Kyle’s Take: Starting XI- Utah

With the season two weeks away, Cody, Coach T and myself will offer our projections as to who starts to begin the season on both sides of the ball in a series titled Starting XI, look for their takes later this week!

As camp draws on, and the submarine floats submersed, BTN went inside the waters and brought us coverage and player interviews which can be seen on BTN Live.

I mentioned earlier on Twitter that you would have to be crazy if you thought Jim would even show a glimpse of what lies ahead to the BTN crew as media availability to the camp had been zip tight.

All things aside, there has been much debate about who has impressed and who has distasted the flavor of both coaches and fans.  Without further ado, here is what we believe your starters will look like Game 1, in Utah .

QB: Jake Rudock

The Iowa transfer has been viewed as someone who can come in and deliver something we haven’t seen from the QB position in quite some time and that is game management.  He has long thrived with the ability to make the smart decisions and his check down abilities will allow for Drevno’s offense to really keep the ball moving.  Although Rudock gets the start, I would not be surprised to see Shane get a few snaps also, as game play is the true key to evaluating your players.

RB: Deveon Smith

Deveon Smith is my choice as the starter at RB for two reasons. 1) He saw a majority of the run in the spring game scrimmage and also looked the best of all the backs. 2) He has been the most consistent.  Reports have had Smith day in and day out working his tail off and he has avoided injuries as where Ty Isaac, the presumed number two, has been dinged up at times.  Even though Smith should start, I would expect there to be a committee of sorts where all three backs see playing time game 1 and I would anticipate from that, carries will be dispersed much carefully moving forward.

WR: Darboh, Perry, Harris

The WR position may be the most interesting area of need for this team moving forward because reports and prior games have shown there is no true gamebreaker.  I assume Darboh will be your top option simply for the fact he can really go up and get the ball and simply make plays.  Grant Perry was highly talked about by the BTN crew and local media reports have him playing a key role on offense this year.  Perry was an elite playmaker and contributor at Brother Rice last year, and he is the type of receiver who can really move the chains while also showing flashes of big play ability.  Drake Harris is the true wildcard.  He was arguably one of the best wide receiver prospects to come out of Michigan this decade and in high school was one of the most dynamic big play, elite playmakers in the Midwest.  After a nagging hamstring injury, Harris appears to have found himself once again while staying healthy, to the point where some have said he may be the best player Michigan has at the WR spot.  Harris, brings something to the team that nobody else has and that is the total package.  If Drake Harris can stay healthy and prove his worthiness, I feel he could be the star of this offense.

TE: Jake Butt

This one is the easiest spot to pick.  Jake Butt will be featured heavily in this offense and has been a primary target his last two years in Ann Arbor.  With a strong season he could find himself in the conversation of the best TE in America.

OL: Mason Cole, Ben Braden, Graham Glasgow, Kyle Kalis, Erik Magnuson

The OL position is the position at which Michigan has the most depth, thanks to several strong classes in recent years.  The starters are all returning and although Cole is the youngest he may be the best.  Mason Cole appears to be the next great Michigan OL following the footsteps of Lewan and Long.  The other four guys are incredibly solid options with Magnuson being the new piece on the line.  I expect Kyle Kalis to really develop on the OL thanks to Drevno and with improved line play, the players in the backfield, both Rudock and Smith at RB should be able to thrive and have time that hasn’t been there in recent years.

All things aside, Michigan is a team that seems destined for at least 7 wins with 9 more than likely being the ceiling.  The offense returns starters and key areas, and if the QB play can be at least average to slightly above average, I certainly feel they can reach their ceiling as an offense.  As we all know, you will need all positions to be clicking on the offensive side of the ball.

Look for our defensive starter predictions next week! As always Go Blue!

Rudock vs. Morris: Decision Time in Ann Arbor

So here we are with fifteen days to the opening kickoff of the 2015 Michigan Football season. The hopes are high, the spotlight is shining, and Jim Harbaugh’s khakis are in full effect.

Following media day on August 6th and entering fall camp on August 7th the athletes and coaching staff have been strictly business. Coach Harbaugh has issued a media blackout in what he calls a “submarine” style system, communicating with nobody outside of his athletes and coaching staff. Following Wednesday’s open student practice he declined any comments or interviews from a slew of B1G media on site ready to turn on the cameras and get some answers. This, ladies and gentleman, is decision week in Ann Arbor.

As expected, Harbaugh has not taken his foot off the gas pedal since his arrival. From recruiting satellite tours and camps all over the country, to signing a slew of new coaches and staff, to new uniform deals with Nike/Jordan, there is a hell of a LOT going on. This is the time to put everything else aside and focus on the one thing that matters the most for Harbaugh and company, The team, the team, the team. Among all of the questions the media is pressing with for answers, there is one that stands out as the clear cut winner everyone wants to know the answer to.

“Who will throw the football?”

Shortly after the Spring Game this year, I asked this same question to someone that you all may know. Mr. Brian Cole II.

Cole, a graduate of Heritage High School, is one of this season’s biggest names to watch on the field for the Wolverines. Cole and I crossed paths while he was shopping inside the mall that I at the time worked in in his hometown of Saginaw, MI. We talked about Harbaugh, his life at campus, how he felt about the upcoming season and so on…but before he left the store, I asked him the one question I needed an answer to “If the season starts tomorrow, who’s throwing the football?” His answer? A smile, and with very little hesitation “Shane Morris baby!”

Feeling satisfied with the answer, we shook hands, I wished him good luck this season, and he left the store, but then another man came to town in Ann Arbor.

Enter: Jake Rudock, the two year starting QB transfer from Iowa that was added to an already crowded roster of QB’s at Michigan. Rudock started the past two years for Iowa putting up 4819 yards, 34 TD’s and 18 INT’s. Not bad, but not great.

Shane Morris on the other hand has had an even tougher start at Michigan behind now former head coach Brady Hoke. Playing in only eight games thus far, Morris holds career stats of 389 yards through the air, 0 TD’s, and 5 INT’s. Yikes.

But let’s put all that aside for a minute shall we? Morris comes to Ann Arbor as a five star recruit with a cannon of an arm. The plays he made in HS while leading Warren De La Salle were amazing (YouTube his HS highlight film) and from what we have seen from him this year he has changed in character, and has only gotten better on the field with his mechanics. At the spring game, he was the first one out of the locker room and onto the field and has practiced with the 1’s consistently since then. He seems more calm, composed and in charge then ever before. In more recent interviews you can tell that he has no intention on getting a secondary spot in his position, but neither does Rudock.

The main arguement between these two comes down to Potential vs. Consistency. On one hand you have Rudock, a QB that we’ve seen perform at a decent level, but not much more. He can throw the ball, he can make plays, but he is not really known for heaving it down field or floating it over the shoulder in sticky situations. He’s stable, but we haven’t seen anything out of Rudock to give him any “it” factor while he was in Iowa. Then on the other hand you have Morris, a kid with familiarization of the program, a rocket launcher attached to his shoulder and SO FAR has held the majority of the snaps at practices. The downside of Morris is the turnovers and whether or not he can shake off the jitters, focus, and lead an offense to Harbaugh’s standard. Also, does Morris live up to the hype? Can he be what everyone hopes?

With that being said if Harbaugh plays the safe card, Rudock will be your starter come September 3rd. If Harbaugh plays the risk vs. reward card, then Morris will throw the ball vs. the Utes.

My guess? Call me crazy but Harbaugh is a betting man, and a confident man. My prediction is that Shane Morris will be our starting QB this season until given a reason not to be. #GoBlue

-Cody

If you enjoyed this article or would like to share your thoughts with me, follow me on Twitter at @BleedBlue_CG

In the film room: 2016 Commit Erik Swenson

Name: Erik Swenson
Class: 2016
Position: Offensive Tackle
Height: 6’7
Weight: 285
Offer Sheet: (5) Michigan, Illinois, Northwestern, Notre Dame and Ohio State
Ranking: 4 Star
Commit Date: 11/25/13

This is the first BBR evaluation for the class of 2016. I will be using a new and improved grading scale. Out of 100 points possible, I will be grading offensive lineman on their Pass protection and run blocking (broken down into their technique and footwork). I will also be grading their build, Athleticism and their “It” factor. Which for Offensive lineman will be nastiness, and finishing their blocks.
90+ = Elite. Day one starter without question
80+ = Highly polished player, likely to have early Play time
70+ = Needs a few touch ups to their game before college ready
60+ = Redshirt likely
Player Comparison: Joe Staley (San Francisco 49ers)

Erik Swenson was the first 2016 prospect to commit to the Wolverines as a sophomore in 2013. Even back then, almost two years ago, Swenson looked the part of an elite offensive line prospect. Wearing #77 and playing left tackle, I had visions of Jake Long and Taylor Lewan from the first time I watched his film. Swenson hails from Downers Grove, Illinois and is the second ranked prospect in the state. A large and physically imposing player, Swenson dominates every defender in his path.

Pass Protection-
Technique: 15/20 Footwork: 15/20 Overall: 30/40
After watching just one play of pass pro, you can tell just low long and hard he was worked on his craft. Swenson’s first step is quick and short, and his feet are never off the ground too long. His hands are constantly in motion, whether he is engaged or not. Once he is back in his kick step and a defender reaches him, Swenson is quick to deliver a blow, although it is not a great one. Often times a defender will try to beat him up field with speed, and Swenson will simply engage the defender and continue to run him up field and away from the play. His kick step is much smoother and more fluid than his post step, which will be a something for him to work on at the next level. His center of gravity is not great during pass pro, although Im sure it is tough for a 6’7 kid to stay low. His pad level never hinders him however, as he is just more physical than anyone that lines up against him.

Run Blocking-
Technique: 13/20 Footwork: 18/20 Overall: 31/40
Swenson can be somewhat enigmatic here. On one play, Swenson will drive his man thirty yards down field and end up on top of him like Michael Oher in the Blind side. On the next play, Swenson will simply stand up and use his big frame to shield the defender against a play to his side. Swenson’s biggest strength (aside from his size) is his ability to get to the second level. Watching film, I actually picked up on their blocking scheme for what I believe are their Iso plays. Swenson will get an inside release on the man lined up across from him, and go get a line backer, leaving his man for the full back to pick up (Iso plays are generally blocked the opposite way). Swenson’s pad level,base and hand placement are all top notch. Swenson preys on smaller linebackers, racking up pancake after pancake block. When engaged, Swenson will either punish the man he is blocking, or show a bit of laziness and use his size and size only to win the battle.

Athleticism: 7/10
Swenson is exceptionally athletic for his height and weight. While he is not spectacularly fast or mobile, he is certainly above average. He showcases his mobility on screen plays, where he releases and blocks a DB in open space. Swenson also routinely blocks smaller and quicker linebackers in open space.

“It”: 4/5
Swenson feeds off of mauling everyone he faces. Where he loses a point here is the occasional play off. According to his film, he averages seventeen pancakes a game, and that I believe. Once he gets his hands on you, Its over.

Build: 5/5
Swenson is all of 6’7 and 285, and not even out of high school yet. You cannot ask for much more out of a tackle.

Overall: 77/100
Swenson does a lot of things very well and only a small handful of things poorly. The strengths of his game are his ability to get to the second level, and to finish blocks, which he is often in great position for due to his great footwork. Swenson’s weaknesses are the occasional play he takes off, his center of gravity during pass pro and his post step. Swenson has an entire year to polish these areas of his game, and I have no doubt that he’ll do so. With all of the offensive line talent that the Wolverines currently have on their roster in addition to the talent being brought in, there are no playing time guarantees’. At this rate, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Swenson redshirted and primed to take the field as a RS freshman or sophomore. While not elite, Swenson is most definitely an above average high school lineman, and with a little polishing of his game, we can expect big things from Swenson.

@BleedBlueCoachT

Best Guess at Michigan’s 2016 class

Kingston Davis joined the fold this morning after a strong visit to UM this past weekend. Coupled with Brandon Peters and David Reese joining suit, Michigan is now up to 5 commits for the 2016 class.

The domino effect is underway and the #Fab25 is taking shape. Here is my best guess at how this class will finish out.

QB Brandon Peters

RB Kingston Davis

RB Matt Falcon

FB David Reese

WR Ahmir Mitchell

WR Dez Fitzpatrick

WR Donnie Corley

OL Ben Bredeson

OL Michael Onwenu

OL Terrance Davis

OL Michael Jordan

OL Erik Swenson

TE Nassier Upshur

DT Rashan Gary

DT Boss Tagaloa

DE Connor Murphy

LB Jonathan Jones

LB Dele Harding

LB Dontavious Jackson

CB Lavert Hill

CB Jordan Fuller

CB/S Chris Brown

S Andrew Pryts

S Demetric Vance

K Quinn Nordin

Take in mind, this is based off the Fab 25 tag the coaches have been using. Your thoughts?

Why Jaylen Brown May Be Higher On Michigan Than We Think

Jaylen Brown, the 6’6 2015 superstar and heralded top recruit appears to be nearing an outcome with his recruitment.  Brown, by way of Michigan, yet living in Georgia has drawn hefty interest from Michigan as of late. He made his first visit to Ann Arbor just over a week ago and came away more impressed than many may have imagined.

Brown brought a plethora of his family with him on his visit and walked away with heavy remarks for Michigan and John Beilein.

Let’s establish one thing first: Jaylen Brown will be a stud regardless of which school he chooses. Brown coming off a dominant senior season and a McDonald’s All American nomination, has been ranked as high as the 2nd best recruit in the nation. The kid is a stud and someone who can change the entire makeup of a team.

I mentioned on Twitter I feel Michigan has a better chance than many imagine and here’s why.

1) The Fit.

Jaylen Brown would be a dynamite fit in the Beilein offense.  He would immediately start and contribute for a team that could have late March aspirations next year. Brown could play either the 3 or the 4 and bring a presence that takes Michigan to the next level.  His ability to get to the basket while also nailing the mid range jump shot is second to none. His playmaking ability is something this team lacks. Even if Caris stays, Brown could step in and become the primary offensive scorer that Michigan hasn’t had since Trey Burke. A lineup with these two players would be too 5 in the preseason easily.

2) His parents

From the quotes and the family pull that we know off, it appears as if his parents want him here.  They would feel comfortable sending him to Ann Arbor and also the degree is something his parents may see as a great fall back after basketball.  After a minor traffic misdemeanor, Brown faced some bashing from local pundits but in his interviews you see just how well carried and well spoken this young man is. 

The hints are also there for those of you that have been in tune.

In an interview with Evan Daniels of Scout he talks about Michigan very favorably going as far as saying Michigan will be in the front runner of things. He used the word genius to describe John Beilein and noted just how good Michigan is as a school. It even raised attention from fans of rival schools leading them to believe he may be leaning towards Michigan. Even Kentucky fans.  Just do a Twitter search for his name and you’ll see the remarks from the contending fans.

Brian Snow also added on ($) that he believes Michigan is in the top two for Brown and that was also mentioned by Sam Webb. Yes the Sam Webb who is the godfather of all things Michigan recruiting. Although the two failed to give the other name of the team also in his top two, the fact that two major writers said this means business for Michigan and Brown.

 When mentioning NBA draft entries, two schools come to mind that are contending for his services, Kentucky and Michigan. This is who I presume to be his true top two schools.

In his story with Daniels he also went on to say how he has to wait and see and that if his favorite team has no players leave for the NBA that he could make his decision earlier. If you ask me that falls directly in line with Michigan. He and Caris both play the same roles as players and even if Caris stays Michigan could slide Brown to the 3 or 4 spot next to Zak Irvin. 

The end all be all is this. Michigan is in a very good spot for Brown, far better than we all thought. His story and quotes fall in line with everything Michigan seems to be offering at this point and everything Michigan could provide for him.

At the end of the day, he may very well choose Kentucky and the Calipari system that gets guys to the league in mirror moments. But my gut feeling is that he may be leaning towards Michigan a bit more than we expected and that he could very well end up in Ann Arbor come this August.  

Attached below is his recent quote on the maize and blue. Stay tuned Michigan fans, our odds for the hoops squad could be looking up very, very soon.

 

The Definitive Guide To Michigan Spring Practice.

Yesterday I attended practice inside Al Glick field house. It was all business from start to finish. Harbaugh himself did not coach any single position, but instead moved from station to station throughout the day. The only time he worked with the quarterbacks exclusively was while they warmed up their arms. The players stretched individually before practice, then walked through plays on both side of the ball. The Wolverines conditioned periodically throughout practice, and took a few five-minute breaks at the “Fuel Station” on the sideline where there was Gatorade and snacks. Harbaugh was constantly coaching and teaching, from the back up full back to starting quarterback. Only one time did he raise his voice and yell out of frustration. The coaching staff as a whole is a slightly different story; all of them with the exception of Greg Mattison are very intense and adamant. Time Drevno is a hell of an offensive line coach, very demanding and seems to be a great teacher. Following this will be a list of players that were absent or did not participate in practice, and following that will be the depth chart that I saw with yesterdays players.

Players that did not participate:
-Mario Ojemudia: MIA
– Da’Mario Jones: MIA
– Sione Houma: MIA
– Noah Furbush: MIA
– Chris Fox: MIA
– Drake Harris: Limited participation.
– Dave Dawson: Fully dressed, no participation however.
– Terry Richardson: Fully dressed, no participation however.
– Ondre Pipkens: Limited Participation.
– Ty Isaac: Limited Participation, undisclosed reason.
– Jabrill Peppers: Had his wisdom teeth removed earlier in the week.
– Taco Charlton: Wore shirt & T-Shirt at practice. Undiclosed reason.
– Dan Samullsen: Came up lame during conditions. Upper leg.
– Drake Johnson: Recovering from a torn ACL
– Graham Glasgow: Suspended
– Khalid Hill: Recovering from a torn ACL
– Matt Godin: Suspected lower body injury.

-Things that stood out to me:
– Shane Morris was the first player out of the locker room and on the field.
– Ty Isaac is a MONSTER. Dude looks like a tight end.
– Three players saw reps at center today (Cole, Kugler, Bars) and all three had poor snaps all afternoon. Jim Harbaugh was taking a large interest in that position all day.
– Juwann Bushell Beatty & Lawrence Marshall & Ian Bunting have made the biggest freshman to sophomore leap physically. JBB and Bunting are growing into what appears to be NFL frames, and Marshall looks like a fully grown man, and is absolutely jacked.
– Chase Winovich has moved to tight end, and his athleticism suits him well at the position.
– Henry Poggi & Tom Stroebel split time all afternoon at Defensive Line and Tight End/H-Back.
– Brian Cole is the real deal, already physically ready for the D1 game.
– The defense came out In a traditional 3-4, and only moved to a four man front for a Nickel package that was similar to a 4-2-5
– Dennis Norfleet is one of the unquestioned upper classmen leaders of this team. He has the respect of all of his team mates and is an exceptional leader by example on the field.

Quarterbacks:
1. Shane Morris, Jr-
. Shane Morris ran with the 1’s all afternoon. In warm ups and seven on seven drills, Morris was dropping dimes, and I cannot recall a single ball of his hitting the ground. It was readily apparent that he has the best command of the offense of all QB’s, At this point it appears it is Morris’s job to lose.
2. Alex Malzone, Fr
Alex got all of the 2’s reps, and a small portion of the 1’s as well. He looks very comfortable with the offense, and is playing better than expected at this point.
3. Wilton Speight, RFr
Speight struggled with accuracuy all afternoon, and got very few reps with the starters. Appears to be outside looking in at this point and was underwhelming all day long.
4. Garrett Moores, RFr
Moores is the only other QB to receive team reps today, albeit with the back ups.

Running Backs:
1. De’Veon Smith, Jr-
De’veon ran only with the 1’s during the team portion of practice. Expect him to tote the rock this season in some form.
2. Derrick Green, Jr
Green appears to be in great shape, and is speed has improved. If only he would keep his feet going. One of the few backs to get team reps with starters.
3. Antonio Whitfield, Jr
Suprisingly, Whitfield got a number of carries behind the 1st Oline, and not all of them were out of shotgun. I’d be surprised if he saw the ball much during the regular season, but today showed the coaches trust him.
4. Wyatt Shallman, Jr-
Shallman is definitely now playing tail back. He ran with the 1’s in seven on seven, both catching the ball and in pass pro. However he received few if any 1st team carries in team.

Fullback:
1. Joe Kerridge, RSr
Kerridge will undoubtedly be Michigan’s starting full back in 2015.
2. Brady Pallante, So
Pallante moved to tight end from Defensive Tackle, and the move has paid off. Brady moves well and saw a few 1st team goal line reps.

Slot Receiver:
1. Dennis Norfleet, Sr
Norfleet had a good a practice as anyone. He looks very comfortable under Harbaugh, and his route running and plays after the catch were great today. He stood out as a leader of the receiving core in a big way today.
2. Brian Cole, Fr
Cole is physically ready for the game, however is a freshman swimming right now. I’ll be shocked if he isn’t a part of the offense come week one, and becomes a monster on special teams.
3. Bo Dever, Sr
Dever played sparingly last season, and with Norfleet stepping up, it appears that will be the case this year also.

X Receiver:
1. Amara Darboh, Sr
Darboh did nothing specactular all day, but he had a good command of the offense and saw a lot of 1st team reps.
2. JaRon Dukes, Jr
Dukes had himself a great practice. He stood out among receivers all day, and saw some 1st team reps. He’ll be apart of the offense this season.
3. Maurice Ways, So
Ways passes the eye test with ease. He caught a few jump balls and stood out during seven on seven. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him catch a few this season.

Z Receiver:
1. Jehu Chesson, Sr
Chesson ran with the 1’s all day. Like Darboh, he wasn’t spectacular, but he seemed the most comfortable in the offense.
2. Freddy Canteen, So
Canteen split 1st & 2nd team reps all day, and looked comfortable under Harbaugh. Expect him to find this end zone this year.
3. Jack Wangler, RSo
Wangler played well in seven on seven, but underwhelmed during the team session.

Tight End:
1. Jake Butt, Jr
Butt did everything for the offense in what will be a complicated TE role. Performed well.
2. AJ Williams, Sr
AJ has always been an inline tight end, and that will not change under Harbaugh. He’s basically an extra offensive lineman.
3. Ian Bunting, RFr
Bunting has filled his frame and is a full grown man on the field. He performed well physically but did not seem to have a good handle on the offense.
Of Note: Henry Poggi, Chase Winovich and Tom Stroelbel all repped at tight end and H-Back. I wouldn’t exactly rank them on this list but it is of note. Stroebel strictly played on the LOS, and always blocked. Poggi and Winovich were used more as H-Backs. Thye both blocked and received.

Left Tackle:
1. Logan Tulley-Tillman, RSo
LTT got more than half of the reps at left tackle and performed well. I could definitely see him starting there week one.
2. Mason Cole, So
Cole is currently repping at Center for the 1st team. However, if Tillman is not up to the challenge at Left Tackle, Cole will step in and succeed.

Left Guard:
1. Eric Magnuson, Sr
Magnuson has the left guard spot all but locked up.
2. Blake Bars, Sr

Center:
1. Mason Cole, Fr
2. Patrick Kugler, RSo
Kugler got half of the first team reps, and played well other than his poor snaps.
3. Blake Bars, Sr
Bars was the go-to when both Kugler and Cole struggled with his snaps.

Right Guard:
1. Kyle Kalis, RJr
Kalis is finally living up to his billing out of High School.
2. Greg Froelich, Jr
Froelich got a decent amount of the 2nd team right guard reps
Right Tackle:

1. Ben Braden, RJr
Braden is a true mauler, once he gets his hands on you; youre toast. Braden will start here week one.
2. Juwann Bushell-Beatty, RFr
JBB impressed me today, both with his size and play.

Offensive Recap: If they played tomorrow, Morris would start at QB. The running backs will be by committee all season unless someone separates themselves from the pack. Early on I think we’ll see the more experienced guys at receiver (Darboh, Chesson) but as the season progresses we’ll see more Canteen, Ways & Cole. Dennis Norfleet will be properly utilized under Drevno, and you can expect to see the ball in his hands. Butt is an all conference tight end at worst, and will be one of our leading receivers. Ian Bunting looks great after putting on some weight, and as the season moves along we’ll see more and more of him. As far as the Oline goes, it all hinges on if LTT can play left tackle. If he can, the line will look like this :LTT, Magnuson, Cole, Kalis, Braden. If LTT cannot get the job done, Cole will move back outside and Pat Kugler will start at center. The offense ran a LOT of pistol, using multiple full backs and tight ends in the back field. Not much one-back under center, but there was a lot of one-back out of shotgun. Of the players already on the roster that did not participate, I expect Khalid Hill, Ty Isaac, Sione Houma, Dave Dawson, Drake Johnson, Drake Harris and Graham Glasgow could all play a role this upcoming season. Of the incoming freshman that could make an impact, There is Grant Perry, Zack Gentry, Karan Higdon, Grant Newsome, Tyrone Wheatley Jr and Jon Runyan Jr.

Defensive Groups (3-4 Look)
LDE:
1. Willie Henry, RJr
2. Henry Poggi, Jr
– Both players did well in pass rushing drills and more than held their own during team. Henry appeared in shape and Poggi is playing well enough that he wont fully transition to offense.

NT:
1. Ryan Glasgow, RJr
2. Bryan Mone, So
– Glasgow had a better command of the new off man front, while Mone is physically better. Expect to see a lot of Mone in the 3-4 look.

RDE:
1. Chris Wormley, RSr
2. Maurice Hurst, RSo
– Wormley played very well from the 5 technique and displayed quickness I didn’t know he had. Hurst used his leverage and explosiveness to make plays in the backfield during team.

ROLB:
1. James Ross, Sr
2. Allen Gant, Sr
– Neither Ross nor Gant rushed the passer much from this spot, but both were decent in pass coverage and run support.

MLB:
1. Joe Bolden, Jr
2. Desmond Morgan, RSr
3. Ben Gedeon, Jr
4. Mike McCray, RSo
– Bolden is becoming a leader of this defense physically. Him and Morgan did a decent job of getting off blocks in the new 3-4 look. Gedeon and McCray both have the size to play inside and fight off bigger Linemen than them.

LOLB:
1. Royce Jenkins-Stone, Sr
2. Lawrence Marshall, RFr
– RJS and Marshall both rushed the passer a lot from the spot, and both did well. However I think they both stand to lose playing time with Charlton and Ojemudia healthy.

CB:
1. Jourdan Lewis, Jr
2. Blake Countess, RSr
3. Channing Stribling, Jr
4. Reon Dawson, RSo
5. Ross Taylor-Douglass, RSo
– When the defense had three corners on the field, Stibling went outside and Countess played in the slot. Dawson was underwhelming all day and it was apparent that RTD is still transitioning back to the corner position.

SS:
1. Delano Hill, Jr
2. Dymonte Thomas, Jr
– Hill played well all day, even playing in the box as a line backer in some looks. Thomas did not get many team reps but he made the most of them when he did, registering a few pass break ups.

FS:
1. Jarrod Wilson, RSr
2. Jeremy Clark, RJr
– With Peppers out, Wilson was the quarterback of the secondary. He got most of the team reps, while Clark did nothing of note.

Defensive Recap: All we saw as a base defense on Saturday was the 3-4. While I don’t think that will be our base defense all season, it will definitely be in the mix a lot. Durkin’s defense blitzed all day, from the line backer position as well as the corner position. For most of the day the DB’s were in press-man coverage. Channing Stribling, Jourdan Lewis, Dymonte Thomas and Delano Hill all impressed and had interceptions against the 2’s and 3’s. At one point, Delano Hill (Filling in for Peppers) was up in the box, playing some sort of Monster backer. It was clear that the defense’s biggest priority was just getting lined up properly and knowing their assignment, which they did well for most of the day. I would have to say that the DLine is pretty set with those six rotational players, and the same goes for the linebackers. I don’t think there will be any surprises at those spots this season. The only mystery in the secondary; but its not a matter of who will play, but where those guys will play. Incoming freshman who could contribute are Tyree Kinnel, Shelton Johnson, Keith Washington and Reuben Jones.
Based off of what I saw yesterday, I’d say the four guys with the best shot at being Captains are: Dennis Norfleet, Joe Bolden, Jake Butt, Jarrod Wilson.

For any questions regarding my observations or projections going forward in the season, please tweet me @BleedBlueCoachT

In The Film Room: 2015 Receiver Grant Perry

Name: Grant Perry
Class: 2015
Position: Receiver
Height: 6’0
Weight: 185

Grant Perry comes to Michigan by the way of perennial power Birmingham Brother Rice, where he was teammates with Michigan QB Alex Malzone. Perry is a 24/7 composite three star, ranked as the 112th receiver in the nation. Holding offers from seven of twelve MAC schools, as well as Indiana, Northwestern and U of M. In early December 2014, Perry committed to Northwestern, but flipped to U of M late in the process after the hiring of Jim Harbaugh. Perry won two state titles at BBR, and has quite the chemistry with Alex Malzone. I feel that Perry is one of the most under rated prospects in the mid west, and is a great get for the Wolverines. He will be enrolled starting this summer.

Projected Position: Receiver/Return Man
Body: A
While standing at only 6’0 and weighing under 200 pounds, an “A” may seem high, but I am grading Perry as a slot receiver. Under Brady Hoke, Michigan recruited big, strong pro style receivers, often over 6’2 and 200 pounds, and I expect coach Harbaugh to keep up with this trend. With the tall & lanky play makers on the outside, its almost set in stone to see players of Perry’s size on the inside. Perry is big enough to make a living over the middle of the field, but also small enough to weave his way in and out of defenders.

Speed/Acceleration: B+
Perry has decent speed, but he is not a world beater. If you press him off the line and he gets s step on you, you’ll have to work your tail off to regain that ground you lost but it’s not impossible. Perry’s acceleration is more of his forte than top end speed. Great footwork off the line will get him open whether he is pressed or has a cushion to work with. He knows where he is going, and he gets there sooner rather than later. Its not like he gets caught from behind all the time but something that keeps him from pulling away from defenders is his short stride at 6’0. When returning kicks, Perry will use angles and his vision of running lanes to get to the end zone, not pure speed.

Athleticism/Quickness: B+
Different category with the same result. Perry has more than above average athleticism but you wont find him winning any SPARQ combines. Perry does have great footwork, whether its beating a DB off the line or getting his feet down to make a sideline or end zone grab, Perry demonstrates great control over his feet. He has the stop and go ability to break off his route, catch the ball and get up to go again before a defender will reach him. Perry cannot match the pure athleticism that you’ll see from some 5 Star top 10 recruit, but he more than has the tools to get the job done in the slot as well as returning kicks. I would not classify Perry as a slasher, someone who will juke you out of your shoes nor is he a one cut and get vertical guy. Perry has “Wiggle in his hips” and is slippery. Subtle change of direction while not losing speed or losing ground is how Perry makes you miss.

Route Running/Hands: A
Perry’s route running is some of the best I have seen at this level. His football IQ is off the charts. His speed is not world class, nor is his athleticism, and while Perry is aware of that, it doesn’t stop him from beating every corner he faced in high school. Perry is extremely savvy and aware. If you press him off the line, he’ll use the DB’s leverage against him, getting the DB to open his hips and then putting his foot in the dirt and getting separation. When Perry has a cushion, he’ll simply take what is given to him, which is often a quick slant, quick out, hitch or stop route. Based off of pre snap alignment, Perry knows what coverage he’s going against and will use it to his advantage. Perry has good hands as well, as you wont see him catch the ball with his body very often. For only being 6’0, he is also adequate at high pointing the ball and keeping it away from defenders. The thing that Perry does best is double moves, Out-N-Up or the Slant-N-Go’s are just DEADLY for Perry & Co.

Overall: B+
Grant Perry had the luxury of playing with some of the best talent in the state of Michigan at one of the top football programs in all of the Midwest during his high school career. He played alongside other Division one athletes his entire career, including Michigan Quarterback Alex Malxone. Perry was extremely productive during his varsity career, winning two state titles. Perry is a winner, and knows what it takes to come out on top. When watching his tape, Perry reminds me of Jeremy Gallon. Sneaky speed, great running vision, awesome route running skills and good return ability. Perry will not be on campus until this summer which will set him back, and the depth at slot receiver also put him behind the eight ball. The only way I see Perry avoiding a red shirt this year is if he can beat out Bo Dever, Freddy Canteen or Dennis Norfleet. His best bet at this time is making a living on special teams, although I think that is still a long shot. Perry is a great in state get for Harbaugh and his staff and Im excited to see what he an do in the future.

In The Film Room: 2015 Quarterback Zach Gentry

Name: Zach Gentry
Class: 2015
Position: Quarterback
Height: 6’7
Weight: 230
Gentry hails from Albuquerque, NM and is a 24/7 composite four star recruit. Rated the number eight pro style quarterback for 2015, the one time Texas commit also held offers from Maryland, Louisville and most impressively, Alabama. There are only five recruits rated two stars or above in the state of New Mexico, so needless to say Gentry did not face elite competition at the high school level. Gentry committed to the Longhorns back in may of 2014, but once Harbaugh was hired, he made Gentry a top priority and got him on campus for an OV on Janurary 23rd. On Janurary 24th, Zach flipped from Texas and Committed to U of M giving the Wolverines their second quarterback of the class.

Style Of Passer: Pro
Body: A
Gentry has the rare but coveted monster build for a QB standing at over 6’6 yet slight at 230 pounds. At his height, Gentry will be able to scan the field with ease and have every throwing lane at his disposal. His frame could add some weight if the coaching staff sees fit, as he could pack on some lower body muscle. He is not quite as thick as Wilton Speight, who is similar in size.
Arm Strength: A-
There isn’t a spot on the field that Gentry cannot reach with his 12 gauge of an arm. In high school, his team lived by the motto of GGD (Gotta go deep) and its hard to blame them with a quarterback the caliber of Gentry. He throws the deep ball phenomenally, weather he needs touch to fit it into a tight space or put some heat on it to hit a guy in stride, Gentry will get it there. Something that Gentry does lack, is Zip. There is not a large sample size of three step throws (Slant, Out, Hitch) but it stands out to me that he needs work in this area. Gentry will get it there fast but not necessarily quick if that makes sense. An example of someone who has a cannon arm but also great Zip is Aaron Rodgers, he is the poster child for having it all, and at this point Gentry does not have the Zip.
Accuracy: B+
Gentry did not have the luxury of throwing to D1 caliber receivers throughout his career like Alex Malzone did, but his tape will clearly show him making his pass catchers better players, which is something all great Qb’s do. Gentry’s height gives him an advantage with putting the ball where he wants it on second and third level routes. He can put the ball where only his guy can get it, especially on fade and go routes. We don’t see much back shoulder throws here but honestly it’s a rarity in high school. Gentry can throw a goal line fade as well as anyone and as I mentioned before his deep ball is great. Gentry has great touch, but almost to a fault. Every few throws you will see him putting too much touch when its not needed, which will cause his receiver to either stop their route or slow down to catch the ball. So occasionally Gentry will under throw his guy but its due to too much touch, not arm strength. On the small amount of underneath throws we see from Gentry, he often places them too high, most likely due to his 6’7 frame. There Is definitely room for improvement here.
Mobility/Pocket Presence: A-
Gentry’s mobility and athleticism are elite, especially considering his size. His stride is so long, and it doesn’t take him long to get up to speed. His running ability is to the point where I would consider him a dual threat QB, as he most certainly was in high school. Weather it was the read option, a sprint out or an improvisation, Gentry looked like Kaepernick in the playoffs against the Packers versus opposing defenses. Where Gentry will get marked down however, is his pocket presence, as he has very little. Gentry has happy feet, and is almost comparable to Johnny Manziel for the fact that if a defender even flashes, He’ll scramble out of the pocket. Its hard to blame the kid, he made so many plays with his feet in high school with his legs. Great pocket passers need to step up into the pocket, with their eyes downfield looking for an open receiver, and Gentry does not do that to this point, however I see no reason Jimmy wont have him coached up on this in no time.
Mechanics: B-
Gentry’s motion is long and slow. Even on short, quick throws that require zip (he has none) it takes longer for the ball to come out than you would like. The biggest no-no I see from Gentry is he throws off his back foot far too often. His film shows a wide range of throws; short, intermediate, deep, sprint out, play action and 3 step, and you can see him throwing off his back foot on every type of throw. Gentry does a decent job of keeping the ball close to his body, and away from defenders and another thing Gentry does a good job of is bringing his feet along and squaring his shoulders up to make an accurate throw, its some of the best Ive seen in a prospect.
Decision Making/Football IQ: B
This is the hardest skills set to grade, especially without multiple game films. Zach Gentry would not be a top 10 quarterback in the 2015 class without having decent decision making skills, however from what I can ascertain, his knowledge of the game is average. This will hurt his overall grade and that may be too bad but you will only see good things on a highlight tape, a highly regarded football mind recently said “A kids highlight tape is the ten best plays of his career” and while Gentry’s highlight tape is impressive, it will not reflect his IQ to what it could be.

Overall: B+
Gentry’s combination of frame and athleticism is so rare at the quarterback position; guys like him usually transition to a tight end of defensive end at the next level. What is preventing this from happening to Zach is his elite arm. With average mechanics and already good footwork, Gentry will only get better once he is on campus. Gentry is at a huge disadvantage not being early enrolled, as Alex Malzone will have fifteen practices under his belt before Gentry even moves into his dorm. I feel that Gentry is the least ready of the Qb’s that will be on the roster in 2015, but he may have the most potential and upside. Expect a redshirt for this young man, but do not count him out making some noise during the 2016 spring practice session. While not his first official commit at U of M, This was a huge flip for Harbaugh & Co. Plucking a kid out of the southwest that was already committed to an elite program was a show of things to come from Jim.

@BleedBlueCoachT

KJ Costello: Michigan Man?

This piece is something I’ve been meaning to touch on for weeks now, and with some down time the duty calls.

KJ Costello, out of Santa Margarita, CA is by all accounts the top prospect for the Wolverines at quarterback for the 2016 cycle.  While offers have been going out for the last few weeks to other quarterbacks, Costello is the one person that has remained a constant target over the last calendar year.

With Brandon Peters high interest in Michigan, the timeline has changed for Costello in my mind, and I feel like this is why Costello will end up at Michigan and also I touch on the reasons and effect that he would have.

Reasons

-Just as a I mentioned before, Costello had planned on taking a visit during the spring time.  That is, until Brandon Peters picked up a Michigan offer a mere 10 days ago and he immediately said that Michigan led for him.  This falls in direct correlation with the recruitment of Costello.  After Peters made that announcement, 247’s Steve Lorenz spoke with Costello and KJ said that he plans on taking a visit to Ann Arbor within the NEXT TWO WEEKS.  Add to that  the fact that KJ plans on bringing along his father, and you have a brewing commit watch ensuing.  KJ Costello nearly committed to Michigan last summer at the Michigan camp, but held off to not make a decision off purely emotion.  With Jim Harbaugh in the fold and a top rate coaching staff to boot, his interest has skyrocketed and Michigan fans, and other recruits have taken notice.

-The next reason is indeed, Jim Harbaugh himself.  KJ Costello grew up watching Jim and his dominance at both Stanford and in the NFL with the 49ers.  For those of you who don’t know, Jim Harbaugh brought upon a rockstar appeal in California while coaching these two entities.  He reversed their fortunes in months and created powerhouses at the two highest levels of football in the world today.  Costello took notice, and saw this growing up.  Harbaugh, is also one of the best at developing QB’s in all of football.  At Stanford, he took a gangly Andrew Luck and made him a number one pick and laid the groundwork for a player who would go on to now be one of the top 5 QB’s in the NFL.  At San Francisco, Jim developed Colin Kaepernick from a mid round pick into one of the elite playmakers in the league while inheriting one of the highest grossing contracts for a QB in recent league memory.  The fact isn’t that he is an elite coach, the fact is that he has a knack for developing quarterbacks unlike any other and KJ Costello knows that.

Effects

-KJ Costello would be the first person from the west coast to commit to Michigan under Harbaugh and would be the first of many, in a revived pipeline out of the west coast.  If KJ were to commit the Michigan brand would be revived on the west coast and with the host of players that Michigan is targeting on the west coast, you can be assured Michigan would be able to reinvigorate their roster with the elite speed and playmaking ability that you can find on the west coast, while building a connection to players that Michigan hasn’t recruited or even been in the neighborhoods of since the Lloyd Carr era.

-KJ Costello would follow the past roles of Shane Morris, Wilton Speight, and Alex Malzone in being the leader of the class.  KJ could and would have the ability to help Michigan land many of the top prospects they are targeting, including close friends and homegrown brethren, Theo Howard, David Long, and top WR target, Dylan Crawford.  If Michigan was able to land them, their roster would have a huge boost in terms of pure athleticism and bring a new era of playmakers to Ann Arbor that Michigan fans haven’t seen in years.

KJ Costello Is a natural born leader both on and off the field.  He has a great makeup as a QB and an even better makeup off the field in the classroom and in the community.  His name is one that Michigan fans that follow recruiting have known for nearly two years  and if all goes as planned on his upcoming visit, do not be surprised if he beats Brandon Peters to the punch  for the 2016 class QB spot while also building foundation for the best recruiting class in recent Michigan memory.

 

Mike Weber Situation with OSU

This will be quick, but offering my thoughts even though technically he is now a Buckeye.

As we all know Mike was down to OSU and Michigan and OSU put on a full scale late midnight push to keep him.

Not to mention the addition of star Karan Higdon.

Mike went on to sign with OSU but you could see it in his face on that day, he wasn’t ready. He didn’t know fully where he wanted to go.

He later signed with OSU but now with 24 hours removed from the pen to paper exchange, OSU RB’s coach Stan Drayton has left for the NFL without Mike having prior knowledge.

I feel awful for Mike. He was a great kid to interview and meet and someone who for the most part remains quiet and close to himself. This is terrible to see, and ultimately hurts even more from a recruiting perspective because Michigan could have told him this, had they known much like UGA with Roquan Smith.

Early on the top possibility, if he were to choose to transfer would be to break the NLI and file a report with the NCAA and apply for a waiver, even though it could possibly result in him sitting out a year.

This is surely a story to keep an eye on.