Drake Johnson won’t return in 2017

Tag: attrition


10Apr 2017
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Drake Johnson won’t return in 2017

Drake Johnson (image via New York Daily News)

Fifth year senior running back Drake Johnson – who would be a sixth year senior in the fall – has chosen not to return to the football team, according to Jim Harbaugh. Johnson suffered from a variety of injuries during his Michigan career, including two torn ACLs and a forklift imprint.

I will post a senior profile on him (such as the one on De’Veon Smith that’s scheduled for tomorrow morning), so I won’t spend too much time here looking back at Johnson’s career. However, if he had returned, he would have been expected to be a contributor in the backfield, though not likely a starter.

This doesn’t affect Michigan’s 2018 class since Johnson was scheduled to graduate anyway, but with just 84 scholarship players headed into the fall (LINK), this opens up a place for a potential grad-transfer or a walk-on to get a scholarship. Safety/linebacker Jordan Glasgow, linebacker Michael Wroblewski, and long-snapper Andrew Robinson are a few of the leading candidates to earn a scholarship.

24Mar 2017
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Kingston Davis, Ex-Wolverine

Rising sophomore running back Kingston Davis is transferring, according to Sam Webb.

Davis committed to Michigan in April of 2015 (LINK). I initially gave him a TTB Rating of 80 before dropping that down to 70 once the recruiting cycle ended (LINK). I came to view him more and more as a fullback, despite his and his father’s insistence that he wanted to play tailback and tailback only. That’s fine if that’s your goal, but it’s tough to be a dynamic tailback at 6’1″ and 245 lbs. Davis dealt with some injury issues after enrolling early at Michigan in January of 2016 and played just a bit, carrying 2 times for 17 yards against Hawaii in the season opener.

Davis was looking up at Chris Evans, Karan Higdon, Kareem Walker, and Ty Isaac, not to mention potential sixth year senior Drake Johnson. Therefore, I don’t think this affects Michigan very much on the field. He was bound to be a backup tailback, and I suggested once again this morning (LINK) – before the news broke – that Michigan should consider moving him to fullback to back up the two co-starting seniors at the position.

Michigan is now down to 86 scholarships allotted for the 2017 season, so they have to shed at least one player before fall camp. I expect some more news of departures soon, which will get Michigan under the 85 cap.

21Feb 2017
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Devin Asiasi, Ex-Wolverine

Devin Asiasi (#2, image via Fox)

Unfortunately, the rumors have come true: rising sophomore tight end Devin Asiasi is transferring. The Concord (CA) De La Salle native committed to Michigan on National Signing Day in 2016.

This is disappointing for me because I was very high on him coming out of high school. I named him as Michigan’s top offensive recruit in the 2016 class (LINK) and gave him a TTB Rating of 92 (LINK). I thought he would be a standout tight end in an offense that utilizes the position more than most programs. He was used mostly as a blocker – something he did effectively – as a freshman, but he also caught 2 passes for 18 yards and 1 touchdown.

Once considered to be an extremely deep position, the ranks are thinning at tight end. With Jake Butt’s graduation and Asiasi’s transfer, Michigan is down arguably its top two tight ends from the 2016 season. After not taking a tight end in the 2016 class, the Wolverines have presumed starter Ian Bunting, oft-used backup Tyrone Wheatley, Jr., and redshirt freshmen Nick Eubanks and Sean McKeon. There are some walk-ons who could contribute, as well as Zach Gentry, who spent much of last season practicing at wide receiver. It’s not an emergency situation, but the Wolverines are down to four scholarship tight ends, and Wheatley is the only plus blocker at this point.

The reason for the transfer has been mentioned as family issues, but some have pegged it as pure homesickness. Either way, he will probably transfer closer to home, and USC seems a likely landing spot. He will presumably have to sit out the 2017 season and then have eligibility for 2018-2020.

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19Jan 2017
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Wyatt Shallman, Ex-Wolverine

Three running backs from the class of 2013: Derrick Green, Wyatt Shallman, De’Veon Smith (image via 247 Sports)

Redshirt junior running back/fullback/linebacker Wyatt Shallman will pursue a graduate transfer opportunity elsewhere for next season. He played each of those positions at various times throughout his college career, though he finishes his days at Michigan with 4 career carries for 14 yards while playing in sixteen career games.

My history of discussing Shallman has been short and emphatic. I wrote a scouting report on him in January of 2012 (LINK), had a bit more to say about him when he committed in February of 2012 (LINK), and eventually landed on a TTB Rating of 65 (LINK). Beyond his recruitment, there really hasn’t been much reason to talk about him over the years. He started out as a tailback for Brady Hoke, which was a bad fit to begin. He took snaps at fullback for Jim Harbaugh back in the spring of 2016, and I noted that he did not look enthused to be a blocking back. He switched to defense in the middle of this past season, but that didn’t seem like a great solution. Switching positions in the middle of your fourth year generally isn’t a good sign.

There is the occasional recruit whose negative reviews engender some anger from, well, people who are interested in seeing that recruit succeed. I received a fair amount of hate mail after my assessment of Shallman’s abilities several years ago. Despite the fact that Shallman was a 247 Composite 4-star, the #1 fullback, and #299 overall, I didn’t see him making much of an impact at Michigan.

The departure of Shallman is a positive for all parties. Shallman was not going to play in 2017. He had already been passed up by classmates or younger players at every position he played, and he wasn’t a standout on special teams, either. This opens up a spot for a younger player or a transfer to enter the fray and compete for a more meaningful role. Meanwhile, Shallman has an opportunity to end up elsewhere – likely at a MAC school, I would guess – and carve out a spot.

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2Jan 2017
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David Dawson, Ex-Wolverine

David Dawson

Offensive guard David Dawson, who would be a fifth year senior at Michigan this fall, is seeking a graduate transfer elsewhere. He announced Monday via Twitter that he would be leaving.

Dawson attended Detroit (MI) Cass Tech, transferred to Texas for his junior year, and then returned to Cass Tech as a senior. He committed to Michigan in February 2012 as a part of the 2013 class, decommitted, and then later recommitted to the Wolverines. In fact, he broke Brady Hoke’s infamous “no visit” policy when he took a recruiting trip to Florida while committed to Michigan, so the coaching staff moved on without him. Eventually, fences were mended and he was “re-offered.”

I took a lot of flak for my thoughts on Dawson when he committed (LINK). You can see there that I was not fond of his abilities, and people were annoyed in the comments. My Twitter mentions weren’t a happy place, either. I gave him a TTB Rating of 71 (at the low end of being an eventual solid starter), and even that was generous. I didn’t see great bend in him, nor did I see a lot of nastiness in his play. Those things seemed to play out at Michigan, as well. He played in twelve career games without ever starting, and when he did play, he did not excel. He played in just three games as a backup in 2016, though an arm injury in the spring hampered him somewhat.

You’ll also see in the link above that I was afraid Michigan would fill up in the 2013 class without having room for the likes of Ethan Pocic. In fact, Pocic was turned away by Michigan and ended up signing with LSU. How did Pocic’s career go in Baton Rouge? He was First Team All-SEC in 2016, Second Team All-SEC in 2015, and started for his entire sophomore year after backup duty as a freshman. He’s considered to be one of the top couple center prospects in the 2017 draft. Imagine if Michigan had an all-conference center the past couple seasons to free up Mason Cole or Graham Glasgow to help at tackle or guard. Considering Michigan lost three games by a total of five points this season, it’s not inconceivable that it could have put Michigan in the playoff, if not at 12-0 in the regular season.

The loss of Dawson should not affect the team much in 2017. He was not expected to start, and he probably would not have been a key backup, either. He was obviously passed on the depth chart by the likes of freshman Ben Bredeson, classmate Patrick Kugler, sophomore Grant Newsome, redshirt sophomore Juwann Bushell-Beatty, and others. Next year’s starting interior could very well be Bredeson, center Mason Cole, and rising sophomore Michael Onwenu. With some highly rated recruits coming in and with some other promising young players, Dawson would have been battling just to be second string.

Michigan has 87 scholarship players scheduled for the fall of 2017 (LINK), so I expect some more departures. Quarterback Shane Morris and long snapper Scott Sypniewski have already begun seeking grad transfers, too.

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