Derrick Green is a large man.
As per the title. This year's batch of impressions is pretty interesting. As always, organized by topic and translated from the twitterese. Standard disclaimer: this is one practice that's not even in pads, so a lot of position groups are basically impossible to evaluate. In particular I'd take the OL stuff with a grain of salt.
Dienhart has a full article on the experience; it doesn't appear that Howard Griffith was there this year, and he gave an interesting glimpse into the depth chart:
Here is who was running with the “ones” on defense today: Line, Tom Strobel; Chris Wormley (who is a specimen); Quinton Washington; Frank Clark. Linebackers, Joe Bolden; James Ross; Secondary, Blake Countess; Thomas Gordon; Jarrod Wilson; Courtney Avery; Raymon Taylor.
So 1), that's a nickel package, 2) Dymonte Thomas wasn't at the top of the depth chart, 3) Strobel and Wormley were your Day X starters at SDE and three-tech, respectively, and 4) Bolden was ahead of Morgan. That's so many changes from expectation that I'm betting that rotation is more experiment than depth chart indicator.
Even so you do get an indicator of who is not being challenged for a starting spot at present: Clark, Washington, Ross, the safeties, and Countess. Anyway, more things:
Devin Gardner looked great - in total command of the offense. He needs to stay healthy more than any player in B1G - Morris struggled a bit. Morris has a live arm and runs well too - just seemed a step behind - late on a number of throws. Will be very, very good in time. –Dave Revsine [part 2]
As mentioned in Morris's recruiting profile, early struggles are expected.
Al Borges told me Devin Gardner loves to study film more than Denard Robinson did. Borges says Gardner is more athletic than Jason Campbell. –Dienhart
Was Denard a noted film guy? I don't recall that being part of the things people said about him except when he was being compared to Tate. The Campbell thing is obvious. Campbell could move around a little bit but was almost strictly a pocket passer. Rushing yards by year at Auburn: 72, 206, 1, 30.
Derrick Green was dressed but not taking reps, FWIW.
Borges also said he needs a "war daddy" at RB, given that the run game now features the TB rather than QB. Not clear he has one yet. –Revsine
Fitz Toussaint showed no effects from his injury. Great burst through the line. –Revsine
Wyatt Shallman also got a lot of carries as a TB. Unclear if that's because Green wasn't involved in the reps. –Revsine
Heyward got huge in the NFL—like, may have pushed 300 pounds—but in college he was 240-260 and quite good at running: 1800 yards and a Heisman finalists from Pitt as a junior and a departure to the first round of the NFL draft.
Darboh impressed in a major way.
Da'Mario Jones had a nice one-handed catch as well. Lots of good young WR talent. Darboh has taken a particularly large leap. –Revsine
WR Amara Darboh looks primed for a breakout. Big, fast and physical –Dienhart
Funchess is fantastic - serious match-up issue. They will use him well. –Revsine
Q: Who do you think will be the number one receiver for Gardner?
A: Gallon - but Darboh & Funchess right there. –Revsine
As mentioned, a grain of salt here. There were no warning flags from this visit last year.
Little bit of a battle going on at C. Always give the caveat of it was just 1 practice on 1 day - but Glasgow delivered first snap. –Revsine
I asked Brady Hoke about interior of o-line; he told me all spots are still open. Lots of bodies. I have to think Kalis will get one spot. –Dienhart
Lewan is a very clear leader. Most of his leadership 2day was keeping young guys focused and loose. I observed a good exhange with DeVeon Smith –Revsine
Q: Does the interior of the OL look more athletic? Will the Gs be able to pull efficiently? [ed: almost certainly an mgoreader, right?]
A: Yes - OL looked good. –Revsine
Taylor Lewan is really fun to be around - one of my favorite B1G interviews. He said Frank Clark reminds him of Clowney. As in Jadeveon. –Revsine
Fun to see Brady interact with DL (for me - not necessarily for DL) - really worked Ondre Pipkins hard. Clear they are counting on him. –Revsine
Q: Frank Clark warrant the off season hype?
A: Hard to say - they weren't in full pads. Teammates were raving, though. –Revsine
If there is a more impressive true freshman DE in the nation than Taco Charlton, I want to see him. Can't wait to see him in a year. –Dienhart
Chris Kiffin, the brother of Lane and Ole Miss defensive line coach/booster payment organizer, upheld the family honor by responding to this tweet with "Lol."
Nothing of note. Linebacker is another spot where no-pads means evaluation is hard, if not impossible. Bolden nominally running with the ones is interesting, but unless he's made a lot of progress at hitting people I don't think he's going to displace Morgan. Spell him for a few drives a game, sure. Start, no.
Mattison mentioned that Thomas Gordon has really emerged as a leader in the absence of Kovacs. –Revsine
Defensive team can really run. I would say the validity of recruiting rankings was alive and well in AA today. –DiNardo
One of the most interesting things about the Chicago panel with myself, Sam Webb, and DiNardo was how DiNardo dismissed the usual coachspeak muttering about recruiting rankings. Instead he emphasized their importance and how the Big Ten's lag in that department was reflected on the field.
I love this coaching staff. There is a ton of teaching that goes on at their practices - giving constructive feedback after nearly ever rep. –Revsine
Assistant coaches do as good a job as anyone teaching technique. No music constantly playing helps staff teach. –DiNardo
Once again got to watch one the the best D Line drills in college football. –DiNardo
I don't think he's referring to this one, but he might be?
Greg Mattison is really pleased with his defensive depth. Said there are several positions where he feels good going three deep. –Revsine
Um… WDE, SDE, CB(ish), maybe if you look at ILBs jointly.
Much like Ohio State, many of Michigan's freshmen look physically ready to play right now. Taco Charlton would be Exhibit A. Other true freshmen that stood out - De'Veon Smith, Dymonte Thomas, and Jourdan Lewis. Thomas had a nice diving pick, Lewis good PBU in the endzone. –Revsine. [Part 2]
I asked Hoke after practice which true freshmen who weren’t here in the spring who could impact. He mentioned Delano Hill and Jourdan Lewis in the secondary; Patrick Kugler on the o-line; Maurice Hurst on the d-line; Mike McCray at linebacker, among others. –Dienhart.
A little surprised it wasn't all-lifting, all-running Ben Gedeon that got a mention there instead of McCray. Also, Hurst is a bit of a surprise given how his weight has fluctuated (at least on paper): if he's really 270 instead of 302 I find it hard to believe he's going to push through to see playing time.
Q: The way UM/OSU have recruited, are you seeing a separation in talent?
A: Need to see everyone - but trending that way. –Revsine