photo AnnArborGIFHeader_zps02670880.gif

Posts Tagged ‘Csont’e York’

The Michigan Medley says goodbye

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014


The past few days have held plenty of news, so it’s time to bring back our weekly news roundup feature, The Michigan Medley. This feature discusses the top news items from the past week, what they mean for Michigan, and my take on them. Today’s theme is saying goodbye, although for different reasons.

York dismissed

Csont'e York

(Daniel Mears, Detroit News)

On Monday afternoon, Michigan released a statement from Brady Hoke that sophomore wide receiver Csont’e York had been dismissed from the team as a result of an incident that occurred outside Scorekeepers Bar and Grille on July 18.

“Csont’e York has been dismissed from the Michigan football program,” Hoke said in the statement. “Representing the University of Michigan is a privilege and, while second chances are certainly deserved, sometimes it’s better for everyone if that happens somewhere else. Overall, I have been proud of how responsible our team has been this offseason and how hard they’ve worked to prepare for the season.”

On Aug. 3, Hoke suspended York indefinitely while he let the legal system play out, but last week Ann Arbor police released a grainy video of the incident showing York sizing up a victim and punching him in the side of the face. The victim didn’t appear to see it coming and collapsed immediately, ultimately resulting in a broken jaw and lost tooth. Once the video was released, it was only a matter of time before York was dismissed, even as he awaits arraignment on Sept. 8.

York was with teammate Da’Mario Jones that night and admitted to the cheap shot, but said he did it out of nervousness because the victim was threatening he and Jones. York and Jones fled the scene immediately afterward. Jones was not charged and remains on the team.

York is the second player to be dismissed from the team under Hoke and the second Hoke recruit to leave the team. Hoke dismissed Darryl Stonum, a Lloyd Carr recruit, in 2012 following a third alcohol-related driving offense. The only other Hoke recruit to leave the program was linebacker Kaleb Ringer, who voluntarily transferred to Ferris State after a knee injury kept him out for the 2012 season.

York played in just one game at receiver as a freshman in 2013 and did not record a catch.

My take: Once the video was released, Hoke absolutely made the right call to dismiss York, but I hope the Harper Woods, Mich. native can learn from his mistake, grow as a person, and lead a successful and productive life. Whether another school chooses to give him a second chance — and whether he makes the most of it — depends on how he grows and learns from his mistakes. Some, like Frank Clark, do make the most of their second chance, but some, like Stonum, don’t.

From a pure football standpoint, this isn’t a huge loss. Jones and Jaron Dukes were also receivers in the same class as York, while a trio of current freshmen — Freddy Canteen, Drake Harris, and Mo Ways — carry high expectations, so Michigan has plenty of young talent at receiver.

Miller hurt

Miller hurt

On Monday evening Columbus Dispatch reporter Tim May tweeted a report that Ohio State quarterback and Heisman Trophy candidate Braxton Miller had re-injured his shoulder in afternoon practice. ESPN’s Austin Ward confirmed the news and Buckeye blog Eleven Warriors reported that Miller left the practice facility with his arm in a sling.

Miller originally hurt his throwing shoulder in Ohio State’s loss to Clemson in the Orange Bowl and had surgery to repair it in February. He had been held out of spring practice and was limited to begin fall camp. Miller reportedly reinjured the shoulder while throwing a routine pass during Monday’s practice and laid on the turf being tended to by trainers for several minutes. The senior will undergo an MRI on Tuesday morning to determine the severity of the injury, but judging by the lack of optimism coming out of Columbus, it doesn’t sound good. The school has yet to comment, but did cancel its media availability with coaches and players Tuesday morning.

If the injury does keep Miller out for the season, the Buckeyes will turn to J.T. Barrett, who has yet to throw a collegiate pass. The redshirt freshman from Wichita Falls, Texas completed 17-of-33 passes for 155 yards and a touchdown in the spring game. Barrett was a four-star recruit, rated as the third-best dual threat quarterback in last year’s class by 247 Sports. But he hasn’t played a down of competitive football in two years. He missed his senior year of high school due to a torn ACL.

Miller was the Big Ten Quarterback of the Year and Offensive Player of the Year each of the past two seasons. He also won the Chicago Tribune’s Silver Football trophy, given annually to the conference’s most valuable player. The news of his injury already sent shockwaves through the betting industry. Bovada downgraded Ohio State’s national title odds from 10-1 to 18-1, while 5Dimes dropped the Buckeyes’ odds to win the Big Ten to 3-1, behind Michigan State and Wisconsin.

Given Ohio State’s schedule, the injury shouldn’t have much of an effect early on. The Buckeyes open the season with Navy, and while the spread for that game has dropped since the news, it is still at 16.5. Virginia Tech, Kent State, and Cincinnati are the other non-conference foes and Ohio State opens the conference slate with Maryland and Rutgers with both bye weeks sprinkled in that six-game stretch. We likely won’t know how much Miller’s loss will affect the Buckeyes until they travel to State College on Oct. 25.

My take: I hate to see anyone get injured, especially a player with such a talent as Miller. It doesn’t matter if he plays for Michigan’s top rival or not, this is sad news, and any Michigan fan celebrating the injury should reexamine his or her priorities. The injury won’t change The Game much anyway. Barrett surely won’t be as explosive as Miller, but he’ll have 11 games under his belt by the time Michigan comes to town. If Michigan’s defense is as good as many hope this season, it will present quite the challenge for Barrett playing in his first Ohio State-Michigan game. But I’d rather both teams be at full speed. Here’s to hoping Miller can recover and continue his playing career, either at Ohio State next season or at the next level.

Countdown to kickoff: 81 days

Tuesday, June 10th, 2014


Countdown to kickoff-81(Melanie Maxwell, AnnArbor.com)

Burning questions as Michigan football opens spring practice

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014


Morris-Gardner(Detroit News)

It has been just 59 days since Michigan’s season wrapped up with an underwhelming loss to Kansas State in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl. The 2014 season seems eons away as basketball season is about to head into conference tournaments and then the Big Dance. But while it may be hard to turn our attention back to football, Brady Hoke’s squad is set to return to the gridiron today to kick off spring practice.

Last season was as disappointing as any in recent memory because no one expected it to go the way it did. Most preseason expectations ranged from 9-4 to 11-2, and after the Wolverines topped Notre Dame in Under the Lights II, there was even some talk of national championship possibilities. Of course, Michigan followed up the high of that game with a thud against Akron, needing a last-second goal line stand to hold off what may have been a bigger upset than when Appalachian State stunned the Wolverines in 2007. And the season unraveled from there.

Now, needing to get the bad taste of 2013 out of its system, Michigan has a 2014 season opener to look forward to against, well, Appalachian State. But before we get there, let’s take a look at the biggest questions the Wolverines face heading into spring ball.

How much will Gardner be able to do this spring with a new offensive system to learn? (MGoBlue.com)

How much will Gardner be able to do this spring with a new offensive system to learn? (MGoBlue.com)

How healthy is Devin Gardner?

Brady Hoke turned some heads earlier this month when he seemed to imply that the starting quarterback role was up for grabs this fall.

“I think (the starting quarterback for next season) is an unknown,” Hoke said. “We were 7-6 (last season). And we’ve got a lot of young guys (on the team). We’ve got a lot of competition.”

In a technical sense it’s true. Gardner finished the 2013 season in a walking boot and couldn’t even play in the bowl game. Until he’s fully healthy he can’t be 100 percent presumed the starter. What if the injury is even worse than thought? What if it continues to linger throughout the offseason?

But assuming Gardner is able to fully heal there’s no question he’s the starter on Aug. 30. The main question is how much will he be able to do in spring ball?

New offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier will be the third Gardner has had in his career, and although he didn’t start under Calvin McGee, it will still be the third offensive system he has had to learn. Nussmeier has done wonders for the quarterbacks he has coached during his quick rise up the ranks, from Jeff Smoker to Drew Stanton to Tom Brandstater to Jake Locker to Keith Price to A.J. McCarron.

Sophomore-to-be Shane Morris is likely to benefit the most from Nussmeier’s quarterback expertise since he has three more years to work with him, but Gardner could very well take a significant leap in 2014 given his talent and experience. In 2003, Nussmeier helped Michigan State quarterback Jeff Smoker set a school record 3,395 passing yards after struggling as a junior. He then helped Drew Stanton improve from 1,601 yards in his first season to 3,077 the next year. Most recently, he helped Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron improve on a near flawless 2012 season.

It will be important for Gardner to participate in spring drills to continue the work that he has built upon the past four years, but most importantly to work with Nussmeier and learn his offense. Gardner can still do that if not at full speed, but it’s obviously better to learn at full speed than not.

Who will catch passes?

Jeremy Gallon graduated and took 42.6 percent of last season’s receiving yards with him. Add the production lost from fellow seniors Drew Dileo, Jeremy Jackson, Joe Reynolds, and Fitzgearld Toussaint — who finished as the team’s fourth-leading pass catcher — and Michigan has just 41.3 percent of its production returning.

Jehu Chesson is Michigan's leading returning true receiver with just 15 receptions (MGoBlue.com)

Jehu Chesson is Michigan’s leading returning true receiver with just 15 receptions (MGoBlue.com)

To make matters worse, tight end Jake Butt tore his ACL in offseason workouts, and while he’s likely to return at some point during the season, he may not be 100 percent. Devin Funchess was almost certain to make the official move to the outside prior to Butt’s injury, but with no other established pass catching tight end, Michigan may not be afforded to move him permanently.

The leading returning true receiver is Jehu Chesson, who caught just 15 passes for 221 yards and a touchdown. No other true wide receiver that caught a pass returns. The x-factor will be Chesson’s classmate, Amara Darboh, who was in line to start last season before a foot injury in fall camp sidelined him for the season. At 6’2″ and 212 pounds, Darboh has the size to be a formidable outside receiver, but will his foot be healthy enough to fully participate in spring ball? He impressed last spring and fall before sustaining the injury. Can he regain that form?

The unknowns are the cadre of true and redshirt freshmen that have been brought in in the past two recruiting classes. Jaron Dukes, Csont’e York, and Da’Mario Jones all redshirted in 2013 and Freddy Canteen, Drake Harris, and Maurice Ways are incoming. Of the latter group, Canteen and Harris enrolled early and will have a chance to show what they can do while getting their feet wet this spring.

All five have good height but will need to add some bulk to their thin frames, Canteen (6’3″, 170) and Harris (6’4″, 180) especially. Chesson played last season at 6’3″, 196 and seemed thin at times. York was listed at 6’3″, 180 last season, while Jones was 6’2″, 192 and Dukes 6’4″, 190, but by the time the spring roster is released, they will have surely added some muscle with a full season under their belts.

There is plenty of young talent and great size to go around, but who steps up and garners that hype that Darboh did a year ago before his injury will be one of the biggest aspects to watch this spring.

How will the line shape up?

The biggest disappointment in 2013 was undoubtedly the poor performance of the offensive line. While senior left tackle Taylor Lewan earned the Rimington-Pace Offensive Lineman of the Year award for the second straight year and right tackle Michael Schofield was solid, the interior was a sieve all season. Several different combinations were used throughout the season and the coaching staff even went as far as to try odd tackle over formations to utilize Lewan’s strengths in order to hide other weaknesses, but nothing seemed to make the offense any more efficient.

With the bookends gone to graduation and a new offensive coordinator the development of the line will be interesting to watch. Much was said throughout last season about Brady Hoke’s supposed inability to develop offensive line talent, but let’s not forget that his first full class was redshirt freshmen in 2013. Most linemen, even the most highly rated ones, don’t gain starting roles on the line until two or three years into their careers at minimum.

Graham Glasgow and Erik Magnuson struggled in 2013 but gained experience that will help them in 2014 (MGoBlue.com)

Graham Glasgow and Erik Magnuson struggled in 2013 but gained experience that will help them in 2014 (MGoBlue.com)

Highly-ranked offensive line hauls are great, but we shouldn’t have begun to sniff the payoffs until this upcoming season at the earliest. In a normal situation without the attrition from previous classes decimating the line depth, Kyle Kalis, Erik Magnuson, Blake Bars, and Ben Braden would have simply played reserve roles in 2013, heading into the spring of their redshirt sophomore season looking to work their way into the starting lineup. Instead, Kalis and Magnuson, along with true freshman Kyle Bosch, were forced into action before they were clearly ready and it showed. While that hurt the offense in 2013 it should pay dividends in 2014 as they can build upon the experience they gained.

One thing that is for certain is that, aside from injuries, everybody will get a chance to compete throughout spring practice for a major role this fall. Magnuson and Chris Bryant — both of whom started games last season — will be held out due to injury, but aside from that, who emerges as the starters is anyone’s guess.

Hoke hinted that they would start the spring with Logan Tuley-Tillman, David Dawson, Graham Glasgow, Kyle Kalis, and Ben Braden as the starting five from left to right, and the competition would go from there.

“We’ll obviously start with a five, but all that is going to be competitive, and with a young team, to some degree, even though they played a little bit, you’ve got to have it competitive,” Hoke said.

New offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier won’t bring huge changes, but he will simplify the schemes the line uses in the running game. Last year, Hoke and then-offensive coordinator Al Borges tried just about everything they could think of to find something that worked. This year, Nussmeier will start with a basic inside zone and build from there. Whichever five emerge from the April 5 spring game as the starters will carry confidence and cohesiveness into fall camp.

How will the defensive coaching shakeups impact the defense?

Nussmeier replacing Borges was the only coaching staff change this offseason, but last week Hoke announced that the roles of several defensive coaches would be shaken up in an effort to create a more aggressive defense and streamline the staff. Most notably, Hoke won’t be coaching any specific position groups himself. He spent the past three seasons coaching the defensive line. Stepping back will allow him to take a larger role and perhaps devote more time to areas that may have been overlooked in the past.

Greg Mattison switches from coaching the defensive line to linebackers this season (MGoBlue.com)

Greg Mattison switches from coaching the defensive line to linebackers this season (MGoBlue.com)

Mark Smith, who has coached the linebackers the past few seasons, will take over the defensive line, while defensive coordinator Greg Mattison moves to the linebackers. Mattison coached the Baltimore Ravens linebackers — and good ones like Ray Lewis — and said on National Signing Day that he has been looking for bigger linebackers. Smith, meanwhile, spent 15 of his 32 years as a defensive line coach, but hasn’t specifically coached the position since 2002 at Indiana State.

Curt Mallory will be taking on more of a specialized role with just the safeties after coaching the entire secondary the past three seasons, while Roy Manning will take over the defensive backs. Manning was hired prior to last season to coach the outside linebackers.

“Everyone on the staff and the kids are really excited about these changes,” Hoke said. “Greg and I met and felt this was the best for everyone, including him and his ability to coach a position group and run a defense from the middle. When you look at Mark’s experience on the defensive line, then being able to split the secondary, where you have five positions and 20-plus guys, and with the way offense and passing has changed in college football, I think it balances our staff on that side of the ball.”

Michigan’s defense has gone downhill in each of the three seasons under the current staff. In year one, Hoke and Mattison transformed what was a sieve under Rich Rodriguez into the nation’s 17th-best total defense and sixth-best scoring defense. But those numbers have fallen the past two seasons from 13th and 19th in 2012 to 41st and 66th last season. While the offense had its share of well-publicized struggles, the defense was virtually unable to stop anyone over the second half of the season.

The coaching staff shakeup sounds like a sign of desperation at first glance, a coach trying one last ditch set of moves in order to save his job. That may be partially true, but it’s certainly worth a shot. Moving Mattison to coach the middle of the defense makes a lot of sense as that’s where he coached in Baltimore and the linebackers run the defense. Hoke stepping back from coaching a position group also seems like the right move, and Smith taking over a group with which he has considerable — if not recent — experience could invigorate the line. Finally, splitting the secondary among two coaches also make sense since there are so many bodies among the cornerbacks and safeties.

In a perfect world, the moves will create excitement among the players — at the very least shake up any complacency or entitlement that may exist. Even though Nussmeier is the only new addition to the staff, the whole defense will be playing for a new position coach and thus fighting even harder to make a statement and earn playing time. Should it have gotten to that point? No. But it can only be a good thing throughout the spring.

Predicting Michigan: The wide receivers

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013


Over the past couple of weeks we have started a series in which we break down each position on the roster and predict the production from the key players. First the quarterbacks, then the offensive line, and then the running backs. Today, we take a look at the wide receiver position.

Looking Forward: A New System

Michigan’s offense is in the process of converting back to a more traditional pro-style brand of football. As we all know, the departure of Denard Robinson, one of the most unique players to ever hit the college stage, turned the offense into something that didn’t really fit into any of the specific offensive categories that coaches teach today. The big play ability and readiness to scramble made for an exciting, yet inconsistent offensive show every week.

As far as the wide receivers were concerned, they played out of their element with Denard at quarterback. Rich Rodriguez recruited small, fast receivers to run his spread offense, but when Robinson took the field, he often preferred to throw jump balls down the field. While this strategy worked out for players like Junior Hemingway, it is unrealistic to expect receivers like the 5’8″ Jeremy Gallon to win jump ball battles routinely.

That’s where Devin Gardner comes in. At the end of last season, Gallon and Drew Dileo looked more comfortable in the offense and became major contributors with a more capable passer behind the center. Michigan receivers have been pretty solid the last few seasons, despite the lack of big names that fans have grown used to like Mario Manningham, Braylon Edwards and Jason Avant.

Seniors Jeremy Gallon and Drew Dileo provide a solid foundation for the receiving corps

Roy Roundtree had a very up-and-down career, but in the end it was defined by big moments, in which he always seemed to shine. Fans will remember his catch in the first-ever Big House night game against Notre Dame in 2011 and the late jump ball against Northwestern that saved the day in 2012. Roundtree has graduated, however, and left a very young group of receivers to take his place.

Seniors: Familiar Names

Michigan has three seniors that figure to see significant playing time at wide receiver this season. Two names that all fans are familiar with are Dileo and Gallon. Dileo has turned into the do-it-all man for Coach Brady Hoke, holding for kicks, playing special teams and contributing as a slot receiver on offense. Dileo has steady hands and has shown the ability to get open by running his routes effectively. While there is no denying his size has made people second-guess him, he has found his role on the Michigan team and Hoke seems to trust him, even in big moments.

Gallon will likely be the most-targeted receiver on the team this season, if the end of 2012 is any indication. Gardner and Gallon had instant success together after the converted receiver took over the starting quarterback job. Gallon is difficult to defend because of the multiple ways he can hurt a defense. Michigan can send the speedy wide out deep, because he has the talent to outrun defenders and break a big gain, but he can also catch the ball on a screen and make defenders miss in the open field. The terrific touch on Gardner’s passes also makes Gallon a potential threat in the middle of the field. There is no denying Gallon was recruited to run in the spread offense, but the way he has adapted to the changes and become one of the top playmakers in the Big Ten is exciting for the Wolverines.

Senior Jeremy Jackson also saw playing time at receiver in 2012, playing in all 13 games but only catching four passes. Jackson is unlike his fellow seniors, listed at 6’3″. The Ann Arbor native has played in 36 games in his Michigan career, and is looking to make his first real impact during his final season. With a passing game that will probably be more efficient than it has been since Jackson arrived on campus, his numbers will get better, but he will still be a lesser option behind guys like Gallon.

The final senior, Joe Reynolds, had just three catches and played in 11 games last season. Reynolds is listed at 6’1″, and will likely play the reserve role again this season with the other seniors and young talented recruits taking up the majority of the playing time.

Projected Stats – Gallon
Receptions Yards YPC Long TD YPG
65 1,200 18.5 8 100.0
Career Stats
2012 49 829 16.9 71 4 63.8
2011 31 453 14.6 64 3 34.8
2010 4 49 12.3 20 1 4.1
Totals 84 1,331 15.8 71 8 35.0
Projected Stats – Dileo
Receptions Yards YPC Long TD YPG
35 500 14.3 4 41.6
Career Stats
2012 20 331 16.6 66 2 25.5
2011 9 121 13.4 28 2 9.3
2010 1 3 3.0 3 0 0.5
Projected Stats – Jackson
Receptions Yards YPC Long TD YPG
12 130 10.8 1 10.8
Career Stats
2012 4 31 7.8 9 0 2.4
2011 3 36 12.0 19 0 2.8
2010 4 55 13.8 22 0 5.5
Totals 11 122 11.1 22 0 3.4

Other Returners: The Unknowns

Amara Darboh is one half of the second-year receiving duo looking to make a mark

Michigan returns five other receivers that were on the roster last season along with the four 2013 seniors. Walk-on Bo Dever, redshirt sophomore Jonathan Keizer and redshirt freshman Brad Anlauf have not seen time at wide receiver for Michigan and will likely be featured mainly on special teams in 2013 due to the many other options at the disposal of Al Borges. Keizer and Anlauf are both tall wide receivers, so they may get a chance to play if they show some playmaking ability during preseason practice.

Jehu Chesson, a 2012 recruit who took a redshirt last season, has a chance to see playing time in a significant role this year. Chesson is 6’3″ and was ranked as a three-star during recruiting. His big body makes him dangerous over the middle, where he can go up and get the ball because he is lanky and athletic. Something that sets this youngster apart is his straight-line speed. He has impressed his teammates in practice with his ability to get down the field quickly and really open things up for the offense by stretching the field. Coaches have gotten more out of this receiver than they expected in practice so far, so he could be an important player in the battle for third receiver in late August.

The player that has really created some buzz out of this young group is sophomore Amara Darboh. Darboh came into Michigan as a four-star recruit, but saw very little time in 2012 and didn’t record a catch. He had his coming-out party during the spring game this offseason. Fans at the game didn’t have to wait long for some excitement, as Gardner launched a 30-yard completion down the sideline to the big receiver on the very first play. The 6’2″ Iowa native has apparently become a favorite of Al Borges with his ability to pull in every ball and use his big body to get open. Darboh has really showed few flaws in his game so far, making catches deep down the field and having no trouble getting open early by shaking defenders off the line. The sophomore seems to be a perfect complement to deep threat Jeremy Gallon on the offense, and has a great chance to win a starting job because of that. Look for Darboh to come out of the shadows and have a nice year, with Gardner taking advantage of his versatility.

Projected Stats – Darboh
Receptions Yards YPC TD YPG
20 400 20.0 4 33.3
Projected Stats – Chesson
Receptions Yards YPC TD YPG
10 90 9.0 3 7.5

Recruits: A Steady Group

Michigan’s recruiting class was full of big names and nationally-renowned players, but the wide receivers that joined the Maize and Blue were under the radar. Though the players are good additions to the roster, they will have to prove themselves to see the field on offense this season. Jaron Dukes is a big receiver and at 6’4″ has been labeled mostly as a red zone specialist. He can go up and get a jump ball in the corner and is more than willing to block, which is his specialty at this point in his career.

Csont’e York and Da’Mario Jones both join the Wolverines as 6’2″ three-star recruits. They fit the mold of the direction of the new offense, as steady receivers that catch the balls that are thrown to them. If they see the field this year, it will be because Gardner can drop the ball into their hands and the coaching staff knows they will be strong with it. Both may need work on their route-running skills, but expect the strong coaching staff to turn these receivers into contributors in the future. For 2013, however, the three freshman will likely see most of their playing time on special teams, if any.

Wrapping Up

Besides Gallon, Michigan’s receiving core is largely unproven coming into 2013. A fan base that is used to having several dominant receivers on the field at a time may have to be patient with this group. While it doesn’t figure to be one of the strengths of the team, the seniors should be dependable and Darboh could be a break-out candidate. If he is able to contribute at the level Borges seems to expect from him, the field will become much longer for Gardner and the speedy senior receivers will reap the benefits underneath.

The shift from the spread offense has given the offense an advantage of versatility at wide receiver. Michigan has a unique mix of speed and size targets for Gardner, and if Borges is able to use them to complement each other, an unheralded group of receivers could quickly become very dangerous in the Big Ten.

National Signing Day: visualizing Michigan’s 2013 recruiting class

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013



Stay tuned in the coming days as we profile each of the 27 members of Michigan’s 2013 class.