In keeping track of players who used to play for Michigan, here’s what I think is a comprehensive rundown of former Wolverines who still have eligibility remaining and have been pursuing college football careers. There may be former walk-ons who have transferred elsewhere, but I track mainly scholarship players.
Brian Cole, S (Mississippi State): Cole is expected to start at nickel back for the Bulldogs.
Kekoa Crawford, WR (Cal): Crawford is in the two-deep for Cal, where he is expected to play mostly their Z receiver position.
Taking another step toward cleaning up the Ex-Wolverines page (LINK), here’s a look back at the class of 2002: the first year Rivals existed.
Greg Cooper – S – Flint (MI) Northern Cooper came to Michigan in 2002 and redshirted. He reportedly had academic issues and transferred to Michigan State, where he made 34 tackles, 1 interception, and 4 pass breakups in 2003. He made 17 tackles and 5 pass breakups as a part-time starter in 2004. As a redshirt junior in 2005, he made 48 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 1 sack, and 1 pass breakup. He finished out his college career with 31 tackles and 2 pass breakups in 2006.
Matt Gutierrez – QB – Concord (CA) De La Salle Gutierrez is one of those “What could have been” stories, to a lesser extent than Antonio Bass, but still a bit sad fifteen years later. A highly touted quarterback recruit, he redshirted in 2002 and backed up John Navarre in 2003 (13/19 for 153 yards, 1 passing TD, and 1 rushing TD). Slated to become the starter in 2004, he tore his labrum in pre-game warmups prior to the season opener. True freshman Chad Henne had to step in, and Henne never relinquished the starting job through 2007. Gutierrez was still a backup in 2005 (14/22 for 133 yards) but transferred to Idaho State for the 2006 season. There he went 187/342 for 2,237 yards and 16 touchdowns, plus 5 rushing touchdowns and 1 receiving score. He was not drafted in 2007, but spent time with the Patriots (backing up former Wolverine Tom Brady), Chiefs, Bears, Redskins, and Rams; in his NFL career, he was 2/2 for 18 yards. He then went on to play Arena football but his career ended in 2012.
If you’ve been reading for long, you know I love to look in the rearview mirror. So this is a reflection on the 2009 class a decade later. (Note: It also serves to condense my “Ex-Wolverine Encyclopedia” page, which helps that one load faster.)
Redshirt junior defensive end Ron Johnson, Jr. has entered the transfer portal and will not return to Michigan.
Johnson was a member of the 2016 recruiting class and signed with the Wolverines out of Camden (NJ) Camden, along with wide receiver/safety Brad Hawkins (who then took a prep year). He was a Semper Fidelis All-American and I gave Johnson a TTB Rating of 83 (LINK).
However, Johnson has been languishing somewhere in the 70s of the last few season countdowns, and there just hasn’t been much progress. He bulked up to play some 3-technique defensive tackle at one point, but he transitioned back to defensive end without a noticeable move upward on the depth chart at either spot. He played one game as a true freshman and did not see the field in either 2017 or 2018. He was not expected to play a significant role in 2019, so this loss opens up a scholarship for a transfer or a walk-on.
Michigan now has just 83 scholarship players slated to be on the roster in 2019 (LINK). Not counting Hawkins (who signed again in 2017), Michigan is down to just 14 out of 28 players who signed with the Wolverines in that 2016 class.
In keeping up with the NFL Draft, it was impossible to miss when a couple former Michigan commits came off the board. The Wolverines lost two running back commits in the 2015 class, and both of them were drafted – while Michigan’s signees at the position (Karan Higdon, Chris Evans) went undrafted and got suspended, respectively.
Hit the jump for a rundown of former Michigan commits and players who were involved in the draft this past weekend.