Friday, July 31, 2009
Weight: 257 lbs.
High School: Mullen High School in Cherry Hills Village, CO
Class: RS sophomore
Jersey Number: #81
Prediction for 2009: Spot duty on defense, special teams contributor
Watson came to Michigan as a tight end and remained there through last season. But when new defensive coordinator Greg Robinson showed up and needed DE/OLB hybrids to play the new Quick position in the 4-3 under, Watson moved over to defense; it didn't help that he was buried on the TE depth chart behind then-freshman Kevin Koger and then-sophomore Martell Webb. Watson got positive reviews during the spring, but it seems he's been left behind by a couple teammates and incoming freshmen. He might be able to earn just enough snaps to prevent a freshman like Craig Roh from burning a redshirt, but he probably won't contribute significantly on defense.
Name: Brandon Smith
Weight: 209 lbs.
High School: New Brunswick High School in New Brunswick, NJ
Class: RS freshman
Jersey Number: #4
Prediction for 2009: Bench
Smith spent last year practicing at safety. Despite his efforts to stay there, his agility and speed remained a concern, so the coaching staff moved him to inside linebacker during spring ball. He currently sits outside the two-deep. The skills are there, but it's a big mental adjustment for him. I wouldn't expect to see him on the field this year unless he can help out on kickoff or punt coverage.
Fun fact: Smith changed his number from #28 to #4.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Weight: 229 lbs.
High School: Cardinal Newman High School in West Palm Beach, FL
Jersey Number: #34
Prediction for 2009: Kicker
Gibbons is a true freshman with a ghetto booty (see photo above). Garrett Rivas was a bit chunky, and he turned out to be pretty good, so hopefully that bodes well for Gibbons, who is 229 lbs*. I put the three potential kickers (Gibbons, Olesnavage, and Wright) together in the list because none of them has proven himself or separated himself from the others, so an injury to one might not cause much of a dropoff.
On a side note, if Gibbons wins the kicking job, Michigan will have a left-footed kicker and punter. I just blew your mind.
Weight: 213 lbs.
High School: Ferndale High School in Ferndale, MI
Class: RS senior
Jersey Number: #92
Prediction for 2009: Kickoff duty
Olesnavage is a walk-on kicker who ended spring as the leading candidate for the kicking job. He's never played in a game and might not keep hold on the spot, but there is a strong possibility that he'll be the kickoff specialist this year.
Weight: 217 lbs.
High School: Salem High School in Salem, OH
Class: RS junior
Jersey Number: #43
Prediction for 2009: Bench
Wright is a scholarship kicker who has suffered recently from a back injury. It was thought that he might take a medical scholarship and end his football career, but he's still kicking for the team. At this point, Wright is battling a couple other kickers for playing time, but it looks as if he'll be on the outside looking in.
Weight: 299 lbs.
High School: Wauseon High School in Wauseon, OH
Class: RS freshman
Jersey Number: #57
Prediction for 2009: Mop-up duty
Hardcore Michigan fans are well aware of Mealer's plight. In December 2007, he and his family were involved in a nasty automobile accident at Christmas. Mealer's father and girlfriend were killed and his brother was seriously injured. Elliott himself injured his shoulder and spent a good portion of 2008 recovering from the crash. He instantly became a fan favorite as Michigan fans, future Michigan teammates, and Michigan coaches rallied around Elliott and his brother.
Mealer redshirted in 2008 and got a slow start on the strength and conditioning program due to his injury. His situation is similar to that of Stephen Schilling, who suffered from a shoulder injury and mononucleosis early in his career. With the offensive line pretty well solidified for 2009, Mealer is battling for a spot on the two-deep at center or guard. He may get some time in mop-up duty, but it will probably be a couple years before Mealer sees significant playing time. I think I speak for all Michigan fans when I say we'll be rooting for him all the way.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Weight: 208 lbs.
High School: Avon Old Farms in Dorchester, MA
Position: Running back
Class: RS freshman
Jersey Number: #15
Prediction for 2009: A couple carries in mop-up duty
As with the true freshman running backs, several underclassman RBs' paths are blocked by three seniors and Michael Shaw. Cox is no exception, although I imagine he'll get a couple carries in mop-up duty or if Brandon Minor gets injured. Supposedly, Cox is almost a clone of Minor, although he's a tad bit smaller. In 2010, however, I expect Cox to be the bruiser in the backfield with all the electron-sized slots and running backs darting around him.
Weight: 168 lbs.
High School: Pahokee High School in Pahokee, FL
Position: Running back
Jersey Number: #2
Prediction for 2009: Redshirt
Smith was the talk of the spring with fans seeing him as an underdog due to his size. He supposedly played well in practices, but insiders have warned that he's not nearly as advanced as some fans are hoping. With three seniors on the team, as well as underclassmen like Michael Shaw and Michael Cox, Smith will probably watch from the sideline this year.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Weight: 256 lbs.
High School: The Hun School in Princeton, NJ
Position: Defensive end
Jersey Number: #90
Prediction for 2009: Redshirt
Monday, July 27, 2009
Freshman Justin Turner is #2 and listed as a cornerback.
Steve Brown is now listed as a linebacker, so apparently the coaching staff considers the Spinner position to be a LB rather than a safety. That was somewhat expected.
Brandon Smith is now #4 after having previously been #28. He's also listed as a LB instead of a safety, which happened during spring practice.
Freshman Je'Ron Stokes shares the #4 jersey with Smith and Brandon Minor. Stokes' jersey number could change if he warrants playing time, but I always figured he'd redshirt this season, so perhaps this is just another sign pointing in that direction. (Two players can't be on the field at the same time while wearing the same number.)
Freshman Adrian Witty is #13 and listed as a cornerback.
Freshman Teric Jones is #14 and listed as a slot receiver.
Freshman Thomas Gordon is #15 and listed as a safety.
Freshman Denard Robinson is #16 and listed as a quarterback.
QB David Cone has switched numbers from #16 to #17.
Michael Shaw is now listed as a running back after previously having been listed as a wide receiver.
Redshirt sophomore Kelvin Grady (the former basketball player) is #19 and listed as a slot receiver.
Freshman Isaiah Bell is #26 and listed as a linebacker.
Freshman Fitzgerald Toussaint is #28 and listed as a running back.
Freshman Jeremy Gallon is #29 and listed as a slot receiver.
Troy Woolfolk is now a safety after previously playing cornerback.
Freshman Michael Schofield is #75.
Freshman Quinton Washington is #76.
Freshman Taylor Lewan is #77.
Freshman Craig Roh is #88 and listed as an outside linebacker (as are all of the candidates for the Quick position).
Greg Banks is now listed as a defensive tackle after previously having been a defensive end. He's only 266 lbs., which shows how different this defense will be from years past.
Listed at 6' and 209 lbs. by Rivals, reports on true freshman Isaiah Bell's size varied significantly throughout the recruiting process. His height was anywhere between 6' and 6'2" and he weighed from 200 lbs. up to 220 or 225. So I'm just going to assume he's 6'1" and 212.5 lbs. He comes to Michigan from Liberty High School in Youngstown, OH, and was the high school teammate of Fitzgerald Toussaint.
Ultimately rated as a linebacker by the scouting service, I have always thought Bell would make a better safety. He has tremendous ball skills when the football is in the air and he was also a good kick returner in high school. I'm sure his return days are over, but I'd like to see him roaming centerfield for Michigan in the next few years. If Greg Robinson and his hybrid-heavy defense stick around for a few years, Bell is probably headed for the "Spinner" position, which is a safety-linebacker combo (the same position that Steve Brown will occupy this fall). But with Brown entrenched as the starter and a couple early enrollees (Mike Jones, Brandin Hawthorne) getting reps there in the spring, I'd guess that Bell is headed for a redshirt this year. But as with the entire defensive backfield, one or two injuries could change that in a hurry.
Jones will probably watch from the sideline for the entirety of the 2009 season, but he has excellent speed (he reportedly ran a 4.37 forty at last year's Army All-American combine) and considering Michigan's poor return teams last season, if Jones can help in the return game, the coaches will let him. However, I expect that last year's skill players will iron out their issues with fumbling and muffed punts, so that probably won't be necessary.
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Thursday, July 16, 2009
White is the sixteenth commit in the 2010 recruiting cycle and possibly the last running back. It's quite possible that White saw players like Brandon Gainer and Eduardo Clements high on Michigan and realized that if either one committed, Michigan might not take on White, at least not as a running back (White could possibly play WR or DB, if necessary).
At this point, Michigan might take on one other running back or stick with White and Stephen Hopkins. There are a few backs available that Michigan would almost surely take regardless of numbers, such as Clements, Mack Brown, and Brennan Clay. I do not think Gainer falls in that same category. In my opinion, Gainer is overrated as a prospect and not good enough to warrant a scholarship with so many defensive needs still outstanding. However, in a semi-recent interview, Fred Jackson said we "have five wide receivers in this class" which hinted to me that the coaching staff views both Tony Drake and Drew Dileo as slot receivers. The team is losing three running backs (Brandon Minor, Kevin Grady, and Carlos Brown) to graduation, so don't be surprised if Michigan takes on one more running back.
White is #23 in the following highlights:
Sunday, July 12, 2009
Also, this makes Anonymous in the comments section either a liar or a jokester or just plain gullible.
Of players who were on Michigan's roster last season, there's a long list of departures:
S Artis Chambers to Ball State
WR Toney Clemons to Colorado
WR Zion Babb to ??????
RB Avery Horn to ??????
LB Marcus Witherspoon to Rutgers
LB Taylor Hill to Youngstown State
OG Kurt Wermers to ??????
OT Dann O'Neill to Western Michigan
QB Steven Threet to Arizona State
I'm sure much of the attrition has been due to the new regime. But no matter how you slice it, you can't lose nine players early and field a team with any sort of depth. (I'm not counting Andre Criswell and Carson Butler, since they played for four years.)
Saturday, July 11, 2009
True freshman cornerback Adrian Witty committed to Michigan on National Signing Day, along with prize recruit Denard Robinson. Despite being recognized as "the other guy from Deerfield Beach," Witty could potentially be an impact corner down the road. At 5'9" and 175 lbs., he's approximately the same size as Boubacar Cissoko was as a freshman last year.
Fortunately for Witty, there's a dearth of scholarship players in the defensive backfield. Unfortunately for Witty, he's probably still headed for a redshirt this year. He missed his junior year and a bit of his senior year due to a torn ACL. But he's a track star with decent ball skills who, in my opinion, will be an impact player at Michigan before his career is over. Whenever Donovan Warren departs, I think Witty could make a charge for the open cornerback spot.
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
"That's one thing I noticed about the new coaches. We'd be doing a drill in spring practice, and they would tell me how I made a great play. I would say, 'I didn't use my hands or I stepped with the wrong foot.' And they would say no, I did great. I am always so hard on myself. I know you can't be perfect, but I'm always trying to improve the details so that I can be my best and help this team win."
I try not to read too much into isolated quotes, but this one stuck with me based on Michigan's historically bad defense last year. The entire article is about Jamison's desire for greatness and perfection, so his acknowledgement of fundamental errors might be expected from someone with such ambition. But that is not a trait that all players possess. Some players don't notice - or simply don't care - when they make mistakes.
Hopefully, the entire team is made up of players who strive to be better. But what if they don't? It slightly disturbs me that Jamison's coaches would have insisted that he made a great play when he knows he could have done better. I'm assuming those comments would have come from defensive line coach Bruce Tall or defensive coordinator Scott Shafer, the latter of which is also now departed.
Michigan's defensive production was not up to par last year. The Wolverines had three senior, multi-year starters last year and the only non-senior (Brandon Graham) was the best player. Two seniors - Morgan Trent and Brandon Harrison - started in the defensive backfield, along with talented but underachieving Steve Brown and former 5-star recruit Donovan Warren. The linebacking corps was admittedly short on talent and experience, but it's not rare for a team to have one unit lacking those things.
I hope this comment isn't indicative of Michigan's defensive coaches in general. Coaches, like Jamison, should strive for perfection; that doesn't mean they should yell and scream when a kid makes a tiny error, but fundamental errors should be fixed - that's why they're fundamentals. I'm perfectly happy with where Michigan's offense stands, but the jury's still out on Michigan's defensive position coaches. I wasn't impressed with much last year, and they'll have even less to work with in 2009 now that Terrance Taylor, Will Johnson, Morgan Trent, Brandon Harrison, Charles Stewart, John Thompson, and Austin Panter have headed off to pro football or insurance sales.
Offensive lineman Michael Schofield, from Orland Park, IL, is scheduled to begin practicing with the Wolverines this summer. Listed at 6'6" and 272 lbs., he's probably headed for the tackle position; considering that his height seems to be exaggerated by the recruiting services, perhaps he could slide inside to guard. Either way, Schofield is the least prepared of the freshman lineman to contribute in the fall. With every OL starter returning from last year, plus players like Mark Huyge and a handful of 2008 recruits coming off redshirt years, Schofield is almost certainly headed for a redshirt in 2009.
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
1. How frequently they will see the field
2. Depth at the position
3. The drop-off between each player and his probable backup
4. Ability and projected production
5. If said player were injured or suspended for any reason, how much would it affect the team?