Freshman Numbers Revealed

Tag: Desmond Morgan

25Jun 2011
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Freshman Numbers Revealed

A poster over at Rivals posted the following jersey numbers for the incoming freshmen.  I’m not sure how accurate they are, but here’s what he gave:

3 Russell Bellomy
5 Justice Hayes
18 Blake Countess
20 Tamani Carter
21 Raymon Taylor
24 Delonte Holowell
35 Greg Brown
38 Thomas Rawls
40 Antonio Poole
44 Desmond Morgan
45 Matt Wile
52 Kellen Jones
57 Frank Clark
58 Chris Bryant
79 Tony Posada
82 Chris Barnett
92 Keith Heitzman
95 Chris Rock
97 Brennen Beyer

Sorry, I did not get Russell Bellomy (EDIT: Bellomy is #3.  Thanks, readers!) or Jack Miller.

14Jun 2011
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2011 Countdown: #78 Desmond Morgan

Desmond Morgan

Name: Desmond Morgan
Height: 6’1″
Weight: 225 lbs.
High school: West Ottawa High School in Holland, MI
Position: Linebacker
Class: Freshman
Jersey number: #44
Last year: Morgan was a high school senior (commitment post here)

TTB Rating: 76

Morgan was a battering ram of a high school quarterback, where he didn’t really throw much . . . and didn’t really juke people . . . he just kind of ran people over.  And over and over and over.  I like high school quarterbacks at virtually any position, because those kids understand the game and usually (except in the case of Terrelle Pryor) understand leadership.

Morgan is the rare freshman who doesn’t really need to bulk up to play at the next level.  He might not be as strong as he’ll need to be, but 225 lbs. is a pretty solid build for a freshman linebacker.  Michigan is somewhat short of inside linebackers for the upcoming season, and there’s a good chance that Morgan sees some mop-up duty on defense.  He also has the build to be a blocker on kick return units and might even be able to help on kickoff coverage.

P.S. There has been some talk that Morgan could turn into a fullback, but so far that notion comes entirely from fans and not from anyone important, such as the coaches or Morgan himself.

Prediction: Special teams contributor

7Feb 2011
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2011 Recruiting Awards

Offensive guard Chris Bryant

This is something I do every year, and it’s a fun exercise for me:
2009 Recruiting Awards
2010 Recruiting Awards

Best overall recruit:  OG Chris Bryant
Bryant has the size, strength, footwork, and athleticism to be a great offensive lineman at Michigan.  As long as he can get rid of some of his bad weight and stay well conditioned throughout his career, I think he’ll be an All-Big Ten player by the end of his career.

Best offensive recruit: Bryant
See above.

Best defensive recruit: CB Blake Countess
Countess isn’t the biggest or fastest kid out there, but he’s got a good quality for a cornerback – sticky.  Receivers just don’t seem to get away from him.  He probably needs to bulk up before playing (we all saw what happened to Courtney Avery and Terrence Talbott last year), but he could be a slot corner early in his career before taking over on the outside after a year or two.

Recruit most likely to make an early impact: K Matt Wile
If former walk-on Seth Broekhuizen or redshirt sophomore Brendan Gibbons steps up his game, then Wile might not be needed as a freshman.  But those first two combined for 4-for-14 on field goals last season.  It’s also entirely possible that Wile will redshirt as a freshman, but Michigan returns the vast majority of its two-deep from last season, so a lot of these 2011 recruits will probably be redshirted.  Wile seems like the best candidate.

Fastest recruit: CB/S Raymon Taylor
Taylor reminds me of departing cornerback James Rogers in many ways.  While Taylor is probably more physical, he has good straight-line speed and a smooth stride. 

Strongest recruit: Bryant
Bryant reports a bench press of 395 pounds and a squat of 420.  Even if he couldn’t bench press Charlie Weis, all Bryant had to do with most high schoolers was get a hand on them and they fell to the ground, begging for mercy.

Best under-the-radar recruit: LB Desmond Morgan
Michigan has a good history with linebackers from western Michigan, and I like the fact that Morgan was a bulldozing quarterback in high school.  Quarterbacks just seem to understand the game better.  I think there will be a good battle for the middle linebacker job between Morgan and classmate Kellen Jones once redshirt junior Kenny Demens graduates.

Most overrated recruit: LB Frank Clark
The problem with this “award” is that nobody’s rated very highly.  And while my choice if Rich Rodriguez were here would be Justice Hayes, I actually think Hayes will fit better in Hoke’s system than that of Rodriguez.  I don’t think Hayes is a threat to start anytime soon, but he could be a very good change-of-pace back.  So I’m going to go with Clark, who is only a 3-star.  But I haven’t seen anything from Clark that shows me he’s going to be a successful college football player, especially as a linebacker.  If he were rated as a 2-star recruit, I probably wouldn’t bat an eyelash.  He has some potential with his size and speed, but he needs a lot of coaching.

Personal favorite recruit: LB Antonio Poole
This kid looks like the future at weakside linebacker.  He can run, he can hit, and best of all, he plays downhill.  He might have to bide his time for a couple years, but he might be the second coming of Larry Foote.

30Jan 2011
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Mailbag: Could Desmond Morgan play fullback?

Desmond Morgan + truck stick = fullback?

With all of the linebackers Mattison is bringing in, where does a kid like Desmond Morgan fit in?  Do you think they are going to run a 3-4 in the future or do you think he might be able to fit in as a fullback in the future?  I know it’s crazy but just think if you had a fullback who could throw the ball….. what kind of trick plays you could run…. or just having him as the protector on punt formation… Just seeing what your thoughts were on where he might end up.  Thanks, Andy

Without hearing a plan come directly out of Greg Mattison’s mouth, it’s difficult for me to say with any certainty what type of defense Michigan will run in the future.  If the rumor is true that Will Campbell has made the switch back to defense, then I would say that’s a good indicator of intentions to run a 4-3 type of defense.  After all, there wouldn’t really be a need for so many defensive linemen if Michigan were only going to use three of them at any given time.  New recruits have also reported that head coach Brady Hoke was selling a 4-3 defense.

I said in a previous post that I think Michigan will run a defense that looks an awful lot like Greg Robinson’s in 2009.  That’s with Craig Roh as a rush linebacker, plus a NT, a 3-tech DT, and a 5-tech strongside end.  The biggest difference between Michigan 2009 and Michigan 2011, I’m guessing, will be the use of a nickel corner in obvious passing situations.  Whereas Robinson used converted safety Steve Brown as a three-down linebacker, a guy like Courtney Avery might be able to play over the slot receiver, replacing a linebacker less gifted in pass coverage.

As for Morgan himself, I expect that he’ll stay at linebacker.  I think he’s perfectly suited to be a middle linebacker in a 4-3.  And as far as I know, none of the coaches have mentioned to him the possibility of moving to offense.  My assumption about why Hoke and Mattison are pursuing so many linebackers comes down to this: the linebacker play at Michigan has been quite putrid for a few years, and the fact that nobody really challenged Mouton or Ezeh for most of that time doesn’t bode well for whoever’s behind them on the depth chart.  Demens did a pretty nice job taking over at MIKE, and I’m not convinced that J.B. Fitzgerald can’t be a solid player.  But Fitzgerald is a senior and his chance to impact is dwindling.  We haven’t seen much of the guys behind them.

The fullback position might be a bit overblown by Michigan fans, too.  Al Borges has shown a propensity for using two tailbacks in the backfield at the same time.  Think Bo Jackson and Marcus Allen if you’re old enough, Ronnie Brown and Cadillac Williams if you’re not.  When the latter pair played for Borges at Auburn in 2004, Brown ended his season with 913 yards and 8 touchdowns.  Williams had 1,265 yards and 12 touchdowns.  This is going to be a different style of offense than we saw Michigan use in Lloyd Carr’s last few years.  Instead of big bruisers like Kevin Dudley and Obi Oluigbo, this is probably going to be more B.J. Askew.  The only fullback Michigan offered in the 2011 recruiting cycle is Trayion Durham (since committed to Kent State), who’s a pretty nifty runner.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see a kid like Stephen Hopkins or Michael Cox play “fullback” while Michael Shaw or Fitzgerald Toussaint plays tailback.  That would give Michigan’s backfield a nice combination of size and wiggle.  Additionally, John McColgan could return for a fifth year, and there’s a fullback from Traverse City named Joey Kerridge who should be coming to Ann Arbor as a walk-on.

Regarding fake punts and trick plays, I don’t think Desmond Morgan playing linebacker would preclude him from being the upback on punts.  In fact, that would probably be a great place for him.  As for running trick plays out of the regular backfield . . . it would be possible, but I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a fullback throw a pass before.  If you’re using a fullback, he’s typically about four yards behind the line of scrimmage and in a blocking position.  Handing or tossing him the ball and expecting him to get a throw off from the fullback spot would be a tall order.

14Dec 2010
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Desmond Morgan, Wolverine

Linebacker Desmond Morgan, from West Ottawa High School in Holland, MI, committed to the Wolverines on Monday after visiting for the “Big Chill” outdoor hockey game at Michigan Stadium.  Morgan is a 6’1″, 225 lb. linebacker and ranked as a 3-star recruit to Rivals, Scout, and ESPN.  He chose Michigan over offers from Akron, Bowling Green, Buffalo, and Northwestern.

As a high schooler, Morgan played inside linebacker on defense and . . . quarterback on offense.  That’s not a typical combination, but he pulled it off.  As I said in some previous comments about Morgan, I have some added respect for recruits who played quarterback in high school.  They typically tend to understand better how the entire team works together within a system, because they spend 50% of their practice time staring down a Cover 3, a Cover 2, seeing where the weaknesses are in zones, seeing how to attack different alignments and coverages, etc.  In addition, teams often put their best athletes at quarterback.  It doesn’t hurt that he has a 3.97 GPA.

As far as his defensive position goes, I fully expect Morgan to play middle linebacker at the next level.  He has the prototypical body type for the position.  He flows well to the ball and keeps his shoulders square to the line of scrimmage.  And when he hits, he puts some force behind it.  You can tell by the way he runs the ball and the way he tackles that he understands leverage and getting underneath his opponent.  He also times his blitzes well and stays under control when attacking.

I understand why he’s a 3-star kid.  He’s not a quick-twitch athlete.  He looks like the type of player who will fill out to be about 245 lbs., plug his gap, make a bunch of tackles, contribute as a blocker or wedge buster on special teams, and just be a solid overall player.  I would expect that he will redshirt in 2011 and spend another year or so on the bench before really pushing for playing time (Kenny Demens runs out of eligibility after 2012).  I’m not expecting Morgan to win the Butkus Award, but I’m looking forward to him putting on a winged helmet.  Between Morgan and fellow Class of 2011 defender Kellen Jones, the Wolverines are putting together a solid crew of linebackers.

TTB Rating: 76