Monday, April 30, 2012

Rivals: How rated this weekend's draft picks

Alex Zerega
Here's an interesting look at how Rivals rated the 2012 NFL Draft picks when they were coming out of high school.  Here they are by rounds: Round 1, Rounds 2-3, and Rounds 4-7.  In the first round, there were four former 5-stars, thirteen former 4-stars, and ten former 3-stars.  Four former 2-stars made the cut, and 28-year-old quarterback Brandon Weeden graduated high school before Rivals started doing ratings.

Ask a Question: James Ross

It's easy to figure out that James Ross is a great prospect.  Take a look at his TTB commitment post, his TTB recruiting awards (yes, that's plural) or his consensus four star status among the major recruiting sites.  Ross also has an offer list that includes USC, Ohio State and Notre Dame, and he's an alumnus of the U.S. Army All-American game and the International Bowl.

But really, his film speaks for itself.

I should be talking with James sometime in the near future, so leave a question for him if you'd like, and I'll address it the interview.

Video: Mike Martin - NFL Draft Preview

This is a little late, but whatever.

Recruiting Update: April 30, 2012

Upper Marlboro (MD) Frederick Douglass wide receiver Paul Harris

ADDED TO THE BOARD (2013, 2014)

Upper Marlboro (MD) Frederick Douglass wide receiver Paul Harris was offered by Michigan.  The 6'3", 187 lb. Harris had 38 catches for 875 yards (23.0 yards per catch) and 13 touchdowns as a junior in 2011.  He also has offers from Maryland, Michigan State, Penn State, and USC, among others.  He plans to visit Ann Arbor on June 21 for a one-day camp.

Paramus (NJ) Paramus Catholic cornerback Jabrill Peppers, a 2014 prospect, received a Michigan offer.  He's a 6'0", 190 lb. athlete with offers from Florida, LSU, Rutgers, and South Carolina, among others.  He transferred in the offseason from Ramsey (NJ) Don Bosco Prep, a school that has produced many top-notch prospects in recent years.

Chandler (AZ) Hamilton offensive tackle Casey Tucker, a 2014 target, was offered by Michigan.  The 6'6", 275-pounder also has offers from Arizona State, Oregon State, and Washington.  Hamilton is also the home of 2013 cornerback target Cole Luke, 2011 offensive tackle target Christian Westerman (Auburn), and 2008 running back target Covaughn DeBoskie (Cal).

Sunday, April 29, 2012 Mike Martin selected by Titans in third round

Sherri Tiara Lansang
Michigan defensive tackle Mike Martin was drafted in the third round of the NFL Draft on Friday night . . . and he cried.  He cried.  There's nothing wrong with a man crying, but I thought he was the Hulk.  The Hulk doesn't cry.

Video: Michigan 13, Ohio State 13 (1992)

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Michael Shaw, Washington Redskin

Congratulations to running back Michael Shaw, who has agreed to terms with the Washington Redskins.

Troy Woolfolk, Dallas Cowboy

Congratulations to defensive back and Texas native Troy Woolfolk, who agreed to a deal with the Dallas Cowboys as an undrafted free agent immediately following the NFL Draft.

Ryan Van Bergen, Carolina Panther

Congratulations to defensive lineman Ryan Van Bergen, who announced immediately following the NFL Draft that he is expecting to sign with the Carolina Panthers.

WXYZ: Mike Martin's journey from Catholic Central to NFL

Ashton Torres
Local product Mike Martin got drafted by the Titans!

Junior Hemingway, Kansas City Chief

Congratulations to wide receiver Junior Hemingway, who was drafted in the seventh round (#238 overall) by the Kansas City Chiefs this evening.  Hemingway joins fellow Wolverine Steve Breaston, and may also find some time to spend with his good friend James Rogers, who lives in the area and plays for the arena league team the KC Command.

David Molk, San Diego Charger

Congratulations to center David Molk, who was drafted in the seventh round (#226 overall) by the San Diego Chargers today.  Molk joins fellow Wolverines Stephen Schilling and Jonas Mouton, who were selected by the Chargers in last year's NFL Draft. with Molk's reaction.

Mike Martin, Tennessee Titan

Congratulations to defensive tackle Mike Martin, who was drafted in the third round (#82 overall) by the Tennessee Titans last night.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Smart Football: "If you really want play action, you better pull a guard"

Siobhan Parekh
Smart Football  talks about creating convincing play-action by pulling an offensive guard.  Some high schoolers are too inexperienced to realize what a pulling guard means (or they're just slow to react), but at higher levels, defenders start to react quicker.

Ask a Question: Kyle Kalis

Kyle Kalis is a five-star offensive lineman who can claim offers from Alabama, Florida, Ohio State, LSU, and Notre Dame.  Most likely NFL bound, Kyle "just wants to tear your head off," according to Michigan offensive line coach Darrell Funk, while he expects "blood on the field" when playing against Ohio State.

And as you can see, he also has excellent taste in men's ties.

If you have a question for Kyle, leave it in the comments section, and I'll bring it up when I interview him.

2012 NFL Draft Preview: Michigan-style

Mike Martin will probably be the first Wolverine drafted, but not until Friday night
Last year saw only linebacker Jonas Mouton and offensive tackle Steve Schilling get drafted, both by the San Diego Chargers.  It's no sure thing that Michigan will beat that number this year, especially now that tight end Kevin Koger suffered an Achilles injury.  Here's a look at the Wolverines who are eligible for the draft:

Mike Martin, DT
Martin is the likely top choice out of Michigan.  He's 6'1 3/8", 306 lbs. and ran a 4.86 forty yard dash at the NFL Combine.  He also put up 36 repetitions on the 225 lb. bench press.  Martin is too undersized to play nose tackle in the NFL, but I think he can play as a defensive end in a 3-4 look or as a 3-tech defensive tackle in a 4-3 defense.  Martin is pretty quick and uses leverage very well, and best of all, he's a hard worker with a good motor.  I don't know if Martin will be a Pro Bowler, but he could have a ten-year career.
Projection: 3rd round to Chargers

David Molk, C
Molk is 6'0 7/8", 298 lbs. and ran a 5.2 forty.  The general knock on Molk is that he's not very big, which is true.  He is very quick, though, and excelled in the zone blocking system run by Rich Rodriguez from 2008-2010.  Molk looks like an NFL backup, but one of the problems with him will be that he doesn't offer any position flexibility - he's a center and that's it.  Lots of teams like their backup centers to be able to be plugged in at guard, too.  I doubt anyone's going to hand Molk a starting center job, but he could be brought in as the heir apparent to a veteran center or to work in for a zone running team.
Projection: 5th round to Texans

Junior Hemingway, WR
Hemingway is 6'0 7/8", 225 lbs., and ran a 4.51 forty yard dash at the NFL Combine, which is much faster than I expected him to run.  Hemingway doesn't play that fast, and his real strength seems to be the timing on his jump balls and his ability to outmuscle opposing receivers.  For a receiver with just average height, 225 lbs. is a lot.  Hemingway struggled with staying healthy early in his career, and his inability to get separation consistently limit him to being a possession receiver at the next level.
Projection: 6th round to Bears

Ryan Van Bergen, DE
Van Bergen is a 6'4 1/2", 290 lb. defensive end with a 4.99 forty.  He's a high character guy who has a little bit of surprising athleticism.  He lacks the pass rush abilities to make a star-level impact at the next level, but he could be an Aaron Smith-like defensive end for a 3-4 team or a left/strongside end for a 4-3 team.  I think he might be able to play for five or six years, but his ceiling is probably a journeyman type of career.
Projection: Undrafted

Kevin Koger, TE
Koger measured in at 6'3 3/4" and 253 lbs. with a 4.8 forty.  He was borderline draftable before hurting his Achilles, so I sincerely doubt whether he'll get picked.  Koger has decent size and speed, but he's not a particularly good runner after the catch and his hands are a bit shaky.  He might be able to be a second or third tight end for someone, but I don't think he'll ever be a starter.
Projection: Undrafted

Other undrafted players: WR Kelvin Grady, OT Mark Huyge, WR Martavious Odoms, RB Michael Shaw, CB Troy Woolfolk

Wednesday, April 25, 2012 Steve Watson sets a record for positions played

Amber Houser
I never realized that Steve Watson set a record at Michigan (and I'm not sure how "official" the record is), but jeez, this guy bounced around a lot.  His 4.6 forty really surprised me at Michigan's pro day.

2012 NFL Draft: Mock Draft

My guess is that Iowa offensive tackle Riley Reiff will be the first Big Ten player drafted
I'm not an NFL expert, but I like doing this anyway.  I did okay in 2011 and 2010 and here's my mock 2012 NFL Draft.  Debate away!

1. Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck - QB - Stanford
The Colts have already told Luck that he'll be the choice, and I think Luck is the most Peyton Manning-like quarterback to come out of college since . . . Peyton Manning.  He's an extremely intelligent player.

2. Washington Redskins: Robert Griffin III - QB - Baylor
I hate the potential because I don't like the Redskins and they tend to mess up everybody they pick in the draft, so this is the beginning of the end of Griffin's career.

3. Minnesota Vikings: Matt Kalil - OT - USC
The Vikings need to rebuild, and that has to happen at quarterback and on the offensive and defensive lines. With both of the top quarterbacks gone, they need a blindside tackle to take the spot long held by Bryant McKinnie.

4. Cleveland Browns: Trent Richardson - RB - Alabama
The Browns have been building their offensive line a little bit, but with Peyton Hillis gone to the Chiefs, they need a horse to run the ball.  Running the ball is still extremely important in the AFC North.

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Morris Claiborne - CB - LSU
With Bill Sheridan as the new defensive coordinator in Tampa Bay, he needs a cornerback who can make some plays.  Claiborne is the top corner in the class.

6. St. Louis Rams: Justin Blackmon - WR - Oklahoma State
Sam Bradford has proven that he can throw the ball around the field, but he needs a good receiver if he wants to get the Rams back to being "The Greatest Show on Turf."

7. Jacksonville Jaguars: Melvin Ingram - DE - South Carolina
I really like Ingram, and the Jaguars need a pass rush since they drafted a couple defensive end busts a few years ago (Derrick Harvey, Quentin Groves).

8. Miami Dolphins: Ryan Tannehill - QB - Texas A&M
The 2012 Jake Locker/Christian Ponder Award goes to the Miami Dolphins, who reach for a quarterback in the first round.  Ugh.

9. Carolina Panthers: Fletcher Cox - DT - Mississippi State
Cox is a good defensive tackle, but I don't know if he's deserving of this high a pick.  I'm not extremely impressed with any of this year's defensive tackles, really.

10. Buffalo Bills: Riley Reiff - OT - Iowa
I really liked Reiff when he was at Iowa.  He seems like the type of guy who will start his career at left tackle but eventually move inside or flip to the right side.

11. Kansas City Chiefs: Luke Kuechly - LB - Boston College
The Chiefs need a tackling machine in the middle of their defense.  They could also use an anchor in the middle of the defensive line, but nobody's worth taking at #11.

12. Seattle Seahawks: Quentin Coples - DE - North Carolina
This seems to be the typical range for teams to start loading up on defensive ends.  Coples was pretty productive at UNC and the Seahawks could use an edge rusher.

13. Arizona Cardinals: David Decastro - OG - Stanford
The Cardinals need to shore up their offensive line now that their offense seems to be sputtering a little bit.

14. Dallas Cowboys: Mark Barron - SS - Alabama
Barron reminds me of former Cowboys safety Roy Williams, who was overrated.  And what better team to take an overrated player than the Dallas Cowboys?

15. Philadelphia Eagles: Michael Brockers - DT - LSU
I don't think Brockers is a future superstar, but he is a solid run stopper.

16. New York Jets: Nick Perry - DE/OLB - USC
Ah, if only the Detroit King product had come to Michigan . . .  Anyway, he seems like an active run stopper at outside linebacker for a 3-4 team.  I think he would get lost as a true defensive end in a 4-3.

17. Cincinnati Bengals: Chandler Jones - DE - Syracuse
I'm torn between picking an offensive lineman or Jones here, but offense line doesn't look very deep this year.  Maybe they can get one with their next pick.

18. San Diego Chargers: Whitney Mercilus - DE - Illinois
The Bengals took Cory Liuget out of Illinois at #18 last year, so I'm just doing this for the hell of it.

19. Chicago Bears: Dontari Poe - DT - Memphis
The Bears have a lot of parts to create a great defense, but what they lack is good anchor play in the middle.   Poe is overrated, but the Bears will probably take him here and then watch him turn into a bust.

20. Tennessee Titans: Stephon Gilmore - CB - South Carolina
Since Cortland Finnegan signed with the Rams in the off-season, Gilmore could fill his spot at cornerback.

21. Cincinnati Bengals: Michael Floyd - WR - Notre Dame
The Bengals have A.J. Green, but Floyd could be the big possession guy opposite him.  This would give quarterback Andy Dalton two very good targets on the outside.

22. Cleveland Browns: Stephen Hill - WR - Georgia Tech
The Browns need lots of help on offense, and Hill would be a big play threat almost immediately.  Hill didn't catch a lot of balls at Georgia Tech, but he's an athletic freak in the same mold as a couple of his Yellowjacket predecessors.

23. Detroit Lions: Dre Kirkpatrick - CB - Alabama
The Lions desperately need a cornerback and they haven't had a really solid one for several years.  The games against Green Bay and New Orleans last season really exposed the secondary.

24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Jonathan Martin - OT - Stanford
The Steelers have been fielding a patchwork offensive line for the past few seasons and it shows.

25. Denver Broncos: Jerel Worthy - DT - Michigan State
I hope he fails.

26. Houston Texans: Rueben Randle - WR - LSU
I really like the Texans and think they're a pretty solid overall team.  Randle would help make this offense virtually unstoppable.

27. New England Patriots: Courtney Upshaw - DE/OLB - Alabama
The Patriots need an edge rusher and haven't had a solid one for the last several years.  Defense wins championships, but Bill Belichick's defense has been struggling recently.

28. Green Bay Packers: Shea McClellin - DE - Boise State
The Packers offense seems to be chugging along just fine, so I think they need to upgrade the front seven.  McClellin seems like a guy who would fit in well there.

29. Baltimore Ravens: Peter Konz - C - Wisconsin
Matt Birk is probably about to retire, and the Ravens are a run-heavy football team.

30. San Francisco 49ers: Kevin Zeitler - OG - Wisconsin
The 49ers are solid on defense, and since they love to run the ball, they could use a big and powerful run blocker on the interior.

31. New England Patriots: Dont'a Hightower - LB - Alabama
Just like with the Upshaw pick, Hightower could make their front seven quite formidable.

32. New York Giants: David Wilson - RB - Virginia Tech
Wilson is a tough inside runner with a little bit of burst, and they could use an upgrade in the backfield.

Scouting Report: Antwuan Davis

Bastrop (TX) Bastrop CB Antwuan Davis
Name: Antwuan Davis
Height: 6'0"
Weight: 180 lbs.
Position: Cornerback
Class: 2013
School: Bastrop (TX) Bastrop

Notes: Holds offers from Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Baylor, Florida, Houston, Iowa State, LSU, Michigan, Mississippi, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, SMU, TCU, Tennessee, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, and Vanderbilt . . . Claims a 4.4-second forty-yard dash . . . Missed half his junior season with broken bone in his back . . . ESPN 4-star cornerback, 80 grade, #13 cornerback, #147 overall . . . Rivals 4-star cornerback, #14 cornerback, #171 overall . . . Scout 4-star cornerback, #15 cornerback . . . 247 Sports 3-star, 88 grade, #34 cornerback

Strengths: Very physical player . . . Solid tackler . . . Wraps up ball carriers well rather than diving at knees or ankles . . . Physical with blockers and uses hands well to shed them . . . Should grow to be 195 lbs. or so . . . Excellent make-up speed . . . Transitions well out of backpedal

Weaknesses: Needs to work on pursuit angles rather than counting on speed to bail him out . . . Could be more aggressive and physical when rerouting receivers off the line of scrimmage . . . Does not change directions well when transitioning from backpedal to breaking on underneath routes

Projection: Cornerback.  Davis looks like a boundary corner at the next level because he's a physical player who should be able to hold his own in the run game.  He has good size at 6'0" but doesn't show the instincts to look like a future safety, so I think he'll stick on the edge.  He has very good speed and should be able to turn and run with most receivers, so I think he would fit best with a team that runs predominantly man coverage.  I like his attitude and toughness on the field (he continued to play for a short time after he broke the bone in his back), but he doesn't flash the change of direction to look like a future superstar.

Reminds me of: Troy Woolfolk but a little more physical

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Sporting News: The 25 Best CFB players for 2012

Xenia Deli
The Sporting News breaks down the top 25 players for the upcoming college football season, and Denard Robinson checks in at #10.  The only Big Ten player ahead of him is Wisconsin running back Montee Ball.

Video: Michigan 56, Illinois 14 (2003)

Terry Richardson Answers Your Questions

Image via the Detroit News
Cass Tech's Terry Richardson created a fan firestorm last July when he announced he would be taking recruiting visits to other schools.  Although he emphasized that he was firm in his Michigan commitment, Terry wanted to take advantage of his once in a lifetime opportunity to go through the recruiting process and travel the nation.  But when the Michigan coaching staff informed him that "they really didn't want [him] to do it," Terry reevaluated his situation, thought to himself, "What do I really want?" and chose to sacrifice his free vacations for the opportunity to wear the winged helmet.  Satisfied with the decision, Terry recently took the time to reflect on his past, look toward his future, and answer several reader questions.

The Cass Teach Pipeline:  "I don't really say that it's a pipeline because you do have other players that have gone other places.  What I do say is that Cass Tech and Michigan have a great and proud relationship and the fact that we trust them and they trust in us - that's why they can come in and get great players because we believe in them and they believe in us . . . . With [2013 Cass Tech commit] Jourdan Lewis, I see greatness.  For six or seven years we all played ball together for the West Side Cubs, and he has raw ability.  He could be a top receiver; he could be a top corner.  He'll fit in wherever you put him at because he's an athlete."

Attending Michigan:  "I love the staff up there.  I love what Coach Hoke and Coach Mattison are trying to do.  And two of my best friends are going there with me. . . . After a while I just thought that it would be best for me to go to Michigan - for my family and for me playing football. . . . Coach Wilcher just told me to go wherever I wanted to go.  He just said go where I feel I'm wanted at, and go where I fit in.  And that's Michigan."

Measurables:  "My forty yard dash time is 4.47 hand timed; electronic, it's 4.51/4.52.  My 200 meter dash electronic is 22.2; hand timed it's 21.8, and my 100-meter dash is electronic 10.8, and hand timed it's 10.7. . . . My height is 5'10'' and I'm 163 pounds.  For me and ideally for the coaches they want me at 180 pounds, at least.  And at the max, no more than 190 solid, because I don't want to lose my speed and some of the intangible things that I've got. . . . I went from 140 to 160-some in probably about two months, so I'm hoping that I can do that again when it comes to being ready for college."

Preparation:  "I train pretty much all the time.  I might train for two, three hours; some days like today, I might go for like four hours.  Pretty much I'm just lifting weights and eating.  Just a whole lot of eating, stuff like peanut butter and potatoes.  And just lifting and training hard with James [Ross] and Royce [Jenkins-Stone]; we really try to get it in.  Some of it is at Cass Tech, but I train in Total Sports; it's in Wixom, MI, so I can go out there and do my football drills, too. . . . We've been going there for the past three to four years."

Role at Michigan:  "Well, to me personally, playing corner is just playing corner - I don't believe in any field side corner or the boundary corner.  My role is to lock on the best receivers and shut them down.  But pretty much they want me playing like the field corner - and maybe some nickel back, too - but pretty much field corner and punt returns/kick returns."

Forced choice:  special teams only or redshirt:  "That's a real good question because I think that might be a high possibility and for me to consider my options.  Well, honestly, if Coach Hoke needs me out there - I'll do it.  But other than that, if I can have more time and get my body together and learn the system, then by next year I'd be ready to go.  But it all depends on what Coach Hoke would want."

Making a difference for team 133 and beyond:  "I think it's my ability to be in a position to make a play.  If you're in good position, sometimes the quarterbacks won't make that throw.  With me being in the right position, that'll help out the linebackers and the D-ends, like Royce and James and Bolden to come up and make a play, too."

Monday, April 23, 2012

Detroit News: California WR Sebastian Larue a prime target

Aja Dang
Sam Webb's most recent column for the Detroit News is on wide receiver Sebastian Larue.  Michigan needs a couple guys who can stretch the field with their speed, and while I like Jaron Dukes as a possession receiver, he's not going to turn short passes into long touchdowns.

Video: Notre Dame spring game highlights 2012

Check out George Atkinson III, who has a couple amazing runs here in Notre Dame's spring game.  He only had 9 carries for 27 yards (3.0 yards per carry) as a true freshman in 2011, but if he can play like this during the upcoming season, he and starter Cierre Wood will be a nice backfield combo there in South Bend.

Recruiting Update: April 23, 2012

Bamberg (SC) Bamberg-Erhardt athlete Kevin Crosby
ADDED TO THE BOARD (2013, 2014)
Bamberg (SC) Bamberg-Erhardt linebacker Kevin Crosby was offered by Michigan.  The 6'1", 226-pounder caught 32 passes for 784 yards as a tight end and also made 58 tackles, 6 tackles for loss, and 2 interceptions as a linebacker.  The 2014 prospect also has offers from Alabama, Clemson, Florida, LSU, South Carolina, and USC, among several others.  Here are his freshman highlights:

Jersey City (NJ) St. Peter's Prep running back Jonathon Hilliman, a 2014 prospect, was offered by Michigan.  He's a 6'1", 200-pounder who also has offers from Boston College, Nebraska, Penn State, and Rutgers.  If the name of the school sounds familiar, that's because 2013 target Tre Bell (Florida), 2012 target D.J. Singleton (Wisconsin), and 2011 targets Savon Huggins (Rutgers), Josue Matias (Florida State), and Sheldon Royster (South Carolina) are from there, too.  Michigan hasn't recruited the school successfully in any recent year, but maybe persistence will pay off sometime in the near future.  Hilliman looks like a kid who can run between the tackles but won't make the highlight reels for his speed or elusiveness.  (Highlights here.)

Wyomissing (PA) Wyomissing Area outside linebacker Alex Anzalone committed to Ohio State.  Anzalone was planning to visit Michigan in recent months, but much like Shane Jones (below), he was told that the Wolverines were full at linebacker.  The 6'3", 220 lb. prospect chose Michigan's archenemy instead.  He has impressive film and should turn into a very good SAM linebacker for the Buckeyes.

Baltimore (MD) Gilman quarterback Shane Cockerille committed to Maryland.  Cockerille is the teammate of defensive tackle Henry Poggi, who is strongly considering Michigan.  However, Michigan fans shouldn't worry that Poggi will follow Cockerille.  Poggi's top three at the moment are Alabama, Michigan, and Ohio State.  Despite wanting to play quarterback in college, the Wolverines wanted him to play safety.

Cincinnati (OH) Moeller linebacker Shane Jones committed to Michigan State.  Jones was planning to visit Michigan in recent months, but he was told that the Wolverines were full at his position.  It seemed odd at the time because he looks like a weakside linebacker and Michigan didn't have any weakside linebackers committed.  He'll join former teammate Monty Madaris, a wide receiver from the 2012 class.

Bloomfield (NJ) Bloomfield offensive tackle Marcell Lazard committed to West Virginia.  The 6'6", 293-pounder never expressed serious interest in Michigan.

Everett (MA) Everett offensive guard John Montelus committed to Notre Dame.  Michigan was an early possibility for Montelus, but now that the Wolverines are full up on offensive linemen, I guess the next best thing is a coach with an exploding head.

Murrieta (CA) Vista Murrieta safety Su'a Cravens will be announcing his college destination on June 6th, which is his mother's birthday.  Whenever guys set soon-ish announcement dates without visiting your school, you should be concerned.  Cravens has not visited Michigan.

Woodbridge (VA) C.D. Hylton linebacker E.J. Levenberry will be announcing his college destination tomorrow.  His choice is down to Florida State and Michigan.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Friday, April 20, 2012 Six risers and fallers from spring practice

Kyle Meinke discusses the guys who raised or lowered their stock during the spring.  I disagree with listing Elliott Mealer as a "faller," though.  As I mentioned before, I think it's quite possible that Mealer was the second string right tackle (instead of the starting left guard) for practical purposes.  If Mealer had started the game at left guard, Burzynski would have been relegated to the third team while two less talented walk-ons (Kristian Mateus and Erik Gunderson) played tackle on the second unit.  That seems like a poor deployment of personnel.

Video: New ESPN 150 for 2013

Attractive Michigan Girls of the Week

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Wolverine Nation: Michigan Roundtable

Melanie Iglesias
Tom VanHaaren, Chantel Jennings, and Michael Rothstein discuss a few things going on with Michigan football recently.  I agree with TomVH on all three questions posed, which is a general trend.  He seems to have his finger on the pulse of what the program is doing and what the fans want.

Video: Elite 11 Profile - Shane Morris

Video: Michigan 33, Penn State 11 (2000)

Scouting Report: E.J. Levenberry, Jr.

Woodbridge (VA) C.D. Hylton linebacker E.J. Levenberry
Name: E.J. Levenberry, Jr.
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 226 lbs.
Class: 2013
Position: Linebacker
School: Woodbridge (VA) C.D. Hylton

Notes: Holds offers from Alabama, Auburn, East Carolina, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Louisville, LSU, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Penn State, Rutgers, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Villanova, Virginia, and Virginia Tech . . . As a junior in 2011, had 151 tackles, 4 sacks, and 3 interceptions . . . As a sophomore in 2010, had 125 tackles, 5 sacks, 3 interceptions, and 2 interception returns for touchdowns . . . ESPN 4-star OLB . . . Rivals 4-star OLB, #3 OLB, #15 overall . . . Scout 4-star OLB, #7 OLB, #80 overall . . . 247 Sports 4-star ILB, 91 grade, #11 ILB, #232 overall

Strengths: Large frame . . . Could easily grow into a 245-250 lb. linebacker . . . Very good blitzer . . . Times up blitzes well, quick and aggressive through the line . . . Heavy hitter . . . Good awareness in pass coverage . . . Length and athleticism help him cover a large swath of ground

Weaknesses: Not very technically sound . . . Needs to develop more consistent stance . . . Not the most instinctive linebacker . . . Needs to attack downhill quicker . . . Sometimes waits for ball carrier to come to him . . . Needs to improve shedding blocks, initial punch, and hand placement

Projection: MIKE linebacker.  Levenberry has the ability to play either MIKE or SAM linebacker, but with Mike McCray in the fold for Michigan in 2013, I think McCray would be more likely to play SAM.  Levenberry has a lot of physical tools, but he's a somewhat raw prospect.  When it comes to technique, he seems well behind players like Joe Bolden and James Ross.  He would probably benefit from a chance to redshirt, bulk up, and refine that technique.  All of his physical talents suggest that he could be an all-conference player and develop into an NFL linebacker, but he needs some good coaching to get there.

Reminds me of: Obi Ezeh

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Detroit News: Mike Martin one of Todd McShay's favorite players

Denise Milani

Todd McShay talks to the Detroit News about Michigan's top NFL prospects for the upcoming draft, including Mike Martin and David Molk.

Scout 300 for 2013 Updated

Ohio WR Jaron Dukes picked up a fourth star from Scout
Scout released its updated Scout 300 on Wednesday, which means I'm convinced - there's been a conspiracy to give me carpal tunnel by 247 Sports, ESPN, and Scout.  They all released or updated their 2013 lists this week.

Here's the movement of the Michigan commits since March.  What's the point of updating the rankings if there's this little movement?  A total of 14 Michigan commits moved a total of 13 spots.

- Shane Morris stayed put at #28
- Patrick Kugler dropped from #25 to #29
- Dymonte Thomas stayed put at #39
- Kyle Bosch stayed put at #49
- DeVeon Smith jumped from #58 to #53
- Chris Fox stayed put at #137
- Jake Butt stayed put at #147
- Logan Tuley-Tillman stayed put at #153
- Wyatt Shallman stayed put at #179
- Mike McCray stayed put at #202
- Gareon Conley jumped from #227 to #226
- Jourdan Lewis stayed put at #251
- David Dawson dropped from #264 to #265
- Jaron Dukes dropped from #287 to #289

Here is the entire list of Michigan targets:

3. Robert Foster - WR - Pennsylvania
4. Laremy Tunsil - OT - Florida
6. Su'a Cravens - S - California
9. Montravius Adams - DT - Georgia
12. Ty Isaac - RB - Illinois
13. Keith Ford - RB - Texas (Oklahoma)
14. Vernon Hargreaves III - CB - Florida
15. Eddie Vanderdoes - DT - California
16. Jaylon Smith - LB - Indiana
17. Justin Davis - RB - California
21. Justin Manning - DT - Texas
22. Kendall Fuller - CB - Maryland
24. Joey Bosa - DE - Florida
25. Adam Breneman - TE - Pennsylvania (Penn State)
26. James Quick - WR - Kentucky
27. Michael Hutchings - LB - California
28. Shane Morris - QB - Michigan (Michigan)
29. Patrick Kugler - OG - Pennsylvania (Michigan)
33. Priest Willis - S - Arizona
35. Dymonte Thomas - S - Ohio (Michigan)

37. Jason Hatcher - DE - Kentucky
39. Darrell Daniels - WR - California
40. Elijah Daniel - DE - Indiana
42. Jake Raulerson - OT - Texas (Texas)
47. Sebastian LaRue - WR - California
49. Kyle Bosch - OT - Illinois (Michigan)
50. John Montelus - OG - Massachusetts
53. DeVeon Smith - RB - Ohio (Michigan)
57. Ethan Pocic - OT - Illinois
68. Evan Lisle - OT - Ohio (Ohio State)
70. Jake Oliver - WR - Texas (Texas)
74. Cameron Burrows - CB - Ohio (Ohio State)
76. LaQuon Treadwell - WR - Illinois
77. Greg Webb - DT - New Jersey (Penn State)
80. E.J. Levenberry - OLB - Virginia
82. Colin McGovern - OT - Illinois (Notre Dame)
83. Marquez North - WR - North Carolina
85. Standish Dobard - TE - Louisiana (Miami)
86. Alquadin Muhammad - OLB - New Jersey
90. Eli Woodard - CB - New Jersey (Ohio State)
92. Chris Hawkins - CB - California (USC)
93. Peter Kalambayi - MLB - North Carolina
94. Joe Mathis - DE - California
95. Leon McQuay III - S - Florida
99. Steve Elmer - OT - Michigan (Notre Dame)
100. Christian LaCouture - DT - Texas
102. Jonathan Allen - DE - Virginia
104. Tray Matthews - S - Georgia (Georgia)
110. Michael Hill - DT - South Carolina
111. Billy Price - DT - Ohio (Ohio State)
113. Cole Luke - CB - Arizona
118. Kevin Olsen - QB - New Jersey
124. Derrick Green - RB - Virginia
127. Kyle Hicks - RB - Texas (Texas)
131. Devon Allen - WR - Arizona
132. Larenz Bryant - OLB - North Carolina
133. Henry Poggi - DT - Maryland
136. Rob Wheelwright - WR - Ohio
137. Chris Fox - OT - Colorado (Michigan)
141. Shaquille Wiggins - CB - Georgia (Georgia)
142. Tashawn Bower - DE - New Jersey
144. Elijah Qualls - DT - California
147. Jake Butt - TE - Ohio (Michigan)
149. Alex Anzalone - OLB - Pennsylvania
152. Dorian O'Daniel - OLB - Maryland (Clemson)
153. Logan Tuley-Tillman - OT - Illinois (Michigan)
159. Ben Gedeon - OLB - Ohio (Michigan)
166. Ishmael Wilson - OT - Texas (Texas A&M)
167. Hunter Bivin - OT - Kentucky (Notre Dame)
173. Ryan White - CB - Kentucky (Louisville)
177. Eldridge Massington - WR - Texas
179. Wyatt Shallman - FB - Michigan (Michigan)
187. Antwuan Davis - CB - Texas
193. Scott Pagano - DT - Hawaii
202. Michael McCray - OLB - Ohio (Michigan)
207. Darius Latham - DT - Indiana
211. J.J. Gustafson - OT - Texas (Texas A&M)
222. Mike McGlinchey - OT - Pennsylvania (Notre Dame)
226. Gareon Conley - CB - Ohio (Michigan)
251. Jourdan Lewis - CB - Michigan (Michigan)
259. James Onwualu - WR - Minnesota (Notre Dame)
264. Marcell Ateman - WR - Texas
265. David Dawson - OG - Michigan (Michigan)
267. Cameron Walker - CB - California
277. Jacob Matuska - DE - Ohio (Notre Dame)
280. Yannick Ngakoue - MLB - Washington, D.C.
285. Demorea Stringfellow - WR - California
289. Jaron Dukes - WR - Ohio (Michigan)
297. Tim Harris - CB - Virginia (Virginia)

Video: 2012 Michigan Spring Game

2013 Top 247 Updated

Taco Charlton made a little leap while Shane Morris is Michigan's top-rated recruit
The 247 Sports Top 247 was updated again recently.  They update their rankings more often than any other site, which keeps me pretty busy, I guess.  Here's a list of committed Wolverines and their moving and shaking since February:

- Shane Morris dropped from #14 to #18
- Dymonte Thomas dropped from #40 to #41
- Kyle Bosch remained at #42
- Chris Fox dropped from #47 to #53
- Taco Charlton jumped from #99 to #86
- Mike McCray dropped from #168 to #173
- Patrick Kugler dropped from #190 to #192
- David Dawson dropped from #195 to #199
- Wyatt Shallman dropped out of the top 247

And here's the entire list of Michigan targets:

3. Montravius Adams - DT - Georgia
4. Vernon Hargreaves III - CB - Florida
5. Laremy Tunsil - OT - Florida
6. Jaylon Smith - LB - Indiana
8. Su'a Cravens - S - California
9. Robert Foster - WR - Pennsylvania
10. Jonathan Allen - DE - Virginia
18. Shane Morris - QB - Michigan (Michigan)
21. Keith Ford - RB - Texas (Oklahoma)
22. Kendall Fuller - CB - Maryland
24. Joey Bosa - DE - Florida
26. Adam Breneman - TE - Pennsylvania (Penn State)
30. Cameron Burrows - CB - Ohio (Ohio State)
36. Leon McQuay III - S - Florida
38. Alquadin Muhammad - DE - New Jersey
41. Dymonte Thomas - S - Ohio (Michigan)
42. Kyle Bosch - OG - Illinois (Michigan)
47. Jake Raulerson - OT - Texas (Texas)
48. Eddie Vanderdoes - DT - California
49. Kevin Olsen - QB - New Jersey
52. Priest Willis - CB - Arizona
53. Chris Fox - OT - Colorado (Michigan)
58. Darius Latham - OT - Indiana
60. Jake Oliver - WR - Texas (Texas)
62. Cole Luke - CB - Arizona
63. Marquez North - WR - North Carolina
64. James Quick - WR - Kentucky
67. Ty Isaac - RB - Illinois
72. Sebastian LaRue - WR - California
73. Justin Manning - DT - Texas
76. Ethan Pocic - OT - Illinois
79. LaQuon Treadwell - WR - Illinois
80. Hunter Bivin - OT - Kentucky (Notre Dame)
82. Logan Tuley-Tillman - OT - Illinois (Michigan)
85. Ishmael Wilson - OG - Texas (Texas A&M)
86. Taco Charlton - OLB - Ohio (Michigan)
94. Tray Matthews - S - Georgia (Georgia)
95. Eli Woodard - CB - New Jersey (Ohio State)
96. Alex Anzalone - OLB - Pennsylvania
100. Larenz Bryant - OLB - North Carolina
101. Henry Poggi - DT - Maryland
105. Steven Elmer - OT - Michigan (Notre Dame)
110. Tashawn Bower - DE - New Jersey
112. Greg Webb - DT - New Jersey (Penn State)
113. Tim Harris - CB - Virginia (Virginia
114. Elijah Daniel - DE - Indiana
115. Chris Hawkins - CB - California (USC)
119. Derrick Green - RB - Virginia
121. Matt Rolin - OLB - Virginia
129. Dorian O'Daniel - OLB - Maryland (Clemson)
138. Michael Hutchings - OLB - California
145. Jordan Wilkins - RB - Tennessee
155. Kyle Hicks - RB - Texas (Texas)
165. Jacob Matuska - TE - Ohio (Notre Dame)
173. Michael McCray - OLB - Ohio (Michigan)
174. Durham Smythe - TE - Texas (Texas)
185. Eldridge Massington - WR - Texas
192. Patrick Kugler - OG - Pennsylvania (Michigan)
195. Josh Augusta - DE - Illinois
196. Shaq Wiggins - CB - Georgia (Georgia)
197. Jason Hatcher - DE - Kentucky
199. David Dawson - OG - Michigan (Michigan)
200. Michael Hill - DT - South Carolina
201. Chase Abbington - S - Missouri (Missouri)
207. Billy Price - DT - Ohio (Ohio State)
208. Joe Mathis - DE - California
210. Demorea Stringfellow - WR - California
211. Wyatt Teller - DE - Virginia
216. Justin Davis - RB - California
220. Cameron Walker - CB - California
229. Eljah Qualls - ATH - California
235. E.J. Levenberry - OLB - Virginia
241. Uriah LeMay - WR - North Carolina

Poll results: Who will be Michigan's starting WDE against Alabama?

Rising sophomore defensive end Brennen Beyer
(image via MGoBlog)

This question was asked prior to the spring game, but the last poll question was: Who will be Michigan's starter at weakside end against Alabama?

Frank Clark: 62%
The 6'2", 228 lb. sophomore played well in limited time last season, but at the end of spring practice, it seems he's #2 on the depth chart.  He had 10 tackles, 1/2 a tackle for loss, and 1 interception.  He will surely compete into the fall, and barring an outstanding fall camp from a true freshman, the choice is going to come down to Clark or . . .

Brennen Beyer: 19%
Beyer, pictured above, got the start in last Saturday's spring game.  He's listed at 6'3", 225 lbs. but he seems quite a bit bigger than last year.  Last season he had 11 tackles but seemed slightly miscast as the backup SAM linebacker.  Weakside end seems like a more natural position, but it's a position change nonetheless.

Jake Ryan: 14%
Redshirt sophomore Jake Ryan, who is 6'3" and 230 lbs., started at SAM linebacker in 2011.  He proved to be a playmaker by making 37 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, 1 forced fumble, and 2 fumble recoveries.  He started at SAM once again in the spring game.  Some people are clamoring for him to play defensive end in an effort to get backup SAM Cameron Gordon on the field at the same time, but since Ryan and Gordon are literally the only two strongside linebackers on the roster, that seems unlikely.

Mario Ojemudia: 1% (tie)
Incoming freshman Ojemudia is the only one of the four freshman defensive ends who seems to be slotted for weakside end.  The other three ends seem destined for strongside end or even defensive tackle.  He played defensive tackle at Farmington Hills Harrison and struggled a little bit playing defensive end in the Semper Fi All American Bowl, so I think he's a long shot to be an immediate starter at the position.

Other: 1% (tie)
I don't know who else would have earned a vote.  The only other possibility would seem to be incoming freshman Tom Strobel, who might be a weakside end right now but looks like he'll eventually develop into a strongside end.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

College Football Talk: Borges gets a pay raise

Kelly Karloff
Michigan offensive coordinator Al Borges earned a pay raise with his performance last season, nearly doubling the salary from his initial contract.

Video: Inside Michigan Football

Initial ESPN 150 Released for 2013

Massillon (OH) Washington cornerback Gareon Conley surprised many by being ranked #63
ESPN released its top 150 players on Tuesday.  Here's a list of all the Michigan offerees that made the cut:

- Shane Morris starts at #37
- Gareon Conley starts at #63
- Mike McCray starts at #75
- David Dawson starts at #92
- Logan Tuley-Tillman starts at #97
- Dymonte Thomas starts at #98
- Chris Fox starts at #105
- Jourdan Lewis starts at #107
- Kyle Bosch starts at #112
- Taco Charlton starts at #115
- Patrick Kugler starts at #121

3. Laremy Tunsil - OT - Florida
4. Vernon Hargreaves III - CB - Florida
12. Eli Woodard - CB - New Jersey (Ohio State)
14. Montravius Adams - DT - Georgia
15. Su'a Cravens - S - California
21. Cameron Burrows - CB - Ohio (Ohio State)
23. Robert Foster - WR - Pennsylvania
27. Kendall Fuller - CB - Maryland
34. Leon McQuay III - S - Florida
36. Keith Ford - RB - Texas (Oklahoma)
37. Shane Morris - QB - Michigan (Michigan)
39. Adam Breneman - TE - Pennsylvania (Penn State)
41. Joey Bosa - DE - Florida
42. LaQuon Treadwell - WR - Illinois
46. Jaylon Smith - LB - Indiana
52. Darrell Daniels - WR - California
56. Eddi Vanderdoes - DT - California
57. Michael Hutchings - LB - California
59. James Quick - WR - Kentucky
62. Priest Willis - S - Arizona
63. Gareon Conley - CB - Ohio (Michigan)
68. Ty Isaac - RB - Illinois
69. Chris Hawkins - CB - California (USC)
72. Ethan Pocic - OT - Illinois
73. Dorian O'Daniel - LB - Maryland (Clemson)
74. Demorea Stringfellow - WR - California
75. Mike McCray - LB - Ohio (Michigan)
77. Kevin Olsen - QB - New Jersey
78. Jake Raulerson - OT - Texas (Texas)
82. Jonathan Allen - DE - Virginia
83. Derrick Green - RB - Virginia
85. Justin Manning - DT - Texas
86. Shaq Wiggins - CB - Georgia (Georgia)
88. Elijah Daniel - DE - Indiana
91. Colin McGovern - OT - Illinois (Notre Dame)
92. David Dawson - OG - Michigan (Michigan)
95. Hunter Bivin - OT - Kentucky (Notre Dame)
97. Logan Tuley-Tillman - OT - Illinois (Michigan)
98. Dymonte Thomas - S - Ohio (Michigan)
104. Matt Rolin - LB - Virginia
105. Chris Fox - OT - Colorado (Michigan)
107. Jourdan Lewis - CB - Michigan (Michigan)
112. Kyle Bosch - OG - Illinois (Michigan)
115. Taco Charlton - DE - Ohio (Michigan)
119. Tashawn Bower - DE - New Jersey
120. Joe Mathis - DE - California
121. Patrick Kugler - C - Pennsylvania (Michigan)
123. Greg Webb - DT - New Jersey (Penn State)
130. Marquez North - WR - North Carolina
131. Standish Dobard - TE - Louisiana (Miami)
142. Evan Lisle - OT - Ohio (Ohio State)
145. Alquadin Muhammad - DE - New Jersey
147. Antwuan Davis - CB - Texas
149. Sebastian Larue - WR - California

Devin Funchess Answers Your Questions

Farmington Hills Harrison tight end Devin Funchess broke tradition last April when he committed to Michigan over Michigan State. Despite MSU's strong ties to his school, Funchess inked his letter of intent for Michigan and immediately began injecting a bit of blue into the Farmington Hills Harrison (FHH) program. Although Devin's been busy "talking to the young kids" about Michigan while training hard for the upcoming season, he took some time out of his Tuesday afternoon last week to give TTB readers an update and answer several questions.

FHH - Cass Tech rivalry: "That was a great game to be a part of because of all the high-talent players. . . . That game pretty much decided our whole season to me. I figured that we were going to win it all - because the level of players that were on the Cass Tech team was better than the rest in the state of Michigan."

On not committing to Michigan State: "There are a bunch of high-level athletes [out of FHH] who have gone to Michigan State. They are a big time player for our high school athletes. . . . When we [Devin and Mario Ojemudia] committed to Michigan, a bunch of their fans were going all crazy, asking us what was wrong, calling us names and all that."

Height and Weight: "I'm 6'4'' and a half/6'5'' and about 223 [pounds]. . . . The coaches want me to come in at around 225/230. They tell me I'll eventually get to about 240/245."

Blocking: "That was always one of the weaker parts of my game, but I got better at it this year because my high school line coach taught me a different technique I can use on defensive linemen."

Route running and splitting out: "I've run pretty much all of the routes that receivers usually run. . . . On the weekends I go to a camp to work on my footwork and routes. It's run by Reggie Wynns and Chris Archie. . . .The coaches told me that in the red zone, I'll get split out more for more jump ball type plays or play as a U-back. . . . It's a tight end off the line that's lined up in the backfield or spread out in the slot. I'd be behind the line of scrimmage and on pass plays, I'd start on the left and run over to the right and be the first option in the flat. And then when I move over to the slot, I can get motion when I line up there, and I'd usually be guarded by a slower linebacker. . . ."

Playing next season: "The coaches want me to play right away because they lack pass-catching tight ends, so they told me to come in and get ready to play. . . . It's probably about an 85% chance I step on the field this year, first game."

A mini-celebrity: "My life has changed drastically. I used to be able to go to the mall or wherever without anybody knowing me. But [now] a couple people always will come up to me. And when I was on spring break [in Panama City, FL] a couple people came up to me because they recognized my face. It was kind of weird."

Monday, April 16, 2012

Wolverine Nation: Joey Burzynski moves up the depth chart

Jennifer Walcott
It was somewhat of a surprise when walk-on guard Joey Burzynski got the start on Saturday.  I'm not sold on Burzynski keeping the job through the fall, but congratulations to him for working his way into a starting role, if only temporarily.

Video: 2012 Spring Game - Every Snap

Video: Spring Game Postgame with Players

Recruiting Update: April 16, 2012

Hudson (OH) Hudson linebacker Ben Gedeon committed to Michigan last week.
Hudson (OH) Hudson linebacker Ben Gedeon committed to Michigan.

Snellville (GA) South Gwinnett linebacker Reginald Carter committed to Georgia.  Michigan offered Carter early, well before his junior season began.  However, Carter tore his ACL in South Gwinnett's first game of the year and missed the rest of the season.  A high school defensive end, Carter is supposed to play inside linebacker for the Bulldogs.

Richmond (VA) Varina cornerback Tim Harris committed to Virginia.  He had been talking about visiting Ann Arbor this summer, but I would expect that visit to be canceled.

Olney (MD) Good Counsel linebacker Dorian O'Daniel committed to Clemson.  Michigan was high on O'Daniel's list earlier in the recruiting cycle, perhaps even sitting atop it.  But O'Daniel was told that the Wolverines were full at his position so he canceled what was supposed to be a visit for this weekend's spring game with cornerback teammate Kendall Fuller.  Clemson doesn't ever produce much in the way of linebackers, but Kavell Conner (Indianapolis Colts) had a decent season in 2011.

You can find more details in the weekend visitors list, but here's a bare-bones list of the guys who were at Saturday's spring game:

Fenton (MI) Fenton P Kenny Allen
Nashville (TN) Montgomery Bell DE Alex Bars
Nashville (TN) Montgomery Bell OT Blake Bars
Fort Lauderdale (FL) St. Thomas Aquinas DE Joey Bosa
Wheaton (IL) St. Francis OG Kyle Bosch
Rockford (MI) Rockford OT Ben Braden
Pickerington (OH) North TE Jake Butt
Pickerington (OH) Central DE Taco Charlton
West Des Moines (IA) Dowling Catholic WR Amara Darboh
Lake Forest (IL) Lake Forest WR Bo Dever
Columbus (OH) Marion-Franklin WR Jaron Dukes
Parker (CO) Ponderosa OT Chris Fox
Olney (MD) Good Counsel CB Kendall Fuller
Farmington Hills (MI) Harrison TE Devin Funchess
Sylvania (OH) Southview S Allen Gant
Aurora (IL) Marmion Academy OG Ryan Glasgow
Novi (MI) Catholic Central DE Matt Godin
Cleveland (OH) Glenville DT Willie Henry
Detroit (MI) Crockett TE Khalid Hill
Detroit (MI) Crocket CB Khalil Hill
Detroit (MI) Cass Tech LB Gary Hosey
Ann Arbor (MI) Pioneer RB Drake Johnson
Bloomington (IL) Normal QB Josh Kirshenbaum
College Station (TX) A&M DT Christian LaCouture
Grand Rapids (MI) Forest Hill Eastern LB Mark Lawson
Woodbridge (VA) C.D. Hylton LB E.J. Levenberry, Jr.
Fenton (MI) Fenton TE Quinton Mandle
Trotwood (OH) Trotwood-Madison LB Mike McCray
Detroit (MI) Loyola DE Malik McDowell
Toledo (OH) St. John's DE Matt Miller
Warren (MI) De La Salle QB Shane Morris
Detroit (MI) King RB Dennis Norfleet
Duluth (GA) Northview DB A.J. Pearson
Mentor (OH) Mentor DE Tom Strobel
Crete (IL) Crete-Monee WR Laquon Treadwell
Peoria (IL) Manual OT Logan Tuley-Tillman
Cincinnati (OH) Sycamore TE A.J. Williams
Toledo (OH) Whitmer DE Chris Wormley

Joey Boas named Alabama, Florida State, Michigan, and Ohio State as his top four after the visit.

Christian LaCouture named LSU, Nebraska, and Michigan as his top three after the visit.

Sunday, April 15, 2012 Desmond Morgan, Jerald Robinson injured in spring game

Here are a few details (but not much) on the injuries to Desmond Morgan and Jerald Robinson from Saturday's spring game.  Robinson's seems not to be serious, and hopefully Morgan's falls in the same category.

Video: Spring Game Press Conference - Al Borges

Video: Spring Game Press Conference - Greg Mattison

Video: Spring Game Press Conference - Brady Hoke

2012 Spring Game Review - Defense

Senior WILL Brandin Hawthorne was Saturday's defensive MVP
I thought Craig Roh looked pretty darn good at strongside end.  The starter at weakside end was Brennen Beyer, who looks significantly bigger this spring than he did in the fall.  He looked like a bona fide weakside end instead of a lanky outside linebacker.  Beyer got a good pass rush a couple times.  Meanwhile, backup weakside end Frank Clark performed solidly and made a nice hit on fullback Joey Kerridge, whom Clark chased down out of the backfield.  I also thought backup strongside end Keith Heitzman looked pretty solid.  Based on how Nathan Brink looked last year, I'm going to posit that Heitzman passes up Brink this fall.  (Brink sat out the spring game, still recovering from his broken leg.)

William Campbell looked alternately solid and inconsequential.  He had one or two good  plays but he just didn't seem to be going hard all the time.  He should have destroyed walk-on guard Joey Burzynski (or so I would think) but instead got stalemated too often.  Maybe the coaches are teaching him differently than I would expect, but it all seemed to start with his stance, which needs work from my perspective.  Jibreel Black looks like a matchup nightmare for a lot of offensive guards, because he's too quick to handle with any consistency.  He looks bigger than last year (although the neck roll might have had something to do with that).  It also seems that Richard Ash has taken a step forward, and I was surprised by how big backup 3-tech Chris Rock has become.  I saw glimmers of hope there for some competent rotation players.  Quinton Washington and Ken Wilkins still didn't impress me.

I didn't pay much attention to Jake Ryan because we already know he's a good player.  Kenny Demens looked solid but unspectacular at MIKE.  Desmond Morgan left the scrimmage early after getting chopped down on a blitz; he limped to the sideline and was later carted into the tunnel.  Hopefully it was nothing serious.  Cam Gordon was Ryan's backup at SAM, and he's definitely put on some weight since last year.  Now he looks like a linebacker rather than a strong safety.  I don't think he'll surpass Ryan, but he's a very good backup.  It will be interesting to see what the coaches do with him in 2013 as a senior, because by that time, I don't think they'll be able to afford to keep him off the field.  Mike Jones and Joe Bolden played as backup middle linebackers, but neither one was particularly visible.  I saw a couple loafs out of Antonio Poole, which does not bode well for his immediate future.  Kaleb Ringer looked like he was in great shape and he made a nice tackle on Justice Hayes, but both of those guys seem to be a ways down on the depth chart.  The linebacker who impressed me most on the day was Brandin Hawthorne, who made a couple nice tackles for loss and grabbed a one-handed pick, albeit off walk-on Jack Kennedy, who floated the ball across the middle.  Hawthorne looked good at times last year, too, but he's another guy who loafs once in a while, and that seemed to get him in the dighouse.  The linebackers now have depth, which we haven't been able to say for several years.  I truly believe that Michigan has five starter-level linebackers: Ryan, Gordon, Demens, Morgan, and Hawthorne.

J.T. Floyd started over Terrence Talbott, despite reports that Talbott had overtaken Floyd.  That was somewhat expected.  Floyd looked solid but was never tested deep.  Blake Countess made a nice pick on a late Devin Gardner throw and also made a couple nice tackles.  The backup cornerbacks did not impress me, although I don't remember seeing much out of Talbott.  Maybe he's the third guy and we'll be fine, but I don't think Raymon Taylor and Delonte Hollowell are ready.  We know Courtney Avery is pretty solid at the nickel corner, and although he pulled up on a tackle, it seemed like he was trying not to submarine the leaping receiver; if it were a game, I would be disappointed by that play, but I think he was just trying not to hurt his teammate.

The starting safeties weren't really tested in the running or the passing game.  Jordan Kovacs should be good and practice reports suggest that Thomas Gordon has improved once again, but I guess we'll have to wait and see on him.  Backup free safety Jarrod Wilson needs to get stronger.  He did miss a tackle on Thomas Rawls that turned into a touchdown, but Wilson should be struggling through senioritis and ordering his prom tux right now.  Tackling 220 lb. running backs is a tough task for a safety so young.  Marvin Robinson looked solid as the backup strong safety and made a nice tackle for little or no gain in the run game.  As long as Robinson's legal troubles are behind him, I expect him to improve and be a good in-the-box safety.  He should be a good replacement for Kovacs after the latter graduates.

2012 Spring Game Highlights from Big Ten Network

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Nunes Magician: Get to Know Steve Morrison

Laura Prestin is on the right. I don't know who the girl is in the left, and I don't care who's in the middle.
Former Michigan linebacker Steve Morrison, who played a little bit with the Indianapolis Colts, has spent time at Western Michigan, Eastern Michigan, and now Syracuse.  He'll be coaching the linebackers with former Michigan defensive coordinator Scott Shafer, who holds the same position at SU, and former Michigan running back Tyrone Wheatley, who coaches the running backs.

2012 Spring Game Highlights

2012 Spring Game Review - Offense

Thomas Rawls (#38) looked pretty solid in today's spring game
Denard Robinson didn't play much.  We know what we have in Denard, and we're not going to know whether he can cut down on his interceptions until the fall.  Devin Gardner looked very athletic.  He seems to be faster and in better shape this year than last, but he struggled throwing the ball.  He tried to force some throws, but the receivers really struggled to get separation from the defensive backs.  That's probably why Gardner scrambled repeatedly, and he made the defense look silly at times.  Third stringer Russell Bellomy looked like what we've been expecting - a game manager type who can scramble a little and make check-down throws, but he seems to lack the requisite arm strength for pushing the ball downfield.

Fitzgerald Toussaint continues to look like a star on offense.  Backup Thomas Rawls looks faster and stronger to me than he did in the fall.  He seems like a viable #2 back and he runs angry.  You could tell when he got the ball that the defense stepped up its intensity a little bit, because those guys knew they were going to have a fight on their hands to get him down.  He did make a nice touchdown run early, but keep in mind that he ran through the tackle of backup free safety Jarrod Wilson, who should still be two or three months away from graduating high school.  Vincent Smith continues to be subpar running inside, but he caught the ball well.  To me it's a wasted rep when he's handed the ball to run up the middle.  Justice Hayes is in the same boat.  He doesn't have any mass or strength behind him.  If there's an injury to Toussaint or Rawls in the fall, the coaches are going to have to look at freshman Drake Johnson or maybe moving Hopkins back to tailback.

Hopkins and Kerridge looked pretty solid.  Michigan should be set at this position, especially with reinforcements coming in the form of Sione Houma.

As I mentioned above, the receivers really struggled to separate from the defensive backs.  We didn't see a whole lot of Roy Roundtree, but he and Jeremy Gallon looked decent.  I would not be surprised to see Gallon lead the team in receptions this season.  He's going to be a tough matchup.  After that nobody looked particularly impressive.  Jerald Robinson had an embarrassing drop, Jeremy Jackson is who he is, etc.  Games this season will continue to be won on the ground.

This continues to be a weak spot.  Brandon Moore didn't get any separation, and both Moore and Ricardo Miller struggled at the point of attack.  They were playing against some pretty good defenders - Craig Roh, Jake Ryan, Cam Gordon - but tight end will be a liability this season, in both the running and passing games. I don't think we'll see as many two- and three-tight end formations as we did last season.

Taylor Lewan is a very good left tackle.  The starter at left guard was Joey Burzynski.  All spring we've heard that Elliott Mealer was the front-runner for the left guard position, and I think that might still be the case.  I have no inside information on this, but I have a feeling that Burzynski's start was kind of a practical matter.  The coaches didn't want Lewan on the field much; with Michael Schofield as the primary backup at left tackle, they seemed to want Mealer to rotate in at right tackle when Schofield flipped.  Burzynski doesn't have the ability to play tackle.  Burzynski looked fair against the pass and somewhat ineffective in the running game.  Barnum blocked well, but he had two bad snaps because he failed to get the ball up to Denard before getting out of his stance.  That will be something to watch heading into the season.  Barnum also needs to speed up his shotgun snaps, which are noticeably slower than David Molk's.  He's also got to work on calling protections.  Omameh looked mostly solid but got blasted by William Campbell.  Schofield struggled some in pass protection, but picked it up as the day went on.  As far as backups go, the walk-ons played like walk-ons do, outside of Burzynski.  Graham Glasgow doesn't know how to pull.  Kristian Mateus looks downright skinny.  Erik Gunderson might be able to play in a pinch.  Chris Bryant looked solid in the running game.  Jack Miller still lacks size.  Barnum must  stay healthy this season.

Preview: Michigan vs. Michigan

William Campbell (#73) will get his chance to be The Man in the middle of Michigan's defensive line
Everyone was excited about the spring game last year to see how much Michigan would change from Rich Rodriguez to Brady Hoke.  This year we know what to expect, and the questions are more about the minutiae of the game.  Will this guy play over that other guy?  Who's the main backup at this position?  Well, now's our chance.

Here are the things I'm most excited to see in the spring game.

Who "starts" at cornerback?  Rumors this spring have suggested that Terrence Talbott is playing with the first team, sometimes over returning starter J.T. Floyd.  I have never been a huge fan of Floyd's abilities as a corner, and I will be curious to see whether Talbott can perform when he gets the opportunity.  We haven't seen much of Talbott since 2010 when he was a true freshman, and frankly, he was a kid who should have redshirted.  How much has he improved?  I'm not rooting for Floyd to lose his job; I'm rooting for the best player to play.  I wonder which guy it will be.

How good is the defensive line?  Michigan lost three starters from last season, and the lone remaining starter is changing from weakside end to strongside end.  Nose tackle William Campbell showed flashes of brilliance last season and is penciled in as the starter this year.  Hopefully he can be consistent.  Frank Clark and Brennen Beyer are classmates who are each vying for the weakside end position.  My guess is that at least one of those two becomes a solid full-timer at some point this season.

Can the freshmen play?  I'm not expecting to see a great deal of Kaleb Ringer, but Joe Bolden is supposedly the #2 middle linebacker already and Jarrod Wilson seems to be the #2 free safety.  I don't have high hopes for Wilson to look great on Saturday because safety is a difficult position to adjust to early.  But so is middle linebacker, and the reports on Bolden have been glowing.

How good are the receivers?  I have serious concerns about the receivers' abilities to get open consistently.  Tight end Brandon Moore is likely bound to be mediocre, Roy Roundtree struggled on the outside, and Jeremy Gallon seems to be a complementary guy who's being squeezed into a primary role.  If Jerald Robinson isn't solid on Saturday, I will be very concerned going into September.

Can the offensive get anything going?  I might be wrong, but I have a feeling that the spring game is going to be a bit of a stinker.  First of all, I doubt Brady Hoke and Al Borges are going to open up the offense at all.  I think they'll be very vanilla.  With two new starters on the interior offensive line (Ricky Barnum at center, likely Elliott Mealer at left guard) and questions at receiver, I'm guessing William Campbell and the linebackers are going to feast on the #1 offense.  And remember - they won't have to tackle Denard Robinson.  They'll just have to get close enough to him to make the officials blow the whistle.