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Monthly Archives: April 2010

Oh. My. Goodness. EDSBS had this yesterday, and MGoBlog picked it up today. Just hit play, endure four minutes of horrific “music,” and immediately email any Notre Dame friends or colleagues to make fun of them forever:

Enjoy your weekend, everybody, especially if you’re graduating — tomorrow should be an incredible day at Michigan Stadium.

Cass Tech teammates Thomas Gordon and Will Campbell should both see increased roles in 2010.

Over the next couple weeks, I’ll be examining the foundation for the 2010 Michigan Wolverines: the five recruiting classes, from 2006 to 2010, that comprise the team. So far, I’ve examined the classes of 2006, 2007, and 2008. Today, I move on to this year’s sophomores and redshirt freshmen from the class of 2009:

Class of 2009 (Sorted by Rivals.com Rating):

[table id=106 /]

The Upshot:

I’ve been doing “Who’s Left” and “Who’s Gone” for the last few classes, but in this case that seems unnecessary. So far the 2009 class has had just one loss: Adrian Witty, who couldn’t get academically qualified. So, let’s go straight to the analysis.

It goes without saying that it is far too early to evaluate a class that has all of one collegiate season under their belts, but the class of 2009 has already had a large impact on the field. That impact, of course, starts with the two quarterbacks, Tate Forcier and Denard Robinson — both saw the field last year as true freshmen, and both showed flashes of brilliance while experiencing the expected freshman growing pains. Craig Roh stepped onto campus in the fall and immediately took over the starting quick end position, and is making the transition to outside linebacker this year. He looks like an all-conference candidate, and should be a leader on the defense for the next few years. Vincent Smith, surprisingly, was the other true freshman to have a major impact, filling in admirably when Brandon Minor and Carlos Brown were injured and putting himself in position to start at tailback in 2010. Will Campbell, Je’Ron Stokes, Vlad Emilien, Brandin Hawthorne, Teric Jones, and Mike Jones all saw the field in some capacity last season as well — Campbell should start at nose tackle this season, and the other five will all battle for starting spots as well.

Several other players from this class will compete for snaps this fall after taking a redshirt year in 2009. Jeremy Gallon looked solid in the spring game and should have an impact in the slot and as a returner. Taylor Lewan has emerged as the leading candidate to take over the left tackle position, despite not playing on the offensive line until his senior year of high school — he could be a very special player with his huge frame and potential. Fitzgerald Toussaint is in the mix in a crowded offensive backfield, and Thomas Gordon has been a spring surprise at one of the strong safety positions in the new 3-3-5 defense — both could conceivably start, though Gordon has a better chance of doing so than Toussaint. Isaiah Bell has bulked up to 237 pounds and is fighting for playing time at linebacker, while Anthony LaLota is now a solid 263 pounds and could be in the rotation along the defensive line. Quinton Washington and Michael Schofield are both battling for playing time on the offensive line, but they’re each probably a year or two away from taking over a starting job. Brendan Gibbons will likely be the starting kicker in the fall, as he is the only scholarship kicker on the roster. Finally, Cameron Gordon has been the breakout player of the spring after moving over to the defense from wide receiver — he appears to have solidified himself as the starter at free safety, and could be the type of ball-hawking, hard-hitting player Michigan has sorely lacked at the position.

The jury is still out on one player in particular: Justin Turner, who has just as much recruiting hype as Will Campbell, didn’t see the field last year after arriving late and out of shape in the fall after struggling to qualify, and this spring has not been able to seize the open cornerback job over J.T. Floyd and James Rogers. Turner looks like he has outgrown the cornerback position, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him end up at safety when this year’s crop of freshmen, which includes several cornerback prospects, hits campus.

Overall, this class has been a very solid one — Forcier, Robinson, and Roh provided early impact, several players will see the field in major roles this fall, and there is great potential for the future in players like Campbell, Lewan, Cameron Gordon, Vincent Smith, and more. After a three-year run of disappointing recruiting classes, the class of 2009 should be the one to lead the turnaround this program desperately needs.

Carlos Brown inked a deal with the New Orleans Saints.

Six ex-Michigan players have signed free agent deals with NFL teams after going undrafted, including cornerback Donovan Warren, who was not picked in the draft after declaring a year early. The school’s official press release:

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Six former members of the University of Michigan football program joined the three draftees by signing free agent contracts with National Football League teams Monday (April 26) following the 2010 NFL Draft concluded April 24.

Cornerback Donovan Warren (Long Beach, Calif./Polytechnic HS), who left Michigan following his junior year, signed a free agent deal with the New York Jets. He was the only undrafted Wolverine to sign with an AFC team. Warren joins his godfather, former NFL safety Mark Carrier, who is the defensive line coach for the Jets.

Five seniors from last year’s squad signed free agent contracts with NFC teams. Wide receiver Greg Mathews (Orlando, Fla./Edgewater HS) and tailback Brandon Minor (Richmond, Va./Varina HS) joined the Chicago Bears organization, offensive tackle Mark Ortmann (Klein, Texas/Klein HS) reached agreement with the Carolina Panthers, offensive guard/center David Moosman (Libertyville, Ill./Libertyville HS) signed with the Arizona Cardinals and tailback Carlos Brown (Franklin, Ga./Heard County HS) inked a deal with the Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints.

Another former Wolverine has also received a shot at an NFL roster spot, as the Washington Redskins signed Marques Slocum, the former five-star prospect who could never overcome academic issues at Michigan, to a free agent deal. Slocum finished his collegiate career at Eastern Arizona after leaving the Michigan program, and I’m happy to hear he’s getting a shot at a professional career.

Posting will be very light for the next couple days, as I’m heading down the home stretch of finals season. When I come back Thursday, I’ll be on summer vacation, so there will be no excuses for not producing more content here, and I have several ideas for summer features that will start making their way onto the blog.

Michigan has hired Western Michigan assistant coach and former University of Detroit player Bacari Alexander for the vacant basketball assistant coach position. Here’s the athletic department’s official press release:

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — University of Michigan men’s basketball head coach John Beilein announced today (Saturday, April 24) the hiring of Bacari Alexander as an assistant coach for the Wolverine program.

“I am very excited about the addition of Bacari Alexander to our coaching staff,” said Beilein. “From the very beginning of this search, I had specific qualities and characteristics I was looking for in our next basketball coach. Bacari fits that profile 100 percent.”

“He has strong roots in Michigan and significant recruiting experience both here and in neighboring states,” added Beilein. “He is a passionate teacher with strong communication skills. Bacari is a former post player and has a proven ability in the development of big men at the college level. With our young front court, that was an important factor in my final selection. I look forward to Bacari’s immediate and very positive impact on the growth of our program.”

“My family and I are very excited to be part of the Michigan family,” said Alexander. “As a native of the State of Michigan, I feel very fortunate to be associated with such a great program. For a lack of better terms, this is a match made in heaven for me.

“I am anxious to start working with this young and developing team, and I am eager and motivated to recruit the kind of student-athletes that will put Michigan back to the top of the Big Ten.”

Alexander comes to Michigan after a nine-year Division I coaching career, spending the last two seasons as an assistant coach at Western Michigan (2008-10). Working with the Broncos’ young group of front court players, Alexander helped Flenard Whitfield make the MAC All-Freshman Team in 2009 while assisting WMU to its second straight Mid-American Conference West championship, its fourth in the last six years. WMU went 18-15 in 2010 with a runner-up finish in the west division of the MAC.

Before making his way to Western Michigan, Alexander spent one season (2007-08) in the MAC at Ohio where he helped the Bobcats finish 20-13 overall and 9-7 in the MAC. The team advanced to the second round of the inaugural College Basketball Invitational.

Alexander began his coaching career spending six seasons at his alma mater, University of Detroit, under head coach Perry Watson. Alexander helped the Titans compile 96 wins in six seasons, including 53 victories in the Horizon League. The Titans finished .500 or better in conference play in five out of the six seasons with Alexander on staff.

Alexander played two seasons at Robert Morris, where he was named to the Northeast Conference All-Newcomer Team in 1995, before transferring to Detroit.

In his final two seasons, Alexander helped the Titans win a pair of Midwestern Collegiate Conference regular-season championships and reach back-to-back NCAA Tournaments (1998 and 1999). He started 57 of 62 games and was named to the MCC All-Defensive Team as a senior. Alexander played high school basketball at Detroit Southwestern.

The Eagles traded up to the 13th pick to select Brandon Graham.

Today’s post will be short and sweet, as I have a paper due in, oh, four hours. I would be remiss, however, to not mention Brandon Graham, who was selected by the Philadelphia Eagles with the 13th pick in the NFL draft last night, going higher than any projection I saw before the draft. I can say that the Eagles will be getting a hell of a football player, and just as importantly, a hell of a person — being on campus the last four years, I’ve never heard an ill word spoken about BG, just praise for how humble and likable he is, and I’d like to think that character was part of the reason Graham went so high. Of course, his tremendous football talent also helped there, and I expect BG to have a long and productive career. He will be joining fellow Wolverines Jason Avant and Marlin Jackson on the Eagles, so if you don’t have a particular rooting interest in the NFL, Philly might be your team now. I know, when they’re not facing my beloved (and rebuilding!) Lions, I will certainly be rooting for them.

So, congratulations to Brandon Graham, Philadelphia Eagle. For more, check out MGoBlog’s post, chock-full of Graham highlights, and MVictors, which has a great screencap of BG busting out the Heisman pose on draft night.