Posts Tagged ‘Michigan Football’

How returning production throughout the Big Ten translated in 2014

Monday, June 29th, 2015


Ohio State Sugar Bowl(AP)

Last summer we kicked off our season preview series with a look at the returning production from each team in the Big Ten from the year before. We’re going to do the same this summer, but we’ll begin with a review of how the returning production entering last season translated over the course of the season. That will lead into this year’s returning production, our opponent previews, and our Michigan position previews.

Entering last season, Maryland was far and away the most experienced team based on the previous season’s production. The Terrapins returned 97.5 percent of their offense, 94.4 percent of their scoring offense, and 82.6 percent of their defense. They led the conference in all three categories. But did it translate?

Maryland went just 7-6 overall and 4-4 in conference play in 2014, its first year in the Big Ten. All that returning offensive production resulted in the 12th-best (third-worst) offense in the Big Ten, though it ranked fifth in scoring. The offensive line that returned 51 starts from 2013 produced the third-worst rushing offense and allowed the second most sacks. All that returning defensive production resulted in a the conference’s 12th-ranked defense and 10th-ranked scoring defense.

Returning 2013 Production vs 2014 Results
Team Returning Total Off. Returning Scoring Off. Returning Def. Big Ten Finish
Ohio State 12th (59.8%) 13th (53.7%) 11th (60.3%) Champion
Wisconsin 13th (57.0%) 11th (57.7%) 13th (49.9%) 1st – West
Michigan State 3rd (90.9%) 2nd (91.3%) 12th (50.1%) 2nd – East
Minnesota 10th (65.9%) 12th (57.4%) 8th (66.1%) 2nd – West
Nebraska 9th (66.5%) 10th (59.5%) 9th (66.5%) 2nd – West
Iowa 2nd (92.8%) 3rd (89.3%) 14th (44.4%) 4th – West
Maryland 1st (97.5%) 1st (94.4%) 1st (82.6%) 3rd – East
Rutgers 6th (74.4%) 4th (86.9%) 3rd (77.8%) 4th – East
Illinois 14th (34.3%) 14th (40.0%) 6th (75.8%) 5th – West
Michigan 8th (68.6%) 9th (63.8%) 4th (77.6%) 4th – East
Northwestern 7th (71.9%) 8th (71.1%) 5th (76.1%) 5th – West
Penn State 5th (76.4%) 5th (84.4%) 7th (67.4%) 6th – East
Indiana 9th (67.3%) 7th (72.2%) 2nd (79.1%) 7th – East
Purdue 4th (82.5%) 6th (80.6%) 10th (63.3%) 7th – West

Iowa and Michigan State ranked second and third in returning offensive production, both at about 90 percent. It translated for the Spartans, who went 11-2 and possessed the Big Ten’s second-best scoring offense and total offense. Interestingly, the running game, which returned 100 percent of its 2013 production ranked just fifth in the conference, while the passing game, which lost 21 percent of its yards and 35 percent of its receiving touchdowns, led the conference in passing. Iowa, meanwhile, was middle of the pack, ranking sixth in total offense and seventh in scoring while matching Maryland’s record of 7-6 and 4-4.

Defensively, both ranked among the bottom three in returning production entering last season, but performed much better. Michigan State ranked fourth in total defense and third in scoring defense, while Iowa ranked sixth and eighth, respectively.

Michigan was in the middle of the pack in returning production with 68.6 percent of its offense and 63.8 percent of its defense returning. The Wolverines went 5-7 overall and 3-5 in Big Ten play, ranking dead last in total offense, second to last in scoring offense. The defense fared much better, finishing third in total defense and fifth in scoring defense.

How about the Big Ten and national champions? Ohio State had the third-lowest total offense, second-lowest scoring offense, and fourth-lowest total defense returning. And that included Braxton Miller, who missed the entire season. All the Buckeyes did was bounce back from an early-season loss to Virginia Tech by running the table the rest of the way, taking down Michigan State, Wisconsin, top-ranked Alabama, and second-ranked Oregon in the process.

2013to2014 Returning Production Results Chart

Wisconsin followed a similar pattern, starting the season with the second-lowest total offense, fourth-lowest scoring offense, and second-lowest total defense returning. It translated into an 11-3 record, a trip to the Big Ten title game — which the Badgers lost to Ohio State 59-0 — and an overtime win over Southeastern Conference power Auburn in the Outback Bowl.

Minnesota, the surprise team in the conference last season, brought the fourth-lowest total offense, third-lowest scoring offense, and eight-most total defense back from 2013. The Gophers went 8-5, nearly ended Ohio State’s chances of a national title, and were a regular-season-ending loss away from a spot in the Big Ten championship game.

For the most part last season — with the exception of Michigan State’s offense — the teams that brought the least production back did the best, while those that had the most returning production suffered the opposite fate. Stay tuned for a look at this year’s returning production across the conference.

New in Blue: 2016 DE Ron Johnson

Thursday, June 25th, 2015


Ron Johnson(247 Sports)

Ron Johnson – DE | 6-4, 240 | Camden, N.J. – Camden
ESPN: 4-star, #16 DE Rivals: 4-star, #6 DE 247: 4-star, #17 DE Scout: 3-star, #48 DE
Other top offers: Alabama, Ohio State, Michigan State, Oregon, Notre Dame, Ole Miss, South Carolina

Less than a week remains before the calendar flips to July, but Jim Harbaugh and his staff aren’t showing any signs of slowing down on the recruiting trail anytime soon. A day after landing four-star offensive tackle Devery Hamilton, the Wolverines picked up a commitment from four-star defensive end Ron Johnson.

Johnson is a four-star according to ESPN, Rivals, and 247 Sports and a three-star according to Scout. Rivals ranks him the highest as the sixth-best weak side defensive end in the 2016 class. ESPN ranks him as the 16th-best defensive end, while 247 has him 17th and Scout 48th. ESPN ranks Johnson the highest nationally as the 103rd-best overall player in the class, while Rivals has him 109th, and 247 has him 231st.

Scout lists his strengths as ‘athleticism’,'hand quickness’, and ‘speed’, while noting his areas to improve as ‘change of direction’ and ‘strength’. Scout’s Brian Dohn expanded on that evaluation:

“Johnson has an excellent motor and also plenty of athleticism. He gets up the field in a hurry, but also uses technique, including a nice swim move. He stays low at the snap and can dip his shoulder to get around the edge, and also can chase a play down from behind. He needs to work a bit on his change of direction, which is good for a kid his size. His speed off the edge is why colleges like him a lot.”

At 6’4″, 240 pounds heading into his senior season at Camden High School in New Jersey, Johnson is a great addition to the class. He held offers from Alabama, Ohio State, Michigan State, Oregon, and Notre Dame, among others. He unofficially visited Michigan back in March and subsequently received a visit from tight ends coach Jay Harbaugh a couple weeks later. He made a return trip to Ann Arbor this week along with several other New Jersey recruits and committed on the spot Thursday afternoon.

Johnson is commitment number 20 in the class and the 14th in the month of June. He joins fellow defensive end Rashad Weaver, filling a big need in the class, especially after missing out on in-state defensive end Khalid Kareem. With anywhere from five to eight spots left in the class, Michigan hopes to land more commitments this weekend and continue building the New Jersey pipeline.

New in Blue: 2016 OT Devery Hamilton

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015


Devery Hamilton(247 Sports)

Devery Hamilton – OT | 6-6, 290 | Baltimore, Md. – Gilman
ESPN: 3-star, #33 OT Rivals: 4-star, #26 OT 247: 4-star, #23 OT Scout: 4-star, #13 OT
Other top offers: Ohio State, Michigan State, LSU, Stanford, Clemson, South Carolina, West Virginia, PSU

After missing out on four-star in-state defensive end Khalid Kareem Wednesday afternoon, Michigan received a pledge from four-star offensive tackle Devery Hamilton.

Rivals, Scout, and 247 Sports each gave Hamilton four stars, while ESPN currently has him as a three-star. Scout is the most optimistic, ranking Hamilton as the 13th-best offensive tackle in the 2016 class. 247 ranks him 23rd, Rivals 26th, and ESPN 33rd. Scout ranks him as the 144th-best overall recruit, while 247 has him 215th, as well as 233rd in their composite rankings.

The Baltimore, Md. native stands either 6’6″ or 6’7″ depending on which site you look at and his weight ranges from 265 to 291 pounds, though the latter is more accurate.

Scout’s Brian Dohn likes Hamilton’s size, length, and aggressiveness while noting that he has the ability to play on the defensive line as well:

“Hamilton can play offensive tackle or on the defensive line in college. He has the size and length to be a left tackle. He is aggressive and is able to disengage as a defensive lineman, and as an offensive lineman shoots his hands out is able to lock onto blocks and finish them. No matter the side of the ball, Hamilton plays hard and to the whistle. He chases plays down the field on defense, and gets to the second level on offense.”

Assuming Hamilton stays on offense, his commitment adds to an impressive offensive line haul so far for the 2016 class and shows where Jim Harbaugh’s emphasis lies in his first full recruiting class. He joins fellow four-star linemen Erik Swenson, Michael Onwenu, and Ben Bredeson, giving Michigan four of the top 26 linemen in the class according to Rivals.

As the 19th commitment in the class and the 13th this month, Hamilton’s commitment moves Michigan up to seventh in the 2016 class rankings according to both 247 and Rivals. Michigan is right on the heels of rival Michigan State in the 247 rankings, though the Spartans have one more commit at this point.

New in Blue: 2016 S Devin Gil

Friday, June 19th, 2015


Devin Gil(Scout.com)

Devin Gil – S | 6-1, 205 | Pembroke Pines, Fla. – Charles W Flanagan
ESPN: 3-star, #33 S Rivals: 3-star, NR 247: 3-star, #79 S Scout: 3-star, #93 S
Other top offers: Miami, Louisville, NC State, South Florida, Central Florida, Bowling Green

Just two days after Michigan received commitments 15 and 16, Hollywood, Fla. safety Devin Gil became number 17. On Friday morning, he channeled his inner LeBron James in tweeting his commitment to the Wolverines.

Gil is a three-star recruit according to each of the four major recruiting services. ESPN ranks him the highest as the 33rd-best safety in the 2016 class. 247 Sports ranks him 79th and Scout 93rd, while Rivals does not have him ranked at this point. At 6’1″ and 205 pounds, Gil has the ability to play either safety or linebacker. As a junior last season at Flanagan, Gil recorded 64 tackles and three interceptions.

Scout lists Gil’s strengths as ‘hands’, ‘size’, and ‘toughness’, while noting his areas to improve as ‘burst out of breaks’, ‘change of direction’, and ‘recovery ability’. They expanded on that in their analysis:

“When talking size, Gil has it for a big safety. Could even get a look at linebacker down the road depending on how he grows. Loves to mix it up physically. Does not shy away from contact and makes plays in the box and behind the line of scrimmage. Can shed blocks and strike the opponent. When the ball is in the air, he tracks it and makes plays on it. Has very good hands. Always around the ball and makes big plays.”

Gil originally committed to his home-state Miami Hurricanes on Jan. 26, but received an offer from Jim Harbaugh’s staff two months later. He made his way to Ann Arbor for an unofficial visit last weekend and announced his decommitment from Miami the same day. On Friday, he pledged to the Wolverines just two days after his teammate and fellow safety, Josh Metellus, did.

With 17 commitments in next year’s class, Harbaugh is hoping to continue the June momentum he has built through his Summer Swarm satellite camp tour. There’s a good chance Metellus and Gil’s teammate at Flanagan, four-star linebacker Devin Bush Jr., joins the class soon, as he proclaimed shortly after Gil’s commitment that he will no longer be announcing his own commitment at the Under Armour All-American game.

New in Blue: 2016 OT Ben Bredeson

Thursday, June 18th, 2015


Ben Bredeson(247 Sports)

Ben Bredeson – OT | 6-5, 293 | Hartland, Wis. – Arrowhead
ESPN: 4-star, #4 OT Rivals: 4-star, #4 OT 247: 4-star, #4 OT Scout: 4-star, #1 OG
Other top offers: Alabama, Auburn, OSU, MSU, LSU, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Miami

June has become Jim Harbaugh’s month and it’s barely half over. On the heels of his Summer Swarm satellite camp tour, Harbaugh had already received seven commitments since the beginning of the month, and on Wednesday he picked up two more. Pembroke Pines, Fla. safety Josh Metellus committed to the Wolverines, and earlier in the day, big-time offensive tackle Ben Bredeson gave his pledge to Michigan.

Bredeson is a consensus four-star according to the four major recruiting services and ranked in the top 53 nationally by all of them. Rivals, 247 Sports, and ESPN each rank him as the fourth-best offensive tackle in the class, while Scout has him listed as the best guard in the class. Scout also ranks him the highest nationally at 25th, while 247 has him 29th, Rivals 49th, and ESPN 53rd.

The Hartland, Wis. native is listed between 6’4″ and 6’5″ and 280 and 293 pounds. Scout lists his strengths as ‘body control and balance’, ‘feet’, and ‘nasty streak’, while noting his area to improve is ‘power and strength’. They expounded on that in their analysis:

“Outstanding overall prospect with good technique and ability to bend. Has good flexibility in his lower body and has no issue winning leverage battles even against shorter defensive linemen. Plays with a mean streak and finishes his blocks strong. Can still polish up his pass pro, and add more strength up top, but has all the tools and the intangibles to develop into a top flight college lineman. Could play tackle or guard as well.”

Bredeson visited Michigan unofficially last summer and again in October for the Under the Lights game against Penn State — one of the few bright spots of the season. In February of this year he named his top four of Notre Dame, Michigan, Ohio State, and Wisconsin. He visited again the last weekend in May and decided to end his recruitment this week with his commitment to Michigan. He also held offers from Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Michigan State, and Oklahoma, among others.

As the ninth commitment in the first 17 days of June, Bredeson joins fellow offensive linemen Michael Onwenu, and Erik Swenson, running backs Kingston Davis and Matt Falcon, quarterbacks Brandon Peters and Victor Viramontes, tight end Sean McKeon, athletes Kiante Enis and Chris Evans, defensive backs Josh Metellus and Antwaine Richardson, defensive end Rashad Weaver, and linebackers Dele’ Harding, Dytarious Johnson, and David Reese.

New in Blue: 2016 RB Kiante Enis

Thursday, June 4th, 2015


Kiante Enis(Joshua Smith, Palladium-Item)

Kiante Enis – RB | 6-1, 200 | Winchester, Ind. – Winchester Community School
ESPN: NR Rivals: 3-star, #54 RB 247: 3-star, #36 RB Scout: 3-star, #26 RB
Other top offers: Michigan State, Iowa, Indiana, Cincinnati, Bowling Green

On day one of Michigan’s “Summer Swarm” satellite camp tour, Jim Harbaugh landed his second commitment in as many days. Winchester, Ind. running back Kiante Enis gave his verbal to the Maize and Blue following Thursday’s camp at Bishop Chatard High School in Indianapolis.

Enis is currently a three-star recruit, ranked as the 26th-best running back in the 2016 class by Scout, 36th by 247, and 54th by Rivals. ESPN doesn’t have him ranked. Enis is listed at 6’1″ or 6’2″ and between 190 and 200 pounds.

Scout lists Enis’ strengths as recovery ability, size, and speed, while noting that his areas to improve are backpedal quickness and elusiveness with catch. He also plays defensive back and could potentially end up there at Michigan. Scout had this to say about Enis:

“Fast, long kid who needs to settle in on a position. Highly productive high school running back but may be more of a safety or another position in college. Explosive and can run away from defenders in the open field and shows good closing ability on defense. Solid tackler if asked to play on that side of the ball.”

Last season at Winchester Community High School, Enis rushed for 3,189 yards and 49 touchdowns. He also recorded 42 tackles and four interceptions and averaged 33.9 yards per kick return with one touchdown and 46 yards per punt return with one touchdown.

Enis visited Michigan last weekend and didn’t take long to make his commitment official, pledging to the Wolverines over Michigan State and his in-state Indiana Hoosiers. He joins fellow running backs Kingston Davis and Matt Falcon, offensive linemen Michael Onwenu and Erik Swenson, quarterback Brandon Peters, and linebackers Dele’ Harding and David Reese in the 2016 class.

New in Blue: 2016 OL Michael Onwenu

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015


Michael Onwenu(247 Sports)

Michael Onwenu – OL | 6-3, 365 | Detroit, Mich. – Cass Tech
ESPN: 4-star, #17OG Rivals: 4-star 247: 4-star, #5 OG Scout: 4-star, #5OG
Other top offers: Alabama, Ohio State, Penn State, Miami, Illinois, NC State

Just two days before Jim Harbaugh and his staff kick off their Summer Swarm tour as guest coaches at high school camps in recruiting hot beds across the country, they received a pledge from a mammoth offensive lineman from their own backyard. Detroit Cass Tech offensive guard Michael Onwenu committed to the Wolverines on Tuesday night.

Onwenu is a consensus four-star recruit according to the four major recruiting services. Scout and 247 both rank him the fifth-best offensive guard in the 2016 class, while ESPN has him 17th and Rivals doesn’t have its 2016 rankings up yet. 247 ranks Onwenu as the 140th-best player overall in the class, while Scout lists him 169th, and Rivals 191st.

Scout listsOnwenu’s strengths as drive blocking skills, pass protection, power, and strength, while noting his main area to improve is quickness off the ball. They had this to say about him:

“Big, powerful mauler who looks like he’s just a road grader, but has shown at camps that he may actually be a better pass blocker at this point in his career. Naturally strong and wins when he gets his hands on defensive linemen. Would like to see him play at a little lower weight, which would improve overall quickness and mobility, but he bends well, plays with a great base and is technically sound. Could play guard or center in college.”

Michigan’s staff has been working hard to try to lock up one of the state’s best prospects and received unofficial visits from Onwenu in both February and March. He also visited rivals Michigan State and Ohio State in addition to Penn State and held an offer from Alabama. At 6’5″, 365 pounds entering his senior year of high school, Onwenu is a beast that should serve as a pillar of Harbaugh’s offensive line in the coming years.

As the seventh member of Michigan’s 2016 class, Onwenu joins fellow offensive lineman Erik Swenson, running backs Kingston Davis and Matt Falcon, linebackers Dele’ Harding and David Reese, and quarterback Brandon Peters. The addition elevates Michigan’s class nine spots up to 26th in the 247 team rankings. Every team ranked higher has more commitments at the moment. Only 12 teams have a higher star average than Michigan’s 89.12.

Win a free house rental for homecoming weekend

Friday, May 8th, 2015


RLAC header

Want an excuse to descend upon Ann Arbor for Jim Harbaugh’s first home Big Ten game? Or to return to your alma mater for Homecoming? Or simply upgrade your digs for a Michigan football weekend? Well have we got an opportunity for you. Rent Like a Champion — formerly known as Ann Arbor Football Rentals — is giving away a free house rental for homecoming weekend to one lucky winner. And that winner could be YOU!

The contest runs through the end of May and the winner will receive a rental from Friday, October 9 to Sunday, October 11. The house can accommodate up to seven guests and is just blocks from Michigan Stadium.

Imagine enjoying Ann Arbor on Friday night, then waking up Saturday morning just a short walk from the Big House, refreshed from a good night’s sleep in a comfortable house rather than a dingy hotel room. No need to pay for game day parking. No need to try to find a meeting place for the rest of your group. You’ll all be under one roof. You can hold your own tailgate in the back yard. Those are the benefits that Rent Like a Champion provides. And you could get it for free.

“We’re excited to help some Wolverines make it to Ann Arbor for homecoming without having to shell out for a hotel,” said CEO and Co-founder Mike Doyle. “We know how diehard Michigan fans are, and how widespread their fan base is, so our company is just happy to facilitate an awesome weekend for the group that wins.”

In addition to the contest, make sure to check out the rest of their listings for this fall. There are homes available for every home football weekend, including a current 14 homes available for Harbaugh’s first home game, ranging from $800 to $2,500 for the weekend.

“We provide an affordable and comfortable way for fans to travel to schools for game weekends,” Doyle said. “Rather than overpaying to be cooped up in separate rooms of a hotel, fans and groups can enjoy the comforts of a home with common areas, grills, kitchens and other amenities that make for a complete game weekend experience.”

The contest winner will be announced by Rent Like a Champion on June 1. Click here to enter.

Ryan drafted in 4th; Gardner, Beyer sign free agent contracts

Sunday, May 3rd, 2015


Jake Ryan(Tony Ding, AP)

A day after former Michigan standouts Devin Funchess and Frank Clark were drafted in the second round of the NFL Draft, Michigan linebacker Jake Ryan found a home in the NFL with the Green Bay Packers as the 129th overall pick.

Ryan, who played defensive end and outside linebacker before moving to middle linebacker for his senior season at Michigan, fits the mold of recent Packers linebackers A.J. Hawk and Clay Matthews, in number, looks, and talent. While some viewed Ryan as an outside linebacker in the NFL, the Packers had a need for an inside linebacker after Hawk signed with the Cincinnati Bengals and Brad Jones signed with the Philadelphia Eagles.

“His instincts are something that really stand out,” said Eliot Wolf, the Packers’ director of pro personnel. “He can get through traffic and make plays on the outside, penetrate and make plays on the inside run. He’s pretty good in coverage. Kind of an all-around guy who adds really good value to our team.”

Ryan collected 267 tackles during his five-year career at Michigan that included an injury-shortened junior season. He tallied 45.5 tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks, seven forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, and an interception. As a middle linebacker last season, Ryan led the team with 112 tackles (67 solo), to go along with 14 tackles for loss and two sacks, earning All-Big Ten first team honors by both the media and coaches.

After the draft ended, two other former Wolverines signed undrafted free agent contracts. Quarterback Devin Gardner, who entered the draft as a wide receiver, joined fellow former Michigan quarterback Tom Brady on the New England Patriots, while defensive end Brennen Beyer signed with the Baltimore Ravens.

Gardner started 27 games at quarterback for Michigan, passing for 6,336 yards and 44 touchdowns, but his struggles at the position — due at least in part to playing for multiple head coaches and offensive coordinators and behind a poor offensive line — caused him to change positions. He started the 2012 season at receiver, catching 16 passes for 266 yards and four touchdowns, until Denard Robinson went down with an injury that forced Gardner to move back to quarterback.

The good news for Gardner is that his new team has a precedent for quarterbacks-turned-receiver. Julian Edelman started at quarterback for three seasons at Kent State before being drafted in the seventh round of the 2009 NFL Draft by the Patriots. He caught 37 passes for 359 yards and a touchdown his rookie season, but it wasn’t until the past two seasons that his career as a receiver took off. In 2013 and 2014 Edelman caught 197 passes for 2,028 yards and 10 touchdowns, including a nine-catch, 109-yard one-touchdown performance against the Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX.

At 6’4″, 218, Gardner has a much different body type than the 5’10″, 200-pound Edelman, but he’ll have a chance to earn a roster spot on a team that has had trouble drafting receivers the past few years. Aside from Edelman and tight end Rob Gronkowski, the Patriots have lacked a true outside receiver as of late. Last season, Brandon LaFell came on with 74 catches for 953 yard and seven touchdowns, but the three receivers the Pats added from the 2013 draft — Aaron Dobson, Josh Boyce, and Kenbrell Thompkins — were non-factors.

Beyer will likely have a tougher job securing a roster spot with the Ravens. Like Ryan, Beyer played both defensive end and linebacker for the Wolverines over the past few years, but while he was a solid contributor, he didn’t have the same type of impact Ryan did. The Ravens feature one of the league’s best defenses and aren’t exactly thin at either position. Still, he came highly recommended by Greg Mattison — a former Ravens defensive coordinator — and that was enough for John Harbaugh to give him a chance.

Funchess, Clark drafted in second round

Friday, May 1st, 2015


Funchess

Michigan may have struggled on the field last fall, but they had a good night in Chicago on Friday as two former Wolverines found their way into the second round of the 2015 NFL Draft. Wide receiver Devin Funchess heard his name called first when the Carolina Panthers selected him 41st overall. A short time later, defensive end Frank Clark surprised everybody by getting selected by the Seattle Seahawks 63rd overall. It marks the first time since 2008 that Michigan has had two players drafted in the first two rounds of the same draft.

Funchess was projected to be a second or third round pick, so his position as the ninth pick of the second round was surprising, but not to the Panthers who traded up 16 spots to get him. The St. Louis Rams held the 41st pick, but Carolina traded their third-round (No. 89) and sixth-round (No. 201) picks in addition to pick No. 57.

The 6’5″, 232-pound Farmington Hills, Mich. native joins last year’s first-round pick, Kelvin Benjamin, in the Panthers’ receiving corps. Benjamin, who stands 6’5″, 240, was a matchup nightmare for opposing secondaries last season, catching 73 passes for 1,008 yards and nine touchdowns. Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman and head coach Ron Rivera liked the possibilities despite Funchess’ less than stellar showing at the NFL Combine, per the Charlotte Observer.

“He plays fast. He’s a smooth, fluid big man,” Gettleman said. “We really like that about him…he’s a matchup issue.”

“You see a couple things that tell you this kid is a little bit different. He makes catches in traffic. He presents a big target in traffic and takes a lot of big shots, similar to what Kelvin does,” Rivera said. “And then you watch him go vertical, which was surprising. I was like, ‘Wait a minute, I thought people talked about he was not a vertical threat.’ He was a vertical threat.”

In three seasons at Michigan Funchess caught 126 passes for 1,715 yards and 15 touchdowns. He struggled with consistency last season while battling injuries, but caught a career-high 62 passes for 733 yards and four scores while wearing the famous No. 1 jersey. He was a two-time All-Big Ten selection.

While Funchess going 41st was surprising, Clark being selected at all on Friday was a shock given the way his career at Michigan ended. Clark was kicked off the team with two games remaining last season after a domestic violence incident at a hotel in Sandusky, Ohio. But the Seahawks did their homework on Clark and decided the upside he brings was worth the risk he could pose off the field.

Clark, certainly thankful for the opportunity presented, released a statement to Seahawks fans.

“I’m honored to be a part of the Seattle Seahawks organization, and I want to thank coach Carroll and Mr. Schneider for believing in me enough to make me the team’s first pick. I loved Coach Carroll as a kid growing up in L.A., and I look forward to giving the 12th man more reasons to raise ruckus in the near future. I’m a West Coast kid at heart and I’m eager to make Seattle, and the great Northwest my home.”

Clark joins a Seahawks defense that led the league in total defense and pass defense, and ranked third in rush defense, a year ago. But the Seahawks ranked just 20th in the league with 37 sacks, and that’s something they hope Clark can improve.

Clark tallied 42 tackles, 4.5 sacks, and 13.5 tackles for loss in 10 games last season. As a junior in 2013, he recorded 12 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks, earning All-Big Ten second team honors.

Michigan still has a couple more players who hope to be drafted in rounds four through seven on Saturday. Linebacker Jake Ryan is projected as a mid-round pick and quarterback Devin Gardner — who will play receiver in the NFL — just hopes to hear his name called. Coverage begins at noon EST on ESPN.