Posts Tagged ‘Will Campbell’

College football all-star games preview (Week 1)

Friday, January 18th, 2013


With the college football season over and next year’s freshmen getting ready to submit their letters of intent, the departing seniors get one last moment to shine in the winged helmet before heading to the NFL. Five Wolverines will take the field over the next two weekends along with the top seniors from around the country to give NFL scouts one more on-field look before February’s NFL Scouting Combine. Some will be looking to simply secure a draft spot. Others will be trying to improve their standing. Still others will be attempting to show they can improve their stock by switching positions. Let’s take a look at the games and the Michigan stars who will be competing in them.

Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013 | 3pm EST
Raycom All-Star Classic | Montgomery, Ala. | CBS Sports

This year marks the first Raycom All-Star Classic, which was created to give more college football seniors a chance to participate in an end-of-season all-star game. It will be held at Cramton Bowl in Montgomery, Ala. and will feature the Stripes team, coached by former Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Reeves, and the Stars team, coached by former NFL coach Jim Bates. 

Receiver Roy Rountree will suit up for the Stripes team hoping to prove to NFL scouts that he’s worthy of a draft pick. He put up a productive career at Michigan, finishing sixth in career receiving yards, just six yards behind Mario Manningham and 13 behind David Terrell. He also has some experience in stripes, catching the game-winning pass to beat Notre Dame in the Under the Lights game last season.

NFLDraftScout.com ranks Roundtree the 44th-best receiver in the Draft and the 999th overall prospect, which may not be enough to get drafted. But with a good performance on Saturday and in Michigan’s pro day or the Combine, he could prove capable of being a dependable possession receiver like former Michigan receiver Jason Avant has been for the Philadelphia Eagles. Roundtree will wear No. 89 in the game, rather than his familiar No. 21 (or 12).

Other players of note in the game are: Iowa QB James Vandenberg (Stripes), Purdue QB Robert Marve (Stripes), Alabama DLs Quinton Dial and Damion Square (Stripes), LSU WR Russell Shepard (Stars), and Notre Dame WR Robby Toma (Stars).

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Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013 | 4pm EST
East-West Shrine Game | St. Petersburg, Fla. | NFL Network

The East-West Shrine Game has been in existence since 1925, benefiting the Shriners Hospitals for Children. As the longest-running college football all-star game, it typically draws a solid group of players, and 246 former players from the game are currently on NFL rosters. The East team is coached by former NFL and college coach Jerry Glanville, while the West team will be headed by former Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Leeman Bennett. 

Will Campbell never really lived up to the hype he arrived in Ann Arbor with, but became a senior leader this past season and helped solidify Michigan’s defensive line that entered the season full of questions. He earned All-Big Ten honorable mention honors from the media and finished his career with 63 tackles, five for loss, and three sacks.

In order to earn a draft spot, he will have to shed the bust label with a solid performance and a good showing in the NFL Combine. By all reports, he has impressed in Shrine Bowl practices. Draftinsider.net’s Tony Pauline described him as dominant and unstoppable. CBSSports.com ranks him as the 18th-best defensive tackle prospect and a late sixth-round pick. He will be wearing his usual No. 73 for the West team in the game.

Other notable players in the game include: Penn State LB Gerald Hodges (East), Purdue CB Josh Johnson (East), Iowa WR Kennan Davis (West), Western Michigan (and former Michigan) OL Dann O’Neill (West), Iowa CB Micah Hyde (West), Notre Dame S Zeke Motta (West), and Ohio State LB Nathan Williams (West).

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Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013 | 9pm EST
NFLPA Collegiate Bowl | Carson, Calif. | ESPN2

The third and final bowl this Saturday has been around since 2006 under the name Texas vs. Nation Game and last year moved to California and sponsored by the National Football League Players Association. It’s a chance for some of the lesser-known seniors to perform one last time as a college player and impress NFL scouts. It also allows underclassmen entering the Draft to play. The American team will be coached by former New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs head coach Herm Edwards, while the National team will be headed by former Philadelphia Eagles, St. Louis Rams, and Kansas City Chiefs head coach Dick Vermeil. 

Elliott Mealer earned a starting spot this season as Michigan’s center after serving as a reserve offensive lineman the previous two seasons. One of the most inspirational stories of the last few years, Mealer has been a fan favorite due to the accident that resulted in the loss of his father and girlfriend and the paralyzation (and comeback) of his brother Brock. Oh yeah, and the epic beard he grew this season.

He has a lot of work to do to garner a draft pick, given that he started only one season, but he’s a hard-worker and could wind up on an NFL roster somewhere even if he goes undrafted. NFLDraftScout.com ranks him as the 65th-best guard in the draft. He will wear No. 76 for the National team on Saturday.

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Next week, we will profile the final all-star games that feature Michigan’s most well-known departing seniors, Denard Robinson and Jordan Kovacs.

#2 Alabama 41 – #8 Michigan 14: Tide sweeps Michigan out to sea

Sunday, September 2nd, 2012


Despite forcing Alabama into a three-and-out on its first series and looking like they could be formidable opponent, the Michigan defense was completely overmatched the rest of the night. They did record two sacks (and Will Campbell was looking quite nimble on his) but they were dominated up front by the best offensive line in the country.

Alabama's defense gave Michigan no room to run. This was a familiar sight (photo by Leon Halip, Getty Images)

After the three-and-out to start the game, Alabama proceded to score on its next three drives, all in a span of about five minutes. The Tide dominated the line play and created gaping holes for its backs to run through as Alabama ran the ball to the tune of 232 yards, including an astounding 111 yards from true freshman T.J.Yeldon on only 11 carries.

The passing game, however, left much to be desired for the Tide. A.J. McCarron finished a pedestrian 11-for-21 for 199 yards. But when throwing out of play-action, he was 6-for-9 for 123 yards with both of his touchdowns; a 2-yard pass to tight end Michael Williams to start the scoring and then a 51-yard pass on which Courtney Avery slipped and fell during a double move from DeAndrew White.

Denard Robinson injured his throwing arm making a tackle after throwing a pick in the first quarter but recovered as the game went along and looked to be fine. The same can not be said for cornerback Blake Countess, who left the game with an apparent knee injury after a special teams tackle. It appeared as though the trainers were giving him the ACL test on the sidelines and his status going forward has yet to be announced.

Denard threw another interception in the second quarter which went for six and Alabama was up 31-0 before Michigan found the endzone on a Denard 6-yard run towards the end of the first half. The run was preceded by a beautiful 71-yard pass to Jeremy Gallon, but it was one of the few bright spots of the day.

Denard and the offense looked completely out of sync; though his passes in the early going did have good velocity, he overthrew his receivers on several occasions. Devin Gardner got the starting nod at receiver and was targeted several times but didn’t make the most of it until late in the third quarter when he caught a 44-yard touchdown pass from Denard after the Tide defender fell down.

Neither team was any good on third down. Michigan went 3-for-11 while Alabama only managed 3-for-10, but the Tide had 20 first downs to Michigan’s 11. The passing yards were almost equal but most of Michigan’s yards came on two big plays, the 71-yarder to Gallon and the 44-yard touchdown pass to Gardner.

Bama's running backs ran through arm tackles all night (photo by Ronald Martinez, Getty Images)

Alabama is an elite program and while incredibly disappointing, Michigan should not hang their heads after this loss. This is a program that could conceivably win its third national title in four years, and not many teams, if any this season, will hang with Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide.

According to ESPN, the Tide are now 40-0 since the start of the 2008 season when they run for at least 150 yards. Alabama’s running backs were only hit in the backfield on four of their 38 runs, and on 13 runs, they were not hit until at least five yards past the line of scrimmage. That’s not a recipe for success for any defense.

Perhaps Hokeamaniac put it best last night on his Facebook page, saying, “Alabama was the superior team and outplayed the Michigan Wolverines from open to close. The physical mismatch was glaring. The Wolverine offense was incapable of doing anything and the play execution of the maize and blue was, pathetic at best.”

It’s not that they were not prepared; it’s just that Alabama was physically (and perhaps schematically as well) superior. Michigan looked like a JV team against professional athletes, showing that while they may be on the right track to regain national prominence they are still years away. Alabama is what happens when you have elite athletes playing in the same system under an elite coach. This is what Michigan is striving for and we must be patient while Brady Hoke builds this program back to elite status.

In the grand scheme of the season this does not hurt Michigan’s main goal, though the press will inevitably call this a confidence shaking loss and will posit that the Wolverines may not recover in time. Michigan’s goal is to win the Big Ten Championship and this game does not affect their pursuit of that goal. While there were some big mistakes made, like Denard’s pass directly to CJ Mosley which led to the pick-six, the outcome of the game was not because of poor execution. Michigan was simply overmatched. Luckily for them, they won’t face another team with the type of talent and size that Alabama possesses and should be just fine the rest of the year.

We will have more reaction to the game in the next couple of days as well as a first look at the Air Force Falcons.

Smith’s Hat Trick Leads Michigan as Jug Stays in Ann Arbor

Saturday, October 1st, 2011


For the second consecutive week Michigan got off to a strong start, scoring on its opening drive en route to a dominating victory. This time, Minnesota was the foe, and while the Gophers aren’t exactly the class of the Big Ten, no other Michigan team has ever beaten Minnesota as badly as it did today.

Vincent Smith scored a rushing touchdown, receiving touchdown, and threw a touchdown pass to lead Michigan to a 58-0 win, its first shutout since beating Notre Dame 38-0 in 2007, and its first shutout of a Big Ten opponent since a 20-0 victory over Penn State in 2001.

#19 Michigan 58 – Minnesota 0
Final Stats
58 Final Score 0
5-0 Record 1-4
580 Total Yards 177
363 Net Rushing Yards 73
217 Net Passing Yards 104
32 First Downs 8
0 Turnovers 2
3-24 Penalties – Yards 9-74
2-75 Punts – Yards 10-363
36:22 Time of Possession 23:38
6-for-11 Third Down Conversions 0-for-11
0-for-0 Fourth Down Conversions 0-for-0
3-16 Sacks By – Yards 1-8
3-for-3 Field Goals 0-for-0
7-for-7 PATs 0-for-0
8-for-9 Red Zone Scores – Chances 0-for-1

Denard Robinson hit Jeremy Gallon for nine yards to start the game. On the next play Devin Gardner came in and handed off to Denard, who then pitched it to Fitz Toussaint for a three-yard loss. Toussaint, however, made up for it two plays later when he busted through the line for a 35 yard rush. Three plays later, Vincent Smith punched it in from 3 yards out to put Michigan ahead 7-0.

After a three-and-out by Minnesota, which was forced by a third-down sack by Ryan Van Bergen, Michigan took over at its own 25. Denard drove the Wolverines 67 yards in four plays to get inside the Gopher 10. Two plays later, Denard took it in.

Minnesota suffered through another three-and-out before punting it back to Michigan. Nine plays later, two of which included a pass to Devin Gardner and a 15-yard run by Gardner, Michigan found itself in the endzone again. This time it was a Smith touchdown pass to Drew Dileo on a beautifully disguised play that had the entire state of Minnesota thinking it was a sweep play.

Minnesota managed to get their first first down of the game on its next play, but when faced with a third-and-one, took a three-yard loss when Jake Ryan sacked Max Shortell.

Michigan picked up where it left off with Fitz Touissaint rushing for 24 yards and Junior Hemingway catching a nine-yarder. After an offside penalty, Denard rolled right and found Vincent Smith wide open on a screen to the left. Smith, doing what he does best, found a seam and took it to the house from 28 yards out.

For those who haven’t been paying attention, with 9:38 left in the second quarter, Vincent Smith had a rushing TD, a passing TD and a receiving TD. Smith became the first major college running back to score on the ground, through the air as a passer and a receiver since Clemson’s C.J Spiller in 2009.

After a seven-yard rush by David Cobb, Jibreel Black introduced himself to Shortell for a sack. Black was the third Wolverine in the mix after Jake Ryan and Mike Martin laid their hands on Shortell to slow him down.

Michigan “stalled” on its next drive and settled for a Brendan Gibbons 25-yard field goal to go up 31-0.

Freshman Drew Dileo catches a touchdown pass from Vincent Smith...I think he was a tad bit open (photo by the Detroit News)

Minnesota used its next drive to march into Michigan’s side of the field for the first time (I guess the Gophers weren’t in a hurry to score). Unfortunately for them it was short-lived as Brandon Green was stripped by Blake Countess and Carvin Johnson recovered it. On the play preceding the fumble we had a Will Campbell sighting in the backfield as he bull rushed the center and laid a huge hit on Shortell as he let go of the pass. It took a bit longer than I would have liked but at least we’re beginning to see glimpses of the what the former five-star recruit can do. Hopefully he can make a habit of sitting on the quarterback a la former Wolverine Alan Branch.

Michigan proceeded to move the ball 36 yards before Denard hit a streaking Kevin Koger for a touchdown to put the Wolverines up 38-0. Minnesota ran out the clock for halftime.

Michigan outgained Minnesota 384-69 in the first half alone.

The second half was more of the same as Minnesota struggled to move the ball and Michigan moved almost at will. After Michigan scored to go up 45-0, Minnesota showed some life, taking the ensuing kick off 96 yards for a TD. However, it was called back for an illegal block and the Gophers had to punt the ball away.

The Little Brown Jug remains in Ann Arbor (photo by the Ann Arbor News)

It was at this point, a little more than midway through the third quarter, that Denard’s day was over. Devin Gardner came in and drove Michigan down to the Gopher 15 and Gibbons kicked a 32-yard field goal to put the Wolverines up 48-0.

After another Gopher three-and-out, Michigan took over on its own 20. After a mix of plays, including runs by Gardner and 38 total rushing yards on the drive by Thomas Rawls, Michigan found itself forced to kick yet another field goal. Gibbons connected on a 38-yarder and Michigan topped the 50 point mark for the first time this season.

Two drives later, after Minnesota took over in great field position, David Cobb took the hand off and ran 28 yards to the Michigan 20. It appeared as if the Gophers would finally get on the scoreboard. Cobb took the ensuing hand off and ran right, but Michigan defensive lineman Nathan Brink came from behind and popped the ball out. It bounced right into the hands of Courtney Avery who took it to the house for an 83 yard fumble return TD. 58-0.

Minnesota went three-and-out its next drive and Michigan ran out the final 3:09 of the game. Rawls grabbed another 34 yards rushing and Gardner added another 15 to his total as well.

Denard was 15-for-19 for 169 yards, 2 touchdowns and most importantly, no interceptions. He also added another 51 on the ground and a rushing tuchdown.

Fitz Touissaint rushed for a career high 108 yards on 11 carries and a touchdown and true freshman Thomas Rawls gained 73 on 10 carries.

All-in-all, it was a great day to be a Wolverine. While Minnesota is not the cream of the crop by any stretch Michigan still showed significant improvement. The defense was getting good pressure and didn’t seem to be out of place too often. Borges finally got really creative with his play-calling and put Denard and the offense in position to make some nice, easy throws. There weren’t many down-field tosses by Denard, but he managed the passing game well and should have gained some confidence in his arm and decision making ability as Michigan heads to Evanston, Ill. next week to take on Northwestern.