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Posts Tagged ‘Michigan Wolverines’

Comparing the Big Ten’s returning production from 2016: Offense

Monday, July 17th, 2017


(Sean M. Haffey, Getty Images)

Independence Day has come and gone, which means fall camp kicks off in a couple weeks and college football season will be here before we know it. While Michigan doesn’t have quite the hype it had entering last season the Wolverines still find themselves ranked in the top ten in most preseason publications.

It’s time to kickoff our preseason coverage with a look at how each team in the Big Ten compares in terms of returning production. It’s certainly not the end all be all when it comes to determining how each team will fare, but in the three years that we’ve been tracking this, it has produced some interesting results. All three years, the eventual Big Ten champion returned nearly the exact same mix of offensive and defensive production.

In 2014, Ohio State returned 60 percent of its offense and defense and won the conference. In 2015, Michigan State returned 54 percent of its offense and 67 percent of its defense — roughly 60 percent overall — and won the league. Last season, Penn State returned just under 60 percent of its total production and, you guessed it, won the Big Ten.

Could that sweet spot hold true again this year? We’ll get to that, but let’s start with the offense.

Offense

Returning offense
Team Percent Returning 2016 Total Offense Ranking
Penn State 90% 49th
Northwestern 81% 73rd
Purdue 74% 80th
Ohio State 71% 31st
Indiana 64% 56th
Michigan 62% 58th
Illinois 61% 123rd
Rutgers 53% 128th
Wisconsin 50% 89th
Maryland 50% 95th
Minnesota 47% 107th
Michigan State 39% 75th
Iowa 30% 121st
Nebraska 22% 90th
Returning scoring offense
Team Percent Returning 2016 Scoring Offense Ranking
Penn State 88% 21st
Northwestern 82% 87th
Purdue 73% 101st
Ohio State 67% 13th
Michigan 65% 11th
Illinois 63% 122nd
Indiana 62% 88th
Minnesota 54% 63rd
Wisconsin 53% 67th
Rutgers 52% 127th
Maryland 50% 88th
Michigan State 38% 104th
Iowa 30% 95th
Nebraska 20% 79th

Penn State joins last year’s Nebraska, 2015’s Ohio State, and 2014’s Maryland as the teams with the most returning offensive production from the year prior. But that’s not necessarily good news for the Nittany Lions. None of those three won their division that fall as Nebraska finished third in the West at 9-4, Ohio State went 12-1 but finished second behind Michigan State in the East, and Maryland finished third in the East at 7-6.

Like Ohio State in 2015, Penn State is the returning Big Ten champion and only has to replace its top receiver. The Nittany Lions return the Big Ten’s top passer, Trace McSorley, and the second-leading rusher, Saquon Barkley. The pair accounted for nearly 5,500 yards of offense and 54 touchdowns in 2016. James Franklin will have to find a replacement for receiver Chris Godwin, who was drafted 84th overall by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after leading the team with 982 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns. But Gesicki is the leading returning tight end in the conference with 679 yards and five touchdowns a year ago and rising seniors DeAndre Thompkins and Saeed Blacknall combined for nearly 800 yards and four scores in 2016.

Top returning Big Ten quarterbacks by passing production
Name (Yr.) Team Comp/Att (%) Yards TDs
Trace McSorley (RS Jr.) Penn State 224/387 (57.9) 3,614 29
David Blough (RS So.) Purdue 295/517 (57.1) 3,352 25
Richard Lagow (5th) Indiana 253/438 (57.8) 3,362 19
Clayton Thorson (RS Jr.) Northwestern 280/478 (58.6) 3,182 22
J.T. Barrett (Sr.) Ohio State 233/379 (61.5) 2,555 24
Wilton Speight (RS Jr.) Michigan 204/331 (61.6) 2,538 18

After Penn State, Northwestern returns the second most offensive production with 81 percent of its offense and 82 percent of its scoring offense back for another year. The Wildcats finished fifth in the Big Ten West with a 7-6 overall record and a 5-4 conference record and their offense wasn’t the strength, finishing 73rd nationally in total offense and 87th in scoring.

Quarterback Clayton Thorson is the fourth-leading returning quarterback in the Big Ten after throwing for more yards (3,182) than any other sophomore in Northwestern history. Running back Justin Jackson lead the Big Ten in rushing last season, averaging 117.2 yards per game, and he’s back for his senior season. Like Penn State, Northwestern has to replace its top receiver, Austin Carr, who was far and away the Big Ten’s leading receiver a year ago. His 1,247 yards were 252 more than the next best. Junior Flynn Nagel is NU’s leading receiver with 447 yards and two touchdowns.

Top returning Big Ten running backs by production
Name (Yr.) Team Rush Att. Yards TDs
Justin Jackson (Sr.) Northwestern 298 1,524 15
Saquan Barkley (Jr.) Penn State 272 1,496 18
Rodney Smith (RS Jr.) Minnesota 240 1,158 16
Mike Weber (So.) Ohio State 182 1,096 9
Akrum Wadley (5th) Iowa 168 1,081 10
Ty Johnson (Jr.) Maryland 110 1,004 6

Purdue returns the third-most offensive production with 74 percent of the nation’s 80th-best offense and 73 percent of the 101st-best scoring offense coming back. Redshirt sophomore quarterback David Blough was one of the lone bright spots for the Boilermakers, who went just 3-9 overall and 1-8 in the Big Ten. Blough lead the conference with 279.3 passing yards per game and finished second with 25 passing touchdowns. His 517 passing attempts were 38 more than any other conference quarterback despite playing one fewer game.

Ohio State is an intriguing story this fall, returning the fourth-most offensive production from last season with 71 percent of their total offense and 67 percent of their scoring. But the big addition that isn’t shown in the returning production statistics is the offseason hiring of offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson, the offensive guru who was Indiana’s head coach the past six seasons. His hiring was music to the ears of OSU fans who had become increasingly angered with Ed Wariner and Tim Beck’s erratic play calling.

Wilson will install his tempo-based spread attack into an offense that returns more than two-thirds of its production and that could be a scary thing. The Buckeyes do have to replace Curtis Samuel, who finished third on the team with 771 rushing yards and lead the team with 865 receiving yards, racking up 15 touchdowns in the process, but with Mike Weber returning from a 1,000-yard freshman campaign and J.T. Barrett back for another season behind center, Ohio State should take a step forward on offense this fall. The only question mark is at the receiver position where tight end Marcus Baugh is the leading returner with just 269 yards and two touchdowns.

Top returning Big Ten receivers by production
Name (Yr.) Team Receptions Yards TDs
Nick Westbrook (Jr.) Indiana 54 995 6
Malik Turner (Sr.) Illinois 48 712 6
Mike Gesicki (Sr.) Penn State 48 679 5
D.J. Moore (Jr.) Maryland 41 637 6
Jazz Peavy (5th) Wisconsin 43 635 5
Troy Fumagalli (5th) Wisconsin 47 580 2

Indiana, Michigan, and Illinois all return about the same amount of offensive production — in the low 60 percent — but Michigan stands out among the three for a couple of reasons. Whereas Michigan and Indiana both ranked about the same in total offense last season (Indiana 56th, Michigan 58th), Illinois had the nation’s 123rd-best offense. And Ohio State’s gain was Indiana’s loss with regards to Wilson. The Hoosiers’ offense is sure to take a step back under new offensive coordinator Mike DeBord.

Michigan, meanwhile, returns quarterback Wilton Speight — the first returning starter at the position since Harbaugh has been in Ann Arbor — and also returns plenty of experience at the running back position. Chris Evans is slated to assume the starter role which he shared with De’Veon Smith a year ago. Evans showed flashes of brilliance as a true freshman and now looks to expand that into a full season this fall. Receiver is the main question mark for the Wolverines after losing Amara Darboh, Jehu Chesson, and Jake Butt to the NFL. But there is plenty of young talent ready to step up.

The next level of returning offensive production includes Rutgers, Wisconsin, Maryland, and Minnesota, who each return around half of last season’s production. Rutgers had the nation’s worst offense and second worst scoring offense last season, so they won’t factor into the discussion. Maryland had four different quarterbacks who passed for at least 200 yards last season and returns two of them, but also returns a 1,000-yard rusher in Ty Johnson. Minnesota has to replace quarterback Mitch Leidner, who passed for 2,169 yards and rushed for 366, but brings back the third-leading returning running back, Rodney Smith, who rushed for 1,158 yards and 16 touchdowns.

Wisconsin is the team that could be poised for another run at a Big Ten title this fall with solid talent returning. Quarterback Alex Hornibrook will take the reigns fully this fall after sharing with Bart Houston. The redshirt sophomore completed 58.6 percent of his passes for 1,262 yards, nine touchdowns, and seven interceptions a year ago. He has two of the Big Ten’s top six returning receivers to throw to in Jazz Peavy and tight end Troy Fumagalli, who combined for 1,215 yards and seven scores last season, but does have to find a replacement for Corey Clement in the ground game. Bradrick Shaw rushed for 457 yards on 5.2 yards per carry and the Badgers add Pitt transfer Chris James, who averaged five yards per carry in 2015.

A trio of usual stalwarts bring up the rear in terms of returning production as Michigan State, Iowa, and Nebraska have the least returning this fall. The Spartans found themselves in the same position last year and their total offense went from 73rd nationally in 2015 to 75th in 2016, while their scoring offense fell from 60th to 140th. They do have running back L.J. Scott back, but have to replace their top four receivers and quarterback Tyler O’Connor. Brian Lewerke figures to start the season behind center, but Dantonio’s offense has as many question marks as any team in the conference.

Iowa brings back just 30 percent of its total offense and scoring offense, both of which ranked among the Big Ten’s worst in 2016. Quarterback C.J. Beathard, running back LeShun Daniels, and receiver Riley McCarron are all gone, but Akrum Wadley does bring back his 1,081-yard, 10-touchdown performance.

Finally, Nebraska has just 22 percent of its 90th-ranked total offense and 20 percent of its 79th-ranked scoring offense returning. The Cornhuskers have to replace quarterback Tommy Armstrong, their top two rushers, and three of their top four receivers. Redshirt junior Tanner Lee and redshirt freshman Patrick O’Brien will battle for the starting quarterback position and head coach Mike Riley will have to find playmakers everywhere to step up.

It’s shaping up to be an interesting Big Ten race this fall, at least as far as offenses are concerned, with a lack of top-flight quarterbacks and not many household names returning. The rich seem to be getting richer as Penn State and Ohio State have the clear advantage offensively. If the Nittany Lions can continue the torrid offensive pace that they closed 2016 with they’ll be a force to be reckoned with, and if Kevin Wilson can improve the Buckeyes’ offense, we could be looking at a two-team race.

Stay tuned as we take a look at the returning defenses later this week.

Holtmann hiring gives Ohio State a hero, not the villain it deserves

Wednesday, June 14th, 2017


(Getty Images)

Rivals are supposed to feature villains — unlikable characters who are easy to hate, who say and do all the wrong things, and who — of course — never play by the rules. So why is Ohio State actually trying to make me like them?

The hiring of Butler head coach Chris Holtmann to replace Thad Matta, which was made official on Monday, presents a major paradox for me. I now have to either root for Ohio State or root against a great guy whose career I’ve been following and rooting for since he was an assistant coach in the early 2000s at the alma mater we both share.

Many here may be surprised to learn that I don’t hold a Michigan degree, though my maize and blue blood runs just as deep as those who do. I grew up a Wolverine for life with a mom and grandfather who were both alums and my dream was to play soccer for the Maize and Blue. A knee injury that sidelined my junior season ended those dreams, and when it came time to choose a school, I narrowed my choice to two: pay full, out-of-state tuition to attend Michigan, or accept a soccer scholarship to my dad’s alma mater, Taylor University.

I chose the latter in order to pursue soccer, and when I arrived in tiny Upland, Indiana as an 18-year old freshman, Coach Holtmann was there to serve as my academic advisor. Still in his late 20s, Holtmann was just beginning his coaching career as an assistant at the school where he earned All-America honors as a player.

The following year, Holtmann left Taylor to take an assistant coaching position at Gardner-Webb, his first step into NCAA Division 1 basketball. I followed his career as he moved onto John Groce’s staff at Ohio University, then returned to Gardner-Webb to take his first head coaching position, where he produced the most wins in school history in his third season, earning Big South Coach of the Year honors.

The following season, he joined Brandon Miller’s staff at Butler and a year later became interim head coach when Miller took a leave of absence. Three months later, he was officially named head coach, and this past season he was named Big East Coach of the Year.

It was a quick rise from NAIA assistant to Big Ten head coach, but given his basketball pedigree, it’s not a complete surprise. His mentor, Paul Patterson, is the winningest coach in Indiana basketball history — and 11th-most at any level — notching 734 wins, 15 conference titles, 14 NAIA National Tournament appearances, one final four, 12 Conference Coach of the Year honors, and the 1991 National Coach of the Year award in 34 seasons at Taylor. He was a small school Bobby Knight and regularly landed high-character recruits who were talented enough to play at least lower-level Division 1.

From 1984-94, Patterson’s teams won 25 games in 10 straight seasons — including Holtmann’s entire playing career –, putting the Trojans in the company of UCLA, UNLV, and Lipscomb as the only men’s teams at any level of college basketball to accomplish the feat.

He coached a hard-nosed, defensive-minded, methodical style of basketball that is also evident in Holtmann’s teams. His coaching tree features branches that span all levels of basketball with Hotmann now being the farthest reaching to date. Groce, who was most recently the head coach at Illinois from 2012-17, was a teammate of Holtmann under Patterson in the early 90s. He’s now the head coach at Akron.

Others include: Michigan assistant coach Jeff Meyer, who is the all-time winningest head coach at Liberty University; Steve Brooks, who accumulated a 468-132 record and two NAIA Division II National Championships in 17 seasons as the head coach of Indiana Wesleyan’s women’s team; Ty Platt, who has averaged 17 wins a season in nine seasons at the helm at Huntington University; Dave Close, who has won more than 500 games as a high school coach in Stow, Ohio; Chad Tapp, the head coach at Lyon College; and current Taylor head coach Josh Andrews, who also coached Princeton High School to the 2009 Ohio state title game where they came up two points short to the Trey Burke- and Jared Sullinger- led Northland team.

For a small liberal arts school with less than one-tenth the undergraduate enrollment of Michigan and less than five percent that of Ohio State’s to produce two Big Ten head coaches and another top assistant is nothing short of remarkable. And while Groce didn’t quite work out in Champaign, it’s impossible not to root for Holtmann to succeed.

Ohio State was supposed to hire someone like LaVarr Ball to complement archenemy Urban Meyer — and Jim Tressel before him — with an easy-to-hate coach on the hardwood. The hiring of Holtmann is a dramatic plot twist, and although the rest of the Michigan fan base doesn’t share the same connection to Holtmann that I do, he will prove to be a rare Ohio State coach that is hard not to like.

I won’t be buying scarlet and grey any time soon, but on every day except when facing Michigan Coach Holtmann will have my support.

New in Blue: 2018 QB Joe Milton

Monday, May 8th, 2017


(Scout.com)

Joe Milton – QB | 6-6, 222 | Orlando, Fla. (Olympia)
ESPN4-star, #8 QB Rivals: 4-star, #6 QB 247: 4-star, #12 QB Scout: 3-star, 29 QB
247 Composite: 4-star #10 QB, #243 nationally
Other top offers: Florida, Georgia, Miami, Tennessee, Ole Miss, Louisville, Missouri, Kansas State

Fresh off of a trip to Rome and the top NFL Draft haul in the nation, Jim Harbaugh continued the momentum by landing a commitment from Orlando, Fla. quarterback Joe Milton. Milton released a great commitment video on Sunday afternoon.


Milton is a four-star according to ESPN, Rivals, and 247, and a three-star according to the lone outlier, Scout. Rivals ranks him the highest as the 6th-best dual-threat quarterback in the 2018 class, while ESPN ranks him 8th-best, and 247 as the 12th-best pro-style. Scout ranks him as the 29th-best overall quarterback. Nationally, Rivals ranks him 113th overall, ESPN 124th, and 247 271st. He’s the 10th-best pro-style quarterback and 243rd-best overall player in the class per the 247 Composite.

At 6-foot-6 and 222 pounds, Milton has great size already as he finishes up his junior year of high school. As his commitment video demonstrated, he was originally from Pahokee, Fla., where Michigan landed several players in the past decade. His family moved to Orlando for better opportunities and he drew the attention of many of the top schools in the south. Ultimately, he chose the Wolverines over Florida, Georgia, Miami, Tennessee, and others.

Scout lists Milton’s strengths as arm strength, game management, playmaking skills, pocket awareness, running ability/mobility, and size, while listing his areas to improve as accuracy, decision-making, and release. They expanded on that.

“Milton is a bouncy athlete who is light on his feet, so you have to like his ability to evade pressure and extend plays with his legs. His size for the position is obvious, but overall, he is a good looking athlete who can provide that game-changing play under center. Milton also does a good job of transferring weight and stepping into his throws. He has packed on solid mass over the past year, and measures in at roughly 6-foot-5 when lacing up the cleats. He can continue to work on his accuracy on some of his intermediate throws, but flashes great ball placement when extending the field with the deep ball.”

Milton has been described as raw with a ton of upside, which is a perfect fit for Michigan’s roster, especially under Harbaugh’s tutelage. With Dylan McCaffrey in the class ahead of him and Brandon Peters a year ahead of that, Milton will have plenty of time to develop those raw skills to add to his already impressive frame. New offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton likened Milton to Steve McNair, who enjoyed a long NFL career, including the 2003 MVP award.

Milton is the eighth member of Michigan’s 2018 class, joining running back Christian Turner, offensive lineman Emil Ekiyor, linebacker Otis Reese, defensive end Aidan Hutchinson, and defensive backs Myles Sims, Gemon Green, and German Green.

Michigan sets program record with 11 NFL Draft picks

Monday, May 1st, 2017


Following Jim Harbaugh’s second season in Ann Arbor, Michigan has set a new program record with 11 players drafted in the 2017 NFL Draft, topping the previous record of 10 which happened in 1972 and 1974. The 11 Wolverines  selected were the most of any school in this year’s draft, one more than Alabama, who also set a program record.

Michigan matched its record of five players selected in the first 100 picks and six players selected in the first three rounds, which was also achieved in 1972, following Bo Schembechler’s third season. In two seasons, Harbaugh has seen 14 players drafted, and although none were his recruits, he and his coaching staff played a major role in developing them into NFL caliber players. To put it in perspective, from 2010 to 2015 (six NFL drafts) the Wolverines had just 16 players drafted, only two in the first round and seven in the first three rounds.

In addition to the 11 players drafted, seven others have signed undrafted free agent contracts, which means the Wolverines will have at least 18 rookies in training camps this season.

Here’s a breakdown Michigan’s record-breaking draft.

Round 1 – Pick 25 | Jabrill Peppers | Cleveland Browns

Peppers became Michigan’s first first-round draft pick since Taylor Lewan was selected 11th overall by the Tennessee Titans in the 2014 draft. He was also the first Michigan player drafted by the Cleveland Browns since Braylon Edwards was taken third overall in the 2005 draft.

Peppers celebrated by party hopping, not dancing.


Peppers was introduced at the Browns’ facility along with No. 1 overall pick Myles Garrett and and tight end David Njoku, who was drafted 29th:


The three also threw out the first pitch at the Cleveland Indians game on Friday:

Links: 

• Doug Lesmerises urges Ohio State fans who also root for the Browns to root for Peppers.

• Browns coaches plan to use Peppers on offense as well as defense.

• CBS Sports’ Pete Prisco gave the Browns an F for drafting Peppers.

Current Browns players react to the addition of Peppers.

Round 1 – Pick 28 | Taco Charlton | Dallas Cowboys

Just three picks after Peppers, Taco Charlton heard his name called by the Dallas Cowboys, giving Michigan two first-round draft picks for the first time since Braylon Edwards and Marlin Jackson were taken in the first round of the 2005 NFL Draft.

Links: 

• The Cowboys believe Charlton’s best football is ahead of him.

• Charlton is hearing from endorsers regarding his name.

• The Cowboys’ site goes behind the scenes with Taco.

Round 3 – Pick 74 | Chris Wormley | Baltimore Ravens

Michigan got shut out of the second round, but Jim Harbaugh’s brother John came to the rescue, drafting Christ Wormley to the Baltimore Ravens. Wormley will join former teammate Willie Henry, who was drafted by the Ravens in the fourth round of last year’s draft.

Defensive line coach Greg Mattison tweeted his congratulations all the way from Rome:

Links: 

• Wormley is excited to go from Harbaugh to Harbaugh.

• Wormley developed a good relationship with Ravens defensive line coach Joe Cullen, giving him a hunch that they’d draft him.

• Baltimore Sun columnists analyze the pick.

• RavensWire is very positive about Wormley’s ability to make an impact.

Round 3 – Pick 92 | Jourdan Lewis | Dallas Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys picked up their second Michigan defender in three rounds, reuniting Taco Charlton with Jourdan Lewis.


Greg Mattison gave the Cowboys the game plan:

Links: 

• Despite a pending domestic violence trial, the Cowboys are confident in Lewis’ character.

• Tim Cowlishaw details the Cowboys’ propensity to put its money on the offense, leaving a lot of pressure on Lewis to perform as a rookie.

• CBS Sports grades the Lewis pick as a B+

Round 3 – Pick 95 | Delano Hill | Seattle Seahawks

Safety Delano Hill went surprisingly early, as the Seattle Seahawks drafted him with their third round pick, 95th overall.

Links: 

• Hill is happy to join the Seahawks‘ secondary.

• Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times lists Hill as the Seahawks’ most important pick for the future.

• Seattle PI says Hill will be groomed to replace Kam Chancellor.

Round 3 – Pick 106 | Amara Darboh | Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks didn’t waste any time reuniting Hill with his former teammate Amara Darboh, selecting the Michigan receiver 106th overall, just 11 picks after Hill.


Former Wolverine Frank Clark shared his excitement over the Seahawks drafting a pair of his former teammates:

Links: 

• Mark Snyder details how the Seahawks were “laying in the weeds” to draft Darboh.

• Josh Henschke breaks down how Michigan’s pro-style system prepared Darboh for the NFL.

• The News Tribune has a nice write up on Darboh’s journey from an orphan in Sierra Leone to the NFL.

Round 3 – Pick 120 | Ben Gedeon | Minnesota Vikings

Just 14 picks after Darboh, linebacker Ben Gedeon heard his name called by the Minnesota Vikings as the 13th pick of the fourth round. He was the Vikings’ second selection of the round, following Iowa defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson.

Links: 

• Gedeon has a great Twitter cover photo.

• Vikings fans weren’t particularly enamored with the pick, grading it a C.

• Vikings Territory sees Gedeon’s immediate impact on special teams.

Round 4 – Pick 138 | Ryan Glasgow | Cincinnati Bengals

While Gedeon was drafted higher than many thought, the next Wolverine selected, Ryan Glasgow, was a great pick near the end of the fourth round by the Cincinnati Bengals.

Links: 

• Land of 10 has a nice breakdown of Glasgow’s path from walk-on to the NFL.

• Cincy Jungle details where Glasgow fits in and why the pick made sense.

Round 4 – Pick 139 | Jehu Chesson | Kansas City Chiefs

The Kansas City Chiefs gave Michigan back-to-back draft picks when they selected Jehu Chesson with the 139th overall pick.

Links: 

• CBS Sports graded the pick a D-, calling it a reach.

• Chiefs.com lists five things to know about Chesson.

• Arrowhead Pride likes Chesson’s polish and compared him to former Michigan and NFL receiver Jason Avant.

Round 5 – Pick 145 | Jake Butt | Denver Broncos

The biggest disappointment of Michigan’s draft was Jake Butt falling to the fifth round. Had he not suffered his second ACL tear in the Orange Bowl, Butt surely would have been a second or third round pick at worst, but his uncertainty for this fall caused teams to pass on him. The Denver Broncos came to the rescue, drafting Butt with the first pick of the fifth round, 145th overall.


John Elway offered some praise of Butt:

Links: 

• Yahoo’s Frank Schwab analyzes the payout from Butt’s insurance policy.

• Predominantly Orange likes Butt’s potential fit as a red zone target.

• Broncos Wire thinks Butt could start this fall.

Round 6 – Pick 197 | Jeremy Clark | New York Jets

The last and final Wolverine drafted on Saturday was cornerback Jeremy Clark. Like Butt, Clark suffered a major injury in 2016, though he missed more than half the season, so his pick was somewhat of a surprise. The New York Jets drafted Clark 197th overall.

Links: 

• Jets Wire loves Clark’s size and sees potential for significant playing time this fall.

Michigan’s Undrafted Free Agents

Erik Magnuson – San Francisco 49ers

Kyle Kalis – Washington Redskins

Matt Godin – Houston Texans

Dymonte Thomas – Denver Broncos

Channing Stribling – Cleveland Browns

Kenny Allen – Baltimore Ravens

De’Veon Smith – Miami Dolphins

Jeremy Clark drafted 197th overall by New York Jets

Saturday, April 29th, 2017


Cornerback Jeremy Clark rounded out Michigan’s 2017 NFL Draft as the 11th Wolverine selected. He was drafted by the New York Jets with the 13th pick of the sixth round, 197th overall.

Clark missed most of his senior season after tearing his ACL in Week 4. He had started the first three games of the season, recording 10 tackles and two pass breakups prior to his injury. In 2015, he made seven starts, notching 21 tackles and three interceptions.

As a sixth round draft pick, he’ll have work to do to make the Jets roster, but he joins a unit that recorded just eight interceptions in 2016, which was second worst in the league. The Jets were middle of the pack in pass defense and entered the draft with retooling the secondary as a major need. The team signed Morris Claiborne as a free agent but need corners to step up alongside him. Clark will need to fully recover from his injury, but as a big, physical press corner, will have a shot at earning a spot.

Jake Butt drafted 145th overall by Denver Broncos

Saturday, April 29th, 2017


The wait was longer than expected, but Jake Butt was finally drafted with the first pick of the fifth round in the 2017 NFL Draft. The Denver Broncos selected Butt 145th overall on Saturday afternoon.

Butt won the John Mackey Award as the nation’s best tight end and was a first-team All-American and All-Big Ten First Team. He won the Big Ten’s Kwalick-Clark Tight End of the Year award while ranking second on the team with 46 catches for 546 yards and four touchdowns in 2016.

For his career, Butt set Michigan records with 138 receptions and 1,646 yards, the most by a tight end in program history. He also caught 11 touchdown passes. Butt had his best game of the season against UCF, catching seven passes for 86 yards and two touchdowns.

Butt’s tumble down the draft board was due to a pair of knee injuries suffered during his career, most recently a torn ACL in the Orange Bowl at the end of December. Because of that, he won’t be full speed in 2017.

In Denver, Butt fills a need at a position that didn’t make a lot of production in 2016. Virgil Green lead the Broncos tight ends with 22 receptions for 237 yards and one touchdown. The Broncos drafted Ohio State tight end Jeff Heuerman in the third round two years ago, but he caught just nine passes for 141 yards last season.

Jehu Chesson drafted 139th overall by Kansas City Chiefs

Saturday, April 29th, 2017


Jehu Chesson gave Michigan back to back selections in the 2017 NFL Draft when he was picked 139th overall by the Kansas City Chiefs, just one pick after the Cincinnati Bengals selected Ryan Glasgow.

Chesson made 25 career starts at receiver, catching 114 passes for 1,639 yards and 12 touchdowns, earning honorable mention All-Big Ten honors by the media in 2016 and All-Big Ten First-Team honors by the coaches in 2015. He also added three rushing touchdowns and a kick return touchdown.

Chesson enjoyed the best season of his career in 2015, catching 50 passes for 764 yards and nine touchdowns and adding 154 rushing yards and two scores. He was nearly unstoppable over the final four games of the season when he averaged 126 yards on 27 receptions and scored six of his nine receiving touchdowns.

That performance lead to high expectations for his senior season, but after tearing his PCL in the Citrus Bowl, his numbers declined in 2016. His best game of the season came against Maryland when he caught five passes for 112 yards and a touchdown. The highlight of his career was a 96-yard kickoff return for touchdown to open the 2015 Northwestern game.

The Chiefs ranked 22nd in the NFL last season in receiving yards and 24th in receiving touchdowns. Tight end Travis Kelce was by far the team’s leading receiver, but the team does have a solid corps of receivers including Tyreek Hill and Jeremy Maclin. Chesson will compete with Chris Conley and Albert Wilson for the third receiver spot this fall.

Ryan Glasgow drafted 138th overall by Cincinnati Bengals

Saturday, April 29th, 2017


Michigan nose tackle Ryan Glasgow became the eighth Wolverine drafted in the 2017 NFL Draft when he was selected 138th overall by the Cincinnati Bengals on Saturday afternoon.

Glasgow came to Michigan as a walk-on, but made 33 starts in 45 career games, recording 91 total tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss, five sacks, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, and a pass deflected. He shared Michigan’s Richard Katcher Award in both 2015 and 2016 with Chris Wormley as the team’s best defensive lineman.

The Aurora, Ill. native earned second team All-Big Ten honors this season and played his best game of the season against Indiana when he recorded a career-high seven tackles, three tackles for loss, and forced a fumble. He notched 1.5 tackles for loss and a sack against Ohio State.

Perhaps the most telling moment of his career came in 2015 when he tore his pectoral muscle against Rutgers and was forced to miss remaining four games. His loss impacted the entire defense, which was gashed for 307 rushing yards by Indiana the next week and and 369 rushing yards by Ohio State three weeks later. With Glasgow back in the middle in 2016, Michigan’s defense finished in the top 15 nationally against the run.

Glasgow joins defensive ends Jordan Willis and Carl Lawson in the Bengals’ draft class as the team tries to rehaul its defensive line. Glasgow will look to replace Domata Peko and will battle Pat Sims and Andrew Billings for a spot in the rotation.

Ben Gedeon drafted 120th overall by Minnesota Vikings

Saturday, April 29th, 2017


Michigan had six players drafted in the first three rounds of the 2017 NFL Draft and didn’t have to wait long to see a seventh come off the board on Saturday. Linebacker Ben Gedeon was selected by the Minnesota Vikings with the 14th pick of the fourth round, 120th overall.

Gedeon started just 14 games in his career, but 13 of them came in 2016 when he thrived under new defensive coordinator Don Brown. He earned All-Big Ten Second Team honors from the media and Third Team honors from the coaches and he won Michigan’s Roger Zatkoff Award as the team’s best linebacker.

Gedeon lead the team with 106 tackles — 30 more than any other player — and recorded 15.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, two pass breakups, and two quarterback hurries. He turned in his best game of the season against Ohio State when he recorded 10 tackles, two tackles for loss, and a sack.

In Minnesota, Gedeon projects to be a middle linebacker in their 4-3 defense. He joins Florida State running back Dalvin Cook, Ohio State center Pat Elflein, and Iowa defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson in the Vikings draft class through the first four rounds.

Amara Darboh drafted 106th overall by Seattle Seahawks

Friday, April 28th, 2017


Michigan closed out the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft with a flurry of picks, capped off by receiver Amara Darboh being selected 106th overall by the Seattle Seahawks. He will join teammate Delano Hill, who was picked by Seattle just 11 picks prior.

Darboh was an All-Big Ten Second Team selection by both the coaches and media in 2016 and a Biletnikoff Award candidate. He lead the team with 57 receptions for 862 yards and seven touchdowns. He finished his career with 151 catches for 2,062 yards and 14 touchdowns while making 28 starts. He turned in the fourth-longest reception streak in Michigan history, catching at least one pass in 33 straight games.

In the second game of the season, Darboh caught five passes for 111 yards and two touchdowns against UCF, the first multi-touchdowns game of his career. A few weeks later, he scored the game-winning touchdown against Wisconsin, and he also caught the game-tying touchdown in overtime against Ohio State. Against Michigan State, Darboh caught eight passes for 165 yards. The highlight of his career was a turning, fully stretched out, one-handed snag against BYU in 2015.

Darboh is a feel-good American success story. He was born in war-torn Sierra Leone during the country’s civil war that saw both of his parents killed. He was taken in by relatives and adopted by an American family at the age of seven. In 2015, he finally became a United States citizen, and on Friday night he became an NFL player.

The Seahawks had a top 10 passing offense last season, lead by Doug Baldwin’s 1,128 yards and 12 touchdowns. But Jermaine Kearse saw a dip in production as the No. 2 receiver despite more targets. Tyler Lockett finished the season as the second-best receiver, despite breaking his leg in Week 16, but he’s a slot guy that fills a different role than Darboh. Still, Darboh will have to compete for playing time given that Seattle has now drafted a receiver in five straight drafts. Paul Richardson came on late last season with 15 receptions for 213 yards and two touchdowns in the final four games, while Tanner McEvoy, the former Wisconsin quarterback, is also in the mix.

The NFL Draft will continue on Saturday with rounds four through seven beginning at 12pm Eastern. Jake Butt, Ben Gedeon, Jehu Chesson, Ryan Glasgow, Kyle Kalis, De’Veon Smith, Ben Braden, Channing Stribling, Dymonte Thomas, and Erik Magnuson will all hope to hear their names called.