Review of 2006 Recruiting: The Quarterbacks

Tag: david cone

13Jul 2011
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Review of 2006 Recruiting: The Quarterbacks

When I went back and researched the players Michigan recruited in the years prior to when I started this blog, it was interesting to see how the careers of Wolverine targets played out.  As with every team’s recruiting, there were some successes and some failures.  In a series that will surely take awhile to develop, I’ll take a look at how the careers of these players have unfolded in the last five years.

The 2006 Roster
Chad Henne, Jr.
Jason Forcier, So.
Jeff Kastl, 5th
Lee Mondol, Fr.
Nick Sheridan, Fr.
Jeff Ziegler, Fr.

The Recruits

David Cone
High school: Statesboro High School in Statesboro, GA
Ratings: Rivals 3-star and #33 pro-style QB; Scout 3-star and #23 QB
Other notable offers: Ball State, Eastern Kentucky
College: Michigan
Scoop: Cone was buried on the depth chart behind future 2nd-rounder Chad Henne, Georgia Tech transfer Steve Threet (who eventually transferred to Arizona State and then retired from football due to concussions), walk-on Nick Sheridan, Tate Forcier, and Denard Robinson during his career.  For his career he completed 4/6 passes for 75 yards against teams like Minnesota, Delaware State, and Western Michigan.  His scholarship was not renewed for 2010.

Neil Caudle
High school: Spain Park High School in Hoover, AL
Ratings: Rivals 4-star and #7 pro-style QB; Scout 4-star and #10 QB
Other notable offers: Clemson, LSU, Miami
College: Auburn
Scoop: Caudle redshirted in 2006 and then spent four seasons as a backup for the Tigers behind Brandon Cox, Kodi Burns, and Cam Newton, completing 20/29 passes for 212 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception.  He went undrafted in the 2011 NFL Draft.

Dexter Davidson
High school: North Broward Prep School in Boca Raton, FL
Ratings: Rivals 3-star and #32 pro-style QB; Scout 2-star
Other notable offers: BYU, Kentucky, Louisville, Rutgers
College: Pittsburgh
Scoop: Davidson redshirted in 2006 and left the team prior to the 2007 season after having surgery on both knees.  His whereabouts since then are unknown (to me) since then.

Pat Devlin
High school: Downingtown East High School in Exton, PA
Ratings: Rivals 4-star and #5 pro-style QB; Scout 4-star and #4 QB
Other notable offers: Miami, North Carolina State, Pittsburgh, Virginia
College: Penn State (then Delaware)
Scoop: Devlin redshirted in 2006 and threw one incomplete pass for Penn State in 2007 as the third-stringer. He was the #2 QB in 2008 and backed up Daryll Clark, completing 25/47 passes for 459 yards, 4 touchdowns, and zero interceptions.  He also rushed for 2 touchdowns.  He then transferred to Delaware prior to the 2009 season and started for the next two seasons, completing 481/728 passes for 5,696 yards, 38 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions.  He went undrafted in the 2011 NFL Draft.

Mitch Mustain
High school: Springdale High School in Springdale, AR
Ratings: Rivals 5-star and #2 pro-style QB; Scout 5-star and #1 QB
Other notable offers: Florida, Miami, Notre Dame, Tennessee
College: Arkansas (then USC)
Scoop: Mustain played one year for the Razorbacks, winning eight games and completing 69/132 passes for 894 yards, 10 touchdowns, and 9 interceptions.  He then transferred to USC and sat out 2007 due to NCAA rules.  He spent 2008-2010 as a backup behind Mark Sanchez and Matt Barkley for the Trojans, completing 52/89 passes for 505 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions.  He went undrafted in the 2011 NFL Draft.

Taylor Potts
High school: Abilene High School in Abilene, TX
Ratings: Scout 4-star and #14 QB
Other notable offers: N/A
College: Texas Tech
Scoop: Potts redshirted in 2006, backed up Graham Harrell in 2007 and 2008, and then was a two-year starter for the Red Raiders in 2009 and 2010.  He finished his college career 7,835 yards, 62 touchdowns, and 25 interceptions.  He went undrafted in the 2011 NFL Draft.

Matt Stafford
High school: Highland Park High School in Dallas, TX
Ratings: Rivals 5-star and #1 pro-style QB; Scout 5-star and #2 QB
Other notable offers: Florida State, Oklahoma, Texas
College: Georgia
Scoop: Due to an injury to Georgia’s starter in 2006, Stafford played early and started for his three years in Athens.  He played poorly as a freshman, throwing 7 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.  However, he was an All-American by 2008 and finished his three-year college career with 7,731 yards passing, 51 touchdowns, and 33 interceptions.  He was the #1 overall pick by the Detroit Lions in 2009.

Nick Stephens
High school: Flower Mound High School in Flower Mound, TX
Ratings: Rivals 3-star and #15 pro-style QB; Scout 4-star and #11 QB
Other notable offers: Georgia Tech, Illinois, Mississippi, Oklahoma State
College: Tennessee (then Tarleton State)
Scoop: Stephens redshirted in 2006 and did not see playing time in 2007.  He started a handful of games in 2008 and completed 63/130 passes for 840 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions.  He then reverted to a backup role in 2009 and finished 9/13 for 1 touchdown and 1 interception.  He transferred to Tarleton State prior to the 2010 season, where he finished 132/258 for 9 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.  His career seems to be finished.

Tim Tebow
High school: Nease High School in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL
Ratings: Rivals 5-star and #1 dual-threat QB; 5-star and #3 QB
Other notable offers: Alabama, LSU, USC
College: Florida
Scoop: Tebow played a significant role as a backup/part-time QB behind Chris Leak as a freshman (22/33 passing, 5 TDs, 1 interception; 89 carries, 469 yards, 8 TDs rushing) when Florida won the national championship.  He started the next three seasons, won the Heisman trophy as a sophomore in 2007, won the 2008 national championship, and set records too numerous to list here.  He finished his college career with 9,286 yards passing, 88 touchdowns, and 15 interceptions; and 2,947 yards rushing for 57 touchdowns.  He was then drafted by the Denver Broncos in the 1st round of the NFL Draft in 2010.

There were some good players in there.  Michigan didn’t do a bad job of evaluating talent, but most of the better options had clearer paths to starting jobs.  Mustain started immediately, Stafford was #2 on the depth chart by fall and started as a sophomore, and Tebow played a lot as a freshman and started as a sophomore. Two targets were 1st round picks (Stafford, Tebow) and one other was a borderline college star (Taylor Potts).  Two transferred to lower divisions (Devlin, Stephens) and one transferred to a better team (Mustain); none of those three found glory, though Devlin has a good shot of latching onto an NFL team as an undrafted free agent whenever the NFL gets back into action.

Biggest miss: Tebow.  Duh.  He won two national championships and the Heisman.  It would have been tough to beat out Henne in 2006 and 2007, but the transition to Rich Rodriguez in 2008 would have been a good fit for both player and coach.  Michigan still wouldn’t have been great in either of those years, but it’s not unreasonable to think that Tebow could have given Michigan a boost to beat Toledo, Purdue, and perhaps a couple other teams.

Biggest bust: Mustain.  He was essentially a career backup and couldn’t beat out a freshman (albeit a talented one) for the starting job at USC.  He went from the nation’s #1 QB (on Scout) to throwing for approximately 1,400 yards and tossing an almost even number of touchdowns and interceptions throughout his career.  He still would have been better than David Cone, but probably wouldn’t have meshed well with Rich Rodriguez’s offensive style, either.

Best in class: Tebow.  An argument could be made for Matt Stafford, the #1 overall pick in 2009 who’s having a decent career with the Detroit Lions, or Sam Bradford, the #1 overall pick in 2010 who had a very good rookie year for the St. Louis Rams.  However, Tebow set tons of records, won the Heisman, won two national championships, and was a first round pick himself.  It was a very good recruiting class for quarterbacks in 2006, a class that also produced Josh Freeman (Buccaneers’ 1st round pick and current starter), Jake Locker (Titans’ 1st round pick), Colin Kaepernick (49ers’ 2nd round pick), Greg McElroy (undrafted but won a national championship at Alabama), and Andy Dalton (Bengals’ 2nd round pick).

6Jan 2010
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What Could Have Been . . . Ryan Mallett

Ryan Mallett
Quarterback Ryan Mallett was an early commitment in Michigan’s 2007 recruiting class. Always considered to be headed to Arkansas, he instead chose to become a Wolverine because he didn’t want to sit behind Mitch Mustain at quarterback for three years. He thought it was a better idea to sit behind senior Chad Henne for one season and take over Lloyd Carr’s quarterback factory of an offense in 2008.
Unfortunately for Michigan, Mallett didn’t like the cold and wasn’t a model citizen. He considered transferring practically when he arrived at Michigan in Winter 2007, and he followed through with those plans as soon as Rich Rodriguez was hired in December 2007. As a freshman in Carr’s final year at the helm, Mallett played for Henne when the latter injured his knee and shoulder. Mallett even started a couple games and finished the year 892 yards, 7 touchdowns, 5 interceptions, a 43.3% completion percentage, and a 105.69 passer efficiency rating. But his taste of playing time wasn’t enough to convince him to stick around for Rodriguez’s read option offense.
Arkansas quarterback Mitch Mustain had transferred to USC, and Mallett transferred to Arkansas to fill his position. He appealed to the NCAA in an attempt to allow him to play for Arkansas in 2008, but lost and had to redshirt last season.
In 2009, Mallett started for Arkansas and finished the season 225/403 (55.8%), 3627 yards, 30 touchdowns, 7 interceptions, and a 152.52 passer efficiency rating. He had -29 yards rushing with 2 touchdowns on the ground. He’s explored the possibility of jumping to the NFL early, and he’s been talked about as an early Heisman candidate for the 2010 season.
By comparison, Michigan’s quarterbacks – mainly Tate Forcier, with bits of Denard Robinson, Nick Sheridan, and David Cone – finished the 2009 season 189/329 (57.4%), 2380 yards, 15 touchdowns, 15 interceptions, and a 124.14 passer efficiency rating. They also rushed for 608 yards and 8 touchdowns.

The offense would not have been the same with Mallett, who’s about 6’7″ and 235 lbs. He would have been less of a threat to run than Forcier or Robinson, but the passing game likely would have been upgraded if Mallett were still in Ann Arbor. Michigan’s lack of a downfield passing game was evident in 2009, and that’s one thing Mallett would have improved.

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18Oct 2009
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Michigan 63, Delaware State 6

5th string QB Jack Kennedy

Don’t get me wrong – I thoroughly enjoyed Saturday’s victory. I don’t have the Big Ten Network, so by the time I got out of Saturday morning football practice and got to the sports bar where I watch BTN games, it was about 12:15 p.m. and I had already missed two touchdowns.

But I don’t think I learned much about this team. Every Michigan player who looked good was doing so against a walk-on-type player. If you had any doubts about Delaware State’s lack of talent, consider fourth-string QB David Cone’s final stat line of 3/3 for 54 yards.

Michigan set records with 727 total yards and 461 rushing yards. True freshman running back Vincent Smith had 17 carries for 166 yards and 1 touchdown. Redshirt freshman scout team running back Michael Cox had 82 yards on 11 carries, including a 57-yard TD. Even failed tailback-turned-fullback had 73 yards and a touchdown on a 9.1 yard average per carry.
In short, yesterday was ridiculous.
However, I have to admit I was a bit disappointed in Michigan’s defense. This is surely nit-picking, but Michigan only recorded 2 sacks (both via Brandon Graham) on 36 dropbacks. The Wolverines didn’t force a single turnover. They held Delaware State to 2.5 yards per carry and only gave up two field goals, so I’m not alarmed. However, for a team that’s good enough to score 63 points, it sure would be nice to see the defense perform just as dominantly.

Offensive game ball goes to…
Michael Cox. Vincent Smith had better statistics, but I wasn’t that impressed with Smith. He has adequate speed, elusiveness, and strength, but nothing I saw really wowed me. Cox, on the other hand, looks like the second coming of Brandon Minor. He runs hard and the first tackler almost never brings him down. And while he didn’t exactly look fast on that 57-yarder, he’s fast enough to get the job done.

Defensive game ball goes to…
Brandon Graham, I guess. Nobody on defense looked that impressive. Graham had 2 sacks and 3 tackles total. For such a dominating performance, it was kind of a yawner on this side of the ball.

Let’s see less of this guy on offense…
backup running backs. It would be great to have both Carlos Brown and Brandon Minor healthy. For once. They’ve been together for four years, and I don’t know if they’ve been 100% healthy at the same time for even one game in that span.

Let’s see less of this guy on defense…
Teric Jones. This was Teric Jones’s first extended playing time at cornerback, and it’s pretty clear why the coaches moved Troy Woolfolk back to CB instead of perhaps giving more playing time to Jones. He’s only a true freshman and he didn’t play CB in high school, so he’s only been playing cornerback for about two months. But Delaware State was able to pick on him a little bit, and he didn’t really seem up to the challenge yet. Hopefully the defensive backfield can stay healthy enough for the rest of this year to keep Jones from having to play critical minutes.
8Jul 2009
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2009 Countdown: #83 David Cone

David Cone starts out the list. At 6’7″, 222 lbs. and painfully unable to play quarterback at this level, Cone is extremely unlikely to see meaningful snaps in 2009. At best, he’s probably fifth on the QB depth chart behind Nick Sheridan, Tate Forcier, Denard Robinson, and Justin Feagin. And based on what I saw in the spring game, I’d put walk-on Jack Kennedy ahead of Cone, too. If Cone takes a snap this season, it’s because we’re up 76-0 on Delaware State . . . or it’s because we’re getting blown out and the redshirt junior probably won’t get offered a fifth year.
16Aug 2008
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2008 position preview: quarterbacks

The biggest question in the Big Ten this offseason has been, “How will Rich Rodriguez’s offense perform without Pat White?” Nobody knows. The presumptive starter hasn’t thrown a pass in college, the challenger for the position is a walk-on, and then there are two scholarship afterthoughts. Luckily, Michigan has a stable of running backs and slot receivers who should be able to take a lot of pressure off the quarterback position.


Steve Threet (#10 – RS freshman – Adrian, MI)
Threet was a four-star quarterback and the #8 passer coming out of high school in 2007. An early enrollee at Georgia Tech, he spent spring ball fighting for the backup quarterback position for the Yellowjackets. For reasons unbeknownst to the general public, he decided to transfer during the summer of 2007 back to his home state of Michigan. There were rumors that the transfer was due to his fear of competition, but he transferred to the University of Michigan when all-everything quarterback Ryan Mallett was still presumed to be the next great Michigan QB, so that can’t be the case. Fortunately for Threet, Mallett was afraid of Rich Rodriguez’s spread offense and hightailed it for Arkansas. Threet spent the spring of 2008 as the front-runner for the starting QB position and has a tenuous grip on that spot still. Rodriguez has said repeatedly that Threet needs to be more decisive. At 6’6″ and 230 pounds, Threet has some mobility but needs to be able to throw the ball downfield with strength and accuracy to be effective. If he can’t be an effective passer, Rodriguez will turn to a more mobile quarterback to run the read option

Nick Sheridan (#8 – Junior – Saline, MI)
At 6’1″ and 212 lbs., Sheridan is considerably shorter and lighter than Threet. The word out of Michigan practices is that he’s more mobile and runs the read option better than Threet. As a walk-on, it’s very surprising to see Sheridan pushing Threet for the starting job in such a prestigious program as Michigan. However, Sheridan was a bit if an unknown quantity when he graduated from Saline High School and walked onto the Wolverines as a freshman. He spent most of his senior year watching from the sideline due to injury. Even if he had played, some observers thought he would only be Division II or Division III material. There was some talk of Sheridan during the 2007 season, especially after Chad Henne got injured during the Oregon game. Mallett stepped in and played pretty well, but against Minnesota, Sheridan was the first quarterback off the bench – not David Cone, the only other scholarship QB on 2007’s roster. The rumor at the time was that Sheridan was allowed to play because it was a home game and Saline neighbors Ann Arbor, meaning it might have been the only chance for his family to see him play at Michigan Stadium; this rumor can now be debunked, since it has become more and more clear that Sheridan has outperformed David Cone in practices. It would not be a complete surprise to see Sheridan start at quarterback against Utah on August 30, but if you told Michigan fans that in August 2007, they would have said, “Who?”

Justin Feagin (#3 – Freshman – Delray Beach, FL)
Feagin is a complete and utter wild card for the 2008 season. He chose to compete for the QB position at Michigan instead of play wide receiver in the SEC. When Michigan was in the thick of recruiting Terrelle Pryor, Michigan commit Feagin had stated that he would welcome competing against the #1 recruit in the nation to play quarterback. Many schools saw him as a likely position switcher, either to WR or defensive back. Comparisons to Pat White, who was also recruited to play WR at SEC schools, at WVU are inevitable. Feagin ran the read option against weak competition in Florida. Still, he was named the Player of the Year in his division after rushing for 1,100+ yards and 25 TD’s while completing 60% of his passes and another 19 TD’s. Watching his highlight film immediately explains the accolades. His talent far exceeds that of the opponents. With the amount of hype fellow freshman Terrence Robinson has garnered for a single play (dubbed the “Dream Shake“), one would think Michigan fans would be gushing over the 6’1”, 205 lb. Feagin. He consistently outmaneuvers defenders, and even though he doesn’t throw the ball much, he’s capable of throwing on the run with some zip. He has been hampered by a sore shoulder during fall camp, causing some fans to vocalize hopes for a position switch. When healthy, Feagin could provide a much different look in the backfield than Threet or Sheridan can. Rodriguez has already stated that Feagin is having difficulty with the mental aspect of the college game so far, but if he catches on quickly or if the coaches can put together a package for him to take some snaps each game, run the option, and roll out, he could be very dangerous. He will not be the full-time starter in 2008, but the coaches should see what he can do. If they hold him out and don’t see how he can develop, they’ll be starting all over again with 2009 commitments Kevin Newsome and Shavodrick Beaver (and/or Tate Forcier and/or Eugene Smith). At least for 2008, Feagin is a quarterback. After that it’s up in the air.

David Cone (RS sophomore – Greenville, GA)
A class of 2006 recruit, Cone exited high school as a Wing-T passer. And he remains on that level. The Wing-T is primarily a running offense, and the passes from that offense usually come from rollouts or three-step drops. Many coaches alter their offense when they have good talent at quarterback, but apparently Cone’s coach stuck with the system. He averaged 9 pass attempts per game as a senior. The 6’7″, 214 lb. Cone suits the spread option even less than Threet and Sheridan, and he had a chance to transfer after Rodriguez was hired. However, he’s choosing to stick it out at Michigan. Cone is not a legitimate option at quarterback and likely won’t see the field unless Michigan is blowing out an opponent. He’ll find himself even more buried on the depth chart when Newsome and Beaver arrive in 2009. At least he’s getting a good education.