Friday, May 25, 2012

Phil Steele's preseason All-Big Ten Team

The famed Phil Steele released his preseason All-Big Ten list on Wednesday, and since Steele is often pretty accurate with his predictions, I'll give them a look.  You can click through to see the whole team, but here are Michigan's representatives on his four-deep list:

Denard Robinson
WR: Roy Roundtree
OT: Taylor Lewan

Fitzgerald Toussaint
LB: Kenny Demens
CB: J.T. Floyd
S: Jordan Kovacs

Patrick Omameh
DE: Craig Roh
PR: Jeremy Gallon

Jeremy Gallon
S: Thomas Gordon

I don't have many qualms with Steele's selections, but if we're talking about pure talent, Fitzgerald Toussaint is superior to Rex Burkhead.  Burkhead is a fine back, but he's a four-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust running back.  Toussaint has speed, power, and elusiveness.  The only thing holding Toussaint back is the fact that he has to share carries with quarterback Denard Robinson in a "pro style" offense that also distributes the ball to tight ends and receivers.  For Nebraska, the ball is in Burkhead's hands or those of quarterback Taylor Martinez.  That's the only reason that the Cornhuskers running back had more rushing yards last season.  In total, Burkhead had almost 100 carries more than Toussaint (284 to 187) but only had 316 more yards (1,357 to 1,041).  If Michigan had given Toussaint the ball 97 more times and he only averaged 3.26 yards a carry, then he could have equaled Burkhead's output.  On the flip side, if Toussaint had maintained his 5.6 yards per carry for 97 more carries, he would have ended the year with 1,581 yards.

And that's my case for Fitzgerald Toussaint being awesome.

And I hate to be a Debbie Downer for Michigan fans, but Roy Roundtree hasn't shown that he can be one of the two best receivers in the conference; he was great as a slot receiver two years ago, but he struggled on the outside last season.  I would also probably take Darqueze Dennard and/or Terry Hawthorne over J.T. Floyd for the second team, but statistically, Floyd isn't a bad choice.


  1. Wow, that is pretty ambitious for a national writer to go 4-deep on an pre-season all-conference list. He is missing Jake Ryan and Blake Countess - both will be post-season 2nd teamers. Agree that there is no way Roundtree is a 1st team guy.

  2. How do Deveon Smith and Wyatt Shallman compare to Burkhead?

    1. This is a very strange question. Burkhead doesn't really compare to either one; despite his steady four-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust style, he's a bit of a slasher rather than a beefy pile-pusher.

    2. I know the difference between Shallman and Burkhead... Burkhead is a feature back and Shallman will never see significant carries at UM. Shallman basically gets the same results as Burkhead except it's against HS competition. Smith looks like a much more powerful runner than Burkhead.

  3. I too would flip roundtree and toussaint. Surprised with TGordon listed and not freshman standout countess too. I would also consider Kovacs for first team billing, honestly.

  4. It's May, so there's nothing really happening in football, but it's hard to take seriously a pre-season all conference team published 2 months before fall practice even starts.

  5. Let's not forget that Fitzgerald wasn't the number one guy really until some point during the season too.