What Could Have Been . . . Christian Wilson

Tag: What Could Have Been

28Jan 2010
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What Could Have Been . . . Christian Wilson

Christian Wilson (#33)
Christian Wilson, a 6’3″, 235 lb. running back/tight end from McKees Rocks, PA, committed to Michigan back in 2007. He was expected to be a part of the class of 2008 after Lloyd Carr convinced him that he could play an H-back role in Mike Debord’s offense. It’s somewhat odd that Carr would recruit a guy for a position that didn’t really exist when he probably knew that he wouldn’t be there past the 2007 season.

Regardless, the hiring of Rich Rodriguez forced Wilson to rethink his options. Rodriguez honored the offer and told him that he could play linebacker, but Wilson wasn’t interested. He pictured himself as an offensive player, but Wilson would only fit Rodriguez’s offense as a fullback . . . and Rodriguez molds his fullbacks out of walk-ons.

Wilson took the hint and opened up his recruitment. He committed to North Carolina and played as a freshman. He caught 2 passes for 19 yards as a true freshman in 2008 and added 5 more catches for 30 yards in 2009.

Michigan’s starting fullback in 2009 was Kevin Grady, who notched 10 carries for 80 yards and 1 touchdown. He also caught 5 passes for 29 yards.

Grady was probably a better player for Michigan’s offense, but moving forward, the fullback duties will fall to fifth year senior Mark Moundros and redshirt junior John McColgan. It would be nice to have an athlete of Wilson’s caliber to play fullback, but considering the fact that a former 5-star running back in Grady only touched the ball 15 times, committing a four-year scholarship to a fullback might not make a great deal of sense. It would be nice to have an extra inside linebacker on the roster, but if Wilson didn’t want to play defense, he probably wouldn’t be great at it, anyway.

10Jan 2010
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What Could Have Been . . . Marquis Maze

Marquis Maze
Wide receiver Marquis Maze was committed to be a member of the 2007 recruiting class. Recruited as a wideout for Michigan, he always seemed to be a bit undersized; he was 5’8″ and 160 lbs. during a time when Michigan was annually churning out 6’3″-ish wide receivers like David Terrell, Marquis Walker, Braylon Edwards, and Adrian Arrington, among others.

Before signing day arrived, though, Maze decommitted from the Wolverines and decided to attend Alabama. He redshirted as a freshman in 2007 and has earned more and more prominent roles the past two seasons.

Unbeknownst to him, Michigan coach Lloyd Carr would be replaced by Rich Rodriguez in December 2007, who would bring an offense in which Maze could have thrived. Rodriguez was reduced to playing a true freshman (Martavious Odoms) and a bigger receiver who was a misfit (Toney Clemons) at the slot receiver position in 2008. Odoms did well, but Clemons floundered and transferred to Colorado prior to the 2009 season.

This past season as a redshirt sophomore and now listed at 5’10” and 180 lbs., Maze started at wide receiver and recorded 31 receptions for 523 yards (a 16.9 yard average) and 2 touchdowns, including an 80-yarder. Oh by the way, he also won a national championship.

Meanwhile, the majority of Michigan’s snaps at slot receiver went to the trio of Kelvin Grady, Martavious Odoms, and Roy Roundtree. Those players combined for 64 catches, 808 yards (12.6 yard average), and 5 touchdowns. Redshirt freshman Roundtree turned out to be the most explosive of the three, leading the entire team in each category and besting Maze in receptions (32 to 31) and touchdowns (3 to 2).

Maze is a big-play threat for the Crimson Tide, but his presence on the Michigan team in 2009 probably wouldn’t have made a huge difference. He would have been more valuable in 2008, when he likely would have started for then-freshman Odoms. Still, Maze has a good thing going at Alabama, and Michigan has some promising athletes going forward into the 2010 season. This is a departure that most Michigan fans shouldn’t – and probably don’t – regret.

Image via nydailynews.com

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.

Image via life.com