Defensive end Anthony Lalota, who transferred from Michigan earlier this week, is now headed to Rutgers to play football. Since he has not played for Michigan this season, he will only have to sit out the 2010 season and will be eligible for the Scarlet Knights in 2011. Hopefully his career at Rutgers turns out better than that of Marcus Witherspoon, a Class of 2008 prospect who failed to qualify at Michigan and then bombed out of the Rutgers program.
Elsewhere, rumor has it that 2010 Michigan commit Conelius Jones has dropped out of prep school. He was supposed to attend prep school in an effort to enroll at Michigan in January 2010, but that ship seems to have sailed. Hopefully he can get things straightened out and play football somewhere, but it probably won’t be at Michigan.
Other updates are in the Ex-Wolverine Encyclopedia at the top of the page, but keep in mind that the page is a work in progress . . . especially because it’s an amorphous, ever expanding fount of information.
Defensive end Anthony Lalota has been released from his scholarship to the University of Michigan. The 6’4″, 270 lb. lineman committed to Michigan from The Hun School in Princeton, New Jersey. Buried on the depth chart behind redshirt junior Ryan Van Bergen, true freshman Jibreel Black, and converted tight end Steve Watson, the redshirt freshman apparently gave up on seeing the field and asked for his release.
Lalota came to Michigan as part of the Class of 2009. He was a late addition to the football program at The Hun School, having only started to play as a junior. He played offensive tackle and defensive end in high school, and Scout had him ranked as a 4-star offensive tackle prospect at one point. Despite being listed by recruiting sites as big as 6’6″ and 260 lbs., he measured in at 6’4″, 235 lbs. prior to his true freshman season. He added 35 lbs. in between his freshman season and redshirt freshman season, but the writing appeared to be on the wall by the time the 2010 season rolled around. When you’re fourth on the depth chart at a position lacking depth, it would be frustrating.
For what it’s worth, I’ve never been a fan of Lalota’s game. My analysis of him after his participation in the Army All-American Game in January 2009 went like this:
I am not very impressed by Lalota’s skills. He’s a recent convert to football, having not played until his junior year of high school. So significant improvement may still be forthcoming. However, he is very raw as a defensive end and usually tries to beat offensive tackles by bull rushing with 100% effort. I love the effort and that hard work could turn him into a very good player, but at 6’6″ and 260 lbs., he reminds me of former Michigan player Pat Massey, which is generally not considered to be a good thing by Michigan fans. As far as I saw, he didn’t make any plays in the game, and I wouldn’t expect him to play significantly at Michigan for at least a couple years.
Lalota was very mechanical coming out of high school. He played defensive end like an offensive tackle. His lateral mobility was virtually nil, and he lacked great football instincts. I actually would have liked him more for a 3-3-5 defense than I did for the 4-front that Michigan employed at the time he was recruited. Regardless, he seemed overrated to me as a high 4-star prospect. Like many football recruits, the services looked at his size (which was obviously exaggerated) and his decent straight-line speed and said, “Hey, this guy is going to be good.” They just didn’t account for the fact that football is a sport played by athletes, not just big dudes who happen to not be crippled.
As for the impact of Lalota’s transfer on the team itself, it once again hurts Michigan’s APR (just like Vladimir Emilien . . . and Austin White . . . and Justin Turner . . . and numerous others). The number of guys transferring out of the University of Michigan borders on ridiculous. No, wait – it is ridiculous. Michigan was nearing the danger line prior to the season. Since then, four additional guys have left the team. I once again have to point out that I’m not impressed with Rich Rodriguez’s retention rate. Many of these guys don’t seem to be giving the football program much of a shot at Michigan before bailing out. I understand being frustrated about playing time, but he’s a redshirt freshman. What liar told him he would be able to start for a Big Ten team by his second year in college? Whoever that liar is, I hope Anthony Lalota doesn’t trust him anymore.
Meanwhile, Michigan’s Class of 2011 just went from 18 to a size of 19. Guys like Anthony Zettel, Deion Barnes, James Adeyanju, and Ray Drew could take Lalota’s spot. Michigan already needed one defensive end in the class. Since both Van Bergen and Watson are redshirt juniors (and Watson might be a longshot to return for a fifth year), I expect Michigan to take at least one more defensive end in the class, maybe two.
Name: Anthony Lalota
Weight: 263 lbs.
High school: The Hun School in Princeton, NJ
Position: Defensive end
Class: Redshirt freshman
Jersey number: #90
Last year: I ranked Lalota #73, said he’d redshirt, and predicted he’d play defensive end (he also got reps at OLB in spring 2009). He redshirted and moved to defensive end.
It’s good to see that Lalota is back up to the weight that he supposedly was in high school. As a high school senior, he was listed as a 6’6″, 260 lbs. prospect. When he got to Michigan, the roster said he was 6’4″, 235. Now he’s apparently gained those 28 pounds back, which he’ll need if he’s going to play strongside defensive end this year.
Brandon Graham graduated, and Ryan Van Bergen has moved from defensive tackle to defensive end. Lalota should be his primary backup, especially now that Will Heininger will miss the season due to a torn ACL. Coming out of high school, Lalota was a project, having only played football during his junior and senior years. Getting a significant contribution from him this season will be a huge positive. However, I think Bruce Tall will rotate players in an effort to get his upperclassmen on the field rather than throwing Lalota out there too much. Greg Banks, Mike Martin, Renaldo Sagesse, and Adam Patterson are all guys that could play some defensive end.
Prediction for 2010: Backup defensive end
Name: Steve Watson
Weight: 257 lbs.
High school: Mullen High School in Cherry Hills Village, CO
Position: Defensive end
Class: Redshirt junior
Jersey number: #81
Last year: I ranked Watson #64 and said he’d contribute on special teams and see spot duty on defense. He was mainly a special teams player and made 5 tackles.
Having been buried on the depth chart behind Kevin Koger, Martell Webb, and Brandon Moore, Watson switched to defense during the spring of 2009. Greg Robinson was a new defensive coordinator then and needed a few players to play the defensive end/outside linebacker hybrid role that was eventually locked down by freshman Craig Roh. Brandon Herron was Roh’s primary backup, and Watson settled for mop-up duty against teams like Delaware State and Illinois. He finished the season with 5 total tackles, 1 tackle for loss, and 1 pass breakup as the third-string OLB. He was also a part-time contributor on special teams, but only against the B-list teams on Michigan’s roster.
For spring of 2010, Watson switched roles again to 5-tech defensive end. Assuming no further position changes, he’ll be playing exclusively with his hand on the ground. Despite the position change, Watson will probably still be no higher than third on the depth chart. The starter will likely be Ryan Van Bergen with Anthony Lalota as the primary backup. A freshman like Jibreel Black could also work himself into the mix. Buried on the depth chart at yet another position, I expect 2010 to be Watson’s final campaign as a Wolverine. He probably won’t be offered a fifth year of eligibility by the coaching staff.
Prediction for 2010: Special teams contributor, spot duty on defense