's physical potential combined with Barwis's wolf run ("You are covered in pork fat, some of it applied by us. Run away from the wolves.") could yield a crushing destroyer of a defensive lineman. On the other hand, Jason Kates.
Projection: Probably a redshirt as Barwis will have to mold this clay into something less clay-like. Bad sign for this year if he sees the field but possibly good for Ash long term. Redshirt sophomore year earliest projected effectiveness. From there will either go HAM or just ham.

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2010 Recruiting Class: 1,000 Foot Overview, Defense

2010 Recruiting Class: 1,000 Foot Overview, Defense Comment Count

Brian February 17th, 2010 at 12:20 PM

I'll be embarking on a project similar to last year's recruit profiles in the near future, but that effort will last into the summer—the final profile last year (Tate Forcier) didn't go up until June 25th—and some words about how Michigan did will be far less timely then.

The other side of the ball was examined last week.

Defensive End

The Gentlemen Of Leisure

jibreel black We'll throw quick end in here, too, and why not? Seemingly half the defensive recruits in the class said they were recruited to play the spot. Michigan has plenty of needs elsewhere so this intrepid reporter is going to put Jordan Paskorz, and only Jordan Paskorz, here. Antonio Kinard and Davion Rogers will be filed as linebackers; Ken Wilkins is already pushing 250 and will be filed as a strongside defensive end.

On Paskorz: he is a generic three star to the world, a guy who gets 5.6 on the Rivals scale—5.7 is a high three star, 5.6 a middling one—and had offers that reflected that. Michigan's main competitors were Pitt and Virginia. He won't have to play much until he's a redshirt sophomore—that's when when Craig Roh backup Brandon Herron graduates—and we're unlikely to see him until then.

The strongside guys have a bit more to recommend them. Jibreel Black (right)and Ken Wilkins are 4/3 star tweeners (e.g., one of Scout or Rivals has them at four, the other at three). Wilkins hails from the same high school that Ohio State recruit Andrew Sweat and Penn State recruit Mike Yancich attended, and his coach believes he's more athletic than either:

"He is an unbelievable physical talent," Dalton said. "And he is only going to get better. I have had some great players here, but nothing like Ken physically. I am not saying he is going to be better than Yancich and Sweat, but he is the most physically talented player I've had."

Black, meanwhile, was a guy Michigan was hot after all year but could never get on campus until late January. By then he'd already committed to Indiana (where his brother had an excellent season) and Cincinnati (which is approximately three minutes from home). He's got the same body type as Brandon Graham, albeit without most of his hype. The insider-type folk say, and Michigan's dogged pursuit implies, that whatever the guru folk thought Michigan wanted Black badly.

Preposterously Early Letter Grade

B+. They got about the right number of bodies to fill out two thin spots on defense and I like the long term potential of both strongside guys. A blue-chip would have been nice.

Impact This Year?

Hopefully little, but given the depth chart at SDE it seems like either Black or Wilkins will have to burn a redshirt as a backup unless Anthony LaLota got a lot bigger during his redshirt year.

Defensive Tackle

The Gentlemen Of Leisure

Michigan missed out on a true nose when Jonathan Hankins picked Ohio State. They did grab two promising three-tech recruits in Terry Talbott and Pahokee's Richard Ash. Both have size issues: Talbott is currently around 240 and is a guy some observers thought would end up at defensive end. According to Rod Smith, Ash is now over 300 pounds; given his recruitment that seems more like a problem to be fixed than a solution to Michigan's nose tackle issue. Teams backed away from Ash when he showed up to Florida's camp overweight.

On the other hand, both have talent. Talbott almost defected to North Carolina late; when Tim went down to catch a Wayne game this fall he was a wrecking ball in the backfield. He's an excellent, disruptive fit for the penetrating defensive tackle spot he's slated for. The teams backing away from Ash after his weight issues, meanwhile, were USC and Florida. Ash has upside for Barwis to extract, and he's got a host of Pahokee folk up here to help him adjust. If he puts in the work, Michigan will have a guy who could play for Florida's defensive line.

Preposterously Early Letter Grade

B-. No nose tackle is a downer. Michigan will have one guy there next year if Mike Martin moves unless Ash can actually handle that weight. Outside of that, though, both recruits seem like they might be underrated.

Impact This Year?

Assuming the RVB move, Michigan will have a veteran two-deep at defensive tackle but Talbott and Ash will be next in line after that. If there's an injury, one or both might be pressed to play. I imagine Michigan will try to redshirt both; they might not be able to.

Linebacker

The Gentlemen Of Leisure

davion-rogersDavion Rogers needs to eat a sandwich 

A late flurry of offers and a little snake oil turned this position group from a gaping sore into… well, a considerably less gaping sore. Late additions Davion Rogers and Jake Ryan are just three star sorts, but given Michigan's situation before they hopped aboard they're welcome. Rogers is a 6'6" birdman of a linebacker/DE prospect who everyone, including me, will compare to Shawn Crable. Michigan pirated him away from WVU once Doc Holliday left. Early in his career he'll probably play the weakside linebacker spot occupied by Jonas Mouton currently; if he puts on enough weight we'll see him at quick.

Ryan popped up late after an Omameh-like senior year where he grew two inches and twenty pounds and outplayed Ohio State commit, teammate, and fellow linebacker Scott McVey en route to a state championship. McVey was playing with a busted shoulder, FWIW, but Ryan is a heady kid who actually played linebacker in high school—a rarity for Michigan of late—and is at least a reasonable prospect to start in a year or two.

A couple players may end up at spinner, the strongside linebacker/safety position last occupied by Stevie Brown, but for right now the only guy in the class this blog places at the spot is uber-athlete Josh Furman, AKA Dhani Jones 2.0. Furman was a ridiculously productive safety and tailback in high school who hit camps and dropped electronically timed 4.3 40s. Scout thinks he's awesome; Rivals again goes "meh." He's clearly got a ton of upside.

Antonio Kinard got a super-early offer and committed to it, but did little during his senior season to assuage concerns he was an iffy bet. He, too, might end up at quick but will be filed a linebacker for the moment.

Preposterously Early Letter Grade

C-. The late pickups salvaged this grade but the emphasis is on "salvage." The only inside linebacker Michigan picked up in the last class was Isaiah Bell and the guys in the class before that are gone (Witherspoon and Hill), seemingly locked into special teams forever (Demens), and JB Fitzgerald. Michigan needed numbers here, and they ended up with numbers, but they also needed a blue chip or two and they did not get one. Furman is a recruit you can get excited about, but that's 1/4.

Impact This Year?

Redshirts for everyone, in all likelihood, except possibly Furman. Even Furman will have to beat out two guys with almost two years of experience in fall camp if he's going to win a job.

Cornerback

The Gentlemen Of Leisure

Michigan will bolster its roster with four cornerbacks this fall. They come in two flavors. Flavor one consists of short three-stars from Ohio. They are Courtney Avery and Terrance Talbott. Avery was a prolific, tiny high school quarterback who only moonlighted on defense. He made first team All-Ohio and chose Michigan over a Stanford decommit not because of grades but because he wanted to stay closer to home. Talbott is the other Talbott's brother and struggled through injuries most of his senior year but has received positive reviews from local observers. There's some reason for optimism on both.

cullen-christian

Cullen Christian needs no ball security

Flavor two consists of blue-chips anyone and everyone wanted who held preposterously long press conferences. Cullen Christian is the #3 corner to Scout and in the Rivals 100; he picked Michigan over Ohio State and many others after a long period of favoring Michigan. 6'1" and physical, Christian's YMRMFSPA is a holy lock to be Marlin Jackson. Demar Dorsey you may have heard about. He picked Michigan over Florida State and USC after being a Florida commit for over a year. He's the #12 player overall to ESPN and a four-star to the other sites.

Preposterously Early Letter Grade

A. Four players, two of them blue-chips, at a position of crying need.

Impact This Year?

One of these kids is guaranteed to play unless JT Floyd takes a huge leap forward. A second is likely to find his way into a nickel package. If one of them is really good right away, you could see him start immediately and Troy Woolfolk move to safety. Michigan will probably redshirt one; the other three will have to play.

Safety

The Gentlemen Of Leisure

marvin-robinson-seeexy We'll put Marvin Robinson (OMG HALFSHIRT) here because he's likely to play the box safety* we've been discussing extensively. Robinson is the defense's Ricardo Miller, a hyped-to-the-moon Florida prospect who seemed likely to be a five-star (or thereabouts) only to experience a precipitous drop in ranking. Robinson's drop came after a few camps he participated in. In the aftermath, Rivals gurus trashed his coverage ability and said he was a linebacker and nothing else. He still held on to a fourth star, though, and fielded offers from Ohio State and several other power programs before going with the Michigan program that had led for him seemingly forever.

The class rounds out with two sleeper-type prospects. I'm considerably more bullish on Carvin Johnson, who apparently avoided the combine circuit entirely this summer, was the best player on his team, and prompted an unsolicited email of praise from local coach (not his) when this site's initial take on him was "meh." He also won the MVP award in a state championship game his team lost by a billion points. Late LSU interest was not reciprocated.

Ray Vinopal is the kind of recruit that everyone on the internet hates on, prompting articles in which he declares a desire to prove everyone wrong and press conferences where Rich Rodriguez justifies signing the guy. The internet is not necessarily wrong, though. At the time of his commitment Vinopal was a who-dat with no recruiting profile despite his presence in Ohio power Cardinal Mooney's secondary. He apparently picked up a couple of good offers late (Wisconsin was the biggest) but the heuristics indicate a marginal contributor.

*(MGoBlog is officially adopting "box" and "deep" as its chosen lingo for Michigan safeties in what appears to be a permanent 4-4 front similar to that Virginia Tech runs. The way Michigan aligns apparently does make the deep guy the "strong" safety but since that goes against the popular conception of free and strong, it's confusing.)

Preposterously Early Letter Grade

B-. One blue chip is nice and Carvin Johnson seems like the good kind of sleeper. Would have liked a true deep safety with more than two stars, but one of the cornerbacks could move back once the

Impact This Year?

If Robinson had managed to enroll early, as planned, we'd be anxiously observing him in the hopes he could lock down that box safety spot in spring. Things did not go to plan and we'll be anxiously waiting on his arrival instead. Even so, Robinson's main competition at the position he's slated for consists of a walk-on and a converted wide receiver. I don't think he'll start right away but Michigan isn't going to be able to redshirt him and he may find his way into the lineup by midseason.

Johnson and Vinopal are likely redshirts.

Punter

The Gentlemen Of Leisure

With Zoltan the Inconceivable exiting to a long and lucrative NFL career, Michigan needed a replacement. They took a pass on in-state punter and reputed Michigan fan Mike Sadler, who ended up at State, to chase WI P Will Hagerup, who had offers from all over the country and was the highest-rated punter at Rivals. (He's the #4 K but the specialists in front of him are all placekickers.) After a few visits, Hagerup picked Michigan and its wide open job over Wisconsin, Ohio State, and others.

Preposterously Early Letter Grade

A. Hagerup is either the country's top punter or in the top three to all ranking services.

Impact This Year?

Unless Michigan's offense is so awesome it never punts, Hagerup will be deployed this fall.

All Things Collected And Told

Numbers. That's the most important thing this class brings. Even if there are twice as many sleeper types as you'd like to see in an average Michigan class, getting two guys for every spot on the defense minus a few here and there puts Michigan in a position where the first guy off the bench when a starter gets dinged isn't a walk-on. He'll be a freshman, probably. But you can't recruit juniors.

And it's not all sleeper sorts. Michigan picked up two touted corners with blue chip offers, grabbed a linebacker from Virginia Tech, locked down Marvin Robinson's abs, and grabbed a collection of defensive linemen with considerable upside. It's a below average class, but it's not that far off. And given the context, it's fairly good.

A preposterously early letter grade: B+. For the class as a whole: B.

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