Saturday, March 1, 2014

Courtney Avery, #11

Courtney Avery (#5)
HIGH SCHOOLI can't sum it up much better than I did back in March 2010: "The first [cornerback] to commit was Courtney Avery from Lexington, OH. Avery played quarterback - and played it well - as a high schooler, and if he were any taller than 5'10", he might have been worthy of some scholarship offers as a signal caller. Avery had been committed to Jim Harbaugh's Stanford Cardinal prior to pledging for Michigan, but impressed enough at Michigan's summer camp to garner an offer. Shortly afterward, he became a Wolverine. Avery has some shortcomings as a defensive back. He is an aggressive tackler, but he's small-ish and might lack ideal speed for man coverage. I think he'd be better off as a corner in a largely zone scheme, but he's the type of kid who could be a solid backup and perhaps contribute as a gunner on the punt team."

Despite being tiny and inexperienced, Avery earned quite a bit of playing time in that awful 2010 season when Michigan gave up nine million yards and ten million points. Due to some injuries and attrition, Avery ended up starting five games and making 36 tackles, .5 tackles for loss, 4 pass breakups, and 1 forced fumble. The arrival of defensive coordinator Greg Mattison in 2011 moved Avery to slot corner, where he enjoyed the best season of his career. He had 26 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, .5 sacks, 2 interceptions, 4 pass breakups, 1 forced fumble, and 2 fumble recoveries; 1 one of those fumble recoveries was returned for an 83-yard touchdown against Purdue, and 1 of those interceptions sealed the 40-34 victory over Ohio State to end the regular season. As a junior in 2012, he had 19 tackles, 2 tackles, .5 sacks, 1 forced fumble, and 1 fumble recovery in four starts. With a very inexperienced free safety position, Avery practiced and played at both corner and safety leading into the 2013 season, but he was largely ineffective at both positions; he wrapped up his career with a season that included 30 tackles and half a sack.

19 starts, 111 tackles, 5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, 2 interceptions for 1 yard, 8 pass breakups, 3 forced fumbles, 3 fumble recoveries for 89 yards and 1 touchdown

Academic All-Big Ten in 2012
Team Captain in 2013

I typically like high school quarterbacks even when they're changing positions, as was the case with Avery. However, I was always skeptical of Avery because he lacked great athleticism for the cornerback position, and he wasn't big or aggressive enough to be a good fit at safety. When he had to play early in his career due to some injuries and questionable personnel choices, Avery really struggled. He took a leap forward when the new coaching staff in 2011 put him in the slot, where his iffy physical skills could be covered up a little bit. On top of going 11-2 and winning the Sugar Bowl, Avery had probably the two biggest highlights of his career - a game-clinching interception to win the Ohio State game and an 83-yard fumble return for a touchdown against Purdue. For whatever reasons, his career tailed off from there. His 2012 was just so-so, and his senior year got off to a rocky start because of a knee injury suffered in August; he ended up playing some corner and some safety throughout the season, but it was his least impressive season since his freshman year. On the plus side, the people within the program respected him enough to name him a senior captain for 2013.

. . . his interception against Ohio State in 2011. It was the first Ohio State game I had attended in awhile, and it ended a prolonged losing streak to the Buckeyes. Avery jumped a route, which popped the ball up in the air before he dove to corral it before it hit the ground. It was fourth down, anyway, so an incompletion would have ended the game, but it made it extra sweet that the game ended on a pick.

Listed at 5'11" and 175 lbs., Avery isn't the smallest guy out there, but he doesn't have the quickness, speed, or acceleration that teams are looking for in a cornerbac


  1. I always liked Avery and appreciate his selfless contributions. It would have been nice if he could have stuck to nickelback...

  2. Thunder, I know this primarily a football blog, but I think it would be appropriate to have something to recognize the Michigan Men's Basketball team earning a Big Ten title. May I suggest something with some lovely ladies.