Sunday, August 30, 2009

Toney Clemons, Saint

An article from Joe Schad confirms the report from the Detroit Free Press, which stated that Michigan requires time commitments beyond the allowable maximum. Let's parse Clemons' statements line by line.

The allegations are true. Nothing is fabricated or exaggerated in that story.


I was there on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. or 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. depending on if guys needed treatment. You were there daylight to nighttime.

This isn't the point. If guys needed treatment, that doesn't break the rules. A visit to the trainer does not count against the 20 allowed hours. Also, I'm from southeast Michigan - daylight in Ann Arbor does not begin at 10:00 or 11:00 a.m. And regardless of how long the player is at the facility, the question isn't about the time at the building; the question is about how the time inside the facilities is spent. In the football off-season, I spend about nine hours at school. I come in thirty minutes early to get work done. I take a half-hour lunch. I spend about an hour playing basketball after school. That doesn't mean I'm teaching for nine straight hours.

On Sunday, it was lifting, film, dinner and practice. I usually got out around 10:20.

Okay, specifics. Let's deal with specifics. Weight training doesn't count against the limit if it's done voluntarily. One down, three to go. Film doesn't count against the limit, as long as the student-athlete watches it voluntarily. Two down, two to go. Team training tables don't count against the limit. Three down, one to go.

Pesky practice. Practice is probably required. If the practice part goes over four hours, that's a problem. Especially if you're Allen Iverson.

I truly don't want to be associated with the program back there.

I don't blame you, Toney. You were the 91st best player in the class of 2007 and the 12th best receiver in the nation. Mario Manningham and Adrian Arrington both entered the NFL draft early, opening the door for you to start . . . and you promptly got displaced by Martavious Odoms, the #71 wide receiver and a true freshman from the class of 2008. You could barely get on the field. On top of that, you couldn't beat out Laterryal Savoy for the outside receiver position, a guy who was so bad in practice that he auditioned to play defensive back in the spring of 2007. I would want to forget about that time in my life, too. Those are good reasons to transfer. You know, to disassociate yourself. When I get dumped by a girl, I usually try to forget about it by talking about it for months . . .

. . . wait a minute. You don't want to be associated with Michigan? Then why bring this up? Oh, yeah. This:

But I am going to help benefit my teammates back there by speaking and giving testimony.

Clemons's old teammates want Michigan to lose scholarships, see. He's trying to help them. If there are fewer scholarships and thus fewer quality players, that means his old teammates will get additional playing time. And if they have less practice time, that will make them better football players. More playing time + less practice time = NFL stardom. And if they have less practice time, maybe the kids can improve their collective GPA, which was the football team's highest in twenty years.

Michigan's program in overdrive?

Detroit Free Press writer Michael Rosenberg has released allegations that Rich Rodriguez and his assistant coaches are overworking their players.

Rosenberg's article states that players were required to work more than the NCAA-regulated 20 hours per week during the season and coaches and quality-control staffers watched 7-on-7s that are supposed to be player-run, among other things. The writer's sources are supposedly current and former Michigan players, along with parents of others.

As could be expected, these allegations are causing an uproar in the blogosphere as well as in the college football world. Michigan's football program has never been found guilty of major violations. If Lloyd Carr were still the coach, he and the program might be insulated a bit by the respect he had in the coaching world. But Rodriguez has already been inundated by attacks on his character for at least the last couple years, including the lawsuit by WVU, parting shots by Kurt Wermers and Justin Boren, and the questionable character of Justin Feagin.

The article includes quotes from incoming freshmen Je'Ron Stokes and Brandin Hawthorne, apparently recorded at Michigan's Media Day. They mention having football-related work to do all day during the summer. Their comments can seem pretty damning on the surface, but those quotes aren't evidence of NCAA violations. The quotes Rosenberg uses really make no mention that the coaches were mandating the workouts. If any player wants to work out and do 7-on-7s for 18 hours a day, he's allowed.

But Rosenberg seemingly preyed on two incoming freshmen who likely had very little knowledge of the NCAA rules. It's interesting that the two Michigan sources who didn't request anonymity were 18-year-old kids who haven't even finished their first summer practices. At best, Rosenberg's journalistic efforts seem like poor journalism; at worst, they're downright disingenuous and good reason for Rosenberg to be blackballed by Michigan sources from this point forward.

That being said, it's not unbelievable that some violations occurred. During the season, coaches are allowed 20 hours of mandatory football work per week. Three hours of that come on Saturday, meaning there are 17 hours to spread amongst five other days (the players had Mondays off last year). That's an average of 3.4 hours per day on those five days. Between practices and workouts (film study and visits to the training room don't count), that's not very much time per day. As a frame of reference, high school teams usually practice 2.5 to 3 hours per day in addition to 7 hours of school; college football players aren't in class for nearly that amount of time per day.

One of the biggest variables in this story revolves around the definition of "mandatory." If coaches are present at "voluntary" workouts, they are by definition mandatory. Nobody outside the program knows whether coaches were present at voluntary 7-on-7s, so it's impossible and absurd for Michigan fans to dismiss this story out of hand. That being said, in the modern age of college football, very few workouts are truly "voluntary." Kids need to be in great shape and have their techniques fine-tuned to be competitive. One motto that's repeated in the story is "Workouts aren't mandatory, but neither is playing time." If Player A works extremely hard during voluntary workouts and learns all he can, when the season comes around, he's going to get on the field ahead of Player B, who might only do the required minimum. If coaches were, in fact, present at 7-on-7s or voluntary workouts, that's practically a guarantee that the practices went over the allotted 20-hour weekly limits.

If the NCAA investigates Rosenberg's allegations, sanctions could include a loss of practice time or scholarship restrictions. Either could doom Michigan's chances of regaining its stature as a powerhouse program in major college football in the near future. If Rodriguez's program does incur sanctions such as these, this could be the death knell for Rodriguez as Michigan's coach. Some fans and boosters have already been wary of Rodriguez, and major violations would probably sway another large chunk of fans and boosters.

And you can include me in that group. Whether Rodriguez and his staff are guilty of these allegations, I don't know. If they aren't - and I don't trust Rosenberg as far as I could throw him - then the writer should be blackballed or perhaps even fired. If they are guilty, heads should roll. I don't blame Rodriguez for last year's 3-9 record, but you can't field the worst Michigan team in forty years, commit major program violations, and keep your job.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Mel Kiper likes boys

Specifically, Zoltan Mesko, Brandon Graham, Obi Ezeh, Jonas Mouton, and Donovan Warren.

2009 Countdown: #36 Nick Sheridan

Name: Nick Sheridan
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 218 lbs.
High School: Saline High School in Saline, MI
Position: Quarterback
Class: RS junior
Jersey Number: #8
2008 statistics: 63-for-137 passing, 46% completion percentage, 610 yards, 2 TDs, 5 INTs
Prediction for 2009: Backup quarterback

The subject of much debate both in 2008 and 2009, Sheridan has performed admirably both on the field and in interviews. A former walk-on who just happened to be there when a black hole developed at quarterback for the Wolverines, Sheridan started the opener last year and almost immediately gave way to Steve Threet. Threet's inability to stay healthy led to more playing time for Sheridan on the way to a 3-9 season.

Reports out of camp are that Sheridan has a better command of the offense than either Tate Forcier or Denard Robinson, which only makes sense. But I doubt Sheridan will play much this year at all. I think one of the freshmen (probably Tate Forcier) will start the opener against Western Michigan, and the other freshman will play. Sheridan could be a steadying influence at some point this season if Michigan gets into a game where both freshmen are skittish and having off days; at the very least, Sheridan should be able to make the run game go and hit some bubble screens. But that's about all we can really expect from Sheridan, whose talent is overmatched at this level.

Monday, August 24, 2009

2009 Countdown: #37 J.B. Fitzgerald

Name: J.B. Fitzgerald
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 232 lbs.
High School: West Windsor Plainsboro High School in Princeton Junction, NJ
Position: Inside linebacker
Class: Sophomore
Jersey Number: #42
2008 statistics: 8 tackles
Prediction for 2009: Backup inside linebacker

Fitzgerald was a highly touted linebacker coming out of high school in 2008 and currently rests second on the depth chart at inside linebacker. If either Jonas Mouton or Obi Ezeh gets hurt, Fitzgerald would probably be the first guy on the field to replace them.

Unfortunately for Michigan, there's very little competition at linebacker. All the freshmen (Mike Jones, Isaiah Bell, Brandin Hawthorne) seem destined for the SAM linebacker position, and even redshirt freshman Brandon Smith has reportedly been playing SAM at times. The backups at inside linebacker are Fitzgerald, Kenny Demens, and then walk-ons. This is why linebacker recruiting is so important in the class of 2010.

But I digress. Fitzgerald is a classic middle linebacker, a heavy hitter with a nose for the ball. He won't beat out Ezeh while the latter is still playing on Saturdays, but once Ezeh departs, the MIKE position will be in good hands.

2009 Countdown: #38 Laterryal Savoy

Name: Laterryal Savoy
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 214 lbs.
High School: Mamou High School in Mamou, LA
Position: Wide receiver
Class: 5th year senior
Jersey Number: #82
2008 statistics: 4 catches, 38 yards, 1 TD
Prediction for 2009: Backup wide receiver

Savoy was the #30 receiver in the Rivals class of 2005. That seems . . . high in retrospect. Savoy has had off-field problems during his college career. He's also struggled on the field. He started one game in 2008 and earned significant playing time in several other games, but he only caught four balls.

The most telling play I've seen from Savoy came in a game (which one, I can't remember) last year. Savoy was wide open down the right sideline and the quarterback floated a perfect pass over Savoy's outside shoulder. Savoy turned around awkwardly and promptly ran out of bounds before catching the pass. It was honestly the most awkward adjustment to a ball I've ever seen from a player at such a high level. The way he finished his route was the way I expect my high school linemen to adjust to passes I throw them during water breaks.

With Hemingway returning from injury, don't expect to see Savoy on the field very much. He's supposedly one of the best blocking receivers on the team, but that won't make up for his lack of athleticism and poor hands. Hopefully, he can find a niche on special teams for his fifth and final year at Michigan.

2009 Countdown: #39 Kevin Grady

Name: Kevin Grady
Height: 5'9"
Weight: 230 lbs.
High School: East Grand Rapids High School in Grand Rapids, MI
Position: Running back/fullback
Class: 5th year senior
Jersey Number: #24
2008 statistics: 14 carries, 33 yards, 1 TD
Prediction for 2009: Backup fullback, goal-line and short yardage tailback

Grady has had a somewhat disappointing career so far at Michigan. He came in as a 5-star recruit following Mike Hart's freshman season and people expected him to be Michigan's next great back. But he hasn't produced much and has since been passed up by less-ballyhooed (but still talented) players like Brandon Minor, Michael Cox, Carlos Brown, and Sam McGuffie.

The word from Coach Rodriguez is that Kevin Grady is playing some fullback, and it looks as though he might be a short yardage tailback. Mark Moundros is ahead of Kevin at fullback, but Kevin has a little more speed than Moundros. There are several tailbacks ahead of Kevin, but he's the largest tailback on the roster; he won't run past anyone, but he will run through them.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

2009 Countdown: #40 Martell Webb

Name: Martell Webb
Height: 6'4"
Weight: 245 lbs.
High School: Northern High School in Pontiac, MI
Position: Tight end
Class: Junior
Jersey Number: #80
2008 statistics: N/A
Prediction for 2009: Backup tight end

Webb burned his redshirt in 2007 by playing sparingly and now finds himself a true junior, although he's never caught a pass at Michigan. Practice viewers rave about his athleticism, but the word is that he's had trouble catching the ball. I haven't heard that criticism as much recently, so perhaps he has improved in that area.

A contingent of Michigan coaches has visited both Missouri and Oklahoma over the past two offseasons to do some research on how those two schools have used their tight ends (Chase Coffman and Jermaine Greshman, respectively) so effectively in recent years. Webb figures to be a beneficiary of some of those lessons, although he'll most likely be the second TE on the field. Expect to see Webb in the slot or even perhaps in the backfield on occasion, but don't expect a ton of production. Not only does Webb lack a track record of catching the football, but tight ends in Rodriguez's offense haven't fared well in recent years, either. I think you'll see a slight uptick in the production from the tight ends, but not much - if Webb catches more than five passes all year, I'll be surprised.

2009 Countdown: #41 The Long Snappers

George Morales

With the departure of long-time starting long snapper Sean Griffin, Michigan needs a replacement. The person pictured above is George Morales, the only scholarship long snapper on the team.

Unfortunately for him (and that scholarship), Morales is reportedly third on the depth chart:

1. Tom Pomarico (RS Sophomore)
2. Curt Graman (Freshman)
3. George Morales (RS Freshman)

I'm not sure how the long snapping depth chart will play out, but Michigan fans have been spoiled in recent years with good play from the long snapper. Hopefully, that tradition can continue. Bad special teams snaps can often be the difference between a win and a loss. Considering that the scholarship long snapper is currently the third best at his position, I'm expecting the winner of that battle to turn out to be pretty good.

2009 Countdown: #42 Marell Evans

Originally, Marell Evans was my 42nd-most-important player for the 2009 season. Considering he's decided to transfer, he might be a little lower than that. That's just a guess, though.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

2009 Countdown: #43 Zac Johnson

Name: Zac Johnson
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 199 lbs.
High School: Morenci High School in Morenci, MI
Position: Safety
Class: Redshirt sophomore
Jersey Number: #19
2008 statistics: 8 special teams tackles
Prediction for 2009: Special teams standout

Johnson might seem like an odd pick to be so high on this list, but for one thing, he'll almost surely start (on special teams, at least), whereas a lot of guys lower than this will purely be backups. Johnson made eight special teams tackles last year, and even when he wasn't necessarily making the tackle, he always seemed to be wreaking havoc on returners. His skills make me think he could be a decent safety, as well. He was a state finalist in the 100 meters and 4 x 400 in high school, so he's got a bit of speed. I think he'll continue to be a terror on special teams, and even though I don't think he'll get much of a chance to play on defense, I think he's a valuable asset for the program.

Monday, August 17, 2009

2009 Predictions

In this space will be any predictions for the 2009 season from various national publications (sorry, but your Uncle Leon's predictions don't count...unless he writes for Sports Illustrated). Therefore, we as Michigan fans can keep track of whether anybody knows anything about Michigan football or not.

Big Ten Network (Dave Revsine and Gerry DiNardo): 6-6 overall (Ivan Maisel): Zoltan Mesko is Pre-Season All-America punter (Mark Schlabach and Bruce Feldman): Schlabach predicts a Champs Sports Bowl vs. North Carolina. Feldman predicts a Bowl vs. Cincinnati. 5-7 record, 9th in conference

Sports Illustrated: #53 in the country

The Sporting News: #38 in the country (Beware: He predicts that Dorrestein and Ferrara will anchor the line, so he doesn't know anything.)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Lumberjack Job Security Coming to an End?

Thanks to Bruce Madej, my Uncle Tony can't afford pants.

As I was reading last week's Sports Illustrated, I came across an article about Roberto Nelson.

Yeah, I didn't know he was, either. It turns out he's a 4-star shooting guard from Santa Barbara who committed to Oregon State in the class of 2009.

Anyway, SI asked Nelson to collect all the recruiting mail he received so a reporter could analyze it afterward. Of the 2,161 pieces of mail he received, only 9.3% of it was personalized for Nelson specifically. Those pieces of mail weighed in at 135 lbs. and Nelson barely paid any attention to it.

The reporter then took that mail to a paper expert, who determined how much waste would be produced if every recruit received the same amount of mail as Nelson. The statistics were amazing:

- It would consume 220 tons of wood, a.k.a. 1,526 trees
- It would produce greenhouse emissions equal to what 39 cars pump out each year and use enough energy to power 32 houses for a year
- It would produce 167,034 lbs. of waste (or six garbage truckloads), and 1,423,939 gallons of wastewater (or two swimming pools)

Keep in mind that those statistics are only for the 347 Division I basketball programs; they don't include the 119 FBS football teams, who can offer up to 25 scholarships per year (as opposed to basketball, which offers only a few per class).

Michigan and assistant athletic director Bruce Madej receive mention in the story for being forerunners in the campaign to eliminate the printing of media guides, which can be 208 pages long.

2009 Countdown: #44 Patrick Omameh

Name: Patrick Omameh
Height: 6'4"
Weight: 276 lbs.
High School: St. Francis Desales High School in Columbus, OH
Position: Offensive tackle
Class: RS freshman
Jersey Number: #65
Prediction for 2009: Backup offensive tackle

Omameh (pronounced oh-MAH-mee) has been the surprise of the 2008 recruiting class. Lightly regarded (and light, period) coming out of high school, Omameh was ranked as a defensive end prospect and garnered a late offer from Rich Rodriguez and his staff. Omameh was impressive right off the bat during summer workouts and traveled to away games last season; although he didn't play a down in 2008 and therefore preserved his redshirt, he's battling Mark Huyge for the starting right tackle position.

If Huyge falters this season or if there's an injury at one of the tackle positions, Omameh will quite possibly be the replacement you see on the field. He remains a little light, but he has good agility and a long frame. He may not factor into the 2009 season very significantly, but with Mark Ortmann graduating this year, look for Omameh to take over the left tackle job in 2010.

Terrence Talbott, Wolverine

Huber Heights, OH, cornerback Terrence Talbott committed to Michigan on Friday, along with his brother, Terry. He chose Michigan over offers from Cincinnati, Illinois, Kentucky, and Wisconsin, among others.

Terrence is a 3-star CB at Rivals and listed as 5'10" and 172 lbs. He reportedly ran a 4.47 forty yard dash, but he doesn't look that fast on film. His coach sates that Terrence has a 38- or 39-inch vertical. All stats considered, Terrence is a very good high school athlete . . .

. . . but I remain less impressed with this commitment than all but Drew Dileo's in the 2010 class. Terrence does some things well but doesn't seem to do anything great. He has good speed, but not great. He's a decent tackler, but not great. He has good ball skills, but not great. The best thing I can say for him, from what I've seen, is that he's largely fundamentally sound. You can tell that he's not much of a freelancer, which is always nice to see from star high school athletes.

Some Michigan fans have intimated that Terrence only received a Michigan offer so the Wolverines could get a commitment from Terry, his older brother. I don't think that's true. Michigan's depth at cornerback is dangerously thin at this point and that needs to be shored up immediately. Even if Adrian Witty qualifies to play this year, that only gives Michigan five scholarship cornerbacks (not including Teric Jones, who will probably end up at slot eventually). There are some cornerbacks of higher quality still remaining on Michigan's board (Tony Grimes, Rashad Knight, and Cullen Christian, to name three), but both Knight and Christian could play safety at the next level. Terrence Talbott is a true cornerback prospect.

Fun fact #1: The Talbotts are teammates of 2011 QB prospect Braxton Miller, for whom both Michigan and OSU will be aiming. It's probably not necessary that Michigan gains an elite QB commitment in the class of 2011, but it would be a luxury.

Fun fact #2: The Talbotts aren't twins. Terrence is a year younger than Terry, but they're both on the same grade level.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Terry Talbott, Wolverine

Late last night reported that brothers Terry and Terrence Talbott, from Huber Heights, OH, committed to play for Michigan.

Terry is a defensive lineman whose position is a little blurry. Rivals lists him at 6'4" and 265 lbs. Scouting Ohio lists him at 6'4" and 245 lbs. It's possible that Scouting Ohio is a bit outdated, but on the plus side, at least they agree on his height. The websites list him as a defensive tackle/nose tackle, but I'm not sure that's the best fit for him. He seems more like a defensive end for Greg Robinson's 4-3 under defense. Rivals is notorious for having overstated sizes (Anthony Lalota was 6'6" and 260 lbs. until he got on campus and the spring roster listed him as 6'4" and 235), so I'm more inclined to trust Scouting Ohio.

Even more so than his size, Terry plays like a defensive end. He uses his quickness off the ball to beat blockers to his gap. He's long and lean and uses his hands well to fight off blockers. I wouldn't define him as a speed rusher, but he looks like a 3-4 defensive end to me.

A 3-star prospect to Rivals, Terry chose Michigan over offers from Illinois, MSU, UCLA, and Wisconsin, among others. I expect that Michigan will still pursue at least one true defensive tackle prospect (Sharrif Floyd and Louis Nix, to name a couple). Even though Michigan's defensive tackles are young, there are only three scholarship players on the roster (Mike Martin, Will Campbell, and Renaldo Sagesse). Perhaps more dire is the defensive end position - Brandon Graham graduates this year, and both Adam Patterson and Greg Banks are redshirt juniors. Anthony Lalota is the only DE behind them.

Scouting Ohio video is here.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Marell Evans, ex-Wolverine

Marell Evans has decided to transfer from Michigan. A former 2-star recruit from Varina High School in Richmond, VA (the same high school as running back Brandon Minor), Evans burned his redshirt as a freshman by playing on special teams. He started last year as Michigan's starting SAM but quickly lost that position to . . . anyone else willing to play it.

With the arrival of Greg Robinson as defensive coordinator, Evans switched from SAM to the Quick position and appeared to be battling Brandon Herron, Craig Roh, and Steve Watson for the starting job. Most reports had Herron leading in that battle, and it seems that Evans is looking for more playing time. A reporter recently asked Rich Rodriguez if Evans transferred too soon (i.e. before the depth chart was finalized) and Rodriguez basically said, "There is a chance that guys could move up in the depth chart, but most of the backups know they'll be backups." In other words, if Evans wanted to play, he'd have to go elsewhere.

This leaves the Quick position three-deep (Herron, Roh, Watson). Herron and Watson are redshirt sophomores who have only played special teams. Roh is a true freshman.

It's unclear where Evans will end up, but most kids who transfer seem to end up closer to home and at a slightly smaller program.

Vince Helmuth, ex-Wolverine

Michigan defensive tackle (and former fullback) Vince Helmuth has decided to transfer. Helmuth would have been a junior this year and converted to the defensive line during the 2008 season. He bulked up a little too much for spring practice and Rich Rodriguez called him out during one of his spring practice press conferences.

Despite Helmuth's additional bulk, he was buried on the defensive tackle depth chart this year. With only one regular DT on the field on most snaps, Helmuth was behind Mike Martin, Renaldo Sagesse, and freshman Will Campbell, all of whom are in the same class or younger. This does hurt the depth chart somewhat, as there are only three scholarship defensive tackles remaining on the roster, but at most he probably would have given Martin an occasional breather and helped out on special teams. (For what it's worth, he was my #57 most important player on this year's roster.)

The pain from this transfer is felt threefold:

1) It hurts depth at DT and necessitates landing at least one tackle in the 2010 recruiting class.
2) Helmuth's transfer - along with all the others - has Michigan falling dangerously close to scary APR levels.
3) Helmuth was a local kid (from Saline High School), meaning many Michigan fans were a smidgen more interested in his success.

Early rumors suggest that Helmuth might join his brother at Eastern Michigan (which is now coached by former Michigan defensive coordinator Ron English).

Picture via MVictors.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

2009 Countdown: #45 Je'Ron Stokes

Name: Je'Ron Stokes
Height: 6'0"
Weight: 181 lbs.
High School: Northeast High School in Philadelphia, PA
Position: Wide receiver
Class: Freshman
Jersey Number: #6
Prediction for 2009: Limited playing time at wide receiver

Stokes was a deadline commitment to Michigan and one of the Wolverines' top few recruits. He's behind several upperclassmen at the start of fall camp, but with Greg Mathews and Laterryal Savoy graduating after this year, Stokes should get some reps, if only to prepare him for a larger role in 2010. He has garnered some comparisons to Mario Manningham, which would obviously be a big plus; he's different than any other receiver we have on the roster in that he has the speed and cutting ability to run those deep ins and make something happen. But it remains to be seen whether that will be a part of Rodriguez's game planning with such young quarterbacks throwing the ball.

Picture via

Monday, August 10, 2009

2009 Countdown: #46 Roy Roundtree

Name: Roy Roundtree
Height: 6'0"
Weight: 170 lbs.
High School: Trotwood-Madison High School in Trotwood, OH
Position: Slot receiver
Class: RS freshman
Jersey Number: #12
Prediction for 2009: Backup slot receiver

Roundtree showed in the spring game that he can be a dangerous receiver (2 TDs); however, both those scores came against second- and third-string defenders. It's practically assured that Roundtree will be behind incumbent starter Martavious Odoms; the bigger question is whether he'll be second, third, or lower on the depth chart. I think he'll get the second-most reps at slot receiver, but he's probably not going to run the same kind of routes as someone like Odoms because Roundtree isn't as elusive. Roundtree is more of an outside wide receiver who's playing in the slot, and he'll give Rodriguez and Co. some different options if he comes into the game.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Justin Feagin, drug dealer

A new article from the Detroit Free Press outlines why Justin Feagin was booted from the Michigan football team recently. Not only was Feagin a troubled kid in high school, but he apparently continued to make shady dealings during his freshman year of college.

I commend Rodriguez for booting Feagin from the team, although any coach would probably do the same. But I remain skeptical of Rodriguez's desire for a clean program. I was not a fan of his program when he was at West Virginia, and I can't say that I'm happy with the current direction of Michigan's program. I think the Wolverines will do well on the field during Rodriguez's tenure, but I don't want Ann Arbor to be the Coral Gables of the North.

I'm willing to give Rodriguez a bit of a reprieve for Feagin. Rodriguez needed a mobile quarterback and only had one and a half months to find one. His choices were seemingly limited to Feagin and a kid named B.J. Daniels, who also has troubling circumstances. Without much time to find his ideal quarterback, perhaps Rodriguez and his coaches didn't do a thorough background check on Feagin. Still, anything that happens within this program deserves to be credited to or blamed on Rodriguez. This is no longer "Lloyd Carr's leftovers." This is Rodriguez's team. Hopefully, he won't make that mistake again.

2009 Countdown: #47 Kenny Demens

Name: Kenny Demens
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 236 lbs.
High School: Detroit Country Day School
Position: MIKE linebacker
Class: RS freshman
Jersey Number: #25
Prediction for 2009: Backup MIKE

Demens looks to be the top backup for the middle linebacker position. He initially used up his eligibility last year but was awarded a redshirt after injuring his shoulder and not playing after the Miami game. With recruiting looking the way it does now, Demens might be the very early frontrunner for the 2011 middle linebacker job.

Fun fact: I watched my alma mater get destroyed by Detroit Country Day when Demens was a sophomore. Not knowing who he and Jonas Gray were at the time, I said to a friend, "Whoever those two kids are, they're going to be playing Division I next year." Little did I know that, as good as they were, they both still had two years of high school left.

2009 Countdown: #48 Craig Roh

Name: Craig Roh
Height: 6'4"
Weight: 238 lbs.
High School: Chaparral High School in Scottsdale, AZ
Position: Quick
Class: Freshman
Jersey Number: #88
Prediction for 2009: Backup DE/OLB hybrid ("Quick")

Of the 2009 recruits, Roh is best suited for the Quick position. He's an excellent pass rusher, but he also has the athleticism to play in open space in case he has to cover the flat or an occasional running back out of the backfield. As fall camp begins tomorrow, Roh is probably behind a couple guys (Brandon Herron, perhaps Marell Evans) for playing time, but by the end of the season, I think Roh might earn the starting job.

2009 Countdown: #49 Mike Jones

Name: Mike Jones
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 203 lbs.
High School: Edgewater High School in Orlando, FL
Position: Linebacker
Class: Freshman
Jersey Number: #27
2008 High School Statistics: 60 tackles, 4 sacks, 2 blocked kicks
Prediction for 2009: Backup SAM linebacker

A recent article about Greg Robinson suggests that the safety/linebacker hybrid doesn't really exist. So instead of calling him a backup "Spinner," I'll just call Jones the backup strongside linebacker (SAM). Jones will battle Brandin Hawthorne to back up Steve Brown at the position, and the lead backup will be your likely SAM in 2010.

2009 Countdown: #50 John Ferrara

Name: John Ferrara
Height: 6'4"
Weight: 279 lbs.
High School: Monsignor Farrell School on State Island, NJ
Position: Offensive guard
Class: RS junior
Jersey Number: #74
2008 statistics: 5 starts at left guard
Prediction for 2009: Backup guard

Due to many factors - the Great Migration of 2008, low recruiting numbers during the Carr era, injury to Mark Huyge, etc. - Ferrara moved from defensive tackle to offensive guard on the fly during fall camp last year. Despite garnering a fair amount of playing time as a redshirt freshman defensive tackle (12 games, 2 tackles, 1 TFL) in 2007, Ferrara agreed to the switch and pretty quickly beat out Tim McAvoy for the starting left guard position. He started five games there last year, but Steve Schilling has moved inside to guard, rendering Ferrara an afterthought as of now. He has starting experience and played pretty well in the second half of last year, but he probably won't play much this year, and he'll have to battle Ricky Barnum and Rocko Khoury for playing time in 2010.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

A Day in the Life of a Coach

This is slightly off-topic, but since it's my blog . . . I guess it's on-topic. I'm a high school teacher* and football coach, and today is the first day of two-a-days. I am not a varsity head coach; if I were, I wouldn't have time to keep up with this blog. For those of you who haven't coached or haven't played high school football, I figured I'd give you a brief breakdown of what an average week of coaching looks like. Hopefully, you can understand why posting might become a little more sporadic.

*I'm a teacher who actually teaches a core subject, not P.E. or Driver's Ed.

5:45 a.m. Wake up
7:00 a.m. Arrive at school
8:00 a.m. Begin teaching
2:30 p.m. School ends
2:40 p.m. Enter the field house; take care of pre-practice duties
3:00 p.m. Begin defensive practice
5:30 p.m. End practice
6:00 p.m. Freshman game begins
7:30 p.m. Junior varsity game begins
9:30 p.m. Junior varsity game ends
10:00 p.m. Arrive home

5:45 a.m. Wake up
7:00 a.m. Arrive at school
8:00 a.m. Begin teaching
2:30 p.m. School ends
2:40 p.m. Enter field house; take care of pre-practice duties
3:00 p.m. Begin offensive practice
5:30 p.m. End practice; game plan meetings; watch opponent film
7:30 p.m. Arrive home; grade papers; plan lessons
11:00 p.m. Go to bed

5:45 a.m. Wake up
7:00 a.m. Arrive at school
8:00 a.m. Begin teaching
2:30 p.m. School ends
2:40 p.m. Enter field house; take care of pre-practice duties
3:00 p.m. Begin defensive practice
5:30 p.m. End practice; game plan meetings
7:00 p.m. Arrive home; grade papers; plan lessons
11:00 p.m. Go to bed

5:45 a.m. Wake up
7:00 a.m. Arrive at school
8:00 a.m. Begin teaching
2:30 p.m. School ends
2:40 p.m. Enter field house; take care of pre-practice duties
3:00 p.m. Begin offensive walk-through
5:00 p.m. End walk-through; analyze practices; finalize game plan; remove adjustments that won't be useful
8:00 p.m. Arrive home; grade papers; plan lessons

5:45 a.m. Wake up
7:00 a.m. Arrive at school
8:00 a.m. Begin teaching
2:30 p.m. School ends
3:00 p.m. Team dinner in school cafeteria
4:00 p.m. Team gets dressed; meet with individual players and coaches
5:30 p.m. Pre-game walk-through
6:30 p.m. Re-enter locker room for pre-game speeches and last-minute adjustments
7:00 p.m. Begin game
9:30 p.m. Win game
12:00 a.m. Arrive home

6:30 a.m. Wake up
7:00 a.m. Arrive at field house; review game film
8:00 a.m. Team breakfast
8:30 a.m. Team film session
10:00 a.m. Supervise weightlifting session
11:30 a.m. Arrive home
12:00 p.m. Watch Michigan football game

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

2009 Countdown: #51 J.T. Floyd

Name: J.T. Floyd
Height: 6'0"
Weight: 183 lbs.
High School: J.L. Mann High School in Greenville, SC
Position: Cornerback
Class: RS freshman
Jersey Number: #12
Prediction for 2009: Backup cornerback

It was unclear to many fans whether Floyd would play cornerback or safety, but he's a cornerback now, perhaps partly because of the depth at the position. Floyd redshirted in 2008 and should get limited playing time this year. There are only five scholarship cornerbacks on the roster, so it's practically guaranteed. But buzz about Floyd has been practically non-existent, so I don't believe he will make a huge contribution this year.

2009 Countdown: #52 Jeremy Gallon

Name: Jeremy Gallon
Height: 5'8"
Weight: 165 lbs.
High School: Apopka High School in Apopka, FL
Position: Slot receiver
Class: Freshman
Jersey Number: #29
Prediction for 2009: Backup slot receiver, part-time kick returner

Gallon took a bit of extra time qualifying academically, but he's in Ann Arbor now and expected to contribute this year. He is extremely slippery and a strong runner for his size. Rodriguez has shown that he wants to get his best athletes on the field, so I don't think Gallon will redshirt. However, Martavious Odoms started for the entire year at slot receiver, and Gallon will have to fight with Terrence Robinson and Roy Roundtree for playing time in the slot. It would be nice if starters such as Odoms, Boubacar Cissoko, and Donovan Warren can save their energy for their respective positions, so I'm hoping Gallon's biggest contribution will be returning some punts and kickoffs throughout the year.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

2009 Countdown: #53 Brandin Hawthorne

Name: Brandin Hawthorne
Height: 6'0"
Weight: 198 lbs.
High School: Pahokee High School in Pahokee, FL
Position: Spinner
Class: Freshman
Jersey Number: #7
2008 high school senior statistics: 113 tackles, 48 TFL, 27 sacks, 6 FF, 5 FR
Prediction for 2009: Redshirt

Hawthorne was a defensive end, linebacker, and safety in high school. Reports out of camp suggest that he's been playing the spinner position but he's behind a couple other players. I also don't think the spinner will be an every-down position, so Steve Brown won't need much relief. One or more of the backup spinners should be redshirted, and I'm guessing Hawthorne will be watching from the sideline.

2009 Countdown: #54 Tim McAvoy

Name: Tim McAvoy
Height: 6'6"
Weight: 291 lbs.
High School: Bloomington High School in Bloomington, IL
Position: Offensive guard/center
Class: 5th year senior
Jersey Number: #62
2008 statistics: 5 starts at left guard
Prediction for 2009: Backup center

McAvoy started five games at guard last year and has played center in the past. As a fifth year senior, he should be pretty adept at reading defenses and calling out blocking schemes and protections. He lost his starting guard job to a converted DT last year, so he's probably not starter material. But as the only player who has snapped the ball behind David Molk, he could be useful as a backup at all three interior line spots.

2009 Countdown: #55 William Campbell

Name: William Campbell
Height: 6'5"
Weight: 318 lbs.
High School: Cass Technical High School in Detroit, MI
Position: Defensive tackle
Class: Freshman
Jersey Number: #73
2008 Statistics: 55 tackles, 22 TFL, 9 sacks, 2 FF, 2 FR, 1 TD
Prediction for 2009: Backup defensive tackle

Campbell (pictured above, killing a guy) was Michigan's top-rated recruit in the class of 2009. Michigan fans are expecting a lot from Campbell, but they need to remember that defensive tackle is not typically a position where true freshmen make a huge impact. Campbell had virtually no technique in high school; he simply used his size and strength to toss around the guys who were much smaller and weaker than him. As it is, Campbell is third on the depth chart at nose tackle. He'll probably see a few snaps a game in the base defense, and he'll be a clogger in the middle on goal-line or short yardage situations. Give this kid a year or two and he could be a monster if he learns proper technique.

2009 Countdown: #56 James Rogers

Name: James Rogers
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 182 lbs.
High School: Lamphere High School in Madison Heights, MI
Position: Wide receiver
Class: Junior
Jersey Number: #18
2008 statistics: 3 catches, 64 yards, 2 tackles on special teams
Prediction for 2009: Backup wide receiver, special teams contributor

Personally, I think Rogers has got a raw deal so far in his Michigan career. Carr's staff allowed him to burn his redshirt in 2007, playing him on special teams and sparingly at cornerback. Then Rodriguez moved him to wide receiver in 2008, where he caught 3 passes for 64 yards (a 21.3 yard average) but could barely get any snaps. Perhaps he has attitude issues I don't know of, but he's performed well when given the opportunity. He's not going to make many people miss, but he does have good speed and seemingly good hands. Hopefully Michigan can take advantage of his talents this season.

2009 Countdown: #57 Vince Helmuth

Name: Vince Helmuth
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 291 lbs.
High School: Saline High School in Saline, MI
Position: Defensive tackle
Class: Junior
Jersey Number: #32
Prediction for 2009: Special teams contributor

Helmuth is the only scholarship player on the team to be brought in as a fullback. The problem is, he's now a defensive tackle. He was a fullback/defensive end in high school, played some DE in practices last fall, and this winter he ate a lot of pizza and turned into a DT. Reports suggest that he's well behind the other nose tackles on the roster, but as a former running back, he does have some agility and speed that the others lack. I would not expect to see him much on defense, but that speed and size could be used on punt coverage and in the return game.

2009 Countdown: #58 Perry Dorrestein

Name: Perry Dorrestein
Height: 6'7"
Weight: 306 lbs.
High School: Central High School in Plainfield, IL
Position: Offensive tackle
Class: RS junior
Jersey Number: #79
2008 stats: 4 starts at OT
Prediction for 2009: Backup offensive tackle

Dorrestein was Michigan's top backup tackle last year. He started three games at LT and one at RT with the constant reshuffling and the injuries to Mark Ortmann and Steve Schilling. However, buzz from spring practice makes it seem as though Dorrestein is in a fight with Patrick Omameh to remain the first tackle off the bench. Dorrestein played pretty well in his limited duty, and while he probably won't play a lot, he's not a huge liability if there's an injury to the guys ahead of him.

Monday, August 3, 2009

2009 Countdown: #59 Ricky Barnum

Name: Ricky Barnum
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 275 lbs.
High School: Lake Gibson High School in Lakeland, FL
Position: Offensive line
Class: RS freshman
Jersey Number: #56
Prediction for 2009: Backup guard

Barnum has been getting a lot of hype for his work along the offensive line in practices and workouts. Unfortunately, he missed the majority of the spring due to a wrist injury and the subsequent surgery on said wrist. He's a guy who could contribute at any of the offensive line positions, but guard is probably his best spot. He won't start this year, but he'll be a top backup on the interior line.

2009 Countdown: #60 Kevin Leach

Name: Kevin Leach
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 206 lbs.
High School: Grand Rapids Catholic Central in Kentwood, MI
Position: Weakside linebacker
Class: RS sophomore
Jersey Number: #52
Last year: 2 assists, 1 fumble recovery
Prediction for 2009: Spot duty on defense, special teams contributor

Rich Rodriguez has stated that he wants to get contributions from walk-ons, and Leach is one of those guys. Depth is thin at linebacker, but Leach was getting mentioned all last year as a guy who could play if needed. He probably won't play much defense in 2009, but he's capable of making plays on kick coverages.

2009 Countdown: #61 Tim North

Name: Tim North
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 246 lbs.
High School: Linden High School in Linden, MI
Position: Defensive end
Class: 5th year senior
Jersey Number: #89
Prediction for 2009: Special teams contributor

North might seem like an unusual choice to be included higher than several scholarship players, but he's contributed on special teams and even on defense in 2007, despite being a former walk-on. He's been good enough to earn one-year scholarships the past couple years and will probably be on scholarship again this season. He's consistently a presence on special teams units and even though he probably lacks a position in Greg Robinson's defense (too small for DE, too slow for OLB), you'll likely see him make a couple tackles in kick and punt coverage this season.

2009 Countdown: #62 Brandon Moore

Name: Brandon Moore
Height: 6'6"
Weight: 243 lbs.
High School: Trotwood-Madison High School in Trotwood, OH
Position: Tight end
Class: RS freshman
Jersey Number: #88
Prediction for 2009: Special teams duty

It was rumored that Moore would bulk up to play offensive tackle. However, in pictures from this spring, he looks thin even at 243 lbs. I think he'll remain at tight end, but Moore is currently third on the depth chart and doesn't seem to have much of a shot at passing the guys ahead of him anytime soon. He reportedly had difficulty catching the ball during practices but has been working hard in the weight room for a chance to contribute whenever he can.

2009 Countdown: #63 Rocko Khoury

Name: Rocko Khoury
Height: 6'5"
Weight: 283 lbs.
High School: Traverse City West in Traverse City, MI
Position: Center/guard
Class: RS freshman
Jersey Number: #63
Prediction for 2009: Backup center

Khoury looks to be the backup center behind incumbent David Molk this season. He could also face a challenge from fifth year senior Tim McAvoy, but McAvoy lost his starting job last year to a guy who had just recently converted from DT. Khoury could also play some guard, but he'll be fighting to find a spot on the two-deep.