What I've Been Reading: Marvels

    As a casual comic book fan, I am by no means an expert on the genre. I generally try to read the seminal graphic novels about various superheroes, but there are too many different stories to follow to keep up with Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, the X-Men, the Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, etc. I recently read a "Best Graphic Novels of All-Time" list, and Marvels by Kurt Busiek was on the list. I thought I would give it a shot.

    Marvels tells the story of several superheroes and supervillains from the perspective of photographer Phil Sheldon, who was around for the birth of the Human Torch in the 1930s, the arrival of Galactus, the death of (SPOILER ALERT) Gwen Stacy, etc. I thought the narrative would be a little more objective and contain some more origin-story elements, but instead, it was centered around Sheldon, his family, and the way the public viewed these various superheroes as they marched through New York. I kept waiting for Busiek to dive a little deeper into the stories or for Sheldon to make a strong personal connection with any of the mutants or heroes, but that time never came. Ultimately, I found the book left me feeling unsatisfied - not in the genre itself, but in the perspective from which Busiek tried to narrate.

    As for that "Best Graphic Novels of All-Time" list, I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

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    2016 Season Countdown: #50 Maurice Ways
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    Maurice Ways

    Just for some perspective, I counted approximately 50-55 players in the 2015 Season Countdown who ended up having a noteworthy impact on the team. That gives you roughly a two-deep on both sides of the ball, plus some special teamers and other rotation guys. So as we hit #50 with Maurice Ways, this is entering the territory where we should be talking about guys who will see significant snaps, not just in garbage time or an occasional special teams snap.


    Name: Maurice Ways
    Height: 6'3"
    Weight: 210 lbs.
    High school: Detroit (MI) Country Day
    Position: Wide receiver
    Class: Redshirt sophomore
    Jersey number: #85
    Last year: I ranked Ways #40 and said he would be a backup receiver (LINK). He started two games, making 3 catches for 40 yards.

    I thought Ways would take a step forward as a redshirt freshman last season, and he did to an extent. Michigan used the starting wide receivers and a bevy of tight ends in the passing game, so there weren't a lot of receptions to go around for backup receivers. In fact, only 12 receptions were recorded by wide receivers not named Jehu Chesson, Amara Darboh, and Grant Perry. Drake Harris had 6, Ways had 3, and the other 3 went to guys who are no longer on the roster (Da'Mario Jones, Freddy Canteen, and Brian Cole). The thing that got Ways on the field was his ability to block, as he was considered to be the most effective blocker of the backup crew.

    Michigan should have even more talent at the tight end spots this year, and the top three wideouts return. There's no real reason to expect Ways's role to increase, especially considering the fact that he broke his foot during the spring and wound up having surgery. He is expected to be healthy by the beginning of the season, but whether he's back to full strength or not is a slightly different subject. I think he can carve out a role once again as a blocking receiver, because he has the best size of any receiver on the team at 6'3", 210 lbs. But if he's going to make an impact in the passing game, it probably won't be until 2017, once Darboh and Chesson have moved on to the NFL.

    Prediction: Backup wide receiver

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    Welcome to the Weekend!

    It's Friday night, so enjoy some pictures of beautiful ladies to get the weekend started.

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    2016 Season Countdown: #51 Quinn Nordin
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    Quinn Nordin





    Name: Quinn Nordin
    Height: 6'0"
    Weight: 200 lbs.
    High school: Rockford (MI) Rockford
    Position: Kicker/punter
    Class: Freshman
    Jersey number: #15
    Last year: Nordin was a senior in high school (LINK). He averaged 52.9 yards/punt, went 2/3 on field goals, and had touchbacks on 19/23 kickoffs.
    Final TTB Rating: 89

    A locally grown talent, Nordin irked some by committing to Penn State. Not because he picked the Nittany Lions, necessarily, but because he did so by posting a video of him "coming home" to Penn State, a somewhat audacious move for a high school football player. A kicker.

    But then a curious thing happened. He started visiting Michigan. And kept visiting Michigan. And retweeted a lot of Michigan stuff. And made friends with other Michigan commits. The story goes that he committed to PSU because Michigan wasn't sure if they could fit a kicker into their class (they took kicker Andrew David in 2015, too), but as the Wolverines amped up the pressure to squeeze him in, he became more amenable to being a Wolverine. There were more big waves with Nordin when Jim Harbaugh made an in-home visit that saw him spending the night at Nordin's house. That was two times that a high school kicker ended up being talked about by national pundits on ESPN and the like.

    Entering the fall season, Nordin has a chance to contribute as a punter or a kicker. Fifth year senior Kenny Allen did a good job with the placekicking last year, so he should hold down that spot. But Michigan has no real heir apparent for the punting job unless Allen pulls double duty. I assume Allen will start off the year doing both jobs, but Nordin may be called upon if there's an injury or if he's a more consistent punter than Allen. Nordin is a tough guy to place in the countdown, because he could redshirt, but he could also be the starting punter and kicker if Allen tweaks a knee or ankle.

    Prediction: Backup punter/kicker

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    MLive: Michigan sitting as 41-point favorite over Hawaii

    Las Vegas says Michigan is a 41-point favorite (LINK).

    Hit the jump for some good looking women, including a gif of a girl on a boat.

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    2016 Season Countdown: #52 Jon Runyan, Jr.
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    Jon Runyan, Jr. (image via Maize and Blue News)

    Name: Jon Runyan, Jr.
    Height: 6'4"
    Weight: 304 lbs.
    High school: Philadelphia (PA) St. Joseph's
    Position: Offensive guard
    Class: Redshirt freshman
    Jersey number: #75
    Last year: I ranked Runyan #89 and said he would redshirt (LINK). He redshirted.

    Runyan was a little bit undersized when he entered college last year at 276 lbs., and he redshirted as expected. Michigan didn't need a lot of help at offensive guard because Ben Braden and Kyle Kalis stayed healthy, and David Dawson was the first guy in at guard when someone was needed. That extra time was needed, but Runyan added weight pretty quickly. According to the spring roster, he added 28 lbs. since last year. When we saw him in the spring, he was winning sprints in the lineman group, and he held his own during the scrimmages against some pretty good defensive linemen. Runyan might end up playing some center by the time his career is finished, but for now, he appears to be the #4 guard behind Braden, Kalis, and Dawson. If that's the case, he probably won't be called upon for a heavy workload this year, but the coaches could get him some playing time to groom him for 2017 when there will be two open jobs at guard.

    Prediction: Backup offensive guard

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    2017 Recruiting Update: July 21, 2016
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    Iowa City (IA) West wide receiver Oliver Martin (image via (Iowa City Press-Citizen)

    ADDED TO THE BOARD: 2017

    Miami (FL) Columbus cornerback Trajan Bandy decommitted from Oklahoma. He's a 247 Composite 4-star, the #27 cornerback, and #235 overall. Even though former high school teammate Joshua Uche is now in Ann Arbor, Bandy named a top group he would be considering going forward, and Michigan is not in that group.

    Iowa City (IA) West wide receiver Oliver Martin was offered by Michigan. Martin is a 6'0", 188 lb. prospect with offers from Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Oregon, and Wisconsin, among others. He's a 247 Composite 3-star, the #65 wide receiver, and #436 overall. He was a teammate of a handful of Michigan and targets on Team Hypercool at The Opening a couple weekends ago, and some of Michigan's commits supposedly lobbied for the coaching staff to offer him. Michigan State and Wisconsin are the biggest competitors for his services right now. He's visiting for the BBQ at the Big House in August (LINK).

    OFF THE BOARD

    Fayetteville (AR) Fayetteville defensive tackle Akial Byers committed to Alabama. You don't often hear about Arkansas producing top-notch talent, but he's a 4-star and #228 overall in the 2017 class. I like his quickness off the ball, and I think he should be a good player for Crimson Tide down the road.

    After the jump are several more players who committed elsewhere, the BBQ at the Big House visitors list, and other tidbits.

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