Thursday, July 10, 2014

2014 Season Countdown: #46 Channing Stribling

Channing Stribling
Name: Channing Stribling
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 176 lbs.
High school: Matthews (NC) Butler
Position: Cornerback
Class: Sophomore
Jersey number: #8
Last year: I ranked Stribling #83 and said he would redshirt. He made 16 tackles and 1 forced fumbles.

I believed Stribling would redshirt in 2013 with the likes of Blake Countess, Raymon Taylor, and Courtney Avery returning, all of whom had starting experience going into the year. Avery hurt his knee in pre-season practice and split his time between corner and safety, which exacerbated the need for other corners. So freshmen Stribling and Jourdan Lewis stepped on the field. Stribling's size seemed to lure defensive coordinator Greg Mattison into playing him, and he even said that Stribling made a lot of plays in practice. Unfortunately, that didn't translate to the field a great deal, a problem that was made abundantly clear when he was beaten twice at critical moments against Penn State. That, of course, wasn't his fault - the coaches made the decision to put a somewhat unheralded true freshman on the field in crunch time. Regardless, he mistimed a couple of passes, which were completed on the Nittany Lions' way to a frustrating defeat for the Wolverines.

I thought Stribling looked overmatched as a freshman, but I am not without hope for his future. The problem for him is that Michigan has two established starters (Countess and Taylor), a classmate who has created quite a bit of buzz (Lewis), and an incoming freshman who is Michigan's most hyped recruit in the Rivals/Scout era (Jabrill Peppers), which dates back to 2002. This does not mean that his path to playing time is blocked, but it may be a winding road; he may be a backup until both Countess and Taylor are gone, he may move to safety at some point, or he may remain the third corner after Lewis/Peppers. I hesitate to underestimate Stribling for a second year in a row, partly because the coaches seem to be high on him. But I can't really see a situation where he's called upon to contribute heavily this season unless injuries occur.

Prediction: Backup cornerback


  1. Interesting -- I expected to see Hollowell before Stribling.

  2. What a change in a few years. Three years ago, he would have been an expected starter who we hoped could step up and be the cb we were looking for, maybe in your top 20 due to need. Now, a cb who played ok for a true freshman has trouble seeing the field due to the depth.

  3. I get this ranking to some extent, but your narrative assessment is too negative. I think Stribling is a future-star. The two big-plays stand out as 'highlights' of his season, but they were plays were he had good coverage - the ball was simply ripped away by Allen Robinson - who is kinda good. That's not going to happen as he matures physically and gets experience. Otherwise, his coverage was really really good for a freshman, I thought. He wowed me.

    Consider that Lewis, the man everyone is hyping as the next great CB and potentially shoving aside quality vets in Taylor and Countess, didn't actually separate from Stribling in terms of playing time in 2013. That makes me believe the coaches saw them as near equals. If sounds like Lewis has surged ahead at this time, but Stribling's size and speed keep his upside very very high. Plus he came in with a rep for being a ball-hawk, so we might have that to look forward to.

    Long-term, I see Peppers as a safety and Stribling and Lewis as lock-down all-conference corners. Irrational optimism? Perhaps, but when freshman CBs look as good as Stribling and Lewis looked, and when they push quality veterans for playing time - that portends very well for the future. Plus, he's 6 freakin 2. I'm often advocating that height is overrated, but he's long and fast and that's a very nice plus at CB.

    As for 2014 - it's hard to predict a much bigger role for Stribling barring injury, but the kid played a lot last year for a backup freshman. I'd be surprised if he played LESS after that impressive frosh year. Taylor, Countess, Lewis are presumably ahead of him. Wilson's locked in at safety and Peppers is on the way. I would put Stribling as probably our 6th best DB at this moment and I think the coach's won't be able to keep him off the field... but he's also unlikely to win a starting job with all that CB depth. And he's not physically ready to move to safety, though with his size the potential could be there. To some extent his role depends on what happens at safety. If one of Countess/Taylor/Peppers slides over, he'll play a ton. If Thomas/Hill/Clark win that job, he'll be the 4th CB (or 5th, I guess, if you're of the mind Hollowell will pass him by despite being older). Next year, I think he's in the top 20 of this here countdown.

    Anyway, how nice is it to be so optimistic about the depth and talent at the CB position? What a contrast to the rest of the roster in recent years where it was very rare to say "we are good here, even if there is an injury".

    1. Agree for the most part. I think that Stribling may have more natural man-man coverage skills than Countess and Taylor, despite being a legit 6'1"+. He mirrored players better than expected, considering his build. He needs to fill-out a bit and obviously work on his ball skills. But there is a nice foundation for the coaches to build upon. It's unfortunate for Stribling that the CB position now is pretty deep. He would have been on the early-starting track on most UM teams from the 2000's.

    2. I'm with Lanknows on Stribling having a promising future. It does seem like he will be the 4th or 5th corner on the field depending on how Peppers plays and where he plays. Giving Stribling some more muscle on those bare bones of his should help him improve, along with a year of watching film on his mistakes last season. Although his playing time long term is obscured depending on how the CB plays out (which is really good as compared to previous years at Lanknows mentions), he could find a more significant role, if not starting position, next season if Countess improves this year and decides to go Pro.

      As for Stribling's ranking below Hollowell, I would imagine Thunder ranked Hollowell ahead of Stribling due to his value as a special teams player, although only Thunder can confirm that.

    3. I also thought Stribling played well, but he definitely looked to be a little overmatched physically. I'm looking forward to watching him develop. It's nice to finally have some options in the secondary.

      Stribling is another in a long list of sophomores I wish would have stayed on the sidelines last year.

    4. The problem for Stribling isn't so much a lack of talent as it is an issue of depth. The whole Peppers situation leaves someone like Stribling in limbo. If you view Peppers as a safety long-term, then sure, Stribling seems like a guy who could be starting at cornerback next year, depending on how Lewis develops and whether Countess returns for a fifth year. If you view Peppers as a corner, then there's a logjam.

      By the way, people's questions about Stribling vs. Hollowell will be answered soon...

    5. @PS It may be the case that it's unfortunate for the other guys, even Peppers.

      While he was certainly skinny, I don't think he ever looked overwhelmed except when paired against a bigger stronger kid like Robinson.

      The best players will see the field. If that means moving a CB the size of Avery over the safety, that's what the coaches will do. If it means putting Thomas/Hill/Clark at LB, that's what they'll do. I think Stribling will be too good to keep off the field. I'm as excited as anyone about Peppers - but I don't think he's going to be a better CB than Stribling this year, and maybe even not in the future. That's how impressed I was by his freshman performance.

      Long-term, no one knows how this will all shake out, but I'll be very surprised if Stribling isn't starting somewhere by next year.

  4. After watching Peppers in the Futures Stars video that has been posted; I'd caution all who think he will have a big impact from day one. Yes, Peppers can play and is very gifted but for all 18 year olds - its a huge jump into major college football. All fans should give these recruits some patience.

    As for Stribling -- I like the assessment except for all the Peppers references. Of all the CB's currently on the roster he has as much potential for All-Big Ten as any of them. It may not be this season but I think Channing will be All-Big Ten before he leaves.

  5. Does Michigan have a chance at beating Michigan State this year?