The defensive line’s success largely depends on the talent of the offensive line, so this is always a little difficult to gauge. The starters appeared to be Keith Heitzman at strongside end, Quinton Washington at nose tackle, Jibreel Black at 3-tech defensive tackle, and Frank Clark at weakside end. Heitzman didn’t do much of note. Washington seemed to get good push up the middle, and he should be in for a solid season. Black looked quick, and Mattison sent him on several loops and stunts to use that quickness. Clark looks deserving of the spring hype he’s received; he’s going to cause trouble for opponents. Of the backups, redshirt freshman Matt Godin looked solid at strongside end and Willie Henry looked like a very adept replacement. Henry could potentially play SDE, NT, or DT. Ondre Pipkins looked okay at NT, but he didn’t do anything outstanding. Mario Ojemudia gave some people fits because of his quickness, and Taco Charlton made some plays at weakside end against the backup offensive line. I was impressed with how well Charlton used his hands, which was one of the weakness of his game in high school. Richard Ash looked slow off the line and doesn’t know how to use his hands; he still looks like a guy who won’t get many reps. I didn’t keep stats on this, but it looked to me that Mattison ran a lot of 4-3 Under with the first team, but then ran a lot of 4-3 Over with the second unit.
The starters were Brennen Beyer at SAM, Desmond Morgan at MIKE, and James Ross at WILL. I don’t think Beyer is a starter-quality linebacker, and he didn’t really make any plays. Morgan dropped an interception and failed to get depth on Jake Butt’s touchdown catch, but he did look solid against the run. Ross looked fantastic at weakside linebacker, chasing down plays near the sideline and hitting running backs at the line of scrimmage. Cam Gordon looked like the superior player at SAM, made a nice tackle for loss on Dennis Norfleet, and blew up Butt on a Power. Joe Bolden looked solid at MIKE, but I’m concerned about the backup WILL position. Royce Jenkins-Stone seemed to be the #2 weakside linebacker, but he struggled. Mike Jones didn’t look like a viable option, and I didn’t see Antonio Poole on the field. Kaleb Ringer was recruited to play WILL, but he’s too thick and slow to play there, in my opinion.
The corners weren’t tested much – maybe because of the weather, maybe because of the play calls. Blake Countess didn’t play, and the first three corners appeared to be Raymon Taylor, Courtney Avery, and Delonte Hollowell. The quarterbacks seemed to pick on Hollowell more than anyone else, and he seemed to come up well and tackle. Avery appeared to be playing on the outside rather than the nickel position he’s held for the past couple seasons. Ross Douglas looked like he could hold his own, but Terry Richardson looked tiny and afraid to come up and support the run.
The frontrunners for the starting positions seem to be Thomas Gordon and Jarrod Wilson, with Marvin Robinson being the primary backup. Robinson got out-leveraged on Thomas Rawls’ touchdown run, which was a play that Jordan Kovacs totally would have made. The young up-and-comer looked like redshirt freshman Jeremy Clark; he moves pretty well and laid a couple nice hits. Allen Gant made a nice tackle, and early enrollee Dymonte Thomas was just a step slow from his nickel corner position. Josh Furman still didn’t do anything significant, but none of the safeties were really tested in the passing game, so it’s tough to get a good read on their coverage abilities.
Redshirt junior Devin Gardner (11/16, 138 yards, 1 touchdown) looked pretty good for the most part, although he threw a ball right into Desmond Morgan’s hands. I will say that redshirt freshman walk-on Brian Cleary (3/11, 32 yards, 1 touchdown) looked better than I expected, and quite honestly, he looked every bit as capable as currently injured redshirt sophomore Russell Bellomy did; Cleary’s command of the offense and pocket presence are questionable, but he throws a nice ball and has decent arm strength. Alex Swieca (4/6, 38 yards) is really slow getting out from under center.
Junior Thomas Rawls (6 carries, 36 yards, 1 touchdown) had a nice 14-yard touchdown run, but it certainly helped that he was running against guys like Mark Lawson and Terry Richardson on that play. He did show some nice vision on a late run with a cutback, but otherwise, most of the running back play was mediocre. Redshirt sophomore Justice Hayes (2 carries, 1 yard) made a poor read on one run and got tackled for a safety. Sophomore Dennis Norfleet (4 carries, 18 yards) looked the most capable of creating big plays, but he needs space; he had a couple nice runs, but when the running lanes were clogged up on another, he just balled up for about a four-yard loss. Redshirt freshman Drake Johnson (3 carries, 2 yards) looked decent catching a screen pass, but he didn’t stand out as a runner.
Sophomore Sione Houma (1 catch, 10 yards) looked pretty good on a catch-and-run. Redshirt sophomore Joe Kerridge looked good as a lead blocker.
There wasn’t much to glean from this position group. Fifth year senior Jeremy Gallon (3 catches, 18 yards) made a couple nice plays, senior Jeremy Jackson (2 catches, 35 yards) caught a couple short passes, and sophomore Amara Darboh made an over-the-shoulder grab for about 30 yards to start the scrimmage. Otherwise, there were a lot of throws to fullbacks, running backs, and tight ends.
Sophomore Devin Funchess (2 catches, 42 yards) still doesn’t really understand how to block, but boy, can he catch the ball. Sophomore A.J. Williams (1 catch, 6 yards) seemed to get a little quicker by losing about 20 lbs., and that seems to have helped his blocking. Redshirt junior Jordan Paskorz looks a little overwhelmed out there. Freshman Jake Butt (1 catch, 12 yards, 1 touchdown) made a nice touchdown catch, but he too needs to work on his blocking and got pushed around a little bit by guys like Cam Gordon.
The starters appear to be Taylor Lewan, Ben Braden, Jack Miller, Kyle Kalis, and Michael Schofield (from left to right). There were lots of blown pass protections; if Mattison stunted against the young offensive linemen, it was basically guaranteed to confuse them. There are too many guys to mention here, but overall, the run blocking looks better than last year, but the pass blocking seems to have taken a step back. The team has some good athletes in the pipeline to play left tackle (redshirt freshman Erik Magnuson, freshman Logan Tuley-Tillman). Redshirt sophomore Jack Miller had a snafu on a snap, but overall, he looked like the best center. Redshirt freshman Blake Bars was getting pushed around quite a bit; he looks thin. Tuley-Tillman looked pretty thin and underdeveloped, while Braden looked absolutely massive. Redshirt sophomore Chris Bryant will probably always look a little sloppy, but he’s powerful; he just isn’t moving like he should be, whether that’s a permanent thing or if he’s still working his way back into condition after the broken leg.
|Tarpon Springs (FL) East Lake wide receiver Artavis Scott (image via Herald Tribune)|
Here’s a list of visitors for the upcoming spring game. I haven’t filled out the info for each prospect due to time constraints, but I will update it soon.
Brennan Bosch – OG – St. Charles (IL) East: Bosch is a 6’3″, 255 lb. prospect for the class of 2015 with an offer from Illinois. He is the younger brother of early enrollee freshman Kyle Bosch.
Ray Buford, Jr. – CB – Southfield (MI) Southfield: Buford is a 6’0″, 170 lb. prospect for the class of 2015 with no offers. He visited Michigan last week. He has played wide receiver previously, but Michigan is looking at him as a cornerback.
George Campbell – WR – Tarpon Springs (FL) East Lake: Campbell is a 6’3″, 184 lb. prospect for the class of 2015. He has offers from Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Michigan, Notre Dame, and Ohio State, among others. His teammates include 2014 offensive line commit Mason Cole and 2014 wide receiver offeree Artavis Scott, both of whom will also make the trip. Campbell visited Michigan back in February and has since been very high on the Wolverines. As a sophomore in 2012, he had 30 catches for 766 yards and 5 touchdowns; he also had 57 tackles from his safety position. UPDATE: Campbell did not visit this past weekend; he was at Vanderbilt instead.
Brian Cole – CB – Southfield (MI) Heritage: Cole is a 6’2″, 190 lb. prospect for the class of 2015 with offers from Michigan, Michigan State, and Ohio State.
Mason Cole – OG – Tarpon Springs (FL) East Lake: A teammate of Campbell, Cole committed to Michigan in February.
Reon Dawson – CB – Trotwood (OH) Trotwood-Madison: Dawson committed to Michigan in January.
Jaron Dukes – WR – Columbus (OH) Marion-Franklin: Dukes committed to Michigan in February 2012.
Matt Falcon – RB – Southfield (MI) Southfield: Falcon is a 6’0″, 200 lb. prospect for the class of 2016 with no offers right now. He’s the teammate of 2014 defensive end Lawrence Marshall – who went to Michigan State’s campus instead of Michigan’s spring game – and 2015 cornerback Ray Buford, Jr.
Michael Ferns III – LB – St. Clairsville (OH) St. Clairsville: The first member of Michigan’s 2014 class, Ferns committed in August.
Drake Harris – WR – Grand Rapids (MI) Christian: Harris is a 6’4″, 180 lb. receiver with offers from Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Michigan State, and Ohio State, along with many others. He was committed to MSU for several months because he wanted to play basketball, but he opened up his recruitment to concentrate more on football. He has visited Michigan several times in recent months. Harris’s 247 Composite ranking places him as a 5-star, the #2 wide receiver, and the #32 overall prospect. He had 91 receptions for 2,015 yards and 25 touchdowns as a junior in 2012.
Daniel Helm – TE – Chatham (IL) Glenwood: Helm is a 6’4″, 220 lb. prospect with offers from Arkansas, Michigan, Nebraska, Tennessee, and Virginia Tech. He also visited Michigan back in February, and he looks to be heavily interested in the Wolverines. As a junior in 2012, he had 44 receptions for 810 yards and 17 touchdowns. Helm is a 4-star, the #6 tight end, and the #232 player overall, according to the 247 Composite rankings.
Maurice Hurst, Jr. – DT – Westwood (MA) Xaverian Brothers: Hurst committed to Michigan in June 2012.
Jake Johnson – QB – DeWitt (MI) DeWitt: Johnson is a 6’1″, 185 lb. quarterback for the class of 2015. He has no offers at this time. As a sophomore in 2012, he had 1,250 passing yards and 16 touchdowns, along with 400 rushing yards and 6 touchdowns on the ground.
John Kelly – CB – Oak Park (MI) Oak Park: Kelly is a 5’11”, 184 lb. cornerback or safety prospect for the class of 2015. He has no offers at this time. Kelly visited Michigan back in November and then in February, too.
Ostell Martin – OG – Detroit (MI) Cass Tech: Martin is a 6’5″, 315 lb. prospect for the class of 2016 with no offers at this time.
Mike McCray II – LB – Trotwood (OH) Trotwood-Madison: McCray committed to Michigan in March 2012.
J.J. McGrath – K – Macomb (MI) Lutheran North: McGrath committed to Michigan as a walk-on in January 2013.
Malik McDowell – DE – Detroit (MI) Loyola: McDowell has been discussed non-stop on Michigan boards. He’s that 6’7″, 290 lb. guy who has offers from everyone and visits Michigan a lot.
A.J. Mial – CB – Detroit (MI) Country Day: Mial is a 5’9″, 170 lb. prospect who claims a 4.68 forty. He’s a 2014 prospect with no offers at this time.
Garrett Moores – QB – Novi (MI) Catholic Central: Moores is a 6’4″, 200 lb. potential walk-on for the fall. He’s a high school teammate of incoming running back Wyatt Shallman.
Shane Morris – QB – Warren (MI) De La Salle: Morris committed to Michigan in May 2011.
Stephen Mosley – WR – Akron (OH) Buchtel: Mosley is a 6’0″, 180 lb. prospect for the class of 2014 with no offers at this time. Buchtel is the alma mater of sophomore safety Jarrod Wilson. The head coach at Buchtel is former Michigan running back Ricky Powers.
Tymeon Ollison – CB – Akron (OH) Buchtel: Ollison is a 5’8″, 160 lb. prospect for the class of 2015 with no offers at this time.
Micheal Onwenu – OT – Detroit (MI) Cass Tech: Onwenu is a 6’2″, 310 lb. defensive tackle prospect for the class of 2015 with no offers at this time. He also visited Michigan a couple weekends ago.
Prince Onwenu – LB – Walled Lake (MI) Central: Onwenu is a 5’11”, 195 lb. prospect for 2015 with no offers at this time. He plays defensive end in high school, but at his size, he’s more likely to become a contributor as a linebacker.
Trevor Ruhland – OG – Cary (IL) Cary-Grove: Ruhland is a 6’4″, 270 lb. prospect for the class of 2015 with no offers at this time. He plays with good body lean and has a nasty disposition, and I think he’ll eventually be a fairly highly regarded prospect.
Dan Samuelson – OG – Plymouth (IN) Plymouth: Samuelson committed to Michigan back in January.
Artavis Scott – WR – Tarpon Springs (FL) East Lake: Scott is a 5’11”, 175 lb. prospect with offers from Florida, Florida State, Miami, Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, and Oregon, among others. Scott is teammates with Campbell and Cole (mentioned above). During three seasons already on the varsity team, he has 135 receptions for 2,493 yards and 27 touchdowns. According to the 247 Composite rankings, he’s a 4-star wideout, the #10 wide receiver, and the #88 player overall.
Wyatt Shallman – RB – Novi (MI) Catholic Central: Shallman committed to Michigan in February 2012.
Wilton Speight – QB – Richmond (VA) Collegiate: Speight, a 2014 prospect, committed on National Signing Day 2013.
Ted Stieber – OG – Akron (OH) Archbishop Hoban: Stieber is a 6’6″, 285 lb. prospect for 2015 with no offers at this time. He looks a little bit slow of foot and while he has the size to play tackle, he might be a better fit at guard or perhaps at right tackle.
Erik Swenson – OT – Downers Grove (IL) South: Swenson is a 6’7″, 285 lb. prospect for the class of 2016. He has offers from Illinois and Notre Dame already.
Scott Sypniewski – LS – Ottawa (IL) Marquette: Sypniewski committed to Michigan in June 2012.
Jack Wangler – WR – Warren (MI) De La Salle: Wangler is a 6’2″, 195 lb. player who committed as a walk-on for Michigan. He’s the brother of Jared (below).
Jared Wangler – LB – Warren (MI) De La Salle: Wangler is a 6’1″, 218 lb. prospect with offers from Penn State and a handful of MAC schools. He’s the former teammate of incoming freshman Shane Morris, the son of former Michigan quarterback John Wangler, and the brother of incoming freshman walk-on Jack Wangler. As a junior in 2012, Jared had 76 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, 2.5 tackles for loss, and 1 interception.
Maurice Ways – WR – Detroit (MI) Country Day: Ways is a 6’3″, 185 lb. prospect with offers from Iowa, Kansas, and bunch of MAC schools. He had 51 catches for 957 yards and 9 touchdowns as a junior in 2012. Ways has visited Michigan the past couple weekends, and I think there’s a good chance he’ll earn an offer at some point down the road.
Tyrone Wheatley, Jr. – DE – Manilus (NY) Fayetteville Manilus: Wheatley is a 6’6″, 235 lb. prospect who has picked up offers in recent weeks from Alabama, Michigan, North Carolina, and Penn State. His father is, of course, former Michigan running back and current Buffalo Bills running backs coach Tyrone Wheatley.
Chase Winovich – LB – Jefferson Hills (PA) Thomas Jefferson: Winovich is a 6’4″, 215 lb. outside linebacker with offers from Miami, Michigan, Northwestern, Ohio State, Pitt, and Virginia Tech, among others. He visited in March but did not earn an offer until Kyle Berger and Sam Hubbard committed to Ohio State. According to the 247 Composite rankings, he’s a 3-star, the #45 outside linebacker, and the #592 player overall.