2011 Countdown: #57 Ken Wilkins

2011 Countdown: #57 Ken Wilkins

July 5, 2011
Ken Wilkins

Name: Ken Wilkins
Height: 6’3″
Weight: 262 lbs.
High school: Trinity High School in Washington, PA
Position: Defensive end
Class: Redshirt freshman
Jersey number: #41
Last year: I ranked Wilkins #73 and said he would redshirt.  He redshirted.

I don’t understand the official roster on MGoBlue.com, which calls Wilkins a “DT” when he was clearly playing defensive end all spring.  He’s playing the same 5-tech position as Ryan Van Bergen, who’s listed as a . . . “DE.”  So whatever.  Wilkins came in as a 244-pound defensive end last season, but with his need to bulk up combined with all the upperclassman defensive linemen on the roster, he was able to redshirt and put on some weight.

Now up 18 lbs., Wilkins seems to be in line for some playing time this season.  Defensive linemen rotate often, and he might be the #3 strongside end on the depth chart.  Van Bergen should be the starter, but Jibreel Black can play both SDE and WDE, while walk-on Will Heininger will probably play a little bit at SDE, too.  Wilkins will probably see some minutes in the rotation, but based on what I saw in the spring, he’s not quite ready for the primetime just yet.

Prediction: Backup strongside end


  1. Comments: 21388
    E Shazzle
    Jul 05, 2011 at 7:18 PM

    Regarding the DE/DT on mgoblues roster, I think Hoke must be a fan of putting DEs on the interior, and maybe DTs on the outside (Martin). With the way this recruiting class is filling up, Hoke says he only wants to take 1 DT, but it looks like we're on our way for 6 DE's, with possible commitments from Washington and Wormley. Looking at our depth on the line for next year, we have 5 DTs on the roster, and they are all unproven excluding Martin, and we have 7 DEs. So 2 seasons from now there will be 5 DTs and 12 DEs, with no Mike Martin.

    It leaves me scratching my head, but I trust Hoke and Co. know what they're doing.

    In conclusion, more DTs please?

  2. Comments: 21388
    Jul 05, 2011 at 7:48 PM

    Could just be a typo or old information too. I figured Wilkins was headed for SDE all along. I agree with you that Heininger and him should be the primary candidates for backup SDE, but with the position wide open in 2012, there may some additional incentive to let Wilkins get some seasoning. Also Heininger may be needed inside if the Washington/Ash/Talbott group isn't ready (or if Campbell proves inadequate.)

    Interesting to hear your take on Black being able to play both DE spots. I thought he was a pure WDE, at least at this stage. Am I wrong in thinking last year Black was effective primarily in pass rushing situations and that he struggled to hold up against the run? Was that just a function of being a true freshman? I do recall that Black's recruiting profile described him as a versatile DT/DE type, but he didn't seem to be there yet.

  3. Comments: 21388
    Jul 05, 2011 at 7:52 PM

    @ E Shazzle 3:18 p.m.

    I think Mike Martin is a unique case. He's quicker than most defensive tackles and a little undersized for the NT position, so I think Mattison sees a unique opportunity to move him around. Future nose tackles like Ash, Washington, and potentially Campbell aren't quite so versatile.

  4. Comments: 21388
    Jul 05, 2011 at 7:56 PM

    @ Lankownia 3:48 p.m.

    I think Black held up fairly well against the run late in the year. But I could be mis-remembering.

    Regardless, there were some conflicting projections for Black, but for what it's worth, I projected him as a strongside (5-tech) end:


  5. Comments: 21388
    Jul 05, 2011 at 7:57 PM

    Also, the word out of spring practice was that whenever Van Bergen needed a breather, Black was the first man in the strong side.

  6. Comments: 21388
    Jul 05, 2011 at 9:20 PM

    I buy it, I was just wondering. My perception of Black is probably based on Mgoblog's UFR's. Specifically, the MSU game:

    "Black got some more playing time this week, seeing passing downs. He also got an entire drive in the third quarter. It was MSU's last touchdown drive and he was a big reason it happened, unfortunately…..Banks wasn't playing well so they tried out Black, who played worse, so they went back to Banks..Pancaked multiple times on drive where he got most of his PT…Jibreel Black is a cutback-conceding machine on the drive he plays every snap of."

    Limited sample and obviously FWIW qualifier applies – from what I recall he graded out OK after that – but he was used more for passing downs after the MSU game.

    Anyway, he was a freshman. A year of physical development and better coaches could make him a SDE, and its clear he is the third best DE we have. But he's a little light if he still weighs under 260.

  7. Comments: 21388
    Painter Smurf
    Jul 05, 2011 at 11:42 PM

    What's your long term prognosis for Wilkins? Is he potential starter material down the road? From what little I have seen of him, he looks the part to me – he seems to be fairly athletic with a decent frame to add good weight. If he has some natural pass rush skills, I could see him contributing this year on passing downs, maybe from an interior spot.

  8. Comments: 21388
    Jul 06, 2011 at 12:06 AM

    @ Painter Smurf 7:42 p.m.

    I haven't seen much of Wilkins since he was recruited, other than the spring game. I still stand by what I said at the time: He's too stiff to play weakside end, but he could be a solid strongside end down the road. I think he could be Rondell Biggs-like when all is said and done, but I think he's at least a year away from being anything to get excited about.


  9. Comments: 21388
    Jul 06, 2011 at 12:10 AM

    @ Lankownia 5:20 p.m.

    I'm not sure which game it was off the top of my head, but Black was actually pretty good at times, too. My internet is being slow and thus MGoBlog is taking too long to load, but I also remember Brian mentioning him playing tough against the run at one point or another. Personally, I think Black is almost a clone of Brandon Graham, so strongside end seems like a good fit to me and I think he'll be pretty damn good by the time he's a junior.

  10. Comments: 21388
    Jul 06, 2011 at 2:28 AM

    I share your enthusiasm on Black. Anyone who can look competent as a true freshman has a good chance of becoming a special player. The Graham comparison is heavy praise indeed. Lets hope he makes similar leaps in production between freshman and senior years.

    I was actually thinking he might get some calls to pass by Roh (who I think is overrated by many M fans) at some point, but if he rotates between the two end spots he should get plenty of run.

  11. Comments: 21388
    Jul 06, 2011 at 2:50 AM

    @ Lankownia 10:28 p.m.

    We'll see about Roh. He looked pretty good as a freshman (37 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 1 interception), and he was misused as a sophomore. You're certainly entitled to your opinion, but I don't think we've seen the best of him yet.

  12. Comments: 21388
    Jul 06, 2011 at 6:17 AM

    Oh, don't get me wrong, Roh's a nice player and I expect him to start at WDE for the next 2 years – I'm just saying he isn't the all-conference DL some fans make him out to be. That could obviously change as he approaches his upperclass years. Its not hard to be overrated by M fans, especially on the defenses we've seen recently.

    I was just saying that Black could end up passing him by or at least do enough as a backup to make some people wonder if he shouldn't start.

  13. Comments: 21388
    Painter Smurf
    Jul 06, 2011 at 1:31 PM

    I'll agree with Lankownia here. I think Roh will be competent the next couple years. But I project Black to have better play-making ability. You can play both Roh and Black on passing downs. But if Will Campbell plays well on running downs, RVB can stay at the 5 spot and Black will be competing for WDE playing time with Roh. I have a feeling Black could surpass Roh in this situation. Who knows. With new coaches, some of these players might really blossom and surprise, even the upperclassmen. Either way, it's good that Roh finally has some competition.

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