Steve Casula, Wolverine

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13Feb 2024
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Steve Casula, Wolverine

Steve Casula

Michigan has hired Steve Casula to coach the tight ends, replacing Grant Newsome, who moved from tight ends to coaching the offensive line.

Casula spent the past two seasons as the offensive coordinator at UMass under former Michigan defensive coordinator Don Brown, who is the head coach for the Minutemen.

UMass was #118 in yards per play before he arrived in 2021; they then dropped to #130 in 2022 but jumped to #59 in 2023. Surely some of that jump had to do with the transfer portal, where the Minutemen benefited from former Clemson/Georgia Tech QB Taisun Phommachanh, former Rutgers RB Kay’Ron Adams, former Arizona WR Anthony Simpson, and former Michigan WR George Johnson III, among others. But that’s still an impressive leap in the span of one season.

Casula is being brought in to coach the tight ends, which he’s overqualified to do. He’s spent a good amount of time as an offensive coordinator (Davenport from 2014-2016; Ferris State from 2017-2018; UMass from 2022-2023) and even served as interim head coach at Davenport. One of his proteges as a coordinator/quarterback coach was former Detroit (MI) Cass Tech quarterback Jayru Campbell, who won the Harlon Hill Trophy for being the most outstanding player in Division II back in 2018.

Casula was an analyst at Michigan from 2019-2021, so he’s familiar with the area and the program. He should be able to hit the ground running, and there’s no reason to think that Michigan’s tight ends won’t continue to be successful.

Michigan’s coaching staff as of today:

  • HC: Sherrone Moore
  • OC/QB: Kirk Campbell
  • RB: Mike Hart
  • WR: Ronald Bellamy
  • TE: Steve Casula
  • OL: Grant Newsome
  • DC: Wink Martindale
  • DL: ???
  • LB: ???
  • DB: ???
  • STC: J.B. Brown
12Feb 2024
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Joey Velazquez, Ex-Wolverine

Joey Velazquez

Michigan linebacker Joey Velazquez has left the program and will play for Ohio State as a walk-on going forward.

Velazquez entered the transfer portal after the season, which was not particularly surprising. Since entering the program in 2019, Velazquez had played in just 20 games over that span (0 in 2023) with 8 tackles and 1 fumble recovery during that stretch.

Velazquez was a 3-star, the #86 safety, and #1024 overall in the class of 2019. He was recruited by Don Brown for the “Viper” position that no longer exists in Michigan’s defense. At 6’0″ and 222 pounds, he fits the athletic shape of a Viper, but he never fit in to Michigan’s defense as it’s been since 2021. Doubling as a baseball player, he had a better career on the diamond than he did on the gridiron at Michigan.

However, it appears that Velazquez will not play baseball at Ohio State and will instead focus on football, which is odd since he’s very inexperienced for a rising sixth year senior. Perhaps he just wants to be closer to home and perhaps hop on board for a potential national championship with the Buckeyes, who have spent a bunch of money to make some roster upgrades this off-season.

Velazquez is the first football player to transfer to Ohio State since defensive lineman Chris Rock left the Wolverines following the 2012 season and played for the Buckeyes from 2013-2014. But probably the most famous departure was offensive lineman Justin Boren, who ditched Michigan during the Lloyd Carr-to-Rich Rodriguez transition.

This does not affect Michigan for 2024, since Velazquez was not expected to play much of a role and was already a fifth year senior.

12Feb 2024
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2025 Recruiting Update: February 12, 2024

Covina (CA) Charter Oak linebacker LaVar Arrington II (image via 247 Sports)

ADDED TO THE BOARD: 2025

Covina (CA) Charter Oak linebacker LaVar Arrington II (3-star, #52 ATH, #587 overall) was offered by Michigan. He’s a 6’4″, 215 lb. edge rusher with offers from Penn State, Tennessee, UCLA, and Washington, among others. His dad is, of course, former Penn State and NFL linebacker LaVar Arrington, who was the #2 overall pick in the 2000 NFL Draft. He made 417 career tackles, 23.5 sacks, 3 interceptions, and 1 touchdown, but his career was cut short by a motorcycle accident.

Santa Ana (CA) Mater Dei cornerback Daryus Dixson (4-star, #9 CB, #74 overall) was offered by Michigan. He’s a 6’0″, 180-pounder with offers from Miami, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Texas, and USC, among others.

Denton (TX) Ryan offensive tackle Marcus Garcia (4-star, #30 OT, #330 overall) was offered by Michigan. He’s a 6’5″, 265 lb. prospect with offers from Florida, Florida State, Ole Miss, and Texas A&M, among others.

Hit the jump for more.

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10Feb 2024
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Wink Martindale, Wolverine

Wink Martindale (image via On3)

Former Baltimore Ravens and New York Giants defensive coordinator Wink Martindale has been hired as Michigan’s new defensive coordinator.

At 60 years old, Martindale has too long of a coaching history to run down. But as a native of Ohio, he went on to play at Defiance and then spent time coaching at Western Kentucky in the early 2000s, winning a DI-AA (now FCS) national championship as the defensive coordinator under Jack Harbaugh in 2002. He would go on to become the Oakland Raiders linebackers coach in 2004 and has been in the NFL ever since, spending time with the Raiders, Denver Broncos, Ravens, and then Giants.

Hit the jump for more.

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6Feb 2024
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Mike Elston, Ex-Wolverine

Mike Elston

Defensive line coach Mike Elston is reportedly on the way to Los Angeles to coach the Chargers defensive line under Jim Harbaugh. Elston has been Michigan’s DL coach and recruiting coordinator since being hired away from Notre Dame prior to the 2022 season.

Elston is a former Michigan player who had some great success securing commitments from some quality defensive linemen and helping develop some players into studs, including Mason Graham and Kenneth Grant. Even guys like Rayshaun Benny and Cam Goode showed solid improvement in 2023, not to mention edge defenders like Jaylen Harrell, Josaiah Stewart, and Derrick Moore.

The rumor mill has been going about Elston, who reportedly has had an offer on the table from the Chargers for a while but was still out on the road recruiting for Michigan recently. The hope was that he would stay on board to keep recruiting and help Sherrone Moore transition into the next era of Michigan football. Unfortunately, that seems not to be the case.

This is a big loss for Michigan. Not bigger than Harbaugh. Not bigger than Jesse Minter. And probably not bigger than Herbert. But it’s a significant blow to a program whose identity has been built in the trenches, both on offense and defense. It was Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo setting the tone in 2021 – which was admittedly pre-Elston – and then Mazi Smith, Graham, Grant, Harrell, and others in 2022 and 2023. The interior pass rush improved in 2023, which made up for the fact that Michigan didn’t have truly elite rushers coming off the edge. Now you really have to wonder how strong the pull will be for guys to enter the transfer portal if they’re losing their head coach, their defensive line coach, and their strength coach while also being tampered with and offered hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The lone defensive holdout on the staff is co-defensive coordinator Steve Clinkscale, who seems to be an option as defensive coordinator . . . but could also follow Harbaugh to the Chargers. Meanwhile, Michigan is reportedly also pursuing Kansas City Chiefs defensive line coach Joe Cullen, former Baltimore Ravens/New York Giants defensive coordinator Wink Martindale, and New York Giants inside linebackers coach John Egorugwu, among others.

The current coaching staff as things stand today:

  1. HC: Sherrone Moore
  2. OC/QB: Kirk Campbell
  3. RB: Mike Hart
  4. WR: Ronald Bellamy
  5. TE: Steve Casula
  6. OL: Grant Newsome
  7. DC: ???
  8. DL: ???
  9. LB: ???
  10. CB: Steve Clinkscale
  11. STC: J.B. Brown