Review of 2008 Recruiting: Linebackers

Tag: J.B. Fitzgerald

5Sep 2012
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An interview with J.B. Fitzgerald

J.B. Fitzgerald holds the ball high after recovering a fumble in the 2011 Nebraska game.

School of Kinesiology graduate and three-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree J.B. Fitzgerald came to Michigan as a member of the 2008 recruiting class.  He subsequently appeared in 50 games throughout his four year career as both a reserve linebacker and special teams starter.  Seeing action in all thirteen games his senior year, J.B. finished his Michigan career with 54 tackles, a forced fumble, and a recovered fumble.  Fitzgerald has focused on non-football related endeavors since graduation and was actually out of the country when I contacted him about an interview.  However, he still made time one late August afternoon to answer several Michigan football questions via email, and update us on his immediate plans.

(1.)  Now that you have earned your Michigan degree, what do you plan on doing next?

“Once I return from my Europe trip, I will be moving out to California and beginning my professional career in Los Angeles in the entertainment business.”

(2.)  What’s your favorite Michigan memory?

“So many great memories, first bowl game was great due to the ones we missed out on my first two years, but this whole last year feels like one amazing memory, especially the way we ended it down in New Orleans.”

(3.)  If you had to choose, who was your favorite coach at Michigan, including position coaches?

“So many great coaches I had the privilege of learning from, which I expected going into a program like Michigan. Two coaches really stand out.  First, Greg Robinson – truly a class act and the depth of football knowledge that I was able to gain from him is hard to put a price on. And then of course Coach Hoke. Coach Hoke is pretty much everything that you could ever want in a head coach and more. What a privilege it was for me to be able to play for him my senior year.  I see nothing but great success for him and Michigan moving forward.”

(4.)  Who was the best player you played with at Michigan?

“Best player is a really hard one because there was so much talent. Obviously, Denard is an incredible talent and someone I was very glad to not have to play against when it counted. However, overall I would probably go with Brandon Graham. The things that BG could do from the end position, especially the speed and quickness from a guy his size truly just left me in awe so many times.”

(5.)  Who was the smartest player you played with at Michigan?

“I’d probably say the smartest player I played with would have to be Jordan Kovacs. Obviously everyone knows his story and what not but when you get past the walk-on story, the way he plays he game is just brilliant. I almost feel like the game just moves slower for him because he just always seemed to not just be in the right place at the right time but making the right move at the right time as well. And his production clearly backs that up as well.”

(6.)  Who do you think will be Michigan’s breakout player in 2012?

“A player that I think will ‘breakout’ for me is tough to say because I just see a few guys that already started to make a name for themselves just really elevate their game this year and start to become big, big time guys. Those guys are Blake countess, Jake Ryan, and Frank Clark. All three will be some of the best at their positions in the country by the time they’re done.  But if I had one big breakout for this year I’d go with Brennen Beyer – gonna be a machine, I believe.”

(7.)  Have you read John U. Bacon’s book Three and Out?  If so, what did you think about it?

“My parents actually gave me a copy of the John Bacon book for Christmas and I have begun reading it, although I am not very far in unfortunately (very slow reader ha).”

(8.)  What advice would you give to freshmen as they begin their first season?

“To the younger guys just starting out, I know it may sound a little cliche, but I would say above all else, get the school work done so you can get your degree. At the end of it all, if you have a degree from the University of Michigan, it really sets you up in life. And as far as football goes, the kind of player you want to be is all up to you.”

16Jul 2011
Uncategorized 14 comments

2011 Countdown: #46 J.B. Fitzgerald

J.B. Fitzgerald (#42)

Name: J.B. Fitzgerald
Height: 6’3″
Weight: 244 lbs.
High school: West Windsor Plainsboro High School in Princeton, NJ
Position: Linebacker
Class: Senior
Jersey number: #42
Last year: I ranked Fitzgerald #33 and said he’d make 20 tackles as a backup linebacker.  He started 3 games at OLB and made 22 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, and 1 sack on the season.

Fitzgerald was the utility linebacker last season, playing a key backup role at all three linebacker positions and finishing 15th on the team in tackles.  When it became obvious to the coaches (though it was obvious much earlier to fans) that Craig Roh was not cut out to be a 3-3-5 outside linebacker late in the season, Fitzgerald stepped into the starting OLB position.  He had an up-and-down tenure as a starter in that time, recording half his tackles in those three starts and finishing the season with 6 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, and his 1 sack in the bowl game against Mississippi State.

In the spring Fitzgerald played SAM linebacker but was #3 on the depth chart behind Cam Gordon and Jake Ryan; he also played MIKE linebacker but was #2 on the depth chart behind Marell Evans…who was only playing MIKE because Kenny Demens was out due to shoulder surgery.  Essentially, Fitzgerald is buried in lots of places.  That doesn’t bode well for his future.  Fitzgerald seems to play well in spurts, but he can’t ever seem to put together a string of good play.  “Clunky” is a good way to describe the way he moves on the field.  He’s not a bad backup to have on the roster, but at this point, it looks like he’ll finish his career with a John Thompson-like whimper rather than a David Harris-like bang.

Prediction: Backup linebacker; 15 tackles