Sunday, July 31, 2011

2011 Countdown: #31 Marvin Robinson

Marvin Robinson (#3)
Name: Marvin Robinson
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 200 lbs.
School: Lake Region High School in Winter Haven, FL
Position: Safety
Class: Sophomore
Jersey number: #3
Last year: I ranked Robinson #64 and said he would have a steadily increasing role at Spur.  He saw pretty steady action on special teams and played a bit at free safety, making 3 total tackles.

Michigan fans hoped last year that Robinson would enroll in January, get a little bit of experience in spring practice, and sub in for the athletically limited Jordan Kovacs once the season arrived.  Unfortunately, that scenario didn't play out, partly because Robinson was unable to graduate high school in December like he had hoped.  Robinson bounced back and forth between free safety and weakside linebacker in 2010, finally finding a home at the free safety position late in the season.  His three tackles on the year didn't inspire much confidence, but with a defensive coaching staff devoid of conjuring up any kind of schematic advantage, it's tough to glean much from his playing time or production.

Now it's 2011, Robinson has added an inch and 10 pounds to his frame, and he's closer to contributing this fall.  In the spring Robinson played free safety, but seems to be squarely behind both Kovacs and sophomore Carvin Johnson in development.  Robinson has good size and adequate speed, but his understanding of fundamentals and coverage leave a little to be desired.  Most Michigan fans seem to hope that Kovacs is replaced (sooner rather than later) by somebody with a little more size and speed, but he's held off competitors to this point and looks to have a starting job in hand, at least to begin the season.  Robinson could sub in at either safety position, but it might be a while before he's a solid contributor at this level.  Until then, look for him to be sprinting downfield on the coverage units.

Prediction: Backup free safety, special teams contributor

Saturday, July 30, 2011

2011 Countdown: #32 Quinton Washington

Quinton Washington
Name: Quinton Washington
Height: 6'4"
Weight: 315 lbs.
High school: Timberland High School in St. Stephen, SC
Position: Defensive tackle
Class: Redshirt sophomore
Jersey number: #76
Last year: I ranked Washington #61 and said he would be a backup guard.  He played a variety of positions - offensive line on special teams, goal line fullback, and offensive guard - before flipping to defensive tackle prior to the Penn State game.  He had 2 tackles.

Washington has been one of those guys that Michigan fans keep waiting to see blow up.  He was highly recruited out of high school and just kind of a mauling offensive lineman, not particularly athletic, but someone you wouldn't want to line up across from on 4th-and-inches.  Well, it just so happens that Michigan had a stockpile of guards just ahead of him named Stephen Schilling, Patrick Omameh, and Ricky Barnum, so the pathway to playing time was blocked.  When Michigan sorely needed capable bodies on the defensive line last season, the coaches decided to take a guy buried on the depth chart and see if they could turn him into a player.

The results were mixed.  I could tell early on that Washington understands leverage better than William Campbell (whom the coaches moved from DT to OG at the same time), but what Washington has in brute strength is somewhat negated by his lack of foot speed.  While Campbell is long-limbed and somewhat quick, Washington is kind of squat and immobile.  It's going to be difficult for opposing interior linemen to root out Washington, but as for penetrating into the backfield or chasing plays down, I just don't see him being able to do that.  Still, he'll be a valuable backup because the Wolverines lack big bodies and desperately need a nose tackle to spell starter Mike Martin.

Prediction: Backup nose tackle; 15 tackles

Friday, July 29, 2011

2011 Countdown: #33 Mike Jones

Mike Jones (#27) tries to tackle Mark Moundros
Name: Mike Jones
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 208 lbs.
High school: Edgewater High School in Orlando, FL
Position: Weakside linebacker
Class: Redshirt sophomore
Jersey number: #27
Last year: I ranked Jones #55 and said he would be a special teams regular.  He made 1 tackle before breaking his lower leg in the second game of the season.

Jones has been mostly a special teamer thus far in his career, playing linebacker in only one game.  He seemed to be Jonas Mouton's primary backup at weakside linebacker going into 2010, but the broken leg put a stop to that in Week 2.  He's been stuck at less than 210 lbs. for a couple years now, and while that's not a huge issue at weakside linebacker, you can't be much lighter and still be effective at tackling and taking on blockers.

Lots of people think Jones will be the starting WILL when Michigan takes the field in September.  I am not one of those people.  He was running with the first team in the spring game, but that was partly because Marell Evans bumped over to MIKE in the absence of Kenny Demens.  If Demens is healthy by the fall (which he should be after shoulder surgery), then that opens the door for Evans to fight for a starting spot on the weak side.  I don't foresee Jones beating out Evans.  Even though we haven't seen much of Jones, he was tentative in the spring game and didn't make reads very quickly.  He bit hard on play action fakes and generally tried to run around blocks rather than taking them on.  Whoever starts at WILL, I would attack that position as an opposing coach until those guys prove they can play.

Prediction: Special teams contributor and backup WILL

Thursday, July 28, 2011

2011 Countdown: #34 Thomas Gordon

Thomas Gordon
Name: Thomas Gordon
Height: 5'11"
Weight: 205 lbs.
High school: Cass Technical High School in Detroit, MI
Position: Nickel cornerback
Class: Redshirt sophomore
Jersey number: #15
Last year: I ranked Gordon #23 and said he would get 60 tackles as the starting Spur.  He started 4 games, making 23 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, and 2 sacks.

I've taken a liking to Gordon and repeatedly called for him to get more playing time last season.  He was beaten out by Carvin Johnson for the starting Spur job for the beginning of last season (though Johnson promptly got injured), but Gordon handled himself well in his somewhat limited playing time.  He's not a speedster, but he's good in limited space and can blitz a little bit.  The only thing I can imagine is that Gordon had some off-the-field issues that contributed to him standing on the sidelines for Wisconsin, Ohio State, and Mississippi State, which were powerful running teams against which a stout kid like Gordon would seem to have fared well.  Meanwhile, Johnson wasn't spectacular (18 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 1 pass breakup) and both lost their starting job to converted safety Cameron Gordon.

This season Thomas Gordon looks to be the nickel corner, replacing a defensive lineman or linebacker in passing situations.  This would seem to be an excellent fit for him, because he has some of the same abilities as former nickel extraordinaire Brandon Harrison, though Gordon isn't as speedy.  He should be able to play a little bit of zone coverage, support the run, sniff out some screen passes, and blitz off the edge.  I would be a little concerned about his ability to man up against some of the Big Ten's slot receivers, but that can be schemed around a little bit.

Prediction: Nickel corner

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

2011 Countdown: #35 Darryl Stonum

Here's a picture of Darryl Stonum standing on the sidelines, because
that's all he might be doing this year.

Name: Darryl Stonum
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 195 lbs.
High school: Dulles High School in Stafford, TX
Position: Wide receiver/kick returner
Class: Senior
Jersey number: #22
Last year: I ranked Stonum #13, said he would start at wide receiver and kick returner, and predicted 35 catches for 525 yards and 3 touchdowns.  He had 49 catches for 633 yards and 4 touchdowns, while also returning 22 kickoffs for 513 yards.

Stonum would be higher on the list if it weren't for his little problem with drinking and staying on the good side of the law.  Unfortunately for everyone involved, he's got himself into a bit of a mess and earned an indefinite suspension.  Stonum has himself a decent, if unspectacular, career going so far.  He's started 25 games in three seasons, set the all-time Michigan record for kickoff return yardage in a season back in 2009, and finally started catching a significant amount of passes in 2010.  Last season he averaged 23.3 yards per kickoff return and finished second on the team in receptions, receiving yardage, and receiving touchdowns.

Now it's unclear whether Stonum will suit up for Michigan ever again.  His indefinite suspension leaves things up in the air, and even if he does return, there are three other senior wideouts returning, to go along with redshirt junior and leading receiver Roy Roundtree.  Stonum will almost certainly get back in the rotation for playing time if he returns, but how rusty will he be?  Will the other guys have stepped up in his absence and refuse to relinquish their spots?  Ultimately, I think Stonum would have been kicked off the team already if Brady Hoke had the intention of kicking him off, and there is an opportunity for the senior wideout to return if he pays his dues (a.k.a. if he runs lots and lots and lots).  But his senior year will likely pale in comparison to what Michigan fans - and Stonum himself - pictured three years ago.

Prediction: 2-game suspension; backup wide receiver; part-time kick returner

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

2011 Countdown: #36 John McColgan

John McColgan
Name: John McColgan
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 231 lbs.
High school: Nouvel Catholic High School in Saginaw, MI
Position: Fullback
Class: Redshirt senior
Jersey number: #49
Last year: I didn't rank McColgan.  He had 1 catch for 2 yards and a touchdown, plus 1 tackle on special teams.

Michigan generally eschewed the fullback with Denard Robinson at quarterback, which meant very little playing time for McColgan.  He did play in 10 games at the fullback position, but that was mostly limited to short yardage and goal line plays rather than part of the base offense.  I remember some good blocks and some not-so-good blocks, but mostly, you know fullbacks exist but end up ignoring them.  They're like fat girls at the bar.

I really don't know what to expect from McColgan.  I can only say what I would do with him, and that's leave him on the bench most of the time.  I come from the school of thought that preaches "Get your best athletes on the field."  Since Stephen Hopkins is practically as big (1 inch shorter and 4 pounds lighter) but a better athlete overall, then I think Hopkins ought to play fullback, at least in the West Coast, split-back, play-action passing style.  McColgan could still carry on his role of lead blocking on short yardage and goal line plays, but when Michigan is on its own 30-yard line starting a drive . . . what's the point of leaving your array of dangerous (though unproven) backs on the sideline?

It remains to be seen whether Al Borges thinks like me.  The only thing I can tell you for sure is that Al Borges eats like me.

Prediction: Goal line and short yardage fullback; 3 carries, 10 yards

Monday, July 25, 2011

2011 Countdown: #37 J.T. Floyd

J.T. Floyd (#12)
Name: J.T. Floyd
Height: 6'0"
Weight: 183 lbs.
High school: J.L. Mann High School in Greenville, SC
Position: Cornerback
Class: Redshirt junior
Jersey number: #12
Last year: I ranked Floyd #7, said he would start at cornerback, and projected 55 tackles and 2 interceptions.  He started 8 games at cornerback and finished with 66 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 1 interception, 5 pass breakups, and 1 forced fumble.

It's hard to get mad at Floyd for his shortcomings.  Sometimes it's easy to get mad at players who waste their talent (examples include Boubacar Cissoko and Gabe Watson, for different reasons), but most of us knew from the get-go that a starting defensive backfield that included Floyd last season was going to be suspect.  And it was.  Michigan finished #112 in the country (out of 120 teams) in pass defense, giving up over 261 yards a game through the air.  Not all of it was Floyd's fault - a huge chunk of the blame goes to recruiting failures and poor coaching.  But Floyd just isn't quick enough or athletic enough to stay with high quality receivers.  It's typically not a good thing when your starting cornerback racks up 66 tackles . . . in the first eight games.  That tells me that receivers were catching a lot of balls in front of him.  Then he hurt his ankle and hasn't been allowed to have contact since.

The 2011 version of the defensive backfield has more depth.  Literally, not a single cornerback had starting experience going into 2010 (Troy Woolfolk was injured in the summer).  This year there are three corners who have started - Floyd, Woolfolk, and sophomore Courtney Avery.  I expect the latter two to win the starting jobs, which leaves Floyd to battle with incoming freshmen for the #3 corner job.  He's a solid backup to have on the team and can spell the starters if necessary, but unfortunately for him, he's just a little behind most of the other guys in athleticism.

Prediction: Backup cornerback

Getting to Know -- Raymon Taylor

Raymon Taylor (#1) terrifies an Inkster wide receiver into dropping a pass
Freshman defensive back Raymon Taylor is fast. Actually, after clocking a 10.6 in the 100 meter on a bad foot, it's probably more accurate to say that this former track star is really fast.

Raymon brings his track speed to Ann Arbor from Highland Park, MI, which is a blue collar town completely surrounded by the city of Detroit. Although both Highland Park and Detroit have experienced their fair share of recent struggles and negative press, Raymon is proud of his city.
"It's really a small little city, right in inner Detroit. I love it. I was there [at Highland Park High School] for four years, playing football and running track. I knew everyone, so it was really easy for me to fit in. But other people from Detroit come to my town to come play for Highland Park; they really like it, too. It really is a fun city. It's all about hard work, playing sports and doing school."
Part of Raymon's exceptional experience at Highland Park can be attributed to significant involvement by his dad. Mr. Taylor coaches softball and JV football at Highland Park High, which made it easy for him to "keep an eye" on Raymon by "being out there, saying what to do to get better [at football]." Interestingly, one strategy to get better at football included getting better at track.
"Oh yeah, track helped me a lot with made me faster. I feel that I was born fast, though. It just took me to the next level, got me real, real fast. It really is about the workouts. You gotta put in your work to get fast."
Raymon is expecting to continue with his second sport by running track for the Wolverines during his sophmore year. But for right now, Taylor is focused on making an impact on the football field. His versatility and athleticism make playing time as a freshman a strong possibility and open doors for offensive contributions down the road.
"Right now, [I'll be playing] defensive back and taking kickoff returns and punt returns. But they said if I work hard and do the right things, I can help on offense my second year...I'm trying to be like Charles Woodson...I'm going to come in and play hard, workout hard, so I should touch the field [in 2011] -- I will touch the field. I know it. I'm good enough to play with anybody. I'm going to come in, take care of business, work out hard, and I'll be on the field this year."
On game days, Raymon will be busy preparing to see the field by doing track drills while listening to his "#1 song" through headphones. Coming from a strong family of Michigan fans, also expect Mr. Taylor to continue keeping an eye on his son's football season. But this year, playing in front of a packed Big House crowd, Mr. Taylor won't be the only person keeping an eye on Raymon.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

2011 Countdown: #38 Rocko Khoury

Rocko Khoury (#63)
Name: Rocko Khoury
Height: 6'4"
Weight: 295 lbs.
High school: West High School in Traverse City, MI
Position: Center/offensive guard
Class: Redshirt junior
Jersey number: #63
Last year: I ranked Khoury #31 and said he would be the backup center.  He played as a backup center in three games.

Khoury didn't play as much as I expected in 2010, but that was a good thing, because it meant starting center David Molk didn't get hurt as much as I expected.  Khoury's most extensive experience came during the game against Iowa in which Molk left with an injury after about two snaps.  The redshirt sophomore backup acquitted himself pretty well against a notoriously tough defense.  There were a couple off-target snaps (but nothing terrible) and a couple bad seals, but overall it was a solid debut for a kid who hadn't played much prior to that day (see video below).

Now as a redshirt junior, Khoury sits behind Molk once again.  Molk, who is the strongest offensive lineman on the team, doesn't get overpowered often, but last season it was clear that Khoury needs to continue to develop his bulk and strength.  At 295 lbs. he's not tiny, but he's not huge, either.  He could afford to play at 300-305 lbs. since he's 6'4" and presumably won't be doing as much zone blocking as the past three seasons.  The gap between the two centers is noticeable, but Michigan can still be a successful unit with Khoury snapping the ball if an injury occurs.  He also offers the added bonus of being versatile enough to play offensive guard, if necessary.  Starting guards Patrick Omameh and Steve Schilling were extremely durable in the past, but Ricky Barnum is likely to step up in place of the graduated Schilling, and Barnum has had some injury issues in his first few seasons.

Prediction: #2 center; #3 offensive guard

Saturday, July 23, 2011

2011 Countdown: #39 Tom Pomarico

Tom Pomarico (#91)
Name: Tom Pomarico
Height: 6'4"
Weight: 236 lbs.
High school: Lumen Christi High School in Jackson, MI
Position: Long snapper
Class: Redshirt senior
Jersey number: #91
Last year: I didn't rank any long snappers.  Pomarico started all 13 games and made 2 tackles in coverage.

Pomarico might even be ranked too low here.  He's been the starting long snapper for two seasons, and I can't remember a single botched snap in that time.  It generally seems to be an assumption that extra point and punt snaps will be handled cleanly, but that's not the case for every team.  Good snaps are expected.  Bad snaps can be devastating.

Prediction: Starting long snapper

Friday, July 22, 2011

2011 Countdown: #40 Jerald Robinson

Jerald Robinson
Name: Jerald Robinson
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 195 lbs.
High school: South High School in Canton, OH
Position: Wide receiver
Class: Redshirt freshman
Jersey number: #83
Last year: I ranked Robinson #58 and said he would earn regular reps at wide receiver.  He redshirted.

As I'm going through this countdown list, I'm discovering exactly how disappointing the 2010 freshman class was, at least in their short time on campus.  Not only are seven guys from the 27-man class of 2010 already gone (failed to qualify, kicked off the team, transferred, etc.), but a few more were in the doghouse early in their careers, including Robinson.  There are several talented and hardworking guys like Carvin Johnson, Drew Dileo, and several others, but it just seemed like an immature group.  Robinson was the most talented wideout in the class with decent speed plus the size and leaping ability to outjump cornerbacks, but he reportedly didn't do what he needed to do in the offseason, and that kept him off the field last fall.

Now it's 2011, though, and Robinson no longer has the excuse of being fresh out of high school.  He can run and jump and generally make quarterbacks happy.  He ought to be one of the first receivers off the bench and, if he keeps his head on straight, could be a starter in 2012.  It's unclear how often the receivers will rotate this fall, and there are four senior receivers ahead of him, so we might only see flashes of what's to come for the next three years.

Prediction: Backup wide receiver; 8 catches, 110 yards

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Review of 2006 Recruiting: The Wide Receivers

The Roster
Steve Breaston, 5th
Mario Manningham, So.
Adrian Arrington, RS So.
Carl Tabb, 5th
Doug Dutch, RS So.
LaTerryal Savoy, RS Fr.
Antonio Bass, So.

The Recruits

Greg Mathews
High school: Edgewater High School in Orlando, FL
Ratings: Rivals 4-star and #8 WR; Scout 3-star and #39 WR
Other notable offers: Florida State, North Carolina State, Ohio State
College: Michigan
Scoop: Mathews was a sure-handed, slow-footed wide receiver who looked like the second coming of Jason Avant.  His catches and touchdowns slowly dwindled after his sophomore year (thanks to a new offense that emphasized slot receivers), but his yards per catch increased incrementally as he got older.  Mathews caught 7, 39, 35, and 29 passes for 0, 3, 2, and 1 touchdowns in his four years.  That went along with yardage outputs of 68, 366, 409, and 352, respectively.  Mathews made some spectacular catches over the years, but quarterback play and offensive schemes limited his play.  He went undrafted in the 2010 NFL Draft and has been on practice squads in the NFL.

David Ausberry
High school: Lemoore High School in Lemoore, CA
Ratings: Rivals 4-star and #5 WR; Scout 5-star and #6 WR
Other notable offers: Georgia, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio State
College: USC
Scoop: Ausberry redshirted in 2006, but started several games as a redshirt freshman in 2007.  From 2007 to 2009, he caught 44 passes for 448 yards and 3 touchdowns.  Prior to the 2010 season, the 6'4", 235-pounder switched to tight end.  He caught 20 passes for 252 yards and 4 touchdowns in 2010.  Overall, he had 64 receptions for 700 yards and 7 touchdowns.  Ausberry was drafted in the 7th round (#241 overall) by the Oakland Raiders in the 2011 NFL Draft.

Chris Bell
High school: Granby High School in Norfolk, VA
Ratings: Rivals 4-star and #11 WR; Scout 5-star and #5 WR
Other notable offers: Cal, Florida, Miami, Virginia Tech
College: Penn State (then Norfolk State)
Scoop: As a freshman and sophomore, Bell caught 8 total passes for 162 yards.  However, Bell was kicked off the team prior to 2008 for threatening defensive tackle teammate Devon Still with a knife.  He transferred to Norfolk State, redshirted in 2009 to get his academics in order, and finished his career in 2010 with 51 receptions for 958 yards and 13 touchdowns on the season.  He went undrafted in the 2011 NFL Draft.

Percy Harvin
High school: Landstown High School in Virginia Beach, VA
Ratings: Rivals 5-star and #1 overall player; Scout 5-star and #2 WR
Other notable offers: Florida State, Miami, USC
College: Florida
Scoop: Harvin was an instant success at Florida.  His receiving stats as a freshman weren't eye-popping (34 catches, 427 yards, 2 touchdowns), but he also averaged over 10 yards a carry on 41 carries as a do-it-all offensive player.  His receiving numbers improved consistently over the next two seasons; his rushing totals improved while the averages dropped slightly.  He finished his three-year career in 2008 with two national championship rings.  He caught 133 passes for 1,929 yards (14.5 yards per catch) and 13 touchdowns, and he rushed the ball 194 times for 1,852 yards (9.5 yards per attempt) and 19 touchdowns.  He was selected in the 1st round (#22 overall) by the Minnesota Vikings in 2009.  Since then he was named the Sporting News Offensive Rookie of the Year, was named to the Pro Bowl as a kick returner, has 1,900 yards from scrimmage and 12 touchdowns, and also has returned 3 kickoffs for touchdowns.

Derrell Johnson (Koulianos)
High school: Cardinal Mooney High School in Youngstown, OH
Ratings: Rivals 3-star; Scout 3-star and #47 WR
Other notable offers: Cincinnati, Illinois, North Carolina, West Virginia
College: Iowa
Scoop: Johnson-Koulianos (who added the "Koulianos" after high school) was a high school quarterback who switched to full-time receiver in college and redshirted in 2006.  He was a steady contributor for the Hawkeyes, catching between 38 and 45 passes each of the next four seasons.  He finished his career in 2010 with a total of 168 catches for 2,554 yards (15.1 yards per catch) and 16 touchdowns.  Johnson-Koulianos also returned 60 career kickoffs for 1,575 yards (26.3 yards per attempt) and 2 touchdowns.  However, he was arrested for drug charges prior to Iowa's bowl game as a senior, which prevented him from being drafted in the 2011 NFL Draft.  He left Iowa as the Hawkeyes' career leader in receptions and receiving yards.

Robby Parris
High school: St. Ignatius High School in Cleveland, OH
Ratings: Rivals 3-star and #64 WR; Scout 3-star and #44 WR
Other notable offers: Boston College, Illinois, Iowa
College: Notre Dame
Scoop: Parris was a big receiver (6'3", 205 lbs.) without much speed.  He had his best season as a sophomore in 2007 with 29 catches for 361 yards and 1 touchdown.  That was roughly half his career output, as he totaled 64 receptions for 645 yards and 2 touchdowns.  He went undrafted in the 2010 NFL Draft.

Chris Slaughter
High school: Peach County High School in Fort Valley, GA
Ratings: Rivals 4-star and #7 WR; Scout 4-star and #18 WR
Other notable offers: Auburn, Georgia, Mississippi, Ohio State, South Carolina
College: Auburn
Scoop: Slaughter did not qualify coming out of high school in 2006 and attended Hargrave Military Academy for one season.  He signed with Auburn in 2007.  In two seasons at Auburn, he caught 18 passes for 198 yards and 1 touchdown.  However, he was suspended for part of the 2008 season for a violation of team rules and did not return in 2009.  His football career appears to be over.

Damian Williams
High school: Springdale High School in Springdale, AR
Ratings: Rivals 4-star and #9 WR; Scout 4-star and #8 WR
Other notable offers: Florida, LSU, Oklahoma, Texas
College: Arkansas (then USC)
Scoop: As a freshman at Arkansas in 2006, Williams caught 19 passes for 235 yards and 2 touchdowns.  However, he didn't like the Razorbacks offense, which was run-oriented by that time, and transferred to USC along with his quarterback and high school teammate Mitch Mustain.  He sat out the 2007 due to NCAA transfer rules.  He broke out in 2008 with 58 receptions for 869 yards and 9 touchdowns.  Williams topped that production in 2009 with 70 catches for 1,010 yards and 6 touchdowns.  He also turned into a very good punt returner in 2009 and returned 24 punts for 340 yards (14.2 yards per return) and 2 touchdowns.  Williams left college after his redshirt junior season and was taken in the 3rd round (#77 overall) by the Tennessee Titans in the 2010 NFL Draft.  He had 13 receptions for 195 yards as a rookie in 2010.

Tony Wilson
High school: Mainland High School in Daytona Beach, FL
Ratings: Rivals 4-star and #14 WR; Scout 4-star and #15 WR
Other notable offers: Florida, Florida State, LSU, Tennessee
College: Georgia
Scoop: Wilson redshirted in 2006 and then played sparingly in the next two seasons, totaling 15 receptions for 126 yards.  However, he suffered an ankle injury that severely hampered his ability to play and was given a medical scholarship at Georgia, thus ending his career for them.  He resurfaced as a graduate student at Bethune-Cookman in 2010, but could only muster 5 catches for 62 yards in three games.  He went undrafted in the 2011 NFL Draft.

It wasn't a stellar class of receivers in 2006, aside from a couple stars.  There just wasn't much depth.  Mathews actually fit Michigan's offense well at the time and likely would have been a productive wide receiver if the Wolverines' tradition of a pro-style offense and stellar quarterback play would have continued.  Unfortunately for him, the departure of the wide receivers ahead of him on the depth chart (Mario Manningham, Adrian Arrington) coincided with the arrival of a spread offense and inexperienced quarterbacks.

Biggest miss: Harvin.  Harvin was lightning fast and could have been a great player in just about any college offense.  Furthermore, a 2008 offense that included Harvin would have been a dangerous one, even if Nick Sheridan and Steve Threet were the only options at quarterback.  Harvin played high school ball in a talent-rich area (southeastern Virginia, which produced the likes of Allen Iverson and Michael Vick) and still made high school opponents look like they were running in place.

Biggest bust: Slaughter.  There were several "busts" to choose from in this group, but I have a hard time calling Wilson a "bust" since he suffered an injury.  Bell certainly had some potential that was wasted at Penn State, but Slaughter didn't even revive his career at a lower level - he just disappeared.  Eighteen career receptions is pretty disappointing.

Best in class: Jeremy Maclin.  This was a tough choice over Harvin and Hakeem Nicks (North Carolina and now the New York Giants).  Maclin played in a defense-starved Big 12 conference at Missouri, but he put up stellar all-around numbers and was selected higher than both of his counterparts in the draft.  Maclin redshirted in 2006 but exploded in 2007.  He only played two college seasons, but had 2,315 yards receiving, 668 yards rushing, and 5 return touchdowns (two of which went for 99 yards) out of his 33 total touchdowns.  He was the #19 overall pick by the Philadelphia Eagles in 2009 and has 1,737 yards and 14 touchdowns so far in his NFL career.

2011 Countdown: #41 Je'Ron Stokes

Je'Ron Stokes (#6) hauls in a touchdown pass in the 2011 spring game
Name: Je'Ron Stokes
Height: 6'0"
Weight: 193 lbs.
High school: Northeast High School in Philadelphia, PA
Position: Wide receiver
Class: Junior
Jersey number: #6
Last year: I ranked Stokes #42 and said he'd have a dozen catches as a backup wide receiver.  He had 1 catch for 11 yards.

I overestimated Stokes' usefulness a little bit last year, a season in which he had exactly one reception.  He tied for 12th on the team in receptions, and Michigan only lost five of their 243 receptions from a season ago (all five coming from tight end Martell Webb).  So there are still ten guys left who had more productive seasons catching the ball.

When Stokes is out on the field, he doesn't look bad.  He's not particularly slow or particularly short.  It seems like the quarterbacks just have better chemistry with the other wideouts.  With three seniors (Junior Hemingway, Martavious Odoms, and Darryl Stonum if he gets his life in order) and the team's leading receiver (Roy Roundtree) returning here in 2011, things aren't looking good for Stokes in the near future.  He probably won't be targeted much again this season, which gives him one year to shine before running out of eligibility.  The clock is ticking.

Prediction: Backup wide receiver; 5 catches, 70 yards

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

2011 Countdown: #42 Michael Schofield

Michael Schofield (left) is up to 303 lbs. and younger brother Andrew, an offensive lineman for South Dakota, is up to 286
(image courtesy of the Schofield family)
Name: Michael Schofield
Height: 6'7"
Weight: 303 lbs.
High school: Carl Sandburg High School in Orland Park, IL
Position: Offensive tackle
Class: Redshirt sophomore
Jersey number: #75
Last year: I ranked Schofield #54 and said he would be a backup right tackle.  He played on special teams in every game and got in at right tackle against Bowling Green.

Schofield has added another ten pounds to his 6'7" frame, and he's finally in the range of an appropriate weight for a guy who's that tall.  So if you're wondering how quickly high school linemen can add 30 pounds, well, here's one who's done it prior to his third year of school (he was 275 as a freshman).  Schofield has been practicing mostly at right tackle the past couple seasons, but there were a couple upperclassmen (Perry Dorrestein, Mark Huyge) standing in his way.

Huyge still looks to block Schofield's path here in 2011.  When starting left tackle Taylor Lewan injured his elbow in the spring, Huyge flipped over to the left side and Schofield drew into the lineup on the right.  The Wolverines only have three scholarship offensive tackles on the roster, so if any injuries crop up for Lewan or Huyge, Schofield might get his first significant taste of action.  However, there's also a chance that if a long-term injury were to occur, right guard Patrick Omameh could bump out to tackle, since he has the height and athleticism to play both positions.  With the depth on the interior (two redshirt junior guards back up two redshirt junior guards), fanning out those upperclassmen might be the best choice.

Prediction: Backup right tackle; special teams contributor

Out of the Office

There seems to be a trend going around the Michigan blogosphere, and that's . . . marriage.

Yours truly will be enjoying Bahamian beaches for the last ten days of July.

The 2011 Season Countdown will continue as scheduled, but if any news breaks . . . I don't really care.

Candice and I will see you when we get back.

Maize 'n' Brew: July 20, 2011 Recruiting Update

Kelly Karloff

The (usually) weekly recruiting update is over at Maize 'n' Brew.  Check it out if you're into that sort of thing.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

2003 Offer Board

94 total offers

Clayton Richard - Lafayette, IN (Michigan)
Sam Keller - San Ramon, CA (Arizona State)
Marcus Stone - Harrisburg, PA (North Carolina State)
Brady Quinn - Dublin, OH (Notre Dame)
John David Booty - Shreveport, LA (USC)
Kevin McCabe - Wexford, PA (Virginia)

Anton Campbell - O'Fallon, MO (Michigan)
Jerome Jackson - Saginaw, MI (Michigan)
Ervin Battle-Baldwin - Richmond, VA
Carl Stewart - Maryville, TN (Auburn)
Lennox Whitworth - Milton, MA (Boston College)
Terry Arnold - Tallahassee, FL (Cincinnati)
Kregg Lumpkin - Stone Mountain, GA (Georgia)
Michael Bush - Louisville, KY (Louisville)
Barrington Edwards - Bowie, MD (LSU)
Lynell Hamilton - Stockton, CA (San Diego State)
Erik Hardeman - Pflugerville, TX (Texas)
LenDale White - Littleton, CO (USC)

Antowan Bell - Baltimore, MD
Genoa Dill - Compton, CA
Dorien Bryant - Swedesboro, NJ (Boston College)
John Logan - Lexington, KY (Kentucky)
Greg Bracey - Milwaukee, WI (Missouri)
Jesse Holley - Roselle, NJ (North Carolina)
Chris Hawkins - Henderson, NC (North Carolina State)
Tristen Ross - Shreveport, LA (Oklahoma)
Jayson Swain - Huntsville, AL (Tennessee)
Brandon Allen - Atlanta, GA (Troy)
Steve Smith - Woodland Hills, CA (USC)
Shannon Lane - Virginia Beach, VA (Virginia)
Charles Smith - San Diego, CA (Washington)

Will Paul - St. Louis, MO (Michigan)
Vernon Davis - Washington, DC (Maryland)
Greg Olsen - Wayne Hills, NJ (Miami)
Marcel Frost - Lyndhurst, OH (Ohio State)
Louis Irizarry - Youngstown, OH (Ohio State)
Chris Barrett - Tustin, CA (USC)
Danny Kaye - New Berlin, WI (Wisconsin)

Adam Kraus - New Orleans, LA (Michigan)
Jake Long - Lapeer, MI (Michigan)
Mike Jones - Oak Lawn, IL (Iowa)
Ryan Harris - St. Paul, MN (Notre Dame)

Pat Sharrow - Monroe, MI (Michigan)
Jeff Zuttah - Princeton, NJ (Michigan)
Martin O'Donnell - Downers Grove, IL (Illinois)

John Sullivan - Greenwich, CT (Notre Dame)

LaMarr Woodley - Saginaw, MI (Michigan)
Joe Cohen - Palm Bay, FL (Florida)
Tim Washington - Sugar Land, TX (LSU)
Victor Abiamiri - Baltimore, MD (Notre Dame)
Doug Van Dyke - Marshall, MI (Purdue)
Claude McBride - Camden, NJ (Tennessee)
Lawrence Jackson - Inglewood, CA (USC)
Allen Billyk - New Castle, PA (Virginia)
Jermaine Dias - Hackensack, NJ (Virginia)

Luis Hernandez - Metarie, LA (Indiana)
Carnell Stewart - River Ridge, LA (LSU)
Conrad Bolston - Washington, DC (Maryland)
Isaiah Thomas - Winston-Salem, NC (North Carolina State)
Trevor Laws - Apple Valley, MN (Notre Dame)
David Patterson - Warrensville Heights, OH (Ohio State)
Lawrence Dampeer - Decatur, IL (Oklahoma)

Prescott Burgess - Warren, OH (Michigan)
Shawn Crable - Massillon, OH (Michigan)
Jim Presley - Highland, MI (Michigan)
Anthony Rogers - Saginaw, MI (Central Michigan)
Ernie Sims - Tallahassee, FL (Florida State)
Kirston Pittman - Reserve, LA (LSU)
Wesley Jefferson - Brandywine, MD (Maryland)
Fred Sparkman - Columbia, TN (North Carolina)
Joe Brockington - Palmyra, PA (Notre Dame)
Victor DeGrate, Jr. - DeSoto, TX (Oklahoma State)
H.B. Blades - Plantation, FL (Pittsburgh)
Marcus Lawrence - El Dorado, KS (South Carolina)
Mike Brown - Palm Beach Gardens, FL (Virginia Tech)

Leon Hall - Vista, CA (Michigan)
Antonio Cromartie - Tallahassee, FL (Florida State)
Paul Oliver - Kennesaw, GA (Georgia)
William Cooper - Flint, MI (Michigan State)
Jeramie Johnson - Atlanta, GA (Mississippi State)
Isaiah Gardner - Salem, VA (Notre Dame)
Freddie Parish - Long Beach, CA (Notre Dame)
Dareus Hiley - Cleveland, OH (Ohio State)
Donte Whitner - Cleveland, OH (Ohio State)

Brandent Englemon - Covington, KY (Michigan)
Quinton McCoy - Waterford, MI (Michigan)
Ryan Mundy - Pittsburgh, PA (Michigan)
Ryan Patterson - Tucson, AZ (Arizona)
Avery Roberson - Atlanta, GA (Georgia Tech)
Alan Ball - Detroit, MI (Illinois)
Ashton Youboty - Klein, TX (Ohio State)
Bernard Pollard - Fort Wayne, IN (Purdue)
Robbie Catterton - Virginia Beach, VA (Virginia)

Garrett Rivas - Tampa, FL (Michigan)

2011 Countdown: #43 Vincent Smith

Vincent Smith (#2)

Name: Vincent Smith
Height: 5'6"
Weight: 180 lbs.
High school: Pahokee High School in Pahokee, FL
Position: Running back
Class: Junior
Jersey number: #2
Last year: I ranked Smith #36 and said he'd be a backup running back.  He started 10 games, rushed for 601 yards on 136 carries with 5 touchdowns, and caught 15 passes for 130 yards and 2 touchdowns.

I have no choice but to admit that I was wrong about Smith's role in 2010.  He received a plurality of the carries given to running backs (quarterback Denard Robinson ran the ball most often), and finished with 4.4 yards per carry.  My frustration with the way running backs were deployed by Rich Rodriguez has been well documented, not least because from a purely mathematical standpoint, Smith was Michigan's fourth-most explosive runner (behind Fitzgerald Toussaint, Michael Cox, and Michael Shaw).  Of the 21 players with over 100 carries in the Big Ten last season, Smith had the 17th-best yards per carry; he was #12 of the 16 Big Ten running backs.

Brady Hoke's offense will likely put more of an emphasis on running the ball with power, and finally someone seems to agree with me in regard to Smith's talents.  Hoke doesn't seem to think that Smith is a feature back, either, which was evidenced by the seeming use of Smith as a third down-type back in the spring.  And for the record, I have no problem with that.  Smith is a third down back in almost every stereotypical fashion (good hands, willing blocker, quick and elusive in open space, etc.).  He could be very integral to the offense this season, and I wouldn't mind seeing if he could help with punt returns.  Though he's not extremely fast, his size and talents lend themselves to perhaps being solid but unspectacular in the return game.

Prediction: Backup running back; third down specialist

Monday, July 18, 2011

2011 Countdown: #44 Brandon Moore

Brandon Moore (#88)
Name: Brandon Moore
Height: 6'5"
Weight: 250 lbs.
High school: Trotwood-Madison High School in Trotwood, OH
Position: Tight end
Class: Redshirt junior
Jersey number: #89
Last year: I ranked Moore #66 and said he would see limited time on special teams and at tight end.  In a disappointingly accurate prediction, he played in only two games . . . one on special teams and one at tight end.

Moore has got his chance for a breakout season in 2011.  He hasn't played much in the past couple years, but he was blocked for playing time by three-year starter Kevin Koger and a pretty good upperclassman in Martell Webb, who has since graduated.  Now Moore presumably moves up to the #2 tight end spot behind Koger.  The 250-pounder has dropped ten pounds since last season, and he did appear a little bit quicker in the spring.  So far in his career, he has been limited to 1 catch for 19 yards, which came against Delaware State back in 2009.  But Webb didn't make his first career catch until his junior season, so there's still hope.

Even though Moore's production has been next to nothing so far, I'm counting on him to be a serviceable backup to Koger this season.  The options at tight end are limited with position-switcher Steve Watson and the undersized Ricardo Miller the only choices, unless you want to dig into the freshman reserves with Chris Barnett.  And while Barnett has a good future, he won't physically be ready to play in crunch time in 2011.  That leaves Moore with every opportunity to get on the field.  I'm slightly concerned with what I saw from him during the spring, especially one particular play where he caught the ball on a crossing pattern, turned upfield . . . and not only held the ball in his inside hand, but held it loosely away from his body like an oversized Deion Sanders.  Redshirt junior tight ends ought to have better fundamentals than that, especially when they're fighting to see the field.  Logic tells me that Moore just isn't going to reach the promise that his high school ratings suggested, but I'm hoping and wishing that logic is wrong.

Prediction: Backup tight end

Getting to Know -- Chris Rock

Freshman defensive lineman Chris Rock--not to be confused with the comedian Chris Rock--recently moved from Columbus to Ann Arbor to join forces with the good guys. Hail to the Victors. But as awesome as that is, the fact remains that most people think of the comedian when they hear the name Chris Rock. So against my better journalistic judgment, I began the interview with Chris by asking him what it's like to share his name with a megastar, and he was kind enough to humor me.
"Well, my parents wanted to name me Christopher, and when they named me that, Chris Rock wasn't famous yet or anything. And when I was growing up, I didn't like the name Christopher, so everyone called me Chris. And then Chris Rock became famous. So now not a day goes by that someone doesn't say, 'Oh, your name's Chris Rock!'"
Okay, since that's now out of the way, we can return to the real story, which includes Chris becoming a Michigan Wolverine despite being raised deep inside enemy territory. And as you might expect, the decision to come to Ann Arbor was met with some resistance.
"I hear so much every day, like 'You're going to Michigan! Why?' They just love talking crap to me. One time they actually wrapped up my stuff, like all my Michigan gear, and wrote [on it], 'Go Bucks!' So I use that sort of stuff for motivation."
In September, Chris will be channeling that motivation for the Wolverines as he runs out of the Big House tunnel and touches the banner. But it wasn't too long ago that even he was on the other side of the most bitter rivalry in college football.
"Um, it's hard to say this, but I grew up an Ohio State fan. I used to love Ohio State; I loved Ohio State right up until my freshman year, until I started to be recruited. I guess you take a different mindset when you're thinking about which colleges to go to."
Chris even rooted on the Scarlet and Gray during a visit to Ann Arbor in seventh grade. But now sold on the Maize and Blue, Rock joins his new Michigan teammates, one of whom is Patrick Omameh, who hails from Chris' same Ohio powerhouse football program: St. Francis DeSales. Obviously, Omameh is an established force on the offensive line at Michigan, and it sounds like Rock is looking to make a similar impact on the defensive line.
"My mindset is I'm going to do whatever I can to play [during the 2011 season]. I know I'm not guaranteed anything, so I'm trying to work my butt off and see what happens."
Strongside defensive end is the position for which Chris was recruited; however, many Michigan fans--including myself--look at the depth chart and believe that a player or two slotted for that position could/should move to defensive tackle. For his part, Chris is open to the idea, and he's quickly putting on muscle mass. At 6'5'' tall, Chris now weighs in at 270 lbs., an even 20 lbs. more than his previously reported weight. Don't be surprised to see him add an extra 10 -15 lbs in the upcoming years to provide flexibility and utility along the defensive line.

Let's hope that when Michigan fans hear the name "Chris Rock" five years from now, they think of the football player rather than the comedian. This kid from Columbus is about to make a name for himself -- in Ann Arbor.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

2011 Countdown: #45 Kelvin Grady

Kelvin Grady
Name: Kelvin Grady
Height: 5'10"
Weight: 176 lbs.
High school: East Grand Rapids High School in Grand Rapids, MI
Position: Wide receiver
Class: Redshirt senior
Jersey number: #19
Last year: I ranked Grady #62 and said his production would fall off from 2009.  He caught 17 passes for 211 yards and rushed 4 times for 17 yards, which means his production bumped up from 2009 to 2010.

Grady surprised me a little bit in 2010.  With Roy Roundtree, Martavious Odoms, Jeremy Gallon, and Terrence Robinson playing slot receiver, I assumed Grady's touches would decrease a little bit.  Instead he jumped from 10 catches for 102 yards to 17 catches for 211.  That's not bad production for a #3 slot receiver.  After playing basketball for Coach John Beilein for a couple seasons, Grady has turned into a reliable but unspectacular target for Michigan's quarterbacks.

It's unclear how much slot receiver types will impact in 2011.  Considering a renewed emphasis on tight ends, I can only assume that overall production from the slot will decrease.  However, Darryl Stonum's status remains up in the air, and if his suspension leads to a long-term absence, that opens the door for another contributor at the receiver position.  Junior Hemingway, Roundtree, and Odoms have to be the front-runners for playing time, and Grady will be battling junior Je'Ron Stokes, sophomore Jeremy Jackson, and redshirt freshman Jerald Robinson for snaps in the rotation.  Grady should still provide an elusive option from the slot when Michigan goes to three- and four-receiver sets.

Prediction: Backup wide receiver/slot receiver; 12 catches, 150 yards

Saturday, July 16, 2011

2011 Countdown: #46 J.B. Fitzgerald

J.B. Fitzgerald (#42)
Name: J.B. Fitzgerald
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 244 lbs.
High school: West Windsor Plainsboro High School in Princeton, NJ
Position: Linebacker
Class: Senior
Jersey number: #42
Last year: I ranked Fitzgerald #33 and said he'd make 20 tackles as a backup linebacker.  He started 3 games at OLB and made 22 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, and 1 sack on the season.

Fitzgerald was the utility linebacker last season, playing a key backup role at all three linebacker positions and finishing 15th on the team in tackles.  When it became obvious to the coaches (though it was obvious much earlier to fans) that Craig Roh was not cut out to be a 3-3-5 outside linebacker late in the season, Fitzgerald stepped into the starting OLB position.  He had an up-and-down tenure as a starter in that time, recording half his tackles in those three starts and finishing the season with 6 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, and his 1 sack in the bowl game against Mississippi State.

In the spring Fitzgerald played SAM linebacker but was #3 on the depth chart behind Cam Gordon and Jake Ryan; he also played MIKE linebacker but was #2 on the depth chart behind Marell Evans...who was only playing MIKE because Kenny Demens was out due to shoulder surgery.  Essentially, Fitzgerald is buried in lots of places.  That doesn't bode well for his future.  Fitzgerald seems to play well in spurts, but he can't ever seem to put together a string of good play.  "Clunky" is a good way to describe the way he moves on the field.  He's not a bad backup to have on the roster, but at this point, it looks like he'll finish his career with a John Thompson-like whimper rather than a David Harris-like bang.

Prediction: Backup linebacker; 15 tackles

Friday, July 15, 2011

2011 Countdown: #47 Richard Ash

Richard Ash
Name: Richard Ash
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 320 lbs.
High school: Pahokee High School in Pahokee, FL
Position: Defensive tackle
Class: Redshirt freshman
Jersey number: #54
Last year: I ranked Ash #71 and said he would redshirt.  He redshirted.

Ash was listed at 263 lbs. as a recruit, which means he's put on a ton of weight since his senior season of high school.  That's almost a 60-pound difference.  His conditioning was reportedly an issue as a true freshman and one of the factors that prevented him from playing last year.  Ash backed up both defensive tackle positions (1-tech and 3-tech) this spring, and contrary to what some people report from message boards, I haven't heard much in the way of rave reviews.  I haven't heard bad things necessarily, but he just hasn't been talked about much.

This fall it would be great if Ash could be a viable backup to Mike Martin at the nose tackle position.  With William Campbell looking like the starter at 3-tech and Quinton Washington pushing for playing time at both positions, Ash could give the team a nice four-player rotation at the defensive tackle positions.  Will Heininger is also a possibility inside, but he's awfully light for a tackle at 267-ish pounds.  All Ash needs to do is not get crushed backwards for a couple plays in a row, just to allow Martin to get a blow.

Prediction: Backup defensive tackle

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Review of 2006 Recruiting: The Running Backs

The Roster
Michael Hart, Jr.
Kevin Grady, So.
Jerome Jackson, Sr.
Mister Simpson, RS Fr.

The Recruits

Carlos Brown
High school: Heard County High School in Franklin, GA
Ratings: Rivals 4-star and #5 RB; Scout 4-star and #24 RB
Other notable offers: Auburn, Florida State, Georgia, South Carolina
College: Michigan
Scoop: Brown arrived when the starting job was locked down by Michael Hart and probably should have redshirted as a freshman, when he contributed only 16 carries for 41 yards as the sixth-leading ground gainer.  He made 12 starts over the next three years, several of which came when Michigan's starters (Michael Hart, Brandon Minor) were injured.  Brown led the team in rushing with 480 yards as a senior in 2009, despite missing several games due to injury.  He finished his career with 201 carries for 1,025 yards (5.1 YPC) and 8 touchdowns.  He also caught 14 passes for 135 yards and 1 touchdown and returned 19 kickoffs for 386 yards.  The lightning-fast running back was known for three things: speed (85- and 90-yard touchdown runs in his carer), an inability to break tackles (witness the phantom tackle by an EMU safety), and injury (freshman inexperience aside, he played in only 21 of 37 games from 2007-2009 - which meant he was available only 57% of the time).  He went undrafted in the 2011 NFL Draft.

Brandon Minor
High school: Varina High School in Richmond, VA
Ratings: Rivals 4-star and #1 FB; Scout 4-star and #29 RB
Other notable offers: Florida, Miami, Tennessee, Virginia Tech
College: Michigan
Scoop: Just like Brown, Minor arrived at a time when Michael Hart was an established starter.  Minor was second on the team as a freshman with 238 yards rushing, behind only Hart.  Minor started only six games from 2007-2009 and had injury problems that limited his playing time, despite playing in 32 out of 37 possible games in those years.  He led the team in rushing his final two seasons, led the team in scoring in 2008, and finished with less than a 5.2-yards-per-carry average only once in his career (2007).  He finished his career with 331 carries for 1,658 yards (5.0 YPC) and 20 touchdowns.  He also caught 10 passes for 70 yards and 2 touchdowns and returned 14 kickoffs for 261 yards.  Minor was voted All-Big Ten Honorable Mention as a junior and prior to his senior season, he was on the Maxwell and Doak Walker Awards' watch lists.  He went undrafted in the 2011 NFL Draft.

Knowshon Moreno
High school: Middletown South High School in Middletown, NJ
Ratings: Rivals 4-star and #10 RB; Scout 4-star and #9 RB
Other notable offers: Florida, Miami, Oklahoma, Virginia Tech
College: Georgia
Scoop: Moreno redshirted in 2006 due to the presence of a trio of talented backs in Thomas Brown, Kregg Lumpkin, and Danny Ware.  However, he burst onto the scene as a redshirt freshman in 2007 with 1,334 yards on 248 carries and 14 touchdowns that season.  Moreno was even better in 2008, when he had 250 carries for 1,400 yards and 16 touchdowns.  For his career, Moreno had 498 carries for 2,733 yards (5.5 YPC) and 30 touchdowns.  He also caught 53 passes for 645 yards and 2 touchdowns.  Moreno was drafted in the 1st round (#12 overall) by the Denver Broncos in 2009.  In two seasons he has 429 carries for 1,726 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Cameron Smith
High school: Brookwood High Schoo in Snellville, GA
Ratings: Rivals 4-star and #20 RB; Scout 4-star and #21 RB
Other notable offers: California, Oregon, Purdue, Virginia
College: N/A
Scoop: There were rumors that Smith wouldn't qualify, and I can't find any information about a college football career.

Chris Wells
High school: Garfield High School in Akron, OH
Ratings: Rivals 5-star and #1 RB; Scout 5-star and #1 RB
Other notable offers: USC
College: Ohio State
Scoop: Wells shared time with Antonio Pittman as a freshman in 2006, but still had 576 yards and 7 touchdowns.  Wells started in both 2007 and 2008 and totaled 481 carries for 2,806 yards (5.8 YPC) and 23 touchdowns.  He also caught 14 passes for 63 yards.  Wells was drafted in the 1st round (#31 overall) by the Arizona Cardinals in 2009.  He's been a backup running back for the Cardinals for two seasons with 292 carries for 1,190 yards 9 touchdowns

Michigan didn't offer many running backs in the 2006 class, but 4 out of the 5 were pretty successful in college.  Injuries derailed the careers of both Michigan commits, but both also averaged over five yards a carry in their careers.  Minor was a tough inside runner with the ability to break tackles and big runs, and Brown was a home run threat with two 85+ yard touchdown runs and a 61-yard touchdown reception in limited time.  His 201 career carries were less than Moreno or Wells ever had as starters in any season.

Biggest miss: Wells.  Even though he was the lower pick in the 2009 draft compared to Moreno, he hurt Michigan with 222 yards and a backbreaking touchdown run in the 2007 version of The Game.

Biggest bust: Smith.  Brown was rated higher on Rivals, but Smith never made it to college at all.  Even though it was frustrating to watch Brown get tackled so easily and injured so often, he was also exciting to watch when he was on the field.  I would rather watch Brown than a ghost.

Best in class: Moreno.  Arguments could be made for Wells, LeSean McCoy (2nd round pick out of Pitt, current starter for Philadelphia Eagles), or Dexter McCluster (2nd round pick out of Ole Miss, punt returner and backup RB for Kansas City Chiefs).  But Moreno was the highest draft pick of the four, had an excellent college career, and seems to have a decent NFL career in the works.  Wells has been a disappointment in the NFL, McCoy played in a subpar Big East conference, and McCluster is more of a scatback than an every-down player.

2004 Offer Board

74 total offers

Chad Henne - West Lawn, PA (Michigan)
Blake Barnes - Baldwyn, MS (Georgia)
Rhett Bomar - Grand Prairie, TX (Oklahoma)

Roger Allison - Lake Orion, MI (Michigan)
Mike Hart - Syracuse, NY (Michigan)
Max Martin - Madison, AL (Michigan)
Greg Coleman - Iowa City, IA (Iowa State)
Derron Thomas - Reserve, LA (Miami)
Bobby Washington - Miami, FL (Miami)
Tony Temple - Kansas City, MO (Missouri)
Erik Haw - Columbus, OH (Ohio State)
Ja'Kouri Williams - Plaquemine, LA (Tennessee)
George Bell - Fayetteville, NC (Virginia Tech)
Purnell Sturdivant - Norfolk, VA (Virginia Tech)

Adrian Arrington - Cedar Rapids, IA (Michigan)
Keston Cheatham - Pomona, CA (Michigan)
Doug Dutch - Washington, DC (Michigan)
Morgan Trent - Orchard Lake, MI (Michigan)
Lonnell Dewalt - Bowling Green, KY (Kentucky)
Ted Ginn, Jr. - Cleveland, OH (Ohio State)
Cameron Colvin - Concord, CA (Oregon)
Jaison Williams - Culver City, CA (Oregon)
Desmond Tardy - Indianapolis, IN (Purdue)
Chris Ogbonnaya - Houston, TX (Texas)
Ryan Graves - Venice, CA (UCLA)

Mike Massey - Cleveland, OH (Michigan)
Kellen Freeman-Davis - Adrian, MI (Michigan State)
Dale Thompson - Corona, CA (USC)
Brad Allen - Venice, FL (Vanderbilt)

Micah Jones - Mayfield, KY (Kentucky)
Kellen Heard - Wharton, TX (Miami)
Kyle Mitchum - Erie, PA (Ohio State)
Steve Rehring - West Chester, OH (Ohio State)
Gerald Cadogan - Portsmouth, OH (Penn State)
Chilo Rachal - Compton, CA (USC)

Jeremy Ciulla - Kennesaw, GA (Michigan)
Grant DeBenedictis - Boca Raton, FL (Michigan)
Brett Gallimore - Riverside, MO (Michigan)
Alex Mitchell - Bay City, MI (Michigan)
Dumaka Atkins - Sarasota, FL (Florida State)
Greg Harrison - Shenandoah, PA (Penn State)
Josh Winchell - Southaven, MS (South Carolina)
Thomas Herring - Los Angeles, CA (USC)


Eugene Germany - Pomona, CA (Michigan)
Tim Jamison - Harvey, IL (Michigan)
Charles Alexander - Breaux Bridge, LA (LSU)
Calais Campbell - Denver, CO (Miami)
Dion Gales - LaPlace, LA (Mississippi)
Vernon Gholston - Detroit, MI (Ohio State)
Ryan Baker - Indianapolis, IN (Purdue)
Jeff Schweiger, Jr. - San Jose, CA (USC)

Alan Branch - Albuquerque, NM (Michigan)
Will Johnson - Lake Orion, MI (Michigan)
Marques Walton - Chicago, IL (Michigan)
Dwayne Hendricks - Millville, NJ (Miami)
Corey Mills - Memphis, TN (Mississippi)
A.Q. Shipley - Coraopolis, PA (Penn State)
Craig Bokor - Aliquippa, PA (Pittsburgh)
Williams Morrisey - Silsbee, TX (Texas A&M)
Nick Hayden - Hartland, WI (Wisconsin)

Chris Graham - Indianapolis, IN (Michigan)
Chris Rogers - Wexford, PA (Michigan)
John Thompson - Detroit, MI (Michigan)
Marcus Freeman - Huber Heights, OH (Ohio State)
Dan Connor - Wallingford, PA (Penn State)

Charles Stewart - Farmington Hills, MI (Michigan)
Rod Council - Charlotte, NC (Louisville)

Jamar Adams - Charlotte, NC (Michigan)
Kyle Jackson - Neptune Beach, FL (Florida)
Craig Steltz - New Orleans, LA (LSU)
Devon Lyons - Pittsburgh, PA (Ohio State)
Sirjo Welch - Columbus, OH (Ohio State)

David Lonie - Iowa Falls, IA (California)
Dave Brytus - Imperial, PA (Purdue)

2002 Offer Board

70 total offers

Matt Gutierrez - Concord, CA (Michigan)
Chris Pazan - Chicago, IL (Illinois)
Drew Stanton - Farmington Hills, MI (Michigan State)
Tyler Palko - West Allegheny, PA (Pittsburgh)
Trent Edwards - Los Gatos, CA (Stanford)
James Banks - Indianapolis, IN (Tennessee)

Darnell Hood - Harper Woods, MI (Michigan)
Pierre Rembert - Cudahy, WI (Michigan)
Thomas Clayton - Alexandria, VA (Florida State)
David Horne - Omaha, NE (Nebraska)
Maurice Clarett - Warren, OH (Ohio State)
Chris Wilson - Baltimore, MD (Penn State)
Kenny Irons - Dacula, GA (South Carolina)
Gerald Riggs, Jr. - Chattanooga, TN (Tennessee)
Erick Phillips - Hilliard, OH (West Virginia)

Jason Avant - Chicago, IL (Michigan)
Steve Breaston - Pittsburgh, PA (Michigan)
Carl Tabb - Ann Arbor, MI (Michigan)
Jemalle Cornelius - Fort Meade, FL (Florida)
Akieem Jolla - New Orleans, LA (Miami)
Matt Trannon - Flint, MI (Michigan State)
Roy Hall - Lyndhurst, OH (Ohio State)
Jejuan Rankins - Windsor, NC (Oklahoma)
Maurice Stovall - Radnor, PA (Notre Dame)
Marquis Johnson - Champaign, IL (Texas)

Kevin Murphy - Grand Rapids, MI (Michigan)
Curtis Justus - Perry, OK (Miami)
Aaron Kirkland - Fayetteville, NC (Tennessee)

Mike Kolodziej - Joliet, IL (Michigan)
Chris Felder - Oelwein, IA (Iowa)
Stephon Heyer - Snellville, GA (Maryland)
Nathan Rhodes - Bakersfield, CA (Washington)

Tom Berishaj - Sterling Heights, MI (Michigan)
Rueben Riley - Grand Rapids, MI (Michigan)
Shadu Moore - Paterson, NJ (Boston College)
Mark Farris - Pittsburgh, PA (Penn State)
Cody Douglas - La Marque, TX (Tennessee)
Justin Blalock - Plano, TX (Texas)

Mark Bihl - Washington Court House, OH (Michigan)

Rondell Biggs - Southfield, MI (Michigan)
Jim Unis - Gloucester, MA (Boston College)
Elvis Dumervil - Miami, FL (Louisville)
Clifton Ryan - Saginaw, MI (Michigan State)
Andrew Wicker - Clinton, LA (Mississippi)
Markell McKinley - Weir, MS (Mississippi State)
Chris Frome - Newhall, CA (Notre Dame)
Travis Leitko - The Woodlands, TX (Notre Dame)
Calvin Thibodeaux - Houston, TX (Oklahoma)
Edwards Johnson - Detroit, MI (Penn State)
Tim Shaw - Livonia, MI (Penn State)
Julian Jenkins - College Park, GA (Stanford)
Brian Pickryl - Jenks, OK (Texas)

Larry Harrison - Detroit, MI (Michigan)
Gabriel Watson - Southfield, MI (Michigan)
Brandon Greeson - High Point, NC (Nebraska)
Greg Jones - Jonesboro, AR (Tennessee)
Lyle Sendlein - Scottsdale, AZ (Texas)

David Harris - Grand Rapids, MI (Michigan)
Obi Oluigbo - Alexandria, VA (Michigan)
Brian Thompson - Saginaw, MI (Michigan)
Jeremy Van Alstyne - Greenwood, IN (Michigan)
Chris Hollis - Aurora, CO (Colorado)
Reggie Dent - Riviera Beach, FL (Florida Atlantic)
Mike D'Andrea - Avon Lake, OH (Ohio State)

Quinton McCoy - Chandler, AZ (Michigan)
Sammy Joseph - Marrero, LA (Colorado)
Vernon Russell - River Ridge, LA (LSU)

Willis Barringer - Toledo, OH (Michigan)
Michael Hinton - Burlington, NC

Keith Andrews - Monroe, LA (Mississippi State)

2011 Countdown: #48 Ricardo Miller

Ricardo Miller
Name: Ricardo Miller
Height: 6'4"
Weight: 215 lbs.
High school: Pioneer High Schoo in Ann Arbor, MI (via Dr. Phillips High School in Orlando, FL)
Position: U-back
Class: Redshirt freshman
Jersey number: #80
Last year: I ranked Miller #60 and said he would get minimal offensive reps.  He redshirted.

Miller looked like the freshman receiver who was most physically ready to play in 2010, but the lone freshman wideout to play in 2010 was Jeremy Jackson.  Miller did technically play special teams against UMass, but never saw action again for the rest of the season and therefore redshirted.  I wasn't terribly excited about his potential as a wide receiver, so I'm glad he's switched positions to U-back, which is Al Borges' version of a fullback/tight end hybrid (known elsewhere as an H-back).

Miller is a willing blocker and I expect him to be bigger than 215 lbs. when fall practice comes around, maybe in the range of 225.  He still probably won't be big enough (or technically sound enough) to be an in-line blocker, but he's likely the best suited of the "tight ends" to play the old Aaron Shea hybrid position.  That ought to get him on the field with some regularity, especially since fullback John McColgan isn't particularly skilled.

Prediction: Backup tight end

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Review of 2006 Recruiting: The Quarterbacks

When I went back and researched the players Michigan recruited in the years prior to when I started this blog, it was interesting to see how the careers of Wolverine targets played out.  As with every team's recruiting, there were some successes and some failures.  In a series that will surely take awhile to develop, I'll take a look at how the careers of these players have unfolded in the last five years.

The 2006 Roster
Chad Henne, Jr.
Jason Forcier, So.
Jeff Kastl, 5th
Lee Mondol, Fr.
Nick Sheridan, Fr.
Jeff Ziegler, Fr.

The Recruits

David Cone
High school: Statesboro High School in Statesboro, GA
Ratings: Rivals 3-star and #33 pro-style QB; Scout 3-star and #23 QB
Other notable offers: Ball State, Eastern Kentucky
College: Michigan
Scoop: Cone was buried on the depth chart behind future 2nd-rounder Chad Henne, Georgia Tech transfer Steve Threet (who eventually transferred to Arizona State and then retired from football due to concussions), walk-on Nick Sheridan, Tate Forcier, and Denard Robinson during his career.  For his career he completed 4/6 passes for 75 yards against teams like Minnesota, Delaware State, and Western Michigan.  His scholarship was not renewed for 2010.

Neil Caudle
High school: Spain Park High School in Hoover, AL
Ratings: Rivals 4-star and #7 pro-style QB; Scout 4-star and #10 QB
Other notable offers: Clemson, LSU, Miami
College: Auburn
Scoop: Caudle redshirted in 2006 and then spent four seasons as a backup for the Tigers behind Brandon Cox, Kodi Burns, and Cam Newton, completing 20/29 passes for 212 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception.  He went undrafted in the 2011 NFL Draft.

Dexter Davidson
High school: North Broward Prep School in Boca Raton, FL
Ratings: Rivals 3-star and #32 pro-style QB; Scout 2-star
Other notable offers: BYU, Kentucky, Louisville, Rutgers
College: Pittsburgh
Scoop: Davidson redshirted in 2006 and left the team prior to the 2007 season after having surgery on both knees.  His whereabouts since then are unknown (to me) since then.

Pat Devlin
High school: Downingtown East High School in Exton, PA
Ratings: Rivals 4-star and #5 pro-style QB; Scout 4-star and #4 QB
Other notable offers: Miami, North Carolina State, Pittsburgh, Virginia
College: Penn State (then Delaware)
Scoop: Devlin redshirted in 2006 and threw one incomplete pass for Penn State in 2007 as the third-stringer. He was the #2 QB in 2008 and backed up Daryll Clark, completing 25/47 passes for 459 yards, 4 touchdowns, and zero interceptions.  He also rushed for 2 touchdowns.  He then transferred to Delaware prior to the 2009 season and started for the next two seasons, completing 481/728 passes for 5,696 yards, 38 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions.  He went undrafted in the 2011 NFL Draft.

Mitch Mustain
High school: Springdale High School in Springdale, AR
Ratings: Rivals 5-star and #2 pro-style QB; Scout 5-star and #1 QB
Other notable offers: Florida, Miami, Notre Dame, Tennessee
College: Arkansas (then USC)
Scoop: Mustain played one year for the Razorbacks, winning eight games and completing 69/132 passes for 894 yards, 10 touchdowns, and 9 interceptions.  He then transferred to USC and sat out 2007 due to NCAA rules.  He spent 2008-2010 as a backup behind Mark Sanchez and Matt Barkley for the Trojans, completing 52/89 passes for 505 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions.  He went undrafted in the 2011 NFL Draft.

Taylor Potts
High school: Abilene High School in Abilene, TX
Ratings: Scout 4-star and #14 QB
Other notable offers: N/A
College: Texas Tech
Scoop: Potts redshirted in 2006, backed up Graham Harrell in 2007 and 2008, and then was a two-year starter for the Red Raiders in 2009 and 2010.  He finished his college career 7,835 yards, 62 touchdowns, and 25 interceptions.  He went undrafted in the 2011 NFL Draft.

Matt Stafford
High school: Highland Park High School in Dallas, TX
Ratings: Rivals 5-star and #1 pro-style QB; Scout 5-star and #2 QB
Other notable offers: Florida State, Oklahoma, Texas
College: Georgia
Scoop: Due to an injury to Georgia's starter in 2006, Stafford played early and started for his three years in Athens.  He played poorly as a freshman, throwing 7 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.  However, he was an All-American by 2008 and finished his three-year college career with 7,731 yards passing, 51 touchdowns, and 33 interceptions.  He was the #1 overall pick by the Detroit Lions in 2009.

Nick Stephens
High school: Flower Mound High School in Flower Mound, TX
Ratings: Rivals 3-star and #15 pro-style QB; Scout 4-star and #11 QB
Other notable offers: Georgia Tech, Illinois, Mississippi, Oklahoma State
College: Tennessee (then Tarleton State)
Scoop: Stephens redshirted in 2006 and did not see playing time in 2007.  He started a handful of games in 2008 and completed 63/130 passes for 840 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions.  He then reverted to a backup role in 2009 and finished 9/13 for 1 touchdown and 1 interception.  He transferred to Tarleton State prior to the 2010 season, where he finished 132/258 for 9 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.  His career seems to be finished.

Tim Tebow
High school: Nease High School in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL
Ratings: Rivals 5-star and #1 dual-threat QB; 5-star and #3 QB
Other notable offers: Alabama, LSU, USC
College: Florida
Scoop: Tebow played a significant role as a backup/part-time QB behind Chris Leak as a freshman (22/33 passing, 5 TDs, 1 interception; 89 carries, 469 yards, 8 TDs rushing) when Florida won the national championship.  He started the next three seasons, won the Heisman trophy as a sophomore in 2007, won the 2008 national championship, and set records too numerous to list here.  He finished his college career with 9,286 yards passing, 88 touchdowns, and 15 interceptions; and 2,947 yards rushing for 57 touchdowns.  He was then drafted by the Denver Broncos in the 1st round of the NFL Draft in 2010.

There were some good players in there.  Michigan didn't do a bad job of evaluating talent, but most of the better options had clearer paths to starting jobs.  Mustain started immediately, Stafford was #2 on the depth chart by fall and started as a sophomore, and Tebow played a lot as a freshman and started as a sophomore. Two targets were 1st round picks (Stafford, Tebow) and one other was a borderline college star (Taylor Potts).  Two transferred to lower divisions (Devlin, Stephens) and one transferred to a better team (Mustain); none of those three found glory, though Devlin has a good shot of latching onto an NFL team as an undrafted free agent whenever the NFL gets back into action.

Biggest miss: Tebow.  Duh.  He won two national championships and the Heisman.  It would have been tough to beat out Henne in 2006 and 2007, but the transition to Rich Rodriguez in 2008 would have been a good fit for both player and coach.  Michigan still wouldn't have been great in either of those years, but it's not unreasonable to think that Tebow could have given Michigan a boost to beat Toledo, Purdue, and perhaps a couple other teams.

Biggest bust: Mustain.  He was essentially a career backup and couldn't beat out a freshman (albeit a talented one) for the starting job at USC.  He went from the nation's #1 QB (on Scout) to throwing for approximately 1,400 yards and tossing an almost even number of touchdowns and interceptions throughout his career.  He still would have been better than David Cone, but probably wouldn't have meshed well with Rich Rodriguez's offensive style, either.

Best in class: Tebow.  An argument could be made for Matt Stafford, the #1 overall pick in 2009 who's having a decent career with the Detroit Lions, or Sam Bradford, the #1 overall pick in 2010 who had a very good rookie year for the St. Louis Rams.  However, Tebow set tons of records, won the Heisman, won two national championships, and was a first round pick himself.  It was a very good recruiting class for quarterbacks in 2006, a class that also produced Josh Freeman (Buccaneers' 1st round pick and current starter), Jake Locker (Titans' 1st round pick), Colin Kaepernick (49ers' 2nd round pick), Greg McElroy (undrafted but won a national championship at Alabama), and Andy Dalton (Bengals' 2nd round pick).