Monday, August 20, 2012

2012 Season Countdown: #10 Thomas Gordon

Thomas Gordon
Name: Thomas Gordon
Height: 5'11"
Weight: 207 lbs.
High school: Detroit (MI) Cass Tech
Position: Safety
Class: Redshirt junior
Jersey number: #30
Last year: I ranked Gordon #34 and said he would be the slot corner.  He started 10 games at free safety, making 67 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, 2 pass breakups, 1 interception, 2 forced fumbles, and 4 fumble recoveries.

For a redshirt sophomore playing his first season at free safety, Gordon had an outstanding season in 2011.  In the spring of last year, he was practicing at slot corner and doing an excellent job.  The lack of depth at free safety - perhaps combined with Gordon's playmaking abilities - jumped him into the top spot playing center field.  Toward the beginning of the year, he had a highlight-reel, one-handed interception on a double pass against Eastern Michigan; he also picked up a fumble in that game and went on to grab three more on the year.  For some unknown reason, he lost some playing time late in the season to Troy Woolfolk (who lost his cornerback job), despite only an occasional slip-up like in the Nebraska game.  Overall, he was a very solid player.

Now he's the incumbent free safety with no strong challenger for his job, but he has been rumored to be the best defensive player on the team; that was the case in the spring, and the rumors have persisted so far this fall.  He will never be the fastest free safety, but he rarely gets out of position, tackles well, and always seems to be around the football.  Gordon's primary backup appears to be freshman Jarrod Wilson, and true freshman safeties make me nervous.  Wilson needs to sharpen his skills in non-critical moments until he gains the awareness and strength not to be a liability back there.  Josh Furman and Marvin Robinson could also play free safety, but neither one excels in space.  Provided he stays healthy, this should be a bit of a breakout season for Gordon, who could earn some all-conference honors if he continues to improve.

Prediction: Starting free safety; 70 tackles, 2 interceptions; All-Big Ten Honorable Mention

Poll results: Gordon was first with 59% of the vote.


  1. Kind of ironic that of all the (over)hyped players that have come out of Cass Tech recently, Gordon might end up being the best contributor at UM from that school in a while.

  2. Good post. Nice to hear you be so high on him. I could see him breakout now that his position and role seem settled, but I do wonder if his talent level is there to be an all-conference player. Have to give credit to him - Gordon's a guy who has forced his way into the lineup at different positions. He deserves to have the 'he's just a football player' cliche applied.

    I think you're right about the true freshman backup (even an EE) being a big concern at FS. I do wonder if it would come to that, given that Marvin Robinson is rumored to be doing quite well at SS, and Furman brings speed and maybe more. This coaching staff seems to view the safety positions to be somewhat interchangeable, and Gordon himself seemed more of a SS type.

    Given the options a safety I feel fairly confident Michigan can survive an injury back there. They'll be weaker without Gordon or Kovacs, but I think Robinson, Furman, and even Wilson (given his recruiting profile) can be okay - at least against the lower half of the Big 10.

    1. Robinson at FS would give us a pretty slow duo back there, and Furman doesn't look like he's close to being starter quality. I have yet to see the latter make a play in games, spring games, or even practice videos.

    2. I think whether its Kovacs, Gordon, or Robinson, we're not going to have too much speed at either safety position until the '12 and '13 recruiting classes start to take over. As long as they play smart we'll be OK.

    3. Playing smart speeds you up a little bit. Robinson isn't really known for his football IQ, though...