2019 Season Countdown: #48 Ben VanSumeren

2019 Season Countdown: #48 Ben VanSumeren


July 17, 2019
Ben VanSumeren (image via Twitter)

Name: Ben VanSumeren
Height:
6’2″
Weight:
236 lbs.
High school:
Essexville (MI) Garber
Position:
Running back
Class:
Redshirt freshman
Jersey number:
#40
Last year:
I ranked VanSumeren #39 and said he would be a backup fullback (LINK). He played in four games and redshirted.
TTB Rating:
78

There’s one thing I can say about myself that I can be proud of:

I’m no Skip Bayless.

The thing about these countdowns – and my review posts – is that I hold myself accountable and make it plain to see when I’m wrong. And I was very wrong about VanSumeren and, to an extent, Michigan’s offense last year. With Khalid Hill and Henry Poggi having graduated after the 2017 season, I thought Michigan would go right back to the fullback well with a heavy dose of Ben Mason and the next most fullback-y guy, VanSumeren.

That turned out not to be the case. Mason got some pretty good playing time, fifth year senior Jared Wangler played some, and VanSumeren redshirted while playing very little in four games.

Oops.

This spring VanSumeren saw some playing time at tailback, partly because there were a bunch of injuries and the suspension of Chris Evans. VanSumeren isn’t a classic running back, and it’s somewhat concerning that he was forced into such a prominent role, even if it was just practice. I think he will be relatively low on the depth chart, but I do think he will start to get some carries and perhaps some receptions in 2019.

Prediction: Backup running back

19 comments

  1. Avatar
    Comments: 1277
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    WindyCityBlue
    Jul 17, 2019 at 10:06 AM

    FB is far too unnecessary and replaceable a position to have the backup ranked this high. Even more so if our offense really and truly becomes more speed- and pass-oriented.

    • Thunder
      Comments: 3362
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Jul 17, 2019 at 10:09 AM

      I don’t recall ranking a fullback this high in this year’s countdown.

      • Avatar
        Comments: 1277
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        WindyCityBlue
        Jul 17, 2019 at 12:39 PM

        He’s a fullback. I recall someone trying to call Mason a RB last year, and that was no more the case than this. Even if he gets a few extra yards as a (slow) running start, he’s still a fullback.

        • Thunder
          Comments: 3362
          Joined: 7/13/2015
          Jul 17, 2019 at 12:57 PM

          I just double-checked MGoBlue.com and…yep, he’s listed as a running back. Just like I said.

          https://mgoblue.com/roster.aspx?rp_id=19086

          • Lanknows
            Comments: 5510
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            Lanknows
            Jul 17, 2019 at 1:25 PM

            In defense of WCB the official roster does not distinguish between positions in many cases. e.g., Nobody is listed as a CB, DT, DE, or slot WR.

            That said, there ARE 2 FBs listed including Mason (FB/DL).

            • Lanknows
              Comments: 5510
              Joined: 8/11/2015
              Lanknows
              Jul 17, 2019 at 1:28 PM

              to be clear BVS is not one of the FB. He is a RB, as Thunder said.

              IMO the error is there is listing Mason as a FB and not a RB, when he clearly played RB last year on many meaningful downs.

              • Avatar
                Comments: 1277
                Joined: 8/11/2015
                WindyCityBlue
                Jul 17, 2019 at 6:22 PM

                Yeah, we had this discussion. It doesn’t matter where you line him up, or if he’s the only guy in the backfield. His longest gain of the year was 6 yards. He’s a FB. That’s his skill set and that’s how he’s being used.

                • Lanknows
                  Comments: 5510
                  Joined: 8/11/2015
                  Lanknows
                  Jul 17, 2019 at 8:42 PM

                  Harbaugh:

                  “Feel like the fullback will be used in short-yardage and goal-line situations, predominantly, so we want to get Ben Mason on the field as much as possible. He’ll be playing defensive line, along with playing fullback, along with playing tailback. Will be a lot on his plate, we’ll see how he can handle it. I think he’s going to handle it really well.”

                • Lanknows
                  Comments: 5510
                  Joined: 8/11/2015
                  Lanknows
                  Jul 17, 2019 at 8:45 PM

                  I think where he lines up is pretty relevant to what his position is.

          • Avatar
            Comments: 1277
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            WindyCityBlue
            Jul 17, 2019 at 6:23 PM

            Let’s put it this way..He’s as much a RB as Wyatt Shalman was.

        • Lanknows
          Comments: 5510
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Jul 17, 2019 at 1:21 PM

          This again? FB was largely fazed out of the offense last year. Gattis hasn’t indicated he will use them any more than Hamilton did.

          RBs are players who line up in the backfield, block on most downs, sometimes carry the ball, sometimes go out for passes. Mason and BVS fit.

          A big blocky RB can be a RB just like “primary”, “all purpose”, “3rd down”, “super”, and “speed” backs.

          We don’t need to hold onto legacy naming conventions and we don’t need to have a depth chart that covers every rarely used package that Michigan throws out. [Who is the wildcat QB!?! who is the ballcarrier on jet sweeps?!?]

          I’d apply this logic further than most (lump all WRs together, lump all safeties together, put the “SAM” in with the DEs, etc.). That reflects my preference for consistency and accuracy over false precision. In an era of so many different formations and packages and hybrid personnel moving around the field I see it as counterproductive to be too specific about positions.

          • GKblue
            Comments: 321
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            GKblue
            Jul 17, 2019 at 3:33 PM

            I kind of chuckled when I read this in that you are capable of applying specificity to any subject. I hope you aren’t going all ball-peen on us.

            I actually prefer both general and discreet positional descriptors as to how these guys are used within reason. I am capable of understanding the nuances in football language.

            • Lanknows
              Comments: 5510
              Joined: 8/11/2015
              Lanknows
              Jul 17, 2019 at 6:24 PM

              I’m certainly willing to dive into details, but I don’t like overly prescriptive categorization.

              If someone wants to create a super detailed depth chart including every specialized role and formation, have at it. I think it’s incredibly difficult to maintain consistency and accuracy given massive disparities in position groups.

          • Avatar
            Comments: 1277
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            WindyCityBlue
            Jul 17, 2019 at 6:30 PM

            I’ll believe that Gattis will be throwing the ball most of the time on 3rd and short when I see it.

            If you want to know how Mason has REALLY been used, ask yourself how many times a RB has blocked for him, as compared to the number of times that he has blocked for a RB. If you’ve been watching the last couple years, you should have a pretty good sense of the discrepancy.

  2. Avatar
    Comments: 1616
    Joined: 1/19/2016
    je93
    Jul 17, 2019 at 10:39 AM

    This kid is jacked!

    But yeah, we need better at RB

  3. Lanknows
    Comments: 5510
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Jul 17, 2019 at 12:57 PM

    re: “such a prominent role”

    BVS is 3rd string at best but more likely 5th or 6th down on the list of ball carriers. While they will show up in the boxscore, these sort of backup RBs are easy to replace and rarely impactful unless they have a specialized skillset (short-yardage back, 3rd down back, receiving threat, etc.) Anybody can take garbage time snaps, from walk-on to freshman.

    While I’m sure BVS will contribute in some way, I don’t see how he will make a big impact with Ben Mason on the roster and all the other options at RB.

    • Avatar
      Comments: 1277
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      WindyCityBlue
      Jul 17, 2019 at 6:32 PM

      That’s really the point. The only impactful use of guys with his skill set will be with Mason.

  4. Lanknows
    Comments: 5510
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Jul 21, 2019 at 2:46 PM

    Howard Griffith on UM RBs:

    “”Whoever knows how to pick up the pass protection schemes, whoever can carry the ball without turning it over and whoever can catch the ball a little bit out of the backfield is going to rise to the top,” he said. “All three of those areas are equally important. The carries and the catches are there. They aren’t going to just go away so someone needs to seize it.”

    “I think you have to put whoever is most ready mentally. The one who knows the offense and knows what to do is going to allow you to play better overall.””

    He didn’t mention YPC or speed…though I’m sure if someone is really producing as a playmaker on a regular basis, the other stuff could be set aside. Rare.

    • Thunder
      Comments: 3362
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Jul 23, 2019 at 9:47 AM

      I guess Ben Mason should be Michigan’s starting tailback.

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