You may or may not remember when I put together an all-star team for Rich Rodriguez’s tenure (OFFENSE, DEFENSE/SPECIAL TEAMS). Well, here’s the Brady Hoke version. I patched together a pretty good team from the four seasons that Hoke was the head man in Ann Arbor.
QB: Devin Gardner (2013)
208-for-345 passing, 60.3%, 2960 yards, 21 touchdowns, 11 interceptions
165 carries for 483 yards, 2.9 yards/carry, 11 touchdowns
This may be an unpopular choice, but Gardner had some brilliant games (Notre Dame, Indiana, Ohio State) during the 2013 campaign. He ended the year as Michigan’s second-leading rusher and showed some great potential. The Notre Dame victory was exhilarating, he threw for 503 yards (a Michigan record) against Indiana, and played great against Ohio State despite a broken foot for part of the game.
RB: Denard Robinson (2012)
177 carries, 1266 yards, 7.2 yards/carry, 7 touchdowns
I’m cheating a bit here by putting Robinson at running back, but he did start a few games at the position after he returned from the elbow injury suffered against Nebraska. He broke 100 yards twice in his three games at running back. Even so, he showed enough running skills at the quarterback position to make this essentially a no-brainer. Imagine the running ability of a team with Gardner at QB and Robinson lined up behind him or next to him.
FB: Joe Kerridge (2014)
3 carries, 56 yards, 18.7 yards/carry
6 catches, 53 yards, 8.8 yards/catch
Hoke employed a fullback quite a bit, but his fullbacks didn’t touch the ball a lot. Kerridge set a record for the Hoke era by getting 9 touches, including some critical first downs and a 52-yard run on a fake punt against Maryland.
WR: Jeremy Gallon (2013)
89 catches, 1373 yards, 15.4 yards/catch, 9 touchdowns
Gallon and Gardner had a symbiotic relationship. Gallon didn’t produce a ton before Gardner became the quarterback, and Gardner was unproductive once Gallon graduated. Regardless, Gallon was a record-setter at Michigan with 1,373 yards that season and had 369 yards in a game against Indiana, the highest Big Ten total in history.
WR: Junior Hemingway (2011)
34 catches, 699 yards, 20.6 yards/catch, 4 touchdowns
Hemingway may not have had higher catch or yardage totals than other candidates for this spot, but he made lots of clutch plays and was Denard Robinson’s go-to guy like Gallon was Gardner’s. Hemingway had some huge catches in wins against Notre Dame, Ohio State, and Virginia Tech
TE: Kevin Koger (2011)
23 catches, 244 yards, 10.6 yards/catch, 4 touchdowns
Jake Butt might have more upside, but Koger had better production in 2011 and had the best combination of skills that Hoke had available at the tight end position. Koger could block, catch, and run a little bit. Plus he was named a captain and liked well enough to be asked to be a graduate assistant on the staff.
LT: Taylor Lewan (2012)
13 starts, 1 touchdown
Lewan peaked in 2012 when he was a First Team All-American and dominant all year, including a great showing against eventual #1 pick Jadeveon Clowney of South Carolina in the Outback Bowl. He also fell on a fumble in the endzone, notching a touchdown against UMass.
LG: Michael Schofield (2011)
Schofield, a tackle by trade, earned the starting left guard job when Ricky Barnum was injured. Somewhat surprisingly, he performed very well for a young guy playing an unfamiliar position. He would eventually turn into a 3rd round pick by the Denver Broncos.
C: David Molk (2011)
Molk started the first twelve games of the year and sat out the first series of the Sugar Bowl against Virginia Tech with an injury he suffered in pre-game warmups. When backup Rocko Khoury struggled with two bad snaps on three plays, Molk entered the game and helped lead the team to a victory. Molk was a First Team All-American and won the Rimington Trophy, given to the nation’s best center.
RG: Patrick Omameh (2011)
Omameh seemed to have a better season in 2011 than 2012, even though he was named First Team All-Big Ten by the coaches in the latter season and not the former. The offensive line protected quarterback Denard Robinson pretty well in 2011 (#34 in sacks allowed), and Omameh helped pave the way for two 1,000-yard rushers (Robinson, running back Fitzgerald Toussaint).
RT: Mark Huyge (2011)
With Schofield slotted at left guard, Huyge is really the only choice here. He wasn’t spectacular, but he was solid and never stood out as being a weakness. He, too, was part of the unit that protected the quarterback and helped Toussaint and Robinson run for 1,000 yards each.