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Posts Tagged ‘Mario Ojemudia’

Escape from East Hartford: Michigan 24 – UConn 21

Sunday, September 22nd, 2013


(MGoBlue.com)

With the game hanging in the balance and the offense struggling to find any rhythm, Michigan needed someone, anyone to make a play. Momentum was fully in UConn’s favor and the frenzied, record-setting Rentschler Field crowd could sense a monumental upset in the making.

It was deja vu for a Michigan squad that had staved off the unthinkable against a similar opponent a week ago. Now it needed a game changing play to do it once more.

UConn stood 1st-and-15 at its own 32 with the lead and the ball, having just stopped Michigan on 4th-and-2. Quarterback Chandler Whitmer fired a pass across the middle, but linebacker Desmond Morgan leapt up and snagged it with one hand. He raced 29 yards to the Husky 12-yard line and on the very next play, Fitzgerald Toussaint carried it in to tie the game at 21.

It was a play reminiscent of Charles Woodson’s grab against Michigan State in 1997 and Morgan may as well have reached in and stolen the hearts right out of the Husky faithful – and those from Columbus and East Lansing as well. While Michigan still needed another score and another defensive stop or two, Morgan’s play singlehandedly changed the momentum of the game.

Final Stats
Michigan UConn
Score 24 21
Record 4-0 0-3
Total Yards 289 206
Net Rushing Yards 192 47
Net Passing Yards 97 159
First Downs 19 12
Turnovers 4 1
Penalties-Yards 5-45 6-70
Punts-Yards 5-212 8-305
Time of Possession 35:47 24:13
Third Down Conversions 7-of-17 1-of-11
Fourth Down Conversions 0-of-1 0-of-1
Sacks By-Yards 4-31 3-24
Field Goals 1-for-1 0-for-1
PATs 3-for-3 3-for-3
Red Zone Scores-Chances 3-of-3 2-of-2
Full Box Score

Following Toussaint’s touchdown, Michigan forced a three-and-out and Drew Dileo returned the punt the Husky 25-yards line. A 15-yard penalty on Jourdan Lewis brought the ball back to the 40, but Michigan was able to eat up half of the remaining time on the clock and add a 21-yard Brendan Gibbons field goal to take a 24-21 lead.

UConn took over with 4:36 remaining and got into Michigan territory before the offensive ineptitude bug struck them. On 3rd-and-12, a false start pushed the Huskies back five yards and on the ensuing play Frank Clark sacked Whitmer for a loss of 12. The last ditch effort to convert on 4th-and-29 fell three yards short and Michigan ran out the clock.

The game started out the way the previous three did, with Michigan’s defense forcing a punt on UConn’s first possession of the game. But unlike the previous three, Michigan wasn’t able to the first time it had the ball. Instead, a promising drive ended with an interception off a tipped pass.

After a UConn three-and-out, Michigan’s offense put together what would be its best drive of the night, going 69 yards in 11 plays. Devin Gardner ran it in from 17 yards out to put Michigan ahead 7-0.

UConn got on the board midway through the second quarter with an eight play, 56-yard drive to tie the game. On the first play of Michigan’s next possession, Gardner was intercepted again, this time on a deep ball to Jehu Chesson. UConn was unable to capitalize, but the Husky punt hit the leg of freshman receiver Da’Mario Jones and the Huskies recovered on the Michigan 9-yard line. They punched it in to grab a 14-7 lead.

Michigan opened the second half with the ball, but on 3rd-and-1, Gardner had the ball knocked out of his hands as he tried to pick up the first down. A UConn defender scooped it up and raced 34 yards for a touchdown. Suddenly, Michigan found itself down by two touchdowns in the third quarter to a team it was favored to beat by 18 points.

Desmond Morgan got a kiss from Brady Hoke and a hug from Greg Mattison (MGoBlue.com)

On the first play of Michigan’s ensuing possession, Gardner scampered 39 yards to the UConn 25, but a holding penalty on Taylor Lewan brought it back and Michigan was unable to get anything going from there. The defense forced a Husky three-and-out and the offense finally struck once again. On 2nd-and-10 from the UConn 35, Gardner checked out of the shotgun and into the pistol, running an option to Toussaint who weaved through the Husky defense for a touchdown.

The win keeps Michigan unbeaten on the season, but concerns abound after a second straight scare at the hands of one of the worst teams in FBS. The defense, however, isn’t one of those questions. UConn gained just 206 total yards, gained just 12 first downs, averaged 1.9 yards per rush, and converted just 1-of-11 third downs. In reality, only seven points can be pinned on the defense since the second touchdown started on Michigan’s 9-yard line and the third was a UConn defensive score.

Frank Clark recorded a pair of sacks, his first of the season, while Raymon Taylor, Jibreel Black, Mario Ojemudia, and Chris Wormley each had half a sack. Blake Countess had a pair of tackles for loss.

Michigan’s offense gained 289 total yards, 192 of those on the ground. Toussaint had his best game of the season with 24 carries for 120 yards and two touchdowns. Gardner completed 11-of-23 passes for no touchdowns and two interceptions. He also rushed 19 times for a net of 64 yards, though when sacks are removed, he gained 106.

Michigan gets a bye week to heal up and work on the issues that have come about the past two weeks before returning home to face Minnesota on Oct. 5.

Stay tuned for more breakdown and analysis of Michigan’s escape from East Hartford in the days to come.

Predicting Michigan: The defensive line

Monday, August 19th, 2013


As we continue our position preview and prediction series, it’s time to move on to the defensive side of the ball. If you missed the offense, we looked at the quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, offensive line, and tight ends over the past couple of weeks.

Shouldering The Load: A Critical Group

Since Greg Mattison has taken over as Defensive Coordinator, his unit has turned into one of the top in the Big Ten. A demoralized defense that struggled under Rich Rodriguez was turned around immediately because of Mattison’s presence. This season, he will have to work with the young defensive players that have made up the strong recruiting classes the past few seasons. Leaders like Jordan Kovacs have graduated and it will be critical to establish new veteran leaders to help the rest of the defense mature.

Jibreel Black gives the line a proven vet to rotate in

Head Coach Brady Hoke coached the defensive line during his days under legendary Bo Schembechler, and he obviously still takes pride in that group of players as the head man. In 2013, the defensive line will be absolutely critical. Great defenses are those that can get pressure on opposing quarterbacks without blitzing linebackers or defensive backs. Michigan will need to get pressure from the pass rushers on the line to help a secondary that seems to have many questions at this point in the preseason.

Veterans: The Few

This season’s defensive line will be anchored by the few returning players that will likely play big minutes again this year. Frank Clark has had a nice camp and figures to play a bigger role on the line this season. He has played all over the field on defense during his time in Ann Arbor, but this year he will play predominantly at defensive end, where Hoke expects him to be an effective pass rusher and leader. Perhaps the most satisfying play of the entire 2012 season for the Wolverines was Clark’s hit on Braxton Miller when he came through untouched against the Buckeyes in Columbus. After that hit, it is unsurprising that Clark has been moved permanently to the defensive end position.

The interior line seemingly has more stability, as proven defensive tackles Quinton Washington and Jibreel Black return as candidates to start. Washington, a redshirt senior, was solid in 2012 recording 32 tackles but only one sack. He has been steady on defense since his move from offensive line midway in 2010 and will be crucial as one of the two seniors on the defensive line. Black, the other senior, was more of a big-play threat last season. Though he only had 20 total tackles, he recorded three sacks and five tackles for loss.

The only other upperclassman on the line is redshirt junior Richard Ash, who will be a role player at defensive tackle again this season. Players like Ash are crucial to having a strong line, because so many players contribute during the course of one game due to the number of substitutions in the trenches.

Career Stats – Clark
Games Played Solo Assisted Total Tackles Sacks TFL FF FR INT
25 19 16 35 2.0 9.5 1 1 1
Career Stats – Washington
Games Played Solo Assisted Total Tackles Sacks TFL FF FR INT
35 16 19 35 1.0 3.0 1 0 0
Career Stats – Black
Games Played Solo Assisted Total Tackles Sacks TFL FF FR INT
39 28 17 45 4.5 6.5 2 0 0
Career Stats – Ash
Games Played Solo Assisted Total Tackles Sacks TFL FF FR INT
9 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

Filling In: Talented Youth

While the rest of the defensive line is largely unproven coming into 2013, there is no doubt the talent is there. Two strong recruiting classes in a row have helped establish depth at an important defensive position for the Wolverines. Freshman Taco Charlton could be one of the most important players on the defense, because of his standout ability as a pass rusher. Most of the returning players on the defensive line were adequate run-stoppers last season, but there is definitely a hole in the pass-rushing department. Charlton was recruited to fill that gap, and will likely get a chance to rush the quarterback in some meaningful games this season. Hoke likes what the true freshman has shown midway through camp.

Big things are expected from Taco Charlton

Another exciting young player is sophomore Ondre Pipkins. Pipkins played in every game as a true freshman, so he could be considered a veteran on an otherwise inexperienced defensive unit. Though he didn’t start any games last year, Hoke and Mattison showed great trust in Pipkins by giving him meaningful minutes in every game of the season. This year, the sophomore has an opportunity to move up into a starting position at defensive tackle.

Tom Strobel did not see any playing time last year, as he was given a redshirt to mature. However, he was a highly-ranked recruit and could be right in the mix to play big minutes as well this season. The Ohio native has a big body and is strong in the run-blocking category which is a strength of this unit.

Fellow redshirt freshman Mario Ojemudia has caught Hoke’s attention during the offseason with his ability to jump snaps and get quick pressure on the quarterback. Ojemudia is a smaller defensive lineman, at 6’2″, but he uses that to his advantage as a quicker defender and can get around bigger offensive lineman because of that. He was given a redshirt to work on his size and strength, since that seems to be the one issue that could stop Ojemudia from being a star.

Henry Poggi and Chris Wormley were recruits that also created some buzz. Wormley is a big athlete who moves very well for a player of his size. In high school he showed incredible disengaging skills and was able to overpower his opponents the majority of the time. Poggi, who was recruited as a four-star out of Baltimore, Maryland, may be the victim of Michigan’s depth at defensive tackle and take a redshirt this season. Players like Washington, Black and Pipkins figure to receive most of the snaps at defensive tackle, so coaches may take the opportunity to let Poggi mature for a season.

Career Stats – Pipkins
Games Played Solo Assisted Total Tackles Sacks TFL FF FR INT
13 2 5 7 0 0.5 0 0 0
Career Stats – Ojemudia
Games Played Solo Assisted Total Tackles Sacks TFL FF FR INT
9 8 3 11 1.0 2.5 1 1 1

Depth: An Exciting Future

Having too many good players is a nice problem to have, and Michigan may have difficulty finding time for some very good young players this season because of the traffic jam on the defensive line. True freshman Maurice Hurst Jr. comes to Ann Arbor after being labeled a very talented recruit, and can help fill in at defensive line this year if Michigan needs him. It is likely that Hurst could get a redshirt along with Poggi, and we’ll see them make a major impact in a few years.

Keith Heitzman has played 12 games as a backup defensive end in his short career so far, and will continue to contribute this season, potentially winning a starting role.

Redshirt freshman Matt Godin will likely pick up a similar role this year. Godin is one of the bigger lineman on the team at 6’6″ and 280 pounds. Godin’s classmate Willie Henry is also a huge interior lineman, listed just over 300 pounds. These players will see playing time throughout the course of the season, and will need to be solid while they give the more well-known players a breather. Luckily, Hoke and Mattison are the right coaches to have around a defensive line with so much potential.

Career Stats – Heitzman
Games Played Solo Assisted Total Tackles Sacks TFL FF FR INT
12 2 5 7 0 1.0 0 1 0

Wrapping Up

Michigan’s defensive line is similar to many of the other groups on the 2013 team. Two outstanding recruiting classes have established important depth, and the few veteran players will need to be leaders to help those youngsters mature. Washington, Black and Clark will be the big name veterans on the line, but there’s a great chance that some of the newer players step up and make a name for themselves early as well. Fans in Ann Arbor should be excited to see players like Charlton and Pipkins play major minutes and cause havoc on the defensive line.

The rest of the defense has their own responsibility, but the line is the really crucial group to watch in 2013. If the young pass-rushers can keep quarterbacks from getting comfortable in the pocket, the rest of the defense should fall into place. Mattison will look to his defensive line to set the tone this season.

South Carolina 33 – Michigan 28: Big plays doom Wolverines in Outback

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013


For the last four years, the Michigan offense, led by Denard Robinson has been a big play waiting to happen. On Tuesday afternoon, in Denard’s swan song, it was the South Carolina offense that took advantage of big play after big play to beat Michigan 33-28 in the Outback Bowl. None was bigger than a 32-yard touchdown pass from Dylan Thompson to Bruce Ellington with 11 seconds left to serve as the winning score.

South Carolina 33 – Michigan 28
Final Stats
28 Final Score 33
8-5, 6-2 Record 11-2, 6-2
355 Total Yards 426
141 Net Rushing Yards 85
214 Net Passing Yards 341
24 First Downs 17
2 Turnovers 1
4-55 Penalties – Yards 5-44
3-144 Punts – Yards 3-123
37:59 Time of Possession 22:01
8-of-19 Third Down Conversions 3-of-10
3-of-4 Fourth Down Conversions 1-of-2
3-18 Sacks By – Yards 3-22
3-for-3 Field Goals 0-for-2
1-for-1 PATs 3-for-3
5-for-5 Red Zone Scores – Chances 1-for-2

In the first quarter, it looked as if South Carolina was going to run away with the game, as Connor Shaw hit Damiere Byrd for a 56-yard touchdown on the third play of the game. Michigan answered with a 39-yard field goal two drives later. Carolina forced Michigan to punt on its next possession, but Ace Sanders returned the punt 63 yards for a touchdown to put SC ahead 14-3. It was the first punt return Michigan had allowed for a touchdown since Ohio State’s Ted Ginn in 2004.

Michigan put together a 11-play, 76-yard drive that was capped off by a 5-yard touchdown pass from Devin Gardner to Drew Dileo to bring Michigan within four. But South Carolina once again used a big play to set up a score. A 70-yard pass from Thompson to Nick Jones gave the Gamecocks a first-and-goal on the Michigan four, and on the next play, Thompson connected with Sanders for a touchdown to put SC ahead 21-10.

On South Carolina’s next possession, Mario Ojemudia forced a Kenny Miles fumble that was recovered by Jake Ryan at the SC 31. Michigan advanced to the 16, but Gardner was sacked on 3rd-and-6, forcing Michigan to kick a 40-yard field goal. On that drive, Michigan converted a fake field goal for a first down when Dileo ran seven yards on 4th-and-6. South Carolina took a 21-13 lead into the half.

Michigan went three-and-out on its first possession of the second half, and on South Carolina’s second play, Shaw rushed 64 yards to the Michigan 11. After three incompletions, the Gamecocks lined up for a 33-yard field goal and missed.

Michigan put together an 11-play drive that ended in a 52- yard field goal by Matt Wile to pull within 21-16. When South Carolina got the ball back, it faced a 4th-and-7 on the Michigan 35 and Steve Spurrier elected to go for it. The Michigan pressure forced Shaw to roll to his right, and as he tried to pump fake, the ball slipped out of his hands and went out of bounds. Michigan took over and drove 65 yards in nine plays and took the lead on a 10-yard touchdown pass from Gardner to Jeremy Gallon. The Wolverines converted a 4th-and-1 on the drive, when Gardner romped through the middle for a 19-yard gain. The two-point attempt failed and Michigan held a 22-21 lead as the fourth quarter began.

Three Michigan defenders look on as Bruce Ellington scores the winning TD with 11 seconds remaining (Al Messerschmidt, Getty Images)

South Carolina put together a 10-play drive to open the fourth, but Michigan blocked a 43-yard field goal attempt. Michigan then faced a 4th-and-4 from its own 37 and ran a fake punt that appeared to be just millimeters short. But the refs ruled it a first down, and after reviewing the play, upheld the call. On the very next play, All-American SC defensive end Jadeveon Clowney made the biggest play of the game, bolting untouched into the backfield and slamming Vincent Smith just as he received the handoff. The hit knocked Smith’s helmet into the air and the ball to the ground, and Clowney recovered, giving the Gamecocks the ball at the Michigan 31.

One play later, Shaw found Sanders for a 31- yard touchdown pass to give SC the lead once again. The two-point conversion was no good and SC led 27-22 with 8:06 remaining.

Not to be outdone, Michigan mounted a 10-play, 64-yard drive that was capped off by a 17-yard touchdown pass from Gardner to Gallon on 3rd-and-13. Once again, the two-point conversion attempt failed, and Michigan held a 28-27 lead with 3:29 to play.

South Carolina too over on its own 30, and three plays later found itself facing a 4th-and-3. But Shaw connected with Sanders for a six-yard gain to keep the drive alive. Six plays later, SC was had a 2nd-and-10 at the Michigan 32, and that’s when Thompson connected with Ellington for the winning touchdown.

Michigan’s last second comeback attempt failed when Gardner’s pass was incomplete, and South Carolina won 33-28.

Gardner finished the day 18-of-36 for 214 yards, three touchdowns, and an interception. Denard led all rushers with 23 carries for 100 yards, while Gallon caught nine passes for 145 yards and two touchdowns. As a team, Michigan gained 355 yards, but gave up 426.

Denard finished his career as the all-time FBS leader for rushing yards by a quarterback and also second in Michigan career rushing yards behind only Mike Hart. Roy Roundtree finished his career sixth in career receiving yards, just behind Mario Manningham.

Michigan falls to 20-22 all-time in bowl games and 23-8-1 all-time against SEC schools. Stay tuned for continued coverage, analysis, and a look ahead to next season in the days and weeks to come.

The Michigan Medley channels the Verve Pipe

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012


We were merely freshmen

Rich Rodriguez’s first recruiting classes are now the team’s upperclassmen and they have produced some stars, most notably Denard Robinson. But there are considerable talent and depth deficiencies that Hoke’s first two classes are beginning to fill. On Saturday against Air Force, we saw eight freshmen play considerable roles for the Wolverines and their roles are going to continue to expand throughout the season.

Tight end Devin Funchess had a breakout game with four receptions for 106 yards and a touchdown. Fellow freshman tight end A.J. Williams saw considerable time as a blocking tight end. The pair got thrust onto the field due to an injury to Brandon Moore, but they would have played eventually given the lack of depth at the position following the graduation of Kevin Koger. Funchess has a chance to be an outright star. Prior to the season, I predicted him to be the offensive breakout star this season. He has great length and athleticism to create a mismatch with a linebacker or safety every time he’s targeted. Williams has a much bigger frame, which is more suitable for blocking. My only concern is that opponents will eventually catch on to this and see run every time Williams is on the field an pass every time Funchess is. But Al Borges knows this and will have plays to counter this.

Devin Funchess gives Denard another great receiving threat (photo by Getty Images)

Another pair of freshmen that got significant playing time are linebackers James Ross and Joe Bolden who played much of the second half in the middle of Michigan’s defense. Ross saw time against Alabama, and Brady Hoke said Saturday that Bolden was in because his high school, Cincinnati Colerain, ran the option. Both have done well so far. Bolden was the team’s second-leading tackler on Saturday with 10 tackles, one behind Jake Ryan. Ross added four. Has Bolden supplanted last year’s leading tackler, Kenny Demens? Probably not. He played the whole second half because of his experience with the option, but Demens has several years of experience. If anything, it’s good for the team to have such talented freshmen pushing the upperclassmen for their spots and it creates great depth.

On the defensive line, another duo, Ondre Pipkins and Mario Ojemudia, saw action. Most expected Pipkins to see the field even before the season started, and possibly even work his way into a starting role, but most considered Ojemudia a year or two away. But due to an injury to Brennen Beyer, Ojemudia got in. Hoke and Greg Mattison like to rotate a lot of bodies on the line, so improving the depth with talented freshmen is a good thing.

In the defensive backfield, freshman safety Jarrod Wilson got in. He’s the future of the position for Michigan, but likely won’t supplant Thomas Gordon this season except in certain packages.

Another freshman who has impressed so far is kick returner Dennis Norfleet. He has flashed speed and shiftiness in the first two games, giving Michigan a kick return threat it hasn’t seen since Steve Breaston.

One position that hasn’t seen freshman action yet, but could before too long, is receiver. Devin Gardner has done well in the first two games, cementing his spot as a starter, but no one else has really impressed. Jeremy Gallon had a good game against Alabama, but Roy Roundtree, Jeremy Jackson, Drew Dileo, and Jerald Robinson have a combined seven catches for 64 yards. Roundtree is Roundtree and deserves a spot on the field, but Jackson and Robinson have left a lot to be desired. Freshmen Amara Darboh and Jehu Chesson both have qualities that could earn them a chance to step in. Darboh has great size at 6’2″, 220 pounds and wowed teammates in fall camp, while Chesson has track star speed. Gardner will continue to be a threat and so will Funchess from the tight end spot, but Denard Robinson needs at least one more receiver to step up as a consistent threat to keep Michigan’s passing game effective and open up the running game.

As you can see, the amount of players seeing the field who were going to prom just five months ago is higher than most coaches would want it to be, but that’s where this team is at right now. It bodes well for the future since these guys are getting on the job training, but we’ll have to deal with the growing pains along the way.

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Rival problems

With one-fourth of Michigan’s yearly schedule made up of bitter rivals, each season inevitably has the “which rival do I root for?” moments. This weekend is one of those. Michigan State hosts Notre Dame on Saturday night and many of us will flip channels or go back to our tailgate spot or find a bar with a TV in it after the Michigan game to do some advanced scouting of both teams. But who will we root for?

For many, the rule of thumb is to root for the Big Ten in out of conference match-ups. But that’s easy when it’s Iowa against Florida. It’s much harder when it involves a rival against a rival. So here’s my two cents: since both of them can’t lose on Saturday, root for Notre Dame.

First of all, Michigan plays Notre Dame next weekend. I wold rather have the Irish enter the game riding high with a 3-0 record and poised for a letdown than pulling together after defeat and looking to take it out on someone. Though Michigan hasn’t always dominated the Irish, it has in the won-loss column the past few years. The same can’t be said for Michigan State. I would rather face an undefeated Notre Dame team in Week 4 than an undefeated Michigan State team in Week 7.

Secondly, the game has implications in Michigan’s postseason. Last season, Michigan State’s loss to Notre Dame was part of what helped Michigan earn a BCS bid. While the loss doesn’t outright affect the Big Ten title hopes since Notre Dame isn’t in the conference, it does even the playing field since Michigan already has one loss on the season.

So join me in rooting on the Irish on Saturday night, as hard as it may be.

Freshmen numbers and those who broke them in (Part 2)

Thursday, August 9th, 2012


Last Friday, we released Part 1 of our three-part series on the numbers the freshmen will be wearing this fall and the previous Wolverines who have either worn them or made a name for themselves while wearing them. Today, we take a look at the second part of the series with a group of linebackers and linemen.

#49 – Kaleb Ringer

Bob Chappuis, All-American, Hall-of-Famer, and war hero

The most famous Wolverine to wear number 49 was Bob Chappuis in 1942, ’46-47. His Michigan career was interrupted by service in World War II. As a gunner and radio operator, his plane was shot down over Italy where he was rescued and remained until the war ended. He returned to Michigan to lead the “Mad Magicians” of 1947. He finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting that year and was named All-American. To this day, he holds Michigan’s single-season passer rating (175.3) and single season record for yards per completion (18.8). When his Michigan playing days were done, he played pro football for the Brooklyn Dodgers and Chicago Hornets and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. He passed away this June at the age of 89.

Richard Volk was Chappuis’ nephew and wore number 49 from 1964-66. He played halfback, fullback, quarterback, and defensive back positions during his time in the maize and blue and was named All-American following the 1966 season. He went on to a stellar career in the NFL that included three Pro Bowl selections, and he was inducted into Michigan’s Athletic Hall of Honor in 1989.

Other notables to wear number 49: Jay Feeley (1994-98), Ed Frutig (1937-39), Dhani Jones (1996), Andy Moeller (1982-86), Kirk Moundros (1999-2002), Chuck Ortmann (1948-50), Bob Ptacek (1956-58)

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Otto Pommerening was an All-American tackle in #50

#50 – Tom Strobel

The first player in Big Ten history to play in every minute of every game in a season was Otto Pommerening, a tackle from 1926-28. A unanimous All-American in 1928, Pommerening was only 5’11″, 178 pounds, roughly the size of current Michigan defensive back Courtney Avery. Despite his small stature, he is widely regarded as one of the greatest linemen to every play at Michigan. Somehow he finished fourth for the Chicago Tribune Silver Football trophy, given annually to the Big Ten’s MVP.

Another star to wear number 50 is a guy whose number Strobel is replacing, center David Molk. Molk started 41 career games at center and won the Rimington Trophy last season as the nation’s best center. He was a consensus first-team All-American and team captain. His departure leaves a huge hole to fill, both on Michigan’s line and in senior leadership.

Other notables to wear number 50: Howie Auer (1929-31), Paul Girgash (1979-82), Mark Messner (1984), Jeremy Van Alstyne (2002-06)

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#52 – Royce Jenkins-Stone

Rod Payne was an All-American center in #52

Jenkins-Stone will share number 52 with center Ricky Barnum this season, but the man who was best known for 52 was center Rod Payne. He started 40 games during his career in which he was named first team All-Big Ten twice and first team All-American in 1996. He was drafted in the third round of the 1997 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals and battled injuries throughout his career. He currently coaches Spanish River Community High School in Palm Beach, Fla.

Payne was, ironically, the last Michigan starting center to wear number 52 before Barnum this season. The last linebacker to wear the number prior to Jenkins-Stone was Kevin Leach (2007-10).

Other notables to wear number 52: Kevin Brooks (1981-84), James H. Lincoln (1935-37), Stephen Schilling (2006-10), Chris Ziemann (1997-99)

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#53 – Mario Ojumedia

Archie Kodros blocked for Tom Harmon in the late 30s

No Michigan player has become an All-American while wearing number 53, but a very good one just graduated. Ryan Van Bergen started 38 games in his career and was named All-Big Ten honorable mention a year ago. He was an important part of Michigan’s success in 2012, teaming up with Mike Martin to form a formidable defensive line.

Another great number 53 was Archie Kodros in the late 1930s. He was a center paving the way for Tom Harmon for a couple of seasons. In 1939, one Ohio reporter said of Kodros, “One reason why Tom Harmon plays so sensationally each Saturday is shown here. The Michigan line, led by Captain Archie Kodros, No. 53, blocks beautifully and opens the way for Tom to get into the secondary where the star Wolverine back can peddle his own papers.” That’s pretty high praise. He also intercepted a pass against Ohio State to help Michigan win 21-14.

Other notables to wear number 53: Tom Cecchini (1963-65), Richard O’Schaughnessy (1951-53), Shantee Orr (1999-2002), Mel Owens (1977-80), Al Sincich (1981-84)

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#56 – Ondre Pipkins

LaMarr Woodley won the Lombardi Award in #56

Pipkins will share number 56 this season with offensive lineman Joey Burzynski who is battling for the starting left guard spot. From 2008-10, Ricky Barnum wore 56 before switching to 52 last season. The most successful 56 in Michigan history was relatively recent, defensive end LaMarr Woodley. The Lombardi Award winner in 2006, Woodley led the Big Ten and ranked eighth nationally with 12 sacks that season. He also earned a unanimous first-team All-American selection and was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. He was drafted 46th overall by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2007 and continues to be a dominant defensive end.

Other notables to wear number 56: Jim Brieske (1942-43, 46-47), Harold Goodwin (1992-94), James Hall (1995-99), Frank Maloney (1960-61)

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Julius Franks was the first African-American All-American at Michigan

#62 Blake Bars

No Michigan player has earned All-American honors while wearing number 62, but one wore the number and became an All-American a year later after switching numbers. It was Julius Franks, who has the unique honor of being the first African-American All-American at Michigan. He was just the third African-American to play for Michigan and was said to be the hardest working player Fritz Crisler ever coached. He was named to the Michigan Hall of Honor in 1983.

Bars certainly isn’t the most highly-ranked incoming freshman, but he has a unique chance to become the first superstar to wear number 62 if he sticks with it his entire career.

Other notables to wear number 62: Tim McAvoy (2005-09), Quentin Sickels (1944-48)

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Merv Pregulman was an All-American in 67 during the early 1940s

#67 – Kyle Kalis

Defensive tackle Nathan Brink will don 67 this season along with Kalis. Two former Wolverines have been All-Americans while wearing number 67. One is Merv Pregulman, a lineman who played all positions on the line from 1941-43. He was named a Grantland Rice All-American honorable mention his sophomore season and first-team his senior season. He played on a line with Julius Franks (above) and Al Wistert, whose number is getting Legend designation this fall. He was inducted into the College Sports Hall of Fame in 1982 and Michigan’s Hall of Honor in 1988.

The other All-American to wear 67 was John Vitale. A four-year starter, Vitale played guard his freshman year and center the other three. He was All-Big Ten twice and first team All-American in 1988.

Other notables to wear number 67: David Brandt (1997-2000), Matt Lentz (2001-05), Matt Patanelli (1935-36), Terrance Taylor (2005-08)

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Stay tuned for part three next week: #71 Ben Braden, #78 Erik Magnuson, #82 Amara Darboh, #84 A.J. Williams, #86 Jehu Chesson, #99 Matthew Godin

Meet your 2012 recruiting class: The defensive line

Thursday, February 9th, 2012


On Monday, we rounded out the offensive profiles with the receivers and tight ends, and last week we looked at the offensive line and the running backs. Today, it’s time to turn our focus towards the defensive side of the ball – the guys who will help Michigan’s defensive resurgence under the guidance of Greg Mattison.

This year’s defensive line haul contains three ends and three tackles, led by five-star tackle Ondre Pipkins. This is a very important position group to watch heading into fall camp as it will need to replace starters Mike Martin and Ryan Van Bergen. There will be plenty of opportunity to step in and grab some playing time as Hoke and Mattison look for suitable replacements. Let’s take a look at the guys who may do so.

Stay tuned in the next day or two for the profile of Michigan’s linebacker class.

A Quick Look at Michigan’s 2012 Recruiting Class

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012


National Signing Day came and went on Wednesday and when all was said and done, Head Coach Brady Hoke announced a 25-member recruiting class. The day started off well with a surprise commitment from four-star running back Dennis Norfleet from Martin Luther King High School in Detroit. The rest of the day went as expected with all 22 signed Letters of Intent arriving (three are already enrolled for spring semester).

There still remains a shot at Chicago Simeon offensive lineman Jordan Diamond, who makes his announcement on Friday, and Colorado offensive lineman Alex Kozan who verbally committed to Iowa on Sunday but didn’t fax in his LOI on Wednesday.

Below is a position-by-position breakdown as well as a location-based look at this year’s class. Stay tuned tomorrow for in-depth bios of each offensive recruit and then Saturday morning for the defensive side.


As you can see above, Michigan didn’t sign a quarterback in this year’s class, but has Shane Morris committed for next year’s class. He’ll enter as Denard Robinson graduates and battle for the starting spot with Devin Gardner. The four offensive linemen are all listed as tackles but in tomorrow’s individual breakdown, we’ll discuss where they project on the line. The same can be said for the four defensive backs. Terry Richardson is the only one listed as a cornerback; the other three as safeties. 
Michigan’s class is very Midwest-focused this year, as opposed to the classes we saw under Rich Rodriguez which pulled a bit more from the south, most notably Florida. Hoke didn’t get anyone south of Tennessee, and only ventured out west for two – Erik Magnuson from Carlsbad, Calif. and Sione Houma from Salt Lake City, Utah. If Kozan switches his commitment to Michigan, that will add another player from the west, as he hails from Colorado, but we won’t bet on that happening. If Diamond commits to Michigan on Friday, he will add yet another player from the Midwest.