Non-redshirted Football Players. A Hindsight Look

Submitted by Qmatic on February 10th, 2015 at 11:52 PM

With the news of Peppers and Morgan getting a medical redshirt, it got me thinking about who of our current players saw action as true freshmen, and whether or not in hindsight it was a smart decision. I left out players who played as true freshmen but ultimately received a redshirt at some point (Morgan, Darboh, Peppers, Richardson).

Shane Morris (Jr): Was thrust into the backup position in 2013 for multiple reasons (Bellomy injury, no QB in 2012 class). He saw time stepping in for Gardner when he lost his helmet, and started the BWW Bowl. He was not redshirted out of necessity, and laregly based on what we saw this year, he could have used an extra year of development.

Derrick Green (Jr): Was the top rated RB in the '13 class. Started to show flashes towards the end of the season once his conditioning improved. Was the backup for most of the season, and started a few games at the end. His experience seemed to help him as he looked pretty promising this season at times before injury. Based on that, it was probably the right decision.

DeVeon Smith (Jr): At the beginning of 2013 season it didn't make much sense to burn his redshirt as he was behind Fitz, Drake, Green, Rawls, and Hayes; and we did not take a RB in the 2014 class. He saw pretty much exclusive special teams duty until later in the season. Looked like our best RB against OSU and ran with more power than Green. That experience seemed to help him out of the gate this season as he competed for the starting spot; eventually getting it after Green's injury. At the time burning his redshirt didn't make a whole lot of sense, but now with Isaac and the glaring evidence that Smith is who he is (good short yard back who runs with power but lacks speed) it isn't detrimental that he burned his RS.

Freddy Canteen (So): Massive-hype out of camp about him. Saw some time at WR making little impact. Too early to say whether or not he should have RS this past season.

Damario Jones (Jr): Appeared to be the WR with the most upside from our not-so-exciting class of '13 receivers. Did not contribute on offense. Only time his name was called was when a punt bounced off his leg vs UCONN and when getting a personal foul vs MSU. Jones doesn't appear to be a major contributor, so it is tough to say whether or not a redshirt would have made much of a difference.

Dennis Norfleet (Sr): Brought some excitement to our KR game as a true freshman, but ultimately didn't have too much of an impact as a true frosh. Dileo/Gallon could have done what he did in the return game in '12. Should have redshirted

Jake Butt (Jr): Strong production as a true frosh. Saw increased duty once Funchess moved to WR.

AJ Williams (Sr): Saw time at TE as frosh being used primarly as a blocker. Has been underwhelming in 3 seasons so far. At this point, he is who he is, and a RS would not have probably made much of a difference.

Mason Cole (So): Played exceptionally well for a true frosh at LT. Appears to be headed for All-B1G in the coming years.

Mario Ojemudia (Sr): Lack of depth led for him to have to play in the rotation back in '12 even though he was extremely undersized. Looking at DE depth it would be nice to have him as a RS Jr right now.

Taco Charlton (Jr): Same as Ojemudia. Would be nice to have him as a RS So now, but lack of depth led to him playing (sometimes quite well) as a true frosh.

Bryan Mone (So): Made an impact as true forsh. Appears to have a bright future ahead.

Ondre Pipkins (Sr): Another highly-touted recruit who saw quite a bit of action in his first season. Injuries have played a major part in his career.

James Ross (Sr): Rotation LB as true frosh. Showed a lot of potential (which he hasn't really improved on a whole lot in the past two seasons)

Joe Bolden (Sr): Same as Ross. Showed potential as freshman, has turned out to be a solid LB.

Ben Gedeon (Jr): Showed flashes as a true frosh, but looking at our LB depth, would be nice to have him with 3 yrs of eligibility left.

Royce Jenkins-Stone (Sr): To be honest, I don't remember him even seeing the field at all in '12. Should have redshirted.

Jourdan Lewis (Jr): Rotation CB in '13. Experience appeared to help him a lot for '14.

Channing Stribling (Jr): Like Lewis, saw quite a bit of PT as frosh in '13. Seemed to show flashes of potential. Playing time diminished this season.

Delano Hill (Jr): Only memorable moment from playing in his freshmen season was throwing a punch at an OSU player. Should have RS.

Dymonte Thomas (Jr): Super-hyped player out of HS. Made next to no impact as a frosh. Hard to believe he is a junior now.

Jarrod Wilson (Sr): Saw some time backing up Kovacs in 2012. Looking at how thin our depth is at Safety after this year, and judging by the minimal impact he made as a freshmen, it would be nice to have him as RS Jr now.

I know this is all hindsight, but I thought it was interesting to see how many of our players saw action as true freshmen, and how in some cases their contribution was minimal. I think with a largely upperclass team this year, we will not see as many true frosh playing this season, and hopefully as we move forward.






February 11th, 2015 at 2:24 AM ^

Strategy has nothing to do with it.  Necessity is what matters.  If Harbaugh needs a player to step in as a freshman, he will play.  If  the player isn't needed, he will have an opportunity to redshirt.

It's tough to strategically redshirt someone in Hoke's case, when you are fighting for your job.  Hoke screwed up a lot, but I can't really blame him for playing anyone, especially in 2014.


February 11th, 2015 at 6:54 AM ^

I might give him 2014, except he had done it the entire time, not out of desperation. It was interesting to watch the Penn State vs MSU game. The announcers talked about how Franklin had gone out of his way to redshirt freshmen that could have been used because of their limited number of scholarships. But the importance of the red shirts to the long term health of the program trumped getting to a middling bowl. He talked about it as if it was common knowledge among coaches and all I could think was "not at Michigan."

Hoke screwed up huge on the red shirts. Not just for the program but for the kids too. How many of these kids could have used an extra year to get a potential shot at the NFL or another year of school. I feel that Hoke crushed many kids dreams of being in the NFL, and that hurts as a Michigan fan. You don't want to think that of your program.


February 11th, 2015 at 7:40 AM ^

The Franklin and Hoke situations are not exactly the same though.  Franklin is going to get a lot of slack from the fanbase with PSU coming off of sanctions, so the pressure to win now is not nearly as high as it was with Hoke.  He's going to get time to manage his roster with a long term vision in mind.

I agree with the overall premise that Hoke did a supar job managing redshirts on his roster, but to compare him to Franklin as evidence that you don't have to rob Peter to pay Paul is not a fair example.


February 11th, 2015 at 7:53 AM ^

Unbalanced roster (where were the Olinemen, for example), a 2010 class with ~75% attrition ,etc.  It seems that as he got further into his tenure he was able to redshoirt more.  Peppers & Cole were 2 notable non-redshirts from the 2014 class, but they were both exceptional players.    

Mr Miggle

February 11th, 2015 at 12:43 PM ^

of those decisions. They are basically claiming that Franklin was sacrificing possible wins last season in order to be better in 2018. Maybe. Maybe he didn't play those freshmen because he didn't think they were ready to contribute. I never trust the coaches to tell the truth in those situations. Which scenario would he rather have the public believe?


February 11th, 2015 at 9:58 AM ^

on special teams or in limited rotation on this roster. 5th year Seniors tend to be better than Freshman. It's a staple Dantonio used to build his program. Hoke provided this roster with some very good talent. Some of the PT was need but he certainly did not spend it wisely.


February 11th, 2015 at 8:59 AM ^

Your assertion, in a thread dedicated to the enormous amount of red shirts burned (means freshmen playing in lieu of their more senior classmates) punctuated by Mason Cole being the starting LT over at least two upper classmen, is laughable.

Go ahead, we'll wait.  Over the seasons 2011-2014, name those more senior players on the field while better talent rode the bench.


February 11th, 2015 at 12:53 AM ^

He will definitely be on the field in 3-4 looks this year and may even beat out Morgan for starting MIKE spot all the time. Morgan is a really solid LB, Gedeon is just that good. Kid is strong as an Ox and just an athletic freak. I feel the complete opposite of yourself, I can't see him not being a major name on this defense for the next two years. 


February 11th, 2015 at 12:24 AM ^

If only it was realistic to redshirt some of these guys next year. Specifically the guys that arent necessarily needed this year(based on what we know up until now)

The LB depth chart would not be as scary in '16 if you still had RJS  around and Gedeon with 2 years.

Mone is a guy who would not be needed this year based on the DT depth, also not taking a DT this year, would be nice to have 3 years left on him after this year.

Stribling is another guy, with Lyons coming in, who might not be needed this year, would be nice for the future as well.

Dymonte Thomas, we all can agree needed a redshirt too.


February 11th, 2015 at 3:34 AM ^

He certainly has the potential, and body size to be the best on the team. One thing about OL / DL at this level: you either have "it" or you don't. I think Mone has "it", but I won't know until I have more film to break down. I love his upside, should be a very good player.

Don't sleep on Pallante though. Good HS wrestlers always have great hips, and they understand how to use leverage very well. Once Brady is physically ready, I wouldn't be surprised to see a mike Martin type player. We'll see, I have lofty expectations for him though.


February 11th, 2015 at 9:33 AM ^

In my opinion, you picked out the two worst position groups to support your argument.

If any position allows for kids to develop and grow into it, it is OL. Its not a "you either have it or you dont" position. For decades, Michigan would always trot out some Fifth Year Senior making his first starts, and he would play well. There are guys like Hutch, Long, and Cole that are ready out the gate, but they are the exception and they are usually all-time greats. There are far more Brandts, Andersons, and Mealers than there are Hutchinsons.

DL is similar, but less pronounced. RVB didn't look like much before his senior year. Campbell. Clark. Those are just recent guys that come to mind.


February 11th, 2015 at 12:39 AM ^

There were many things that I didn't like about Hoke, but chief among them other than losses was his mind-boggingly stupid refusal to redshirt players who were obviously not going to contribute.

Boom Goes the …

February 11th, 2015 at 12:59 AM ^

for recruiting, and if nothing else, setting up Harbaugh with a solid foundation.

But I would have to imagine that one thing recruits want to hear is they can play right away.  If Hoke redshirted all of those guys, maybe he doesn't land Peppers or Mone etc because they think they might be redshirted.

I agree with most of these, but I think a big sell is the chance to play from day 1, even on special teams. 

Remember, these are the most gifted athletes from their given hometowns.  They have probably started or at least played in every football game since they began playing.  Then moving to college, away from home, and not even getting to play?  Would have to think about that one.  And remember, every other college probably "promised" them playing time already.

Just my .02

Mr Miggle

February 11th, 2015 at 8:00 AM ^

some recruits. At least when you're talking about 5* and high 4* players who don't play OL or QB. If you listen to their comments, you'll see that some are open to redshirting, but many emphasize getting a chance to contribute as freshmen as a big factor in their recruitment.

Beyond that, recruits do pay attention to how you use freshmen. .


February 11th, 2015 at 9:07 PM ^

I'm not saying these coaches are complete scumbags.  I think they want what's best for the players and athletes at the end of the day.  But, they probably think going to their program is what's best for the athlete and they also want to get the best players, which may sometimes lead them to be at the least somewhat deceptive or omit certain things they think may sway a recruit away from their school.  And, after this years recruiting season and what happened to UCLA and OSU's assistants leaving the day after signing day, I don't get the feeling that recruits are level-headed enough to see through coach BS/sales pitch.  These are impressionable teenagers being wooed and it is hard to say no to a successful, confident coach at a big time program.  I think by and large they make emotional decisions versus logical ones.


February 11th, 2015 at 1:27 AM ^

I think Jenkin-Stone threw the punch in the OSU game.

Good for Harbaugh, he is not in the talent deficit at multiple positions the way Hoke was. You would think More RS would be the norm.

Sent from MGoBlog HD for iPhone & iPad

Marley Nowell

February 11th, 2015 at 1:30 AM ^

Shane Morris is the most egregious non-shirt. He was always going to be a developmental prospect (with lots of talent) and that was before he missed his senior year of high school. Not only was he not mentally ready but also not physically ready to take college football punishment. Hopefully he has enough time to develop so he is not wasted like Gardner.


February 11th, 2015 at 1:42 AM ^

At least there were obvious reasons Morris didn't redshirt. I still have high hopes for the kid. Tremendous upside.

But with the majority of the guys who didn't get a redshirt, there is absolutely no reason. Essentially gave up eligibility for a handful of plays that they didn't contribute in.

Morris, while regretful, was necessary to play.


February 11th, 2015 at 8:04 AM ^

It was necessary to play Morris because we took zero quarterbacks in the 2012 class, leaving Morris as the only guy when Bellomy tore his ACL (although, being honest, Morris was better than Bellomy immediately, anyway). So if we're talking about coaches wasting redshirts, Hoke wasted Morris's chance to redshirt because he chose to be a minimalist when it came to quarterbacks.

Hoke and Harbaugh had completely different philosophies about quarterbacks. Hoke brought in very few guys and wanted them to be "The Heir to the Throne." Harbaugh wants to bring in a ton of guys and let them scratch and claw for it.


February 11th, 2015 at 11:15 AM ^

In theory, I don't mind taking one QB per year. In the event nobody leaves early or transfers, you would have 5 scholarship QBs. Which is a solid number IMO. Where Michigan hurt, was not taking that 2012 QB. Even with Bellomy being hurt, that still would have left Gardner, Morris, and a redshirt freshman. Allowing Morris to redshirt.

If Harbaugh's plan is to take 2 QB's EVERY year, we are going to see a lot of attrition at the spot and lack of an elite arm on some years. That position will be in flux a lot if that is the plan moving forward. That's my only fear with how Harbaugh recruits the spot.


February 11th, 2015 at 8:23 AM ^

No... I liked Gardner, but he made bad decisions when pressured and had awful mechanics that he reverted to as the game went on. Perhaps he would have benefited from actually being under a coach who, you know, could coach, but he was not going to be kaep 2.0


February 11th, 2015 at 2:42 AM ^


Hoke refused to redshirt players because he had hoped a "this is Michigan, this is IT now" ethos would register and overtly immature players would step up into their designated roles early. Absent strong positional coaching, and given transitions from prior seasons and schema, plus an unreliable QB, the non-redshirted players simply were not equipped to deliver the goods. Too much of Brady was too much faith-based. He didn't have the successful head coaching background to appreciate who to nudge and who to nurture.



February 11th, 2015 at 2:43 AM ^

In hindsight some look unnessary, but you could think about it differently. Not redshirting and even playing a minor role on the team could also mean that you practice more with the 1s or 2s, that you are learning plays and participating more at a younger age and these things could pay dividends in year 3 and 4 when you're on the field as a starter. Plus, while people haven't been leaving early recently, when a rs junior leaves for the NFL, that's one less year of playing time that you might have gotten out of them than if you had played them as a true freshman. Some players need to get bigger to transition from high school to college, but if that's not a big issue (or one that precludes them from playing some role), I think in many cases burning redshirts has little effect for most players since they can only play four years either way.


February 11th, 2015 at 3:26 AM ^

There were so many fucked up redshirts, and non redshirts I seriously question what in the fuck Hoke was doing. Had the redshirts been used properly, the makeup of the roster would be in much better shape. Damn you Brady.


February 11th, 2015 at 4:22 AM ^

OP did a good job in much of the comments but you have to place need above all else.  "Would have been nice to redshirt" doesnt account for the football needs of that year.  For example off top of head we needed Ross III, we needed Ondre Pipkins, we needed Cole.  You cant RS your backup QB (Shane), etc.  Green was not going to sit as a 5 star RB period. 

Other guys we just pissed away redshirts for special teams.  Yes I know special teams is important but putting a true freshman out there rather than say a Josh Furman is silly IMO if said true freshman has no other role.

As for guys like D. Jones and RJS - they have had almost no impact.   So I disagree with "would have been nice to RS".  If a guy is not having impact at age 20, it is likely he wont at age 21.  So better to push them through the system in 4 years and open up the scholarship.  Those are guys in the SEC who would have been "cut" in 2 years.

The biggest wastes I see above - if either lives up to eventual hype - were Canteen and Thomas.  By waste it means they actually could contribute meaningfully and their contribution was minimal.  There was nothing Freddy Canteen did in 2014 that D. Jones could not have done - I think he had 5 catches all year.  But this assumes they become significant contributors at some point and not equivalents to RJS and D. Jones.


February 11th, 2015 at 7:34 AM ^

Thomas was the worst example of burning a redshirt on the list with Norfleet and Gedeon right on his heels. It should have been obvious that Thomas wasn't ready and it hurt his development to move him around so much. The other guys were probably ready but the coaches should have realized they wouldn't play enough to worry about it.

The one thing in Hoke's defense that I will say is that I think he expected to have more comfortable wins the last couple of years where he could have played young guys in games. Instead we were always in a dog fight (or pillow fight) and he stuck with his guys.

It would be fascinating to ask these types of questions to Hoke now that he is gone.

Mr. Yost

February 11th, 2015 at 8:42 AM ^

RJS, Dymonte Thomas, Dennis Norfleet, Sione Houma, Da'Mario Jones, Taco Charlton, Mario Ojemudia, Ben Gedeon, and Delano Hill...all should've been redshirted. No question.

I'd much rather not renew a 5th year for a guy who gives you nothing his freshman year and hasn't developed or isn't needed...than play a guy meaningless snap his freshman year, burn the redshirt and not have the option to have him for a 5th year.

Some guys are just late bloomers, having a 5th year would be huge in terms of production or depth. 

I look at Ryan Van Bergen's 5th year versus any contribution he would've made his freshman year. Gabe Watson, Ryan Mundy...a couple more guys who had the light come on late.

Morris had to play, Mone and Cole had to play...Ross, Bolden, had to play. But if you can redshirt a kid, you do it. The chances are certainly better that he'll outperform those meaningless snaps as a freshman in his 5th year. And if you don't think that is true, you give him a handshake with a M degree and move on.


February 11th, 2015 at 9:15 AM ^

In theory, this is great. But I have a huge issue with your claim that Ojemudia and Charlton should have redshirted. They played out of necessity. We had no DE depth when they got on campus. They basically landed on the 2-deep by default.

It would be better for them if they had redshirted, and better for this and next year's teams. But it would have been worse for the teams their respective freshman seasons. And, as I'm sure you've heard, no man is more important than the team.

Same goes for Houma. He was our backup FB as a freshman. Not his fault. Not even really Hoke's fault. Gotta fill the two deep if you want to win games.


February 11th, 2015 at 10:51 AM ^

He was behind Roh, Beyer, Black, and Clark at defensive end.  Meaning he wasn't on the 2-deep.  He never beat any of those guys out before they graduated either (Clark and Beyer were still the starters last year).  He at least made a minor impact (11 tackles, 1 sack).  Charlton made 2 tackles as a true freshman, good for 12th among defensive linemen on the team.

There was no depth issue, there was simply Mattison's Chinese fire drill approach to subbing guys on the d-line.


February 11th, 2015 at 5:00 PM ^

Black took most of his snaps inside, because we were thin at DT. Our tackle rotation was Campbell, Black, Washington, and a little Brink.

Ojemudia was on the two deep. This just shows the roster holes issue more clearly. He had to play as a freshman DE because we had big holes at DT and had to move a guy inside.


February 11th, 2015 at 6:47 AM ^

One thing that is interesting to me in this thread is that we cataloged these redshirts as they happened over time, but here is the - in some cases maddening - historic overview of the last few seasons in that regard. Like others, my view on individual players her sort of ranges from "I get why we burned it" to "WHY?". Among the recent ones, however, I think burning Freddy Canteen's redshirt bothers me because of the hype and my constant wondering of what could have been last year if he'd been utilized better / more even as a freshman. 


February 11th, 2015 at 7:11 AM ^

This whole redshirt thing is overblown. You are allowed a max of 85 scholarship players. Redshirting all incoming freshmen would give you a max of 17 5-year players and people will complain about the lack of scholarships for all the heralded recruits. Redshirting is also not going to prevent the really good players from leaving - Jabrill is not going to be a  5th year senior at Michigan.Certain positions are also more amenable to gaining improvements from redshirting - linemen vs skill positions. Overall, a fraction of an incoming class will always see the field as freshmen (esp early enrollees). Not sure redshirting really good players would make any difference over the four years they can contribute.

Red is Blue

February 11th, 2015 at 1:42 PM ^

I think there are a couple assumptions that may invalidate some of your premise.  You'd only have 17 schollys available IF 1) no one leaves and 2) all fifth years are brought back.  If you get a normal level of attrition and don't bring back all fifth years, you could easily push into the 20s with schollys and potentially even hit the annual limit of 25 with a few left over for rewarding successful walk-ons.