Allen Gant To SAM: What It Means

Submitted by Brian on June 12th, 2013 at 1:55 PM

Allen Gant[1]cam-gordon-osu2_thumb[1]

Gant == Cam Gordon

In news without explosions, Sam Webb reported yesterday($) that Allen Gant is moving down from safety to SAM in a shift reminiscent of Cam Gordon's, albeit without a bunch of painfully long touchdowns preceding it.

Gant [recruiting profile] was an early commit in the 2012 class who never really turned into the touted recruit he was supposed to be; at 6'2", 203 he'll have to add 20-30 pounds before he's a plausible option there. As a redshirt freshman behind two or three guys, he'll have time to do so. Meanwhile, allow me to congratulate myself at this juncture, as Gant's profile compared him to none other than Cam Gordon:

Gordon's listed at 6'3", 222 on the current roster after a few years on campus, which is where Gant will end up, give or take an inch and five pounds. Gordon came in as a WR, ended up moving to free safety in an ill-fated 3-3-5, and then slid all the way down to spur halfway through the 2010 season; he now mans an analogous position for Greg Mattison at SAM.

As a 3/4-star tweener Gordon was a little bit better regarded than Gant, and he's a little bigger. Both are thick guys who don't seem to have the speed to play WR or S despite being ticketed for those slots and might eventually find themselves somewhere else after a period of positional vagabondage.

SAM makes sense if Gant's natural inclination is to bulk up to 230, as Webb was told. It also suggests that Gant just wasn't much of a safety, as now the position verges on alarmingly thin. Next year's depth chart:

  1. Jarrod Wilson/Dymonte Thomas
  2. Jeremy Clark/Delano Hill
  3. Josh Furman/air

And that's if Furman returns for a fifth year and Thomas doesn't get himself locked into the nickelback spot long term, which I kind of hope he will since nickelback is capital-I Important these days. It looks like Michigan will be relying on three of four plausible options to log significant playing time, and while I'm pretty high on Thomas and Hill that's not many bullets for 2.5 starting spots.

Other roster upshots:

  • Mike McCray may not be SAM-sized after all. If McCray is projected to play SAM Michigan is fine with Gordon/Ryan/Beyer/McCray and Winovich on the way. The Gant move suggests McCray will compete at the ILB spots, as does Michigan's continued pursuit of guys like Noah Furbush, who is 6'4", 240 and a SAM/WDE all the way.
  • Michigan will take at least three DBs and possibly four in this class with a pure safety a priority. I know this is not what the insiders are saying at the moment (two or three, they assert), but I expect they will change their tune once the coaches get a good long look at the secondary depth chart and get a feel for how much they like Thomas at nickel. They've already backed off their assertions this would be a 16-man class; once a natural amount of attrition brings that number up between 18-20, safety is going to look like a—probably the—major area of need. None of the four incoming corner recruits looks particularly like a safety to me, as they are small or lanky.
  • Hello certain recruits. Hopefully when PA S Montae Nicholson ramps up his recruitment there is strong mutual interest. Nicholson is reputedly a bit concerned about the number of DBs Michigan has brought in recently, but for a pure safety prospect like Nicholson there is plenty of opportunity. Also, a guy like IL CB Parrker Westphal, who some are speculating may wait himself out of the class, is going to find a door left open for him for a long time. He has the flexibility to go boundary/nickel/SS, either freeing up Thomas to move back or just plain being an athletic safety; a guy like him is just what the doctor ordered.



June 12th, 2013 at 2:25 PM ^

Safety has been a talent wasteland at UM for the last 10-15 years so I'd love to see a talented duo like Dymonte and Wilson manning the safety spots for a couple years. Peppers can handle the nickel spot for a year before sliding over to one of the starting CB spots.


June 12th, 2013 at 2:46 PM ^

I honestly wonder if Michigan is any worse off than any other school here; it's Michigan FFS and I think safety is an underrated position.

Safety's always a tough position to fill IMHO because it's so demanding.  The CW is that the middle linebacker is the "QB of the defense" but I've generally considered the MLB to be overrated in that respect because so much of it is instinct.  Note I'm not saying it's easy; just that the responsibilities are misunderstood.  Also, if the MLB makes a mistake it's a first down; if the last line of defense makes a mistake it's a TD.  If a college defense uses a raw safety they will get scored on, and in bunches.  DCs don't like that.

My point is that college safeties are kind of like NFL centers in that the position is so cerebral you're willing to concede the physical aspect rather than put in a freak athlete that just isn't ready.  All the talent in the world isn't going to mean anything if you're out of position at safety.  Yeah, I'm a huge Kovacs fan, and I think he just might see an NFL field as a Dolphin because a lot of the guys ahead of him don't have his knack for being around the ball.

I never really expect a freak athlete at safety; I usually expect upperclassmen that aren't necessarily talented so much as they've worked within the scheme for 3+ seasons.  If you have a CB with the talent to stay with a wideout you typically keep that player at CB, anyway.


June 14th, 2013 at 4:59 PM ^

Marlin Jackson begs to differ with the "talent wasteland" comment.

From wikipedia:

Jackson attended the University of Michigan, where he played for coach Lloyd Carr's Michigan Wolverines football team from 2001 to 2004. As senior team captain in 2004, he was a first-team All-Big Ten selection, and a consensus first-team All-American, having received first-team honors from the Associated Press, American Football Coaches Association, Football Writers Association of American, The Sporting News, and ESPN.


June 12th, 2013 at 3:01 PM ^

I, for one, would not be against moving Peppers to safety. I think he has the talent, size, and athleticism to be an absolute monster at safety. Of course, he could also be a monster at corner, so it's really on Thomas to prove that he's going to be good enough at safety to leave Peppers at corner.


June 12th, 2013 at 5:21 PM ^

I must admit that I would be a little disappointed if Peppers moved the safety. He certainly has the talent to be a great safety, and having an Eric Berry is never a bad thing. Not being stacked there may force a move of Peppers to safety, but, man, having an elite corner is one of those things that takes a D from very good to elite in my opinion. Especially with his size, if could press and ham pretty much any receiver out there.


June 13th, 2013 at 5:59 AM ^

Personally, I think it's the opposite - having an elite safety can make a defense so much more dynamic. Having a guy like Polomalu, Reed, or Berry can have a larger impact on the game as they're more likely to have an impact on every play than a corner is. I do think, however, that it's not necessarily a great thing to need to move him there, but if guys like Stribling, Lewis, Dawson, and Douglas turn out to be good corners at the college level, I would drool over a safety tandem of Thomas and Peppers. Especially if somehow we were to snag Jackson, since he could be a phenomenal corner with his athleticism.


June 13th, 2013 at 7:58 AM ^

It depends what kind of defense you are running. Michigan ran a lot of cover 1 in 1997 but it was really a cover 2 with the safety to Woodson's side coming up against the run cause he wasn't needed. These days teams with an awesome safety run quarters and have that guy start low to take away the run and cover a deep quarter as well. Woodson could tackle well but to be an Eric Berry/Ed Reed kind of guy means having Kovacsian tackling ability. Those guys can cover really really well, but not to the elite degree Woodson could in his 20s. Either way you are adding an 8th run defender while trusting your star guy to not ever get burned deep. Really it's about whether your star is better at coverage (Woodson) or tackling.


June 12th, 2013 at 2:39 PM ^

Wow! I guess I didn't realize the Safety position was that thin. It looks like there will be alot of baptism by fire.

EDIT: Thought that was 2013's depth chart then realized it was referring to 2014. I guess some of those guys won't be as inexperienced then.

Space Coyote

June 12th, 2013 at 2:40 PM ^

I would like to see them move Dennis Norfleet to safety, but not really move him to safety, just tell people they're moving him to safety, just to see Brian's head explode. Ahh, good times that would be.


June 12th, 2013 at 2:46 PM ^

Damnit. Can we just have some damn depth? How does this happen with so many damn DBs we've taken? Well, to be honest, Gant always looked like one of those 'you're not a college safety' types.


June 12th, 2013 at 3:29 PM ^

Failed corners often turn into safeties. The coaches are basically giving everyone a shot at corner before filtering some to safety. Delano Hill's not going to stick at corner, and I think both Channing Stribling and Reon Dawson could end up at safety down the road. That's potentially three safeties in the 2013 class, plus whoever Michigan gets in the 2014 class (Montae Nicholson?).

Painter Smurf

June 12th, 2013 at 5:33 PM ^

Agreed.  Think this is much ado about nothing.  Not all of these big CB's will stick at the position.  The ones who don't will get moved to safety.

Also think there is a decent chance that one of the three WR's in the 2013 class will be at safety for 2014 spring practice.  Don't see all three of them being major contributors at WR.


June 12th, 2013 at 2:47 PM ^

This makes it sound like he's been a complete bust at UM, which is kind of a ridiculous thing to say about a kid who didn't even arrive on campus until 2012. He's a freaking redshirt freshman, for cripe's sake. How 'bout you wait until he's at least a junior before you pronounce "who never really turned into the touted recruit he was supposed to be;"


June 12th, 2013 at 3:31 PM ^

Holy s***. I don't know who thought that, but he was never going to be a 5-star kid. Maybe a 4-star, but even that was a stretch. Honestly, I never really saw why people got hyped about him in the first place. To me he settled in right where he belonged as a 3-star.


June 12th, 2013 at 4:20 PM ^

There was some early hype (not as a senior, but as an underclassman), kind of like with Marvin Robinson. That faded with time, but even when he was young and seemingly advanced, I couldn't see why people were so high on him. By all accounts, he's a hard worker and a good kid, but he's limited athletically.


June 12th, 2013 at 4:22 PM ^

You're still missing it. Brian isn't saying Gant was a big recruit who didn't live up to that as a player. He's saying that Gant didn't end up being as big of a recruit as people thought he would.

Just because you dont recall his buzz doesn't mean it wasn't there. When Gant was a junior, many thought he'd be one of the top players in Ohio and he'd be a huge UM/OSU battle for his services. He had the Marvin Robinson syndrome where he was really big and fast early, and a lot of other kids caught up.


June 12th, 2013 at 5:07 PM ^

I vividly remember reading that as a freshman or sophomore, everyone thought he could be the top player in Ohio in his class. As everyone else grew up though, it seemed to be that he just grew early and as guys caught up to him physically, he slid down the OMG scale


June 13th, 2013 at 8:18 AM ^

Wormley actually is the guy who shot past him as juniors. There are guys every year like this: an early growth spurt kid who people look at and say "that guy could really be something if he keeps growing." Then he doesn't keep growing. M-Rob was similar: he was the top-rated soph in Florida at one point I believe. But he didn't have the speed to be a superstar safety. Michigan was hoping he would grow into an awesome Spur. He didn't, so that was that. With Gant, if he is growing out if safety, that's a good thing for him, if not the safety depth. When they moved Isaiah Bell to LB it was because Bell ate himself out of his best projected position. When they moved Brandin Hawthorne to WLB it was because he lacked the athleticism to compete at safety but neither did they think he could regularly take on blockers. A move to SAM is kind of like Spur--but in this defense it means lots of attacking. Gant's profile was of a slower safety who is an excellent technician at tackling, and a real program guy who will work his ass off. SAM just says what we all knew about his athleticism while leaving it wide open for him to become an edge-setting guy who can cover any tight end. If the opponent goes 3-wide it'll be the nickel in there for him anyway.

I am fine with this move. The coaches are bringing in a lot of rangy safeties of the kind who don't become linebackers. Whatever caused Stevie Brown and Ryan Mundy not to succeed here, that probably left with Ron English and Tony Gibson. I understand the paranoia because so many safeties and a hating god, but rationally there doesn't seem to be a reason the guys we have and the guys we are recruiting won't be okay by next year.


June 12th, 2013 at 4:30 PM ^

Michigan, Ball State, BC, Bowling Green, Cincy, Miami (OH), Stanford, Toledo, Kentucky, Illinois, and WVU.

Getting offers from UM and Stanford is nothing to sneeze at, but the list in total does not scream a player who's going to get "hype," unless we're defining that term down to nice words said by UM fans about the son of a player from Bo's era.


June 12th, 2013 at 4:46 PM ^

Jeez, Don, you're really trying to fight this. The hype was certainly there, and came before the offers did, which is why Brian is saying he didn't live up to the hype because the offer list never matched what everyone expected it to.

Gant had a lot of hype as a youngster because his dad was an ex-star, he was big early and he led his team to a stat title as an underclassman, where he was the star. He was also a track star. Any kid with that resume would have big early hype, but by the end of high school, he hasn't progressed to where many thought he'd be. This is not made up, Don.


June 12th, 2013 at 5:56 PM ^

Gant had always been an Ohio State lean.  Schools knew (and he made it known) that he was going to either OSU or Michigan. Schools backed off ... but stated that if he changed his mind, there was a scholarship waiting. Other schools had offered including LSU and Nebraska (that I can confirm).  Once Urban became Coach, he called Toledo wanting both Wormley and Gant.


June 12th, 2013 at 5:26 PM ^

Gant never stopped developing ... Gant's HS Coach did not play him much during his Jr & Sr years.  You may verify this by watching his film or by asking opposing Coaches ... as I have done both.  I have assisted a friend in Ohio who runs a football publication for many years. I have scouted Ohio kids for many years. I've seen Gant's "body of work" for 4 years.  He is a winner and a big play specialist ... both football and basketball.  Getting back to his HS Coach ... he believed that Gant had "developed & arrived" and therefore limited his time on the playing field.  Both offensively and defensively.  He wanted other kids to "develop and arrive" also. Gant's perceived "lack of development" was due to lack of playing time and not due to lack of progressing or developing.  When it is all said and done ... Gant will be a tremondous player for the Wolverines. 


June 12th, 2013 at 3:26 PM ^

What point are you making? That because the Jets picked him late in the draft as a guard that he was actually a 5-star defensive tackle in college? I've got nothing but love for BWC, but he was ranked as the 20-something best player in his class as a recruit, and it's very safe to say he didn't live up to that at any point in college.


June 12th, 2013 at 3:33 PM ^

He did have that one sack against Alabama last year and then, you know, none after that. So...yeah. Not exactly a stud. He could have used a redshirt and some better coaching for his first couple years on campus, but there's nothing anyone can do about that now.