The Lewan Effect

Submitted by Brian on January 10th, 2013 at 3:52 PM


hey this can probably work

I had assumed Lewan's departure was so much of a foregone conclusion that I didn't even bother to hang around the computer last night when he announced and only found out once I flipped on the Nebraska game. Derpity-doo.

In any case, I don't have to tell you how huge his return is for Michigan next year. Without him, Michigan was replacing four starters on the OL with at least two freshmen. With him, they return two solid-to-All-American tackles and only have to find three new guys.

In addition, Lewan's return gives Michigan flexibility. Michael Schofield was a quality player at guard last year and could return there if necessary. That allows Michigan to let Ben Braden and Erik Magnuson compete for starting jobs. Team 134 now has to find three starters out of this group:

CENTERS: Jack Miller, Patrick Kugler
GUARDS: Kyle Kalis, Chris Bryant, Kyle Bosch, Blake Bars, Joey Burzynski
TACKLES: Erik Magnuson, Ben Braden

Even if you dismiss Burzynski as a walk-on—not necessarily wise—that is eight candidates for the three spots, seven of whom will compete in spring. The eighth, Kugler, is the son of Sean Kugler, until recently the Steelers' OL coach and now the head man at UTEP. If ever there is a guy who will be ready to play center as a freshman it'll be him.

Remove Lewan and you not only force Braden* in to the starting lineup ready or not, you likely remove Magnuson from the conversation. Moving guys around is a lot less possible when you've got one guy standing between you and walk-ons at tackle. Then you're trying to get someone out of Bosch/Bars/Burzynski/Bryant. That's doable, but Lewan is not only an All-American coming back but two extra bullets for the holes Michigan has to fill. High five.

The starting line above is four touted recruits and four kids who are entering at least their third year in the program. Behind them they'll have options in case they aren't working out. It's kind of a big deal.


[Note: I'll redo "27 tickets" after Signing Day.]

*[Speculation based on insider buzz has Braden ahead of Magnuson, FWIW. As always take insider buzz lightly.]



January 10th, 2013 at 3:58 PM ^

Synergy! There's always a chance that none of our young guys will be ready, of course... but suddenly I think the chances that the line is better next year than this year (virtually a requirement for Al's offense to work enough to get us to Pasadena either week there's something going on) has increased noticeably. 

Given there are so many new players to give a chance to, I actually think the ability to move Schofield around is bigger than what Lewan physically brings to the left side. The coaches now have the luxury of finding the best combination of five players, rather than locking guys into positions and hoping they work. 


January 10th, 2013 at 4:01 PM ^

About the only player disadvantaged in this entire situation is Schofield, who doesn't get a year to show pro scouts that he can play LT, a position which, as I understand it, he's much better suited for as a relatively nimble guy who isn't the mauler that teams look for at RT.


January 10th, 2013 at 4:29 PM ^

Pro teams have good scouts and will watch all his game film.  His draft stock won't be significantly affected by the side of the line, though his media accolades might be.  Schofield's probably not an elite-enough prospect to be considered an immediate LT anyway.  He'll get a shot in the NFL and get to prove his ability there.

One can also argue he'll get more scouts watching him thanks to being on the same OL as Lewan.

Hardware Sushi

January 10th, 2013 at 4:13 PM ^

I really like the potential of this line and the overall size of projected starters (size according to mgoblue roster). I assume this roster is from the start of the year, so hopefully everyone is 5 pounds or so heavier and can add some strength and bulk this offseason

LT - Lewan, 6-8, 309

LG - Kalis, 6-5, 294 (sounds light, ya?)

C - Miller, 6-4, 288 (eat, my friend)

RG - Bryant, 6-4, 318

RT - Schofield, 6-7, 300

I don't know the chances of moving Schofield back to a guard spot, but Big Ben Braden clocks in at 6-6, 308, so he'd be a big ol' RT. Jack Miller still worries me, a little bit.

Hardware Sushi

January 10th, 2013 at 4:37 PM ^

I'm always confused about the differences between height/weight reported on recruiting websites and what players actually get listed as on

I get that exaggeration is a natural part of recruiting metrics, hence the X fakes out of 5 for 40 times in Hello: posts, but I am confused how guys like Kalis that certainly looked over 300 will show up at 294 while James Ross is listed at 205 by most recruiting sites shows up at 225. Beats me, other than 17, 18 and 19-year olds' bodies change quite a bit getting into a college program.


January 10th, 2013 at 6:52 PM ^

Regarding your Kalis and Ross examples - it's not normal for a guy like James Ross who is underweight to put it on quickly when he really tries to, so him putting on 20 pounds isn't a huge shock. On the other hand, lots of high school guys who are over 300 first need to peel off the bad before the put on the good. Even if Kalis was over 300 (and he may not have been) he may have just lost weight when he got to campus doing his first college S & C training, some of which was outside in July.

Now that Kalis is in shape, I would expect him to pack on the muscle and be over 300 this fall.


January 10th, 2013 at 5:59 PM ^

I agree Kalis will probably clock in just over 300 lbs by the start of the season. There is a good chance that he lost a lot of fat and still ended up gaining muscle mass. I don't say this in a bad way at all. I just think there is more opportunity to loss fat and gain muscle as a huge   lineman in college, than it is to maintain tip top shape in a high school setting. 


January 10th, 2013 at 7:10 PM ^

Millers size should be fine. His 288 was reported at the beginning of the 2012 season, and most of the top NFL Centers are 305 and under. Chris Myers at Houston went to the Pro Bowl two years running at only 290 lbs. Kalis weight should be fine too, if it's 294-ish pounds of the right kind of weight.

Blue boy johnson

January 10th, 2013 at 4:19 PM ^

I am hopeful, after seeing the Borges/Hoke offenses of SDSU, we won't even recognize this offense next season.

We are seeing the effect of Trey Burke's decision to return to AA for another season, 16-0. Hopefully the Lewan return can effect similar results.


Dutch Ferbert

January 10th, 2013 at 4:26 PM ^

“If you play at the University of Michigan, whether it’s basketball, hockey, football, there’s a tradition here and there’s something that you want to be a part of,” Lewan said. “And if I do what I need to do, I’ll be able to play in the NFL for however long, but you only get one more year of college.”…

Also, thank you, Jake Long. Jake Long came back for a disappointing season on the field, but it sounds like he doesn't regret it.


Dutch Ferbert

January 10th, 2013 at 4:21 PM ^

Without injuries, next year's o-line is better than this year's, maybe by a lot.

I miss watching Michigan lines open holes that you could drive semi trucks through. I want MVP awards for the whole O-line like the 1991 Gator Bowl.


January 10th, 2013 at 4:31 PM ^

Brian, I just got done listening to to you talking to Sam and Ira about this on WTKA. Nex time you go one remind them to turn your mic up. I'm at work and I have to turn my speaker up to hear you talk but then when Sam talks it's like 'Whoaa!' Then I have to crank it down. Then up, then down, over and over again.

BTW I agree that Sam's a little too optimistic on Kugler for '13. I think he may very well take over at center while Miller is still around but I don't think it will be next year.

Blue boy johnson

January 10th, 2013 at 4:58 PM ^

2011 Oregon Ducks; 12-2 record; Started a true freshman at center all 14 games: Horniss Grasu 6-3 294.

Jake Fisher a true freshman for Oregon in 2011, played in 13 games as a reserve guard

Come September M is going to have 14 highly rated offensive lineman to fill 5 spots, with two of the 14 being highly accomplished.

Come August of 2013, just about any team in the country would trade their offensive line for M's.


January 10th, 2013 at 4:59 PM ^

of all those guys listed none have taken meaningful snaps (Burzynski excepted, and even he not many).  OL is a position where experience is particularly important.  Being highly touted is nice, but probably not meaningful for going from not having played in college football to becoming a full-time starter.

I think both OG spots will be filled capably, but OC is going to be a problem.  That's the last OL spot you want inexperience at.

Bryant is in his 3rd year in the program, but that's a technicality. He has never played a down and missed a year of practice - he's essentially a RS freshman.

This blog was sure Kalis would play - so sure that it still insists he could have been an upgrade if used, even though he was listed and discussed by coaches as being behind the uninspiring starters AND the guys who couldn't beat them out (Burzynski, Bryant, Miller).  Seems like the same misguided optimism might be taking place with Kugler and Bosch.


January 10th, 2013 at 5:19 PM ^

There's no interior run game if your C gets blown off the ball every snap, so Miller is the key. Kugler will be good in year or two, but would be a liability as a true frosh no matter who his dad is.

I'd also add that the fact that the coaches are looking for another guard when they have some highly touted guys coming in at that position, and two young guys with 3 years of eligibility primed to start infront of them tells me at least one of Bryant or Kalis is not expected to pan out. I don't know which, but if Schofield ends up at guard, whichever of Bryant or Kalis is not on the field in the other guard spot is never going to.


January 10th, 2013 at 5:34 PM ^

The Lewan thing shouldn't affect recruiting because there is no real overlap for a '13 recruit (presumably red-shirting) and a '13 5th-year senior.  The coaches going for 6 or 7 OL after saying they wanted 5 for most of the year has something to do with one of the underclassmen.

However, I wouldn't pinpoint it to Kalis or Bryant - it could just as easily be Miller or Magnuson or Bars or Braden.  It might even be a '13 kid they've had second thoughts about.  Who knows...

Based on the insider hype, I'd say it's doubtful it's Kalis or Braden.


January 10th, 2013 at 6:31 PM ^

Insider hype has been positive on Rawls, but that hasn't panned out. I hope you're right, that Kalis is legit, but I can't shake the feeling that he wasn't redshirted because they wanted to save his eligibility. He obviously wasn't ready to beat out Barnum or Omaheh. Since they were not all that great, that says something. If the hype hadn't been that he was a college ready freshman, I wouldn't be concerned, but it was, and he wasn't.


January 10th, 2013 at 7:54 PM ^

Miller was a redshirt freshman who still had some weight to put on, some more technique to work on and probably some more of the playbook to master.  It's not that he wasn't good, it's that he wasn't ready.  When a RS frosh gets beat out by a 5th year senior (who has 20 pounds on him), that doesn't necessarily say something bad about the frosh, even if the senior isn't a star.  


January 11th, 2013 at 2:23 PM ^

There is no evidence that the problem is readiness as opposed to lack of ability.  The problem here isn't that he wasn't ready to be Big 10 starter it's how FAR from it he was as a second year player. 

Your assumption that this is stricktly a Mealer vs Miller debate is innacurate.  The coaches wanted Barnum at C but he couldn't do the job, so Mealer had to move. That doesn't change the fact that they wanted Mealer at guard (where he likely would have been better.) 

Miller wasn't even the 2nd option at center he was the 3rd, at best. It's not that he got beat, it's that he didn't even compete.  Miller did not even enter in the conversation for starting, which should be the case if your only problem is having a little more weight/technique to gain.

Miller was in his second year and is still behind 2 interior linemen that did not play well and a undersized walk-on.  Miller wasn't that much lighter than Barnum (or Burzynski) both of whom played ahead of him.  If Miller was capable, Mealer could have slid over to guard.

I'm not saying give up on the kid, I'm just saying that considering him a LOCK to start, as Brian has, and viewing him as anything other than potentially a major liability is pure Wishes and Hope.


January 10th, 2013 at 5:05 PM ^

If there is an impact on Derrick Green's recruitment, I'd think it would have a lot more to do with the things it says about a program that a top half of the first round draft pick would come back out of loyalty to his school, his coaches, and his teamates. Find me a guy like Taylor who'd make the same choice for a school like Auburn, Tennessee or Miami (YTM).


January 10th, 2013 at 5:21 PM ^

when Michigan would basically run out of an Ace formation, Mike Hart 7 yards deep with a predictable 41 delayed give to Hart. The line would just zone-grader block left until a hole open up and boom. 4 yards guaranteed.

Lining up against the Kugler+Kalis+Lewan side of the line is going to become very hazardous to your health.


January 10th, 2013 at 5:34 PM ^

The 2013 roster will have more impactful 5th year players than any recent year I can remember.  What a nice luxury.



C. Gordon

T. Gordon





There's also a group of guys who may or may not be around for a fifth: Mike Jones, and the walk-ons Brink, Brookhuisen and Glanda