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Brian January 31st, 2017 at 3:10 PM


McKeon: still a freshman? [Eric Upchurch]

On redshirts. I don't know if this is a recent change or if it has always been this way, but the medical redshirt operating parameters I've been working with are incorrect. I've been under the impression that if you play at all after game #4 you are ineligible. That is in fact not the case:

The injury must occur prior to the start of the second half of the season.

The student-athlete must not have competed in more than 30% of the season or three contests, whichever is greater.

(FWIW, I looked this up in the NCAA's bylaw search engine to confirm. I am an exciting person with many rewarding pastimes.)

The NCAA rounds up if 30% of the season is not an integer, so as long as games played < 5 and latest game played < 7, you are eligible. For Michigan that means guys who played in four or fewer games and did not participate after Rutgers can get a year of eligibility back if there is sufficient medical documentation. I believe Michigan has assembled such documentation.

Classification of freshmen follows.

  • Did not play: Brandon Peters, Kareem Walker, Stephen Spanellis, Ron Johnson, Quinn Nordin.
  • Eligible for hardship year: Kingston Davis, Nick Eubanks, Sean McKeon, Carlo Kemp, Mike Dwumfour, Josh Uche, David Long.
  • Definitely sophomores: Chris Evans, Kekoa Crawford, Eddie McDoom, Nate Johnson, Devin Asiasi, Ben Bredeson, Mike Onwenu, Rashan Gary, Devin Gil, Elysee Mbem-Bosse, Lavert Hill, Khaleke Hudson, Josh Metellus.

If the guys eligible for hardships get them that dials back the Great Halifax Redshirt Fire Of 2016 a great deal. The only burned redshirts that look wasteful in that case are Nate Johnson (who played just three games, but one was Nebraska) and maybe the two linebackers. Everyone else was either an important contributor or clear heir apparent needed in 2017.

We've moved the hardship-eligible folks back to the freshman column on the depth chart by class.

RIP Tirrel Burton. John U Bacon eulogizes:

Today, big time college football coaches are media stars, with thousands of followers on Twitter. They’re rich and famous, whether they should be or not. Even assistant coaches are millionaires. But it wasn’t always that way.

This week in Ann Arbor a few hundred people gathered to remember a college football coach who wasn’t rich or famous. But he’d earned the respect of everyone there.

Returning experience: nope! There was a spate of articles last offseason claiming that Michigan was low on returning experience; these were wrong because they believed the Michigan roster and its lack of announced redshirts. This year, though, I rather believe metrics like Bill Connelly's that declare Michigan to be #127 of 129 D-I teams in returning experience. Losing 9.5 defensive starters*, three OL, and your top three receivers tends to do that.

Other Big Ten teams way down the list: Iowa (#118), Nebraska (#122), and... yep, 3-9 Michigan State (#124). The most alarming aspect of last year's MSU outfit from the perspective of an MSU fan has to be the fact that they were not young at all.

Michigan doesn't play anyone particularly high up the list except Indiana, which just set their program on fire. It is notable that 2017 opponent Air Force—a charter member of the MGoBlog Never Schedule This Team list, thanks Dave—is dead last. Hopefully we don't get the bejeezus scared out of us again.

*[Mo Hurst was a starter in production if not actuality.]

It's been a while. Here's a Big Ten fight song medley from 1929. Chicago is included, and Michigan State is not, like God intended.

NFL scouting for various Michigan players. Many impressed. Jourdan Lewis:

Lewis used light feet, loose hips and excellent acceleration to blanket receivers throughout the practice. Eastern Washington's Cooper Kupp (more on him later) was one of the few receivers to gain even a sliver of space on Lewis Tuesday and though he managed to catch one pass on the Wolverines' star, Lewis was there immediately to eliminate any possible yardage after the grab.

Lewis' agility and acceleration stood out in the afternoon but during the weigh-ins Tuesday morning it was his surprising length that proved a pleasant surprise. Though possessing just "average" height for the position at 5-foot-10 and 188 pounds, Lewis has disproportionately long arms (31 inches), which make him that much better suited to handling the massive receivers he'll face on the outside in the NFL.

Ben Gedeon and Chris Wormley:

Ben Gedeon - Michigan LB - Hard nosed, seems to be going faster than others at the spot / Instinctive / Not a playmaker but could be a strong special teamer 

Chris Wormley - Michigan DL - Huge / great line from a scout 'his calfs are the size of goal posts' / prob a 1st rounder, needs to play mean

Also Wormley:

2. DE -  Chris Wormley, Michigan - An ideal blend of size (6-foot-5½, 297) and speed for an NFL defensive end in a 4-3 system, nobody displayed better and more consistent pass-rushing speed in Mobile this week than Wormley. He's quick off the snap, good at splitting double teams and can get to the quarterback.

Also Gedeon:

8. ILB - Ben Gedeon, Michigan  - Yes, there was a lot of Wolverine representation on the North Defense. Michigan didn't finish No. 1 in the nation in total defense for nothing. Gedeon (6'1 5/8" / 247) was a standout against the run in all three days of practice. He's strong and physical with good instincts. He struggled at times on his pass rush drills, but he may be best suited as a two down inside linebacker who goes to the sidelines in passing situations anyway.

De'Veon Smith:

Smith, who gained 846 yards on 181 carries and scored 10 rushing touchdowns for the Wolverines in 2016, has looked more elusive than he did in Ann Arbor. He also has proven he can catch. Add those traits to his blocking ability and his familiarity with pro-style protections after playing two seasons for Jim Harbaugh, and Smith suddenly looks like a mid-round pick a team can plug in immediately. And if the line in front of him is good enough, Smith could wind up on one of those lists.

Blue chip quarterbacks: many transfer. Dueling takes on the same subject on Signing Day eve from the Sporting News and Sports on Earth. The latter article is a just-the-facts-ma'am take on the recent history of blue-chip QBs:

It would be a mistake to call it an epidemic. Transfers have gone up in college football, and that's especially true at quarterback, where there are only so many starting positions available. The wave of transfers is often treated like a problem, but players switching schools to try to find a better opportunity for themselves is hardly an actual problem. (Coaches do it all the time.) The graduate transfer rule in particular has made transferring easier, as veteran players with degrees in hand can switch teams without sitting out a year.

The massive wave of transfers is undeniably a big story, even if it's overblown as a problem. While a lot of coaches and fan bases will be excited on Wednesday when blue-chip quarterbacks sign to play at their school, there's a good chance that those QBs won't actually finish their careers with the same team or deliver on the hype.

In fact, from 2007-13, more than half of four- and five-star quarterback recruits didn't finish their college career at the school they originally picked, whether it's because they transferred, were dismissed, switched to baseball or gave up playing football. (This does not include players who left early for the NFL Draft.) Likewise, just 44.1 percent of the 145 blue-chip quarterbacks signed from 2007-13 attempted at least 300 career passes for their original team.

The Sporting News article gets a bunch of huffy quotes from Brady Quinn about kids these days:

"It's almost like a generational systematic issue where kids feel entitled and they feel like they should have the opportunity," Quinn said. "They don’t realize that opportunity is earned. It's not given. That's kind of my issue with it. I don't know how you change it unless you change things at the levels below college."

As you might imagine, this caused some eyerolls in MGoSlack. There are two main reasons for the uptick in transfers: the grad transfer rule and the commercialization of the sport.

The first one should be obvious: a redshirt senior who would otherwise be out of luck can now transfer, degree in hand, to another school where he'll get a shot. Shane Morris counts as a departure; ten years ago he would have not been offered a fifth year by Michigan and would be done with college football.

The second is a little more winding, but when you've spent the last 20 years doing literally everything you can to maximize revenue with no other concerns do you really expect platitudes about loyalty to mean much? Recruits are told it's a business now, and, I mean, does it or does it not act exactly like a business? It does. And you'd be dumb to have loyalty to most businesses.

Meanwhile I wonder how many of those Bama transfers even had the option to return this season. One, certainly. Saban no doubt prefers a veteran option if Hurts gets injured. Three? No. The NCAA's overall cap on scholarships encourages movement. It's not a damn millennials thing, and it's certainly not a problem with high schools and parents. Move to a yearly cap with no overall cap and transfers go down immensely because there's no motivation for schools to prune kids who aren't panning out.

To blame the players, who are doing the things the system either tells them to or literally forces them to, is high grade paternalist bullshit. I love the smell of NCAA in the morning.

Harbaugh antics, year 3. I mean:

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh bumped into a familiar face on the recruiting trail in Iowa on Wednesday evening.

This meeting was significantly less painful for Harbaugh than the first.

Harbaugh tweeted a photo of himself and Dan McGivern, the man who he said was driving a mail truck that broke Harbaugh's leg nearly 50 years ago.

Just like wow man.

Etc.: Notre Dame blogs are bringing up Charlie Weis again, so that's fun. A look back at the 2007 Rivals 100, ten years on. Michigan guys do not feature heavily—that was the Mallett/Warren year where after the top two they barely got anyone. Toney Clemons was the only other top 100 guy. This is a good recruiting class. Lawsuit filed against Baylor is incredible. Charity Bowl opens early. Fouad Egbaria on the MSU game. Ryan Glasgow might land at the same place his brother did.



January 31st, 2017 at 3:32 PM ^

Third main reason for uptick of transfers, which falls between reasons 1 and 2 on the nebulousness scale: Earlier and earlier recruiting cycles.  Coaches pressure player into committing early, then recruit over him and/or coaches leave, player starts off his tenure at that school already feeling a bit nervous about his status.  If anything happens to confirm that nervous feeling, he bolts.

Like it's a real big surprise basketball has the early signing period, so players can't wait until they know for sure about their coaches, and basketball also has a hundred transfers every year.

Can't wait for the coaches to start hand-wringing about all the transfers they inadvertantly caused by pushing for an earlier signing date.


January 31st, 2017 at 3:36 PM ^

Two things:

1.  Ten years ago Morris could have transferred to an FCS school and not just been out of football, this was a fairly popular option from my dim recall.  The point about there being more and better options is, however, certainly valid.

2.  Air Force will be losing a Senior class that is much like Michigan's: Heavy on quality defensive talent, but only the lead receiver on offense is a real problem as far as replacing him.  The reason Air Force may or may not put a scare in into Michigan will be the offense and that is where Air Force has a QB coming back named Arion Worthman who is a slippery and hard nosed runner of the type that tends to give Michigan fits as well as two quick and effective backs in the unfortuantely named Tim McVey and Ronald Cleveland(who is more of a Z-back role).  If Air Force can find a fullback they will probably give Michigan a game for about a half before the defense falls apart and Michigan pulls away.  Expect to be cursing Worthman a lot though.  


January 31st, 2017 at 4:31 PM ^

Thanks for the detailed scouting report on Air Force. I get to fly out to one game per season usually, and my buddy offered a few options for '17, including AFA.

I said, Oh no, I don't want to spend the whole day worrying about an upset and having you be miserable. Let's find a more fun opponent. (I went to Colorado in '16, and that didn't start out fun!!!)

Why have we scheduled them again? Was the last game not lesson enough? It reminds me of the idiotic rematch with Appy St, where all we acheived was having one of their grade-B chippies rob us of a season of watching Jabrill play.

Where is the fucking upside to these matchups?


January 31st, 2017 at 3:37 PM ^

I'm a pretty good get-off-my-lawn-kids-these-days type in a lot of areas, but I think Quinn has it all wrong in this case.

I think the increase in QB transfers, and in particular grad transfers, is a good thing. I think it makes complete sense both for the players who transfer and for the teams involved.

For the teams, especially teams like Michigan that recruit well, this increases the options during recruiting. Michigan can recruit a top 150 QB every season and tell them, legitimately, that they can compete for a starting job. The guy believes in himself, but now he doesn't have to think that his only shot at a good football career is starting for that school. If a generational talent emerges (let's say McCaffrey arrives on campus and sets the world on fire, pushing past Peters in the depth chart, elbowing out Speight by the end of 2017, entrenched for another two years at least) guys know that's not it in life. I think it helps teams draw players.

And grad transfers are a huge win for players. These are guys doing what they're supposed to, earning a degree in four years. Their reward? They can play somewhere else and start grad school, should they be so inclined. 

Shane Morris didn't pan out the way we thought he would, but he spent four years as a part of the team, became the victim at the center of the worst moment in post-WWII history of the program, competed for starting jobs for three years, and in his senior year gleefully took a gadget-only role in the offense with gusto. He's a Michigan man.

And he might actually get to start this fall a couple of hours up the road. Good for him.

I think the grad transfer rule is one of the best things the NCAA does.


January 31st, 2017 at 4:03 PM ^

One (or more) of Speight/Peters/McCaffrey (let alone Malzone) will likely never start a game for Michigan (in Speight's case "another game").  I don't know that all three have upper echelon P5 talent, but it wouldn't surprise me if they do.  It doesn't make sense for the truly great to prevent the very, very good from having an opportunity.  


January 31st, 2017 at 4:24 PM ^

First off let me reiterate for the 23rd time now that I'm in favor of Peters starting in '17. I want high ceiling, not high floor - 

But that being said, Speight could start many or even all of the games in '17, be supplanted by Peters either during the '17 season or in '18 & '19, who could then declare for the draft leaving McCaffrey two years of eligibilty remaining.

And the stud QB we sign in '18 will face the same scenario. And '19...


January 31st, 2017 at 4:40 PM ^

more likely, Speight is our QB in '17 and '18 then Peters and McCaffery are in a battle.  The loser of that battle either runs out of eligibility as a backup or has only a final year of eligibility left and is dealing with competition from the '18 and '19 recruits.  

As for who starts next year.... I'm sure the meritocracy will determine that answer just fine.  


January 31st, 2017 at 5:33 PM ^

If you could give it another title, it would be "This will not end well".

Versus expectations, it has to be like falling off a cliff for 90% of these guys.  

They go from the glory of big time college football and the expectation of more glory and millions of dollars in the NFL . . . to nothing but a pedestrian existence.  

And that's if they are lucky.

For many of them, it ended downright tragic.

It's tough because young star athletes think they are immortal and you can't tell them anything, but being prepared for life after football and having a strong back up Plan B is not just lip service.

They should have a bunch of these 2007 guys barnstorm across the country and visit college teams and let the players know what the reality likely is and help get them to prepare for it. 



January 31st, 2017 at 3:45 PM ^

McKeon and Uche getting redshirts would be welcome news. For McKeon, he's probably still the #4 in the pecking order at TE (though he may be the #2 flex, allowing him to see the field a decent bit) and will be for the next two seasons without a major surge in his development. A redshirt could give him two seasons in the Butt/Bunting role. 

Uche was always considered raw, and I don't think many expect him to be a featured player in 2017. Without a big spring/fall camp he could have been at risk of becoming an "it's getting late, early" player, or one whose only signifcant contribution came as a senior. It's unclear exactly how Don Brown will end up using his pass-rushing ability, but by his upperclass years he could develop into a highly useful player. 


January 31st, 2017 at 4:40 PM ^

Even if they get redshirts, neither of those guys should have played. Gentry, who already redshirted, needed the snaps to see if he can fit in at TE. Now he's being shuffled off to WR where he won't get the snaps he needs to develop. He has a lot of talent and seems to have good physical ability but we'll never know if he doesn't get a fair opportunity to show it.


January 31st, 2017 at 5:12 PM ^

Gentry gets his fair opportunity in practice. His fair shot at QB led to being moved to TE and his fair shot there led to WR.

When there's a lot of talent sometimes good or potentially promising players don't see the field. That's a good problem for Michigan to have.


January 31st, 2017 at 6:48 PM ^

With Butt, Bunting, Wheatley, Asiasi and Jocz there were never going to be enough snaps to justify playing McKeon and Eubanks. Because he never played the position Gentry needed more experience. He should have been given it. The team would be better off. The snaps that McKeon and Eubanks took were wasted at best and may well cost them a year of eligibility. Harbaugh has put that in the hands of the NCAA, which has a history of trying to screw Harbaugh, not help him.


January 31st, 2017 at 7:02 PM ^

But if Gentry isn't showing real improvement, why "waste" the snaps anyway? I don't get why people get so worked up about redshirts. UM isn't MSU, which relies heavily on guys being in the program for half a decade and for that to help mitigate some talent issues. UM recruits at a top-10 level. Guys will cycle through the program at an appropriate rate, and chances are a fifth year out of a TE won't matter because there will be 2-3 upperclassmen behind him, close to, if not equally, as good.

Gentry seems like a good athlete, but he had a chance at QB and they moved him to TE. He had a year there and the coaches thought he was blocked to getting PT so they moved him to WR. If anything, this might give him a chance at a couple of more snaps, since doeth at WR is less developed than at TE.


January 31st, 2017 at 9:26 PM ^

At the start of the 2016 season Gentry was being looked at as a TE. He had practiced with the TEs during bowl practice the previous year. According to MLive, he looked lost, which isn't surprising since he had never played the position. He worked with the TEs during August camp but still had zero game experience. I think it was foolish to give McKeon and Eubanks snaps during the opening game against Hawaii. Those plays should have been given to Gentry in order to find out what he can do.If you think he might be a TE and you're going to give Gentry any time on the field you should give him a meaningful amount of time.


January 31st, 2017 at 10:41 PM ^

I think game snaps are overrated.  Practice simulates games pretty well when it comes to evaluating an understanding of the playbook, ability to execute the plays, and general physical abilities.  Being able to truck a Hawaii LB or get a first down against a backup corner isn't going to tell you nearly as much about Gentry at the position than what he does in practice and the offseason.  

I don't think they know what to do with Gentry.  He's very tall and is a good athlete, but he was super raw and he already redshirted a year during which (I assume) the coaches evaluated where best he could contribute.  Sometimes those guys don't work out, and that's fine.  But Harbaugh will move him around as best he can, and if Gentry can't distinguish himself against guys younger than him who haven't been on campus for 2 years already, then you have to move him elsewhere and see what happens.  It's not perfect, but I don't see why people assume how a player performs in practice, in a controlled environment, is going to be worse than how a player handles the chaos of gameday.  If anything, practice is when a player will seem like his best.


January 31st, 2017 at 3:46 PM ^

1. Its remarkable how much better the scouting has gotten at the different services, in terms of not having so many washouts.

2. That Clausen/Tyler Oaks Christian team may have been the most absurdly over-hyped high school team of all time. 

Leaders And Best

January 31st, 2017 at 3:52 PM ^

When the 2017 schedule was first released, I thought the @Wisconsin and Ohio State back-to-back to end the season was terrible. It may actually end up being a good thing for a team as young as Michigan will be.

OSU, @PSU, & @Wisconsin will most likely be the three toughest games on the schedule next year. Probably best to get two of those at the end of the season when the team will have more experience under their belt.


January 31st, 2017 at 4:36 PM ^

Seems like every year OSU has a game or two where they looked wretched or has a couple of players out and I think to myself, "LOL we're gonna beat them this year," and then immediately realize that all of those "issues" early in the season will be magically worked out by the end of the season and go back to muttering incoherently. Has happened with MSU, too.

This year we'll be the ones growing through the season.


January 31st, 2017 at 4:16 PM ^

I miss him more than Daryl Rogers, more than Bobby Williams, more even than John Cooper.  I just really miss him.

The doctor suing, the contract embarrassments, the decided schematic advantages, the incredible yardage of textiles supplied by Adidas and various tent and awning suppliers.  It was truly glorious.

Image result for charlie weis notre dame


January 31st, 2017 at 5:43 PM ^

You could always count on Charlie Weis to do something stupid to prove how smart he was.

Like throwing the ball on 3rd and long aganst our 5-star DB in 2009 when he could have just run the clock down to a few seconds.  The pass was incomplete of course, and it stopped the clock, leaving Tate Forcier more than a minute left to engineer the game winning game.

Miss you Big Guy.



January 31st, 2017 at 5:41 PM ^

Is an interesting one, albeit in the feelingsball department more than anything. If you lose a star upperclassman, that's bad. If said player picked your school (over his childhood favorite and the one he thought was a better football fit) primarily because he was told there would be no repurcussions for not bothering to go to his classes... there's an Ewing Theory On Steroids situation possible.