Sunday, July 26, 2015

2015 Season Countdown: #35 Channing Stribling

Channing Stribling
Name: Channing Stribling
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 178 lbs.
High school: Matthews (NC) Butler
Position: Cornerback
Class: Junior
Jersey number: #8
Last year: I ranked Stribling #46 and said he would be a backup cornerback. He made 7 tackles and .5 tackles for loss.

Stribling played a fair amount as a freshman in 2013, and that raised a lot of people's hopes for him, despite the fact that he was not very good. Last season he was anywhere from the fourth to the sixth cornerback behind starters Jourdan Lewis and Blake Countess, as well as Raymon Taylor, Delonte Hollowell, and Jabrill Peppers (pre-injury).

Four of the five players listed above are gone (Taylor and Hollowell to graduation, Countess to Auburn, Peppers to safety), but I still think Stribling will be the fourth corner or lower, depending on how you view the position. The starters are likely to be Jourdan Lewis and Wayne Lyons, Peppers is slotted in as the nickel corner, and even redshirt freshman Brandon Watson might have worked his way past Stribling. I am concerned that after two years of seeing a fair amount of backup time, Stribling has just 23 tackles, .5 tackles for loss, and 1 forced fumble. The cornerback position is about making plays on the ball, and he doesn't seem to have that "it" factor for a corner. He seems to be a step slow when it comes to timing, turning to run, finding the ball, etc. There's bound to be an injury or two, and certain packages will require more defensive backs, but Stribling seems to be on the outside looking in when it comes to major playing time this season. The one thing that bumps him into the 30's this year is a lack of proven depth at corner when so many teams in college football trot out four and five receivers. Beyond Stribling, Michigan has few options before people start having to shuffle positions.

Prediction: Backup cornerback


  1. It's true he wasn't "very good" as a freshman, but he was "very promising". He stuck with people consistently including Allen Robinson. But he was skinny and got beat "on the ball" for a few big plays despite good coverage overall.

    I'm not sure he was behind Hollowell or Peppers exactly last year, but he was clearly behind the 2 veterans and classmate Lewis, who has emerged ahead of him. The physical development and sophomore leap many expected didn't happen and so people are down on him. Would they be if he red-shirted his freshman year?

    I'm still optimistic about Stribling. I see Stribling as the top backup CB who should get significant playing time. I'm not sure it's true that Watson is ahead of him, or that Peppers is a cornerback (though I agree he could play there).

    Being a DB isn't about making plays on the ball. It's about not allowing the offense to make plays. I'll take a guy who consistently locks down his man so tightly that the QB doesn't even bother trying to hit him over a guy who takes risk and grabs a couple INTs. Some of the best corners over the years haven't had a ton of pass breakups or INTs.

    I actually have some mild concern about Lyons as a lock-down corner and think Watson and Stribling will have a shot to displace. I don't expect them to do so, but it wouldn't shock me either.

    That all said this rank is fairly reasonable because there are a bunch of DBs who are versatile and so the backup 2nd-tier DBs are interchangeable to a degree. The write-up is overly negative IMO.

    1. I also have concerns about Lyons. From what I've read, it seems like his Stanford days suggested a player who was good, not great. The kind of player you hope is getting pushed from behind and maybe ends up getting beaten out in the long run.

      I think people are going to miss Countess much more than they initially thought. Having two 5th year seniors, each of whom may be considered good not great players, compete for that one spot sounds a lot better than crossing your fingers and hoping that the transfer steps up upon arrival. Otherwise you're hoping Stribling makes a leap (also agree that the write-up is overly negative) or you're putting true freshman Watson out there.

    2. I thought Countess was very good and there was a chance he could have pushed Lyons to safety/nickel. But I'm not too worried about his departure because I think Lyons and Stribling are both more than adequate. I just don't think Lyons is going to be a lockdown elite guy and obviously you need a 3rd CB too.

      With Stribling, I just prefer to see the good stuff (physical potential, solid freshman season, buried behind quality veterans and Lewis) than the bad stuff (lack of weight gain, the quality veterans and Lewis were not exactly elite players). I wish he could have red-shirted

    3. I don't think Lyons is a great corner (I had him pegged as a safety coming out of high school). I think Countess has a higher ceiling, so I'm disappointed that he left.

      As for making plays on the ball, while technically you're right that it's best to just smother a guy and not give him a chance to even be targeted...those guys don't exist. The guys who are "lock down" corners are the ones who make plays on the ball, which scares quarterbacks away from throwing toward them. If you don't prove that you can make plays on the ball (and Stribling hasn't) then you're going to get tested.

    4. In general I agree about proving it first. It's important for Stribling to develop physically and/or skill-wise to be able to make those kinds of plays on the ball.

      I'm optimistic about that happening, but I acknowledge this is a make or break year. If you see Peppers at outside corner more than him, if Watson is getting more snaps, if some other young player seems to be supplanting him, etc. then it will be time to give up the high hopes. I'm just not there yet.

      I still see most of what's happened so far in a positive light. He passed people older than him immediately, he played, he was not bad (at worst), and he should get better. Sure, he's not Lewis - maybe the best CB we've had in the last decade - but he could still be an all-conference player. Some of Stribling's classmates (e.g., Gedeon, Charlton, Hurst, McCray, Kugler, Dawson, Khalid Hill) are viewed as on-the-rise backups. None are started yet but they've given us cause to be excited. I see Stribling the same way.

      IMO what we've seen so far doesn't preclude him from doing big things. Sure, the lack of weight gain is a little concerning, but you're still talking about a guy who enters his 3rd year after sitting behind mostly veterans for the last two. We'll see if he breaks through to a bigger role or not...

  2. Well, a guy who's going to be a lock-down corner has usually shown a lot more than Stribling has so far. How many really good plays can you remember him making in two years of seeing the field? I put him in a group with a lot of other Hoke recruits as poorly coached, poorly used and under-motivated so far in his career, but who Harbaugh might be able to squeeze one or two decently productive seasons out of, starting next year. As far as this year, I see him as a so-so third or fourth CB at best. He will probably get a fair number of snaps, and be neither a great asset nor a huge liability. Not so bad if things stay as they are, but a problem if injuries force him into a starting role.

    1. I think that while he has seen the field he hasn't necessarily seen it ENOUGH to be expected to grab a bunch of INTs or highlight knock-aways. Taylor and Countess have been around. Lewis passed him last year. etc. He could have done more, but analysis via number of highlights is not something I'm big on.

      I don't think he's really looked BAD, even the times he got beat. His physical potential still makes him an intriguing prospect. I think we'll regret that he missed that red-shirt year...

  3. I am disappointed too that he did not take the next step last year. Tall guys who can cover are rare and be seems to have decent cover skills. Rumor out of spring 2014 was that hoke's staff was really challenging him to seize a major role and he just did not do it.

    1. I'm curious how much of him not taking that next step last year was a lack of talent vs a lack of quality coaching.

      I suppose Lewis is the counter to that argument. But there are always going to be some guys that can figure it out on their own, and some guys that it "clicks" with quality coaching. Maybe Stribbling is the latter. (I like to err on the side of optimism for the future)

  4. I see him playing more however not doing much noteworthy

  5. I see him playing more however not doing much noteworthy

  6. cant gain weight either.