2009 Countdown: #41 The Long Snappers

Tag: Sean Griffin

23Aug 2009
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2009 Countdown: #41 The Long Snappers

George Morales
With the departure of long-time starting long snapper Sean Griffin, Michigan needs a replacement. The person pictured above is George Morales, the only scholarship long snapper on the team.
Unfortunately for him (and that scholarship), Morales is reportedly third on the depth chart:
1. Tom Pomarico (RS Sophomore)
2. Curt Graman (Freshman)
3. George Morales (RS Freshman)
I’m not sure how the long snapping depth chart will play out, but Michigan fans have been spoiled in recent years with good play from the long snapper. Hopefully, that tradition can continue. Bad special teams snaps can often be the difference between a win and a loss. Considering that the scholarship long snapper is currently the third best at his position, I’m expecting the winner of that battle to turn out to be pretty good.
27Apr 2009
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2009 NFL Draft Results: The Free Agents

Defensive tackle Will Johnson has signed with the Baltimore Ravens.

Defensive end/outside linebacker Tim Jamison has signed with the Houston Texans.

Long snapper Sean Griffin has signed with the Seattle Seahawks.

Tight end Carson Butler has signed with the Green Bay Packers.

Tight end Mike Massey has signed with the Cleveland Browns.

Brandon Harrison has signed with the Indianapolis Colts.

More updates to come.

24Apr 2009
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2009 NFL Draft Preview: Michigan

Morgan Trent – CB
Morgan Trent came to Michigan as a wide receiver but moved to defensive back during bowl practices of his true freshman season. He played pretty well in 2007 but took a lot of blame for Michigan’s defensive woes in 2008. Scouts – and fans – think Trent lacks the fluid hips to be a corner in the NFL. Because of this, I think Trent projects as a free safety at the NFL level. He’s a decent tackler who has improved in that area over the last couple years; he doesn’t match up well against running backs at times, but he’s willing and able to hit receivers. And roaming centerfield doesn’t require the same fluidity as cornerback. He could also fit into a defense that plays a lot of zone coverages as a cornerback.
Projection: 4th round

Terrence Taylor – DT
At the end of Taylor’s junior season, there were some who thought Taylor could have been a first round pick. I disagreed. It’s not often that you see undersized DTs (he’s 6’0″ and 306 lbs.) go in the first round, so that was overly optimistic. A year later, Taylor looks likely to go in the fourth round or so. He rarely made big plays at Michigan and while he’s fairly adept at holding up against double teams, that job gets more difficult in the NFL. He reminds me of William Carr, who was an All-American (Taylor wasn’t) and a seventh round draft pick by the Bengals. Still…
Projection: 5th round

Tim Jamison – DE
Michigan fans (including me) kept expecting Jamison to break out in a Wolverine uniform, but he never really did. He mostly played right defensive end and suffered from weight issues early in his career. He measured in at 6’2 1/2″ and 256 lbs. before the draft, which is probably a good weight for him. Some suggest that he would make a good outside linebacker in a 3-4, but with his 5.09 time in the forty yard dash, I disagree. I think he’s purely a defensive end. He holds up decently against the run, but he’s not much of a pass rusher.
Projection: 7th round

Will Johnson – DT
Despite Johnson’s eye-popping 47 reps at 225 lbs. on the bench press, he never produced much in college. He’s a little stiiff and doesn’t do much more than holding his own against double teams. I have a very hard time believing that a team will spend a draft pick on Johnson. He reminds me of Baltimore Ravens nosetackle Kelly Gregg, but Gregg was All-Big 12 for two years. Johnson doesn’t hold equivalent accolades. Johnson could stick as a nosetackle, but I doubt it.
Projection: Undrafted

Brandon Harrison – CB/S
Harrison is 5’9″, 205 lbs., and fast. Unfortunately, he’s never been a great football player. He’s a solid tackler but not a big playmaker in the passing game. He played safety as a freshman, slot corner as a sophomore and junior, and strong safety as a senior. He never really found a position. Harrison’s best chance is to contribute on special teams and be a backup strong safety, but I doubt he’ll hang around in the league.
Projection: Undrafted

Carson Butler – TE
I’m not going to lie – Butler seems like an asshole. He participated in the St. Patrick’s Day Nerd Massacre, punched random people on the field, and pissed off the coaches non-stop. I wouldn’t want him on my team. But he’s 6’5″ and runs the forty in the 4.5-4.6 range, so some GM/coach will give him a shot. Once they see him false start/hold/whiff on a block on the same play, they’ll send him packing.
Projection: Undrafted

Sean Griffin – LS
Griffin is a very good long snapper and while he probably won’t get drafted (long snappers rarely do), I do expect that Griffin will hang around the NFL for a while.
Projection: Undrafted

John Thompson – LB
I don’t think anyone ever thought Thompson would be effective in pass coverage, but I didn’t expect him to be so bad at tackling, too. He wasn’t a horrible tackler, but for someone nicknamed “Machete” I expected a more solid tackler. If Thompson plays in the NFL, I would think it would be as an inside linebacker in a 3-4 defense; he’s too slow to run sideline to sideline like a 4-3 middle linebacker would have to do. However, regardless of the defensive scheme, Thompson very probably isn’t an NFLer.
Projection: Undrafted

Mike Massey – TE
Uh . . . no.
Projection: Undrafted

4Mar 2009
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Mike Barwis balloon slightly deflated

Almost more so than the hiring of Rich Rodriguez in December 2007, the arrival of West Virginia’s strength and conditioning coach, Mike Barwis, excited Michigan football fanatics. Rumors abounded that Barwis was an ex-cage fighter, owned pet wolves, and drank battery acid protein drinks. The speed of West Virginia’s football team and the success of its undersized offensive line had the Michigan faithful believing that Barwis could turn middling recruits into supermen and good recruits into gods and really good recruits into Barry Sanders.

While Michigan looked faster on the field in 2008, Barwis’s program obviously didn’t translate into victories. And to be fair, experts say that it takes a full year for a new program to really take effect. So while Brandon Minor and Greg Mathews, in particular, seemed to gain a step in 2008, the coming season is perhaps when we will see the results of Barwis’s newfangled approach to strength and conditioning.

So with the 2009 NFL Combine wrapping up last week, I thought I’d take a look at Michigan’s invitees and see if Barwis deserves the hype.

Terrance Taylor – DT
As a high schooler, Taylor reportedly ran a 4.85 forty-yard dash as a 6′, 285 lb. defensive tackle. Considering that many high school times are inflated, let’s add one-tenth of a second to that time and call it a 4.95. At 6′ and 306 lbs. this past weekend, Taylor ran a 5.24 forty-yard dash. Taylor supposedly benched 185 lbs. a total of 32 times coming out of high school, a max factor of 381 lbs. This weekend Taylor put up 225 lbs. a total of 37 times (max factor: 500), second in the Combine only to Louis Vazquez from Texas Tech.

Tim Jamison – DE
As a high schooler, Jamison’s profile suggests he ran a 4.7 forty-yard dash as a 6’3″, 240 lb. defensive end. He checked in at the combine as a 6’3″, 256 lb. defensive end – and ran a 5.09 forty-yard dash. Even adding the obligatory +.1 to his high school forty time, he apparently got .29 seconds slower as a sprinter in his time at Michigan.

Morgan Trent – CB
Trent is more difficult to judge. In high school he supposedly ran a 4.4 forty-yard dash, which doesn’t seem infeasible, considering he holds the Michigan state record in the indoor sixty-yard dash and the indoor 200-meter dash. Reports out of Indianapolis have him running anywhere between a 4.42 and a 4.53 at the Combine, so he probably didn’t get any slower – but he probably didn’t get much faster, either. Speed seems to be a wash with Trent. He did, however, bench 225 lbs. twenty-three times at the Combine, which tied him for fourth amongst cornerbacks and seventh of all defensive backs. At 6’1″ and 193 lbs., Trent’s weight didn’t fluctuate much since Barwis’s arrival, although he did seem sturdier and made some excellent hits in the 2008 season.

Sean Griffin – LS
Griffin’s numbers at the Combine probably affect him less than the other three. He checked in at 6’2″ and 242 lbs. As an excellent college long snapper, his snaps aren’t the issue. The biggest question about Griffin will be his strength and speed for getting down the field and making tackles. Long snappers are often the first ones off the line to release and start covering punts downfield. Griffin turned in a 5.14 forty yard dash at the Combine, which is not a particularly good number for someone who weighs just over 240, whether he’s a long snapper or not. It’s somewhat curious that Griffin even got invited to the Combine, considering that he never played a down at any other position.

The stories about Barwis improving strength seem to hold some truth. Morgan Trent and Terrance Taylor both did very well in the bench press. Regarding speed, Trent’s 4.53 forty time was somewhat disappointing, considering he has generally been considered one of the two or three fastest guys on the team. However, he did better than expected in the agility drills, so perhaps he’s faster than a 4.53 and that was just an aberration.

These players – in addition to safeties Brandon Harrison and Charles Stewart, linebacker John Thompson, defensive tackle Will Johnson, and tight ends Mike Massey and Carson Butler – will have a chance to improve these numbers at Michigan’s Pro Day on March 13.