Early Enrollees - Who will impact in 2014?

Submitted by Ron Utah on January 6th, 2014 at 12:28 PM

It's official--we've added seven players to the Michigan family:

  • Drake Harris
  • Wilton Speight
  • Bryan Mone
  • Freddy Canteen
  • Brandon Watson
  • Michael Ferns
  • Mason Cole

I believe all seven of these guys are future starters.  But who will make an impact in 2014?  The guy with the best chance on paper is Bryan Mone, since we don't have any established players at NT.  But I'm going to pick Freddy Canteen, who has freakish quickness and good speed (reported to have run a 4.43 40).  If he's half the technician he appears to be on tape and is a willing blocker, then his EE conditioning might get him into the line-up early.  Drake Harris is another possibility.  

Speight is up against two good QBs with game experience, Watson is on a depth chart with a plethora of quality DBs (that felt good to say), Ferns is one of many talented LBs, and, finally, we should be able to redshirt all of our incoming OL, so Cole should get a year of seasoning,

Welcome to the family, and GO BLUE!


Cold War

January 6th, 2014 at 12:45 PM ^

Actually, more red shirts can be an encouraging sign. The program is developing depth. If Speight, for example, had been here in 2013 instead of Shane, we'd have probably burned his, just as we did Shane's. But with 4 scolarship QB's we will almost certainly be able to redshirt  him.

This thing is coming along folks, just not as quickly as we'd like.


January 6th, 2014 at 1:41 PM ^

100% this.  Freshmen redshirting is the best sign of program stability and a solid formula for year-to-year consistency.  That's the model that kept Michigan so consistently good during the Bo-Moeller-Lloyd era.  If you were a freshman that could earn his way into the starting line-up, you played, and meant you were pretty freaking good (see Chris Hutchinson, Charles Woodson, etc).  Otherwise, you redshirted and worked to develop and earn your spot.

It would be a very positive sign to see the majority of this year's incoming class redshirting.

Blue in Yarmouth

January 6th, 2014 at 3:31 PM ^

I would like to see us redshirt Shane Morris this year. Speight too if things go well, but Shane for sure. Bellomy will be back and Gardner could stay healthy all year (if we're lucky). I mean, it isn't something you have to declare at the beginning of the year or anything. Just go on the assumption that Gardner will remain healthy, give Speight and Bellomy the second team snaps and hope that if anyone is needed, it will only be for short spurts and Bellomy will be able to handle it. That way you put another year between Shane and Gardner. Anyway, that's more a hope than anything else. 

I dumped the Dope

January 6th, 2014 at 9:31 PM ^

Start with the idea he's going to practice only, but hedge bets and take him to all the games including away games.  If he's needed, then the decision can be made dependent on a large number of factors at that point in time.  If Morris' RS survives the season with Gardner intact then we are money ahead.  If not then we really needed him.  Win-win.


January 6th, 2014 at 3:05 PM ^

I think Harris and Canteen have a great chance to play considering who we've lost and the lack of experience at that position.  I have a feeling though, that a lot of these guys won't redshirt.  I feel like this coaching staff is pretty careless when it comes to not redshirting players when they could easily use one.  Does anyone else feel this way?


January 7th, 2014 at 12:34 AM ^

one of the problems i have with the staff is the way they needlessly burn redshirts.  deveon smith is a prime example-for the number of carries he got, it would have been nice to hold him out.  he then would have become the running back we still appear to be recruiting for 2014.  unless of course the staff doesn't feel he'll ever make the grade.

Ron Utah

January 6th, 2014 at 12:41 PM ^

We have six scholarship WRs returning, and Chesson has a ton of snaps under his belt while Darboh was set to start in 2013 before his injury (which he may have recovered from by spring ball).  While it's not a group that exactly knocks your socks off, there is quite a bit of quality there, and that's not even counting Funchess, who might eat a ton of WR snaps again in 2014.

At NT, we have no one with significant experience and no one with any real hype.  Pipkins played a lot of 3-tech and will have to recover from injury that will probably cost him spring practice.  Richard Ash is the only true NT on the roster, and he's been around for a long time without doing much.

While you may be correct that Harris has a good chance of making a big impact considering his lofty expectations, it's hard to say he has fewer challengers on the depth chart.


January 6th, 2014 at 12:38 PM ^

The receivers and Mone could get some action. Although it is possible that one of the WR redshirt seeing how we lost George Campbell, however, most of these kids will see some action Coles and Wilton will RS.


January 6th, 2014 at 12:38 PM ^

I don't know which wideout won't redshirt but I think all of the other players will. We've reached a point now where we have solid depth everywhere and don't need to burn shirts just to have a backup or a special teams guy. Drake's injury and Canteen's lack of film make it tough to discern which one is further ahead but there is a need at WR and we often see receivers making plays on special teams. Mone and Ferns present the opportunity for me to be wrong but I'm hopefully they will redshirt. We'll get more from their fifth years than their true freshman seasons and boy do we already have a logjam at LB.


January 6th, 2014 at 1:00 PM ^

If one of these 7 guys comes in and plays better than the current options at the position, I don't think the coaches would hesitate for a second to burn a RS. I think it's just really hard to come in and beat out another player who has a year of weightlifting and playbook studying under his  belt.

Ron Utah

January 6th, 2014 at 2:13 PM ^

It's important to remember how much of a premium this program puts on WR blocking.  If you can't block, you're probably not going to play much.  That often takes time in the weight room and a commitment to learning the techniques and the playbook.


January 6th, 2014 at 12:38 PM ^

My take
  • Drake Harris - Will pass Chesson by B1G
  • Wilton Speight - RS
  • Bryan Mone - Toss up*
  • Freddy Canteen - Toss up**
  • Brandon Watson - RS RS RS RS Please RS***
  • Michael Ferns - RS RS RS RS Please RS***
  • Mason Cole - is OL, will RS

*I think he has the skill to produce right away. But that is a very tough position to be an impact player as a freshman. I see no more production than we got out of Taco this season.

**Could RS. Could be delightful surprise. I need to wait for spring on this call...

***A combination of enough depth at the position & burning redshirts for special teams last year. Hopefully all our incoming LB, and DB outside of Peppers redshirt. Seeing how there are 4 LBs in this recruiting class, I do see one shirt burning. I guess it would be Ferns due to his EE status. But still. Don't burn it!


January 6th, 2014 at 12:55 PM ^

Okay fine! They burn his shirt for special teams where he has a FF on his only tackle on the year. Sadly, we do not recover. Yes this happens against App. State.

In an attempt to make his RS burning look reasonable. He plays heavily against Maryland, and has a 200 yard+ receiving game, a 25 yard rush, and a INT (Borges pulls out all the tricks after a bye and before OSU, thus end around from the slot WR pass. He forces it even though everyone is covered and there is a running lane). Doesn't get targeted in the OSU game.


January 6th, 2014 at 1:33 PM ^

I too like Chesson. His blocking is damn good. I think he was underutilized this year. I think they only threw a bomb to him twice, in which is didn't adjust to those throws that well. But still, practice makes perfect, and I think we should have tried it a few more times. Especially the last few weeks, when the line seemed to be able to give DG a little more time to throw. 

So yeah. I wasn't intending for that to be knock on Chesson, or anything like that. I just really expect Harris to come out and ball. I expect him to be every bit the receiver that Braylon Edwards was. Remember this was a top 75 guy before he missed his entire season to injury. And even then, he didn't drop all that much. People know how talented he is. It is a shame we havent been able to see it in a year.

The fact that he is an EE will help his blocking out enough to keep him in the rotation. From there, he won't let the coaches not include him in the gameplan.


January 6th, 2014 at 3:23 PM ^

That's asking a bit much.  Braylon turned into the #3 overall pick, an all-american, and 10th in heisman voting.  Edwards holds the record at michigan for most receptions, yards, and touchdowns.

I'm hoping Harris is going to turn into a great receiver at Michigan, but saying he's going to be every bit the receiver Edwards was is a statement.


January 6th, 2014 at 3:43 PM ^

And I will stand by it. 

I just have high hopes for the kid. I think he is physically & athletically gifted enough. From what I read, and his actions through this rehab process, I feel he has the drive to go as far as he wants to. 

Now if he falls short of my expectations, so be it. I just have never been this excited over a WR recruit for M. Records are made to be broken, and the #1 legacy was meant to be added to. 


January 6th, 2014 at 12:45 PM ^

Because if yes, I say Henry is a NT.  Pipkins and Henry will alternate at NT, and we've got to find someone quick enough to play the 3T.  Remember Martin was supposed to the prototype there?   I don't see anyone like him on the roster, but my bet is Wormley starts.  He's strong as an ox and should be able to push single-blocking OL back and disrupt plays, if not penetrate around them. And he has the speed to chase and long arms to make tackles once in the backfield. 

Henry just doesn't have the speed in my opinion to be at that position, but Pipkins Henry would be a great rotation at NT.  Who else at 3T?  Who knows... maybe Poggi as a Jibreel Black type, Glasgow, and Hurst.  Charlton at 5T, with Godin, Strobel, and Heitzman.  Lots of bodies, hopefully playmakers shake themselves out.  What the hell do I know

So I don't think Mone.  My guess is Harris

Ron Utah

January 6th, 2014 at 12:51 PM ^

The trouble with saying Henry can't hack it as a 3T is that he did a really good job there this season.  I'd love to see Wormley take that job, but Henry has to be the front-runner for now.

FWIW, I'd love for you to be right: Henry/Pipkins at NT sounds great, with Wormley backed-up by Strobel, Glasgow, and maybe Poggi or Hurst.  In 2014 I think it will be tougher for RS Freshmen to have an impact on the D-Line, and that's a good thing.


January 6th, 2014 at 12:59 PM ^

I agree he did a good job, and he should take a leap in his second year (I processed that as take a 'leak' in my mind and tee-hee'd).  But he has little pass rush ability, and we need some threat up the middle on 1st/2nd down pass situations.  Henry's just not a dynamic get-around-you guy, where I think Wormley can chuck single blockers aside and make a play more effectively (Henry very good at the chucking, but can't chase or reach as well).


January 6th, 2014 at 12:50 PM ^

I'm not sure if any will have a big impact this year but if I had to guess which ones will see playing time, I'd say Ferns, Harris and maybe Canteen.

What is the history of true freshman seeing action at WR?


January 6th, 2014 at 12:59 PM ^

  • Drake Harris - Needs to get healthy. Could be a deep threat receiver. Should get some passes if healthy. 
  • Wilton Speight - Will not play.
  • Bryan Mone - Depends on other players health, but he probably doesn't redshirt. Not sure he'll make an "impact" though.
  • Freddy Canteen - Will probably get on the field with great hands and amazing route running. 
  • Brandon Watson - Could play on special teams but I hope he redshirts. A ton of secondary players so no real need to force him into action. 
  • Michael Ferns - Could play on special teams, but hopefully he redshirts. Again, there are now plenty of guys in front of him and for special teams.
  • Mason Cole - Will redshirt. 


January 6th, 2014 at 1:10 PM ^

Canteen is quite impressive and I think he will have the biggest impact. He may not have the recruiting stars to his name, but the limited film I saw was impressive and with Dilleo / Jackson gone and the staff's aversion to using Northfleet for anything other than jet sweeps / fake jet sweeps, I think there is a clear role for Freddy on next year's team.


January 6th, 2014 at 1:26 PM ^

  • Drake Harris- I think his hamstring will take some time to heal and hurt his spring development. In fall, he will be playing a bit of catch-up =  RS
  • Wilton Speight- Current QB depth = RS
  • Bryan Mone- Is already college size at a position (NG) in need of depth = plays
  • Freddy Canteen- Slot receiver has some depth with Hayes/Norfleet/Jones/etc. = RS
  • Brandon Watson- DB has a ton of bodies that have experience = RS
  • Michael Ferns- LB position has depth and lots of experience = RS
  • Mason Cole- OL = auto-RS


M seems to be getting depth at all positions, but that depth needs to produce some studs at the top of the chart. Hope some of the kids who have been here awhile step up their play this next season so we rely on less young kids.

This EE class does have some talent, IMO.