Monday, February 19, 2007

Offensive Line Roster Analysis

Offensive Tackle
Jake Long - SR - 6'7" - 313 lbs - Lapeer, MI
Brett Gallimore - JR - 6'4" - 308 lbs - Parkville, MO
Mark Ortmann - SO - 6'6" - 298 lbs - Klein, TX
Cory Zirbel - SO - 6'5" - 296 lbs - Murray, KY
Steve Schilling - RFR - 6'5" - 300 lbs - Bellevue, WA
Perry Dorrestein - RFR - 6'7" - 317 lbs - Plainfield, IL
Mark Huyge - FR - 6'6" - 280 lbs - Grand Rapids, MI

Offensive Guard
Adam Kraus - SR - 6'6" - 297 lbs - New Orleans, LA
Alex Mitchell - JR - 6'5" - 317 lbs - Reese, MI
Jeremy Ciulla - JR - 6'4" - 292 lbs - Kennesaw, GA
Tim McAvoy - SO - 6'5" - 290 lbs - Bloomington, IL
Justin Schifano - SO - 6'4" - 300 lbs - Webster, NY
Justin Boren - SO - 6'3" - 314 lbs - Pickerington, OH

Grant DeBenedictis - JR - 6'5" - 286 lbs - Boca Raton, FL
David Moosman - SO - 6'4" - 298 lbs - Libertyville, IL
Dave Molk - FR - 6'2" - 280 lbs - Lemont, IL

2007 Season Analysis: The 2007 offensive line is filled with both certainties and questions. The left side of the line, anchored by Jake Long and Adam Kraus, will likely stay the same, and brutalize big ten defenses again, but the right side and middle are huge question marks. Right now the battle for center appears to be between Moosman and Boren, while either Boren or Mitchell will take the right guard spot, unless Mitchell plays RT.... you know, I think I'll just try to explain it with a, chartish thingee....the way I see it, the only spot on the line that's locked up is Jake Long at Left Tackle, so here's how it might play out...
LT: Long - No ifs ands or buts, barring injury, Long's the one
LG: Kraus/Boren - Kraus most likely, but if Kraus is forced to center, then Boren will probably take the spot
C: Boren/Kraus/Moosman - Winner of Boren and Moosman, unless they both prove incapable, in which case Kraus will be moved over
RG: Mitchell/Boren/Schifano - Mitchell is frontrunner, if he is forced to RT, then Boren takes over, but if Mitchell's at RT and Boren's at C, the job likely goes to Schifano
RT: Ortmann/Zirbel/Schilling/Mitchell - Three way battle, but if none of them are up to it, Mitchell could pull a Reuben Riley and move out
Long Story short, most likely lineup is Long - Kraus - Boren - Mitchell - Ortmann/Schilling in my mind.

2008 Needs: O-Line is Michigan's most crucial need in the 2008 recruiting class. I think the staff will try to get anywhere from 5-7 players at the position this year. Likely 2-3 tackles and 2-3 guards, maybe 1 center. Hopefully at least 2 of the tackles are supers. The top few targets appear to b Texas' J.B. Shugarts and MI's own Dann O'Neill.

The O-Line Recruits

Dave Molk - 6'2" - 280 lbs - 5.00 - Lemont, IL

Analysis: Dave Molk is slighty short, Dave Molk is big, Dave Molk is smart, Dave Molk is nasty, Dave Molk hates Notre Dame. All of these ingredients add up to make one tough football player who'll fit well at Michigan. Molk is that rarest of offensive line prospects, a true center. While he's a little vertically challenged, he's a tough kid who has a knack for picking up schemes. The coaches at the East-West All-Star game had nothing but praise for him, despite the fact that he was playing center for the first time. Molk will likely redshirt his freshman year, as do almost all Michigan linemen, but I expect him to be starting at center sooner rather than later.

Mark Huyge - 6'6" - 280 lbs - N/A - Grand Rapids, MI

Analysis: Huyge is the latest in a long line of project linemen. He follows in the footsteps of players like Tim McAvoy, Mark Ortmann, and Perry Dorrestein. In all likelyhood little will be heard from Huyge for about 2-3 years. While his tapes don't show a dominating blocker, he displays good footwork and a quick burst off the line. Whether these raw materials can be trained up into a good lineman remain to be seen, but I'd say withhold judgement on Huyge for a couple years, then see what he's made of.

Wide Receiver - Tight End Roster Analysis

Wide Reciever
Mario Manningham - JR - 6'0" - 182 lbs - Warren, OH
Adrian Arrington - JR - 6'3" - 190 lbs - Cedar Rapids, IA
Doug Dutch - JR - 5'11" - 201 lbs - Bowie, MD
Lateryal Savoy - SO - 6'2" - 205 lbs - Mamou, LA
Greg Matthews - SO - 6'3" - 195 lbs - Orlando, FL
Antonio Bass - SO - 6'0" - 197 lbs - Jackson, MI
Junior Hemingway - FR - 6'3" - 205 lbs - Conway, SC
Toney Clemons - FR - 6'2" - 205 lbs - New Kensington, PA
Zion Babb - FR - 6'0" - 197 lbs - Alhambra, CA

2007 Season Prospectus: This unit is incredibly deep and talented this year. Last year Mario Manningham established himself as the clear #1 receiver, and Adrian Arrington stated his claim to the #2 spot. The battle for the #3 spot vacated by Steve Breaston will be an interesting one, and I think Matthews will win out over Savoy and Hemingway. Rumors of Dutch and/or Savoy making the switch to DB have circulated, and I wouldn't be surprised if one of them did. I'm fairly sure that one or two of the freshman will play, and while I think it will be Hemingway, Clemons is equally possible, and even Babb has a decent shot at some time. Bass is the x-factor, if he's recovered from his catastrophic knee injury, he'll be a dangerous weapon in the arsenal, but that's looking extremely unlikely at the moment, and it's more likely he won't be back until 2008, if at all.

2008 Needs: How many receivers we go after depends heavily on several things. 1) Is Bass' career done? 2) How many, if any, of the above mentioned receivers end up making the switch to DB, and 3) Do Mario and Arrington leave early for the NFL? Right now the plan is to take 1-2 receivers, with hopefully at least one being a super. Likely prospects include Pa's Jonathan Baldwin (also a possible TE prospect), TX's Daryl Stonum (same high school as Troy Woolfolk and Brandon Herron), IN's John Goodman, and Detroit's Fred Smith.

Tight End
Mike Massey - JR - 6'4" - 234 - Brecksville, OH
Carson Butler - SO - 6'4" - 247 lbs - Detroit, MI
Chris McClaurin - SO - 6'3" - 234 lbs - Farmington Hills, MI
Steve Watson - FR - 6'4" - 235 lbs - Denver, CO
Martell Webb - FR - 6'5" 225 lbs - Pontiac, MI

2007 Season Prospectus: With the injury to Tyler Ecker last season, Mike Massey spent most of the season as the #1 tight end, but with an injury to him, Carson Butler also got his fair share of time. These two give Michigan great depth and experience at TE this year. McClaurin will likely get some snaps, but if he doesn't impress in the spring and fall he could be passed up by one of the freshmen. I think one of the freshmen could see some time, my money's on Watson, because Webb needs some time to adapt to blocking and put on size.

2008 Needs: Tight End is one position where we can afford to skimp this year. I think the staff will go for Jonathan Baldwin as a receiver, and if they land him he might end up at tight end, but other than that, unless a big-time TE shows interest, maybe Kyle Rudolph from Ohio, we'll probably pass this year.

The TE's Webb and Watson

Martell Webb - 6'5" - 225 lbs - 4.63 - Pontiac, MI

Analysis: Martell Webb is the latest in the new wave of Michigan tight ends. Over the last few years the staff has seemed to every year pick up a "big athlete" who's tall, has doubts about what position he'll end up at, and is extremely raw. These people all seem to end up at tight end. Webb is the latest of these, following in the footsteps of Tim Massaquoi, Carson Butler, and Quintin Woods. Webb is big, has good hands, and is far faster than anyone of his size has any right to be. There is still some uncertainty about where he'll end up in the end, as he is adamant about getting a shot at wide receiver, but it seems inevitable that he'll grow out of that position. Coach Carr and the staff seem to have a policy of letting players try their position of choice for a year or so, and then if it doesn't work out, the staff asks them to move. You see a lot of WR to TE, LB to DE, and SS to LB. Whether Webb plays WR or TE at first, I feel he will redshirt either way, as neither position has a particularly favorable depth chart. He'll take a year, bulk up a bit, work on his blocking, and then work his way into the tight end rotation.

Steve Watson - 6'4" - 235 lbs - 4.70 - Denver, CO
Analysis: Steve Watson is prety much the exact opposite of Webb. He fits the mold of the traditional Michigan tight end. Big, smart, a good blocker, reliable, but not an athletic freak. He definately will fill the role of guys like Tyler Ecker and Mike Massey. The son of former NFL receiver and current Denver Broncos WR coach Steve Watson Sr., Watson is, like many coaches sons, a smart kid who's well trained and has great football smarts. He doesn't seem like he'll ever be an explosive playmaker, but he's a tenacious blocker with good hands, and will be a reliable red zone target. On e of the things that impressed me most about Steve Watson, was that he proved that he was a man of integrity late in his recriting process. After committing to Michigan fairly early on, in July, he never swayed in his certainty until January, when Tim Brewster was hired to coach at Minnesota. Brewster and Watson's father coached together in the NFL, and Brewster's son Clint is Steve's high school QB and best friend. When Clint and another high school teamate committed to Minnesota, Steve agreed to take a visit there. This scared many avid followers of Michigan recruiting, seeing as we'd just been burned by Jerimy Finch, who decided to go play with his high school friends at Indiana (And we all see how that worked out). But unlike Finch, Watson deliberately decided to make his visit separate from his friends, saying "I didn't want them to be the reason I made my decision.". After his visit, Watson decided to stick with his word, and that Michigan was the right place for him. Watson seems like a class individual, and regardless of how his on-field career turns out, I think in 4-5 years we'll all be proud that such a quality young man donned the Maize and Blue. I think that Watson might stand a better chance of seeing the field early than Webb, as he is the much more polished tight end prospect, but I wouldn't be surprised to see him redshirt as well, seeing as we have solid depth there.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Zion Babb

Zion Babb - 6'0" - 177 lbs - 4.67 - Alhambra, CA
Analysis: Zion Babb is a bit of an enigma, when he first committed, most assumed he'd be brought in as a defensive back, and James Rogers as a receiver, but now it seems the roles have been reversed and Rogers will be a cornerback while Babb seems poised to make his contribution with the ball in his hands. Babb's videos show an extremely explosive player with speed to spare, and great field vision. He repeatedly bursts through the hole and out races the secondary, in one case hurdling a player on his way to the endzone. As well as recieving, Babb has some impressive clips returning kicks. While Zion had some academic trouble during his senior year, everything appears to be resolved. I think Babb will likely redshirt, but once he puts on some more muscle and learns the offense I see him filling the slot receiver role very well, he'd be great as a kick returner and on underneath routes.

Toney Clemons

Toney Clemons - 6'2" - 205 lbs - 4.50 - New Kensington, PA

Analysis: Toney Clemons is a great addition to this recruiting class. A big kid with great hands, he's got the potential to be a go-to guy in the Michigan offense. Compared by's Mike Farrell to Mario Manningham, he's a more raw prospect than Hemingway, but he may have a higher upside. A big guy at 6'2" with a 34" vertical leap and great body control in the air, Clemons has the ability to bring a jump ball element that the Michigan offense hasn't seen since Braylon Edwards graduated in 2004. He's got a long loping stride which is really confusing on video, because it looks like he's moving really slow, until you realize he's blowing past linebackers and DB's. The cousin of both Steve Breaston and 2008 recruit Terrelle Pryor, Clemons has great bloodlines, and while his style is nothing like Steve's, hopefully he'll follow in his footsteps as a great Michigan player.