The Beav!


No, not that Beav!


That Beav!

The recruiting train is starting to fill up. The latest commitment to add to the 2009 list is Wichita, TX QB Shavodrick Beaver.

Though strictly a verbal at this point, Michigan is the pick over Nebraska, Texas A&M, West Virginia (Ha!), Texas Tech...to name a few.

So that brings Michigan's QB verbal list to two. Four-star spread-option style QBs Beaver and Newsome.

Big Ten Bloggers Round Table - My First!

The Maize & Blue Nation is now officially a member of the Big Ten Bloggers!

I am still working on getting links to most (all) of the other member blogs up on the sidebar, but until then, I have a news feed that lists the latest posts by each of the member blogs. So for now, I give you my first edition of the Big Ten Bloggers Round Table.

1. I love spring. Flowers blooming. Birds chirping. Bones breaking. ACL’s tearing. List the injuries your team sustained and describe their impact on 2008.

I love spring too. It signals the beginning of the next football season. Spring ball is always a hit and miss endeavour. When starting from scratch with a new coach, staff, offense, system, way of life...it makes everything that much tougher.

Luckily, and hopefully this is a good sign of things to come, we are relatively injury free coming out of spring ball. A few nicks in the running back lineup, but hopefully nothing that a few good months of rehab and Mike Barwis can't sure. I think Minor was pretty much the main guy this spring. Carlos Brown was not healthy at all, and Grady saw limited reps. But with a few new guys coming this spring, Avery Horn and Sam McGuffie, RBs should be good to go.

2. Break down the major position battles going on with your offense.

Um...all of them?

I'd break them down, but I don't want to take up all my bandwidth. Lets just say, according to Rodriguez, all the positions are up for grabs. QB looks like Threet will get the initial starting nod. RBs are looking very good actually.

WR is a very young position, which is hard to believe when there are 15 of them on the spring roster! Greg Matthews is the standout. He was a good third option last year for Henne. Stonum has lots of hype coming in as a frosh. But Savoy and Hemingway are the only other WRs with any sort of real game experience.

TE is going to be a position with the only seniors on the offensive side of the ball. Mike Massey and Carson Butler bring a lot of much needed experience and leadership to the huddle.

The OL is a mess. I kind of covered it in a bit of detail here.

3. You knew this was coming. Break down the major position battles on defense.

If there is any bright spot on the team, it is on the defense. A lot of good experience coming back. The DL is going to be very good with Will Johnson, Terrance Taylor and Marques Slocum. DE is also strong. Brandon Graham is a freak of nature. Tim Jamison will also help.

LB is going to be much improved with the new speed of the Barwis regimen. John Thompson, Jonas Mouton, Obi Ezeh and Austin Panter will all see good time.

DBs have great depth. Safeties Brandon Harrison, Charles Stewart and Stevie Brown are all seasoned in the defensive backfield. And Morgan Trent and Donovan Warren are shut-down CBs.

4. Who are the unknown kids on your team that will be household names come December?

Hmm...well, I guess a good place to start is QB Steven Threet. If he gets the starting job, that is. If not, then it will be Justin Feagin, a true freshman spread style QB out of Deerfield, FL.

Also, Jake Long's immediate replacement Dann O'neill. A 6'7" 295 offensive tackle from Grand Haven, MI who could so very easily be a starter the minute he steps on campus.

5. How would you describe the general mood around your program? Are you gearing up the tailgate party for a conference title run or do you get the impression there are going to be a lot of empty seats in your stadium this year?

Empty seats? Not so fast my friend! We may not crack the 10-win barrier this year...or the 8-win barrier...but we surely will sell out every game. Michigan fans are prepping for a potentially hard season. Not particularly a 07 Irish-type season, but maybe a 99 OSU-type season. I personally just hope that our bowl streak remains intact. We have a brutal schedule right away. After last year, we know there are no gimmies anymore. So it will be up to the coaches and whatever seniors we have left to keep the bricks from crumbling around the Big House this year.

08 Draft

Not a bad showing for the Maize & Blue this year. 6 players taken.

Player

Position

Round

Pick/Overall

Team

Jake Long

OT

1

1

Miami

Chad Henne

QB

2

26/57

Miami

Shawn Crable

OLB

3

15/78

New England

Mario Manningham

WR

3

32/95

NY Giants

Mike Hart

RB

6

36/202

Indianapolis

Adrian Arrington

WR

7

30/237

New Orleans


Jake Long. Don't have to be a genius to see this one coming. Jake is a monster. To be drafted #1 this year, when 8 offensive lineman were taken in the first round, 41 in total, says a lot. Miami took the player they saw as helping their offense as most as possible. They could've had Darren McFadden, or Matt Ryan, or Glen Dorsey. But Jake is maybe one of the best lineman ever at Michigan, and one of the best to come out of the college ranks in a very long time.

After Jake, the rest of the draft gets a little hairy for Michigan. I love that 6 players got drafted...but how far down the list they went really shows how bad last season was in the eyes of the NFL scouts and media. I think Henne and Manningham will get a fair shake in the league. Henne especially. Miami is starting from scratch offensively. Chad can really step into a leadership role almost right away. Starting 4 years at Michigan should give him some cred, even as a rookie. Manningham shot himself in the foot...and maybe came out too early. But after the Wisconsin and OSU games last year, not many Michigan fans were to eager to have him back.

The biggest busts for Michigan this year have to be Mike Hart and Adrian Arrington. Hart has just about everything stacked against him in the NFL. He's small, not very fast, and has had some issues with durability when shouldering the bulk of the workload.

But Arrington is a bust that could've been avoided. He just simply wasn't draft-worthy yet. He would've surely benefited from a year in the Rich Rodriquez system. He must have gotten some sort of indication from draft experts or someone that would've told him he would be a late draft pick, if at all. Now on the flipside, the New Orleans Saints got a great receiver late in the draft. He's a big guy, good hands and can run pretty well. This wasn't a year were there were a lot of standout WRs, so it'll be interesting to see how well he really does.

UPDATE:
Jamar Adams signs a free agent contract with the Seattle Seahawks. One of the three safeties to sign with the team as free agents.

Be My Friend...Godfather?

Michigan's latest 2009 commit is none other than 4-star Virginia QB Kevin Newsome.



Newsome is ranked #39 on Rivals.com and is the 3rd top 50 commitment of Michigan's 2009 recruiting class.
"If you're good enough for the NFL, you're good enough for the NFL," he said. "Anywhere you go in the country, as a quarterback, you are going to have to do what you have to do to become a better quarterback from studying film, repetition throwing the football, working with your wide receivers and working with the athletes and obviously Michigan's going to have the athletes. Just like anywhere else, you're going to have to pay your dues and work hard."

"I really loved the coaching staff with Coach Rodriguez and Coach Jackson," he said. "I love the winning tradition of Michigan. I really believe Michigan is the Godfather of college football and that's what makes the Michigan-Ohio State game so notorious."
So, can you help make OSU the Fredo?
"We called the coaches this morning and Kevin talked to Coach [Rich] Rodriguez and committed," Kevin Newsome Sr. told Rivals.com's Mike Farrell this morning. "Coach Rodriguez was excited."
Newsome passed for 1,500 yards and ran for 600 in his junior season in high school.

And of course, what would a 4-star football recruit be without a YouTube mix-tape???


What?! No music?

Welcome to the family Kevin...now kiss the ring!

O-Line, Past and Future

Brian over at mgoblog has a post looking back about 10 years at some of the o-line standouts at Michigan and their subsequent NFL successes or busts.

One thing of particular note, as Brian points out, is that from 1996-2001, Michigan graduated 14 starters, half of which were drafted to the NFL. And from 2002-2007, 14 starters graduated, 3 of which were drafted. While at first blush, may not seem to be a huge disparity, upon delving a little deeper, it becomes clear as to why such a difference.

Enter: Andy Moeller. Michigan's o-line coach from 2002-2007. Mgoblog thinks while not all the blame should fall on his shoulders, at the end of the day, the buck has to stop somewhere...and typically, the position coach is the guy holding the short stack.

The standouts from Moeller's time at Michigan are pretty obvious...and proof that every squirrel does in-fact, find a nut from time to time. Jake Long and David Baas.

But this blog feels that Moeller was never given a fair shot from the beginning. It's not a mystery that Lloyd and his coaches (for the most part) lost their edge in the waining years at Michigan. Lloyd got comfortable with coddling his players and not instilling the fear of God like a responsible coach should. Chalk it up to old age. Either way, it's probably a combination of things that led to the sudden lack of domination at offensive line that Michigan fans had grown accustom to.
So, where do we stand now, you might ask?

Returning players:
68Bryant Nowicki
OL / 6-9 326 Jr./So.
75Cory ZirbelOL / 6-5 292 Sr./Jr.
50David MolkOL / 6-2 282 So./Fr.
60David MoosmanOL / 6-5 292 Sr./Jr.
72Mark HuygeOL / 6-6 292 So./Fr.
71Mark Ortmann*OL / 6-7 294 Sr./Jr.
69Michael RamirezOL / 6-3 288 Jr./So.
79Perry DorresteinOL / 6-7 308 Jr./So.
52Stephen Schilling*OL / 6-5 295 Jr./So.
62Tim McAvoy*OL / 6-6 288 Sr./Jr.
91Tom PomaricoOL / 6-4 248 So./Fr.
57Zac CiulloOL / 6-1 268 So./Fr.

Incoming Freshman next season:
Ricky BarnumOL6-2265Lakeland, Fla. (Lake Gibson)
Rocko KhouryOL6-5280Traverse City, Mich. (Traverse City West)
Elliott MealerOL6-6280Wauseon, Ohio (Wauseon)
Patrick OmamehOL 6-4260Columbus, Ohio (St. Francis DeSales)
Dann O'NeillOL6-7295Grand Haven, Mich. (Grand Haven)
Kurt WermersOL6-5260Crown Point, Ind. (Crown Point)

Not a whole lot of experience coming back, but the incoming freshman offer a slight glimmer of hope that good things are on the way.

Next year's projected starting line (via Varsity Blue) should go something like this:

LT - Mark Ortmann - Junior
LG - Tim McAvoy - Junior
C - David Molk - Freshman
RG - Cory Zirbel - Junior
RT - Steve Shilling - Sophomore

Disclaimer: Of course, this is all speculation and hearsay. But, in April...we'll take all we can get.

According to RR, this is all subject to change, and he's yet to come out with any sort of depth chart for any position, especially the offensive line. So, we'll have to wait and see. Odds are we'll see a pretty steady revolving door on the line (among other positions), and likely that some true-freshman could by thrown into the fray (i.e. Dann O'neill).

WOW!

Justin Boren actually transfers to OSU.

I'd write more...but what else is there to say?

Do you feel a draft in here?

Peter King, from SI has his latest mock NFL draft up...and his top QB is none other than Michigan's own Chad Henne.
The hot name as we enter the final five predraft days? Michigan quarterback Chad Henne. Two scouts I trust told me over the weekend they like him better than they like Ryan. There's a team somewhere between 8 and 17 -- and I can't figure out which one -- interested in trading down a few slots and drafting Henne with a first-round pick.
Ok, so I know Chad was a decent passer. He had a rocket arm. He was a not-so-decent runner. But to see his name ahead of Matt Ryan from BC just makes me smile. I think Chad could really find a niche in the league. Much like Tom Brady did, I think Henne has the same sort of mentality.

On the flip side, there's Mike Hart. Most gurus pick him somewhere in the 4th or 5th round. I personally don't know how well he may fit into a role in the NFL. I can see him as a sort of Barry Sanders type back. But at the same time, Barry was a once in a lifetime sort of player. Hart will probably struggle in the NFL to find a great role to play. He'd be a good pass blocker, maybe a good third down back...but nothing more.

And that's a tough thing to say about a guy who ran for more than 5,000 yards en route to the rushing record at Michigan. Most major career records were broken by Hart. But what I think most scouts see in him is a small back who ran a mediocre 40 yard dash and had recurring injury problems due to being forced into a heavy workload. Its a shame. He's as tough a back as you'll find in the draft. He works hard, he's a natural leader, he's never one to shy away from taking on men much bigger than him head on. Backs like Mike Hart don't come along too often. Lets hope someone in the league sees that and gives him a fair shot.

And finally, off topic...but noteworthy. The Big Ten released some times for game this year in which they label as "prime time" games. One of which is Michigan-Penn State. Kickoff in Happy Valley is at 4:30...which I guess really isn't prime time...but hey. So mark your October 18th calendars accordingly.

Jake Long Drafted First

Jake Long: #77 in your scorecards, #1 in your (hearts?) 2008 NFL Draft.

Just announced, the Miami Dolphins have signed our favorite 6'7", 315-pound lineman to a 5-year 30 million dollar contract, thus taking all the suspense from this weekend's draft.

This makes Jake Long the first Michigan player drafted #1 overall since Tom Harmon in 1941. Just in case you were keeping track.

Update: Video from ESPN:


Update 2: Another video from ESPN...

The Weekend in Sports

What a great time of year for sports fans. We had pretty much every major sport going on last weekend. But I'll start off with the one that matters the most to this blog.

The spring game was held at Saline High School on Saturday. Well, I guess it was more of a scrimmage, but either way, the team was out there...and it was not pretty. I heard the scrimmage was supposed to be aired on BTN, but as I looked around the dial Saturday morning, it was not there. But there were some highlights posted on the BTN site:



Tough to really establish how much progress has been made thus far. When you are starting from scratch on offense, there really is nowhere to go but up. From the looks of it, and from what I hear...the leader for the QB job is Threet. But of course that could all change when Justin Feagin comes to town. But a lot can change in the next few months.

So what tangibles can you really take away from this year's spring session? Well, its not that the offense is where it needs to be. But you can probably say that overall team speed and conditioning is much much better then it was this time last year. And who knows, that may be enough to make up for the lack of experience on offense.

I have to acknowledge that our depth and experience at running back will be able to sustain us in most games this year. With what we lack at QB and WR, we have an more than enough of at RB. Carlos Brown and Brandon Minor are looking better than ever right now. And with a healthy Kevin Grady back, nothing should be stopping us on the ground.

The real spotlight of the spring game was the defense. We are stacked on the line and in the backfield. D-lineman Will Johnson, Terrance Taylor and Tim Jamison give Michigan maybe the best D-line since '97.

Donovan Warren, Morgan Trent and Brandon Harrison at CB provide great coverage and depth. Stevie Brown and Charles Stewart will be key players at the safety position.

The only real trouble spot will be linebacker. While we do have Obi Ezeh and John Thompson coming back. But their lack of quickness and ability to tackle, or at least get a hand on Bennie Wells in the Ohio State game will leave me less than confident heading into summer.

We'll hear more from Rodriguez after Wednesday's final spring practice as far as initial depth at each position. But I have a feeling that we may see a very different squad come fall then we did line up last Saturday.

Moving on, other sports were in action this weekend. Including the greatest annual golf event ever. The Masters.

You may not be a big golf fan, but at least you have to be able to admire and acknowledge the fact that the Masters is not only great TV, but simply beautiful and inspiring to watch. The sheer competitiveness alone is enough to make me want to head to the driving range.

I'll admit, I like Tiger Woods. I used to not want him to win at all. But in the last few years, I've grown to really admire him as a competitor and sportsman. If you have young children, there is no better role model in all of sports. Golf is a quirky game, and to do what this man has done in his short career is nothing short of incredible. He may have not won yesterday, but he was everywhere you looked.

Also in the news, the Red Wings are up 2-0 on the Nashville Predators. I'm no hockey guy, but I love the NHL playoffs. I have only watched bits and pieces of the first 2 Wings games so far in the playoffs, but I am going to make it a point to watch more. There may be no better playoff sport to watch than hockey.

And of course, the NBA playoffs are right around the corner. I won't lie, I know so little about the NBA its scary. But what I do know is the Pistons have home court throughout the playoffs. And that is all I need to hear. I'll be watching.

And of course in less than two weeks, we have the NFL Draft. Where, of course, our hometown favorite Jake Long will be picked #1 by the Miami Dolphins. Word on the street is that the Big Tuna in Miami is also interested in Chad Henne. And I'll go on record as saying, if those two both go to Miami, then this half-assed Lions fan will done the Aqua and Coral come fall.

Victors Valiant

Happy Friday! This is a great day for MBN. We are now linked to on another Michigan Blog! The good folks over at Victors Valiant have found their way to our humble corner of the web and decided to link to us from their site.

So, here's to returning the favor. Head on over to V squared for hours of good Maize & Blue readin'!

Marijuana Mario

Good news, Mario Manningham liked to get baked while he was at Michigan.

According to the Ann Arbor News, Mannignham admitted this week, that he smoked marijuana and was tested positive twice during his college career. In an attempt to come clean and make himself look a little more respectable, Manningham sent a letter to NFL teams that contradicted his previous claim at the NFL combine in February that he never tested positive.
"I don't use marijuana anymore - and I have passed tests since," Manningham wrote. "I know what is at stake for me, and my career. I am learning what it is going to take to be a professional. I am writing this letter because I just want a fair evaluation, and I want to be accountable for my actions. I am willing to be re-interviewed, re-tested, and to undergo any evaluation any team wants me to undergo."
He also wrote that he was suspended for the 2007 Eastern Michigan game because Coach Carr thought he was "lacking focus".

Me wonders if he might have been "lacking focus" as he dropped pass after pass in the Ohio State game???

Either way...he's history. We move on.

Little Brother Gone Wild

Little brother + Natural Light + Springtime = Cedar Fest 2008



Many, many, many more just like it here.

Friday Link-a-Thon

Well, its Friday. And that means its time for another link-fest. I have no honest content this week, but many others do.

We'll start things off with an article from Sports Illustrated about Rich Rodriguez and the changes he's bringing to stodgy old Michigan. Its a decent read...nothing most Michigan blog readers probably don't already know.

If you have an interest in going to the spring game this year, hold your horses. While there will be a game played on April 12th, it won't be at the Big House. As the stadium undergoes renovations, the annual spring scrimmage has been moved to Saline High School. But don't plan on going. Attendance is by invite only. Saline's stadium only holds about 10,000 fans, far too few to seat the usual 25,000 that attend at the Big House.

However the game will be aired live on the Big Ten Network. So if you have any cable provider other than Comcast, you're in luck!

But, if you want to tempt fate and try and get a first hand glimpse of Rich and his new spread in person, and you have some extra camouflage gear sitting around, MVictors.com has you covered.

We here at MBN can not get enough of Mike Barwis and his new strength conditioning program he's got the team on. And anytime we can get to hear more about it, the better.

And finally, I stumbled upon this little web jem the other day...SI Vault. Its the complete history of Sports Illustrated for free on the web. Every article, every cover, every image, every page ever printed is now available online for you, the general public. Now you can re-live all the SI bias that we've come to adore all these years!