2011 Preview: Position Threat Levels – Low

Remember this little guy?

No, I’m not going way off topic and discussing terrorist threat levels today — instead, I’m talking position threat levels. I did this last year, and since it’s Friday I’ll just copy and paste the explanation here:

Well, I decided — in a desperate attempt to figure out what type of content to post during the slow summer months — to apply these threat levels (minus the whole, you know, terrorist thing) to Michigan’s position groups. In other words, which groups are the Wolverines comfortably stocked at, and which ones have you buying mass quantities of bottled water and canned foods to prepare for the football apocalypse? I’ll be placing each of the position groups into one of the above categories. Today, I start with the spots that Michigan fans have the least to worry about — the “Low” threat category.

Hey, that worked pretty well. On with the show:

Wide Receiver (Last Year: Low/High — separated slots and outside receivers): Even with the status of senior returning starter Darryl Stonum still very much up in the air, Michigan fans should have little concern about the depth and quality of the wide receivers. Redshirt junior Roy Roundtree turned into Denard Robinson’s favorite target last season, hauling in 72 catches for 935 yards and seven touchdowns, and if he can eliminate the occasional dropped pass from his game he should be one of the Big Ten’s best at the position. Redshirt senior Junior Hemingway also has that type of potential after posting a team-leading 18.53 yards per catch on 35 receptions, but once again he’ll have to shake his reputation for injury if he wants to live up to the hype. From the sound of things at Media Day, it appears Stonum is on the right track to get reinstated, and if he sees the field this fall — at whatever point that might come — he should provide Robinson with another solid deep threat and consistent producer on the outside. If Stonum doesn’t earn his way back onto the field, senior Martavious Odoms can line up outside or in the slot and can provide a bit of everything for this team — lest we forget, he led the team in receiving as a freshman in 2008 (okay, I don’t blame you if you tried to forget that year), and Odoms has shown an impressive ability to block downfield given his 5-8, 175-pound frame. Though we haven’t had a chance to see him on the field, redshirt freshman Jerald Robinson earned praise from Brady Hoke at yesterday’s press conference, and he should at least provide solid depth along with classmate Jeremy Jackson, junior (and former top-100 recruit) Je’Ron Stokes, and redshirt senior slot receiver Kelvin Grady. That’s a solid seven-man rotation of receivers even without Stonum, and that doesn’t include potential contributors like Jeremy Gallon, Terrence Robinson, and Drew Dileo, a trio of smaller receivers who likely would have pushed for playing time under Rich Rodriguez but may be squeezed out of the rotation in the new offense. That’s a ton of depth, and with the talent among the starters to match, this is perhaps the team’s most rock-solid position group.

Defensive End (LY: Guarded): The defensive line should be the strength of the defense, and while DT Mike Martin is clearly the unit’s best player, the depth situation is a lot more palatable at end. Ryan Van Bergen returns for his redshirt senior season after posting a team-leading 8.5 tackles for loss in 2010 — Van Bergen showed he can be a very solid player against both the run and the pass when he was back full-time at his natural DE spot after spending a year mostly playing inside. The player everyone is looking to for increased production is junior Craig Roh, who spent most of his first two seasons horribly miscast as a hybrid outside linebacker, often forced to drop into coverage instead of playing to his strengths and rushing the passer. Roh now weighs over 250 pounds and will finally get the opportunity to play DE, where he was an Under Armour All-American coming out of high school — I expect big things from him this season. Backing up Roh and Van Bergen will be sophomore Jibreel Black, who flashed the potential to be a very good pass rusher last season but will have to improve his ability to hold up against the run. Luckily, with two strong returning starters, the team can afford to use Black situationally, and he should see an uptick in production as his frame fills out and he learns the nuances of the college game. Michigan will also get a boost with the return of redshirt senior Will Heininger, who missed the first ten games of 2010 due to a knee injury, and the 6-6, 283-pound Ann Arbor native has the size and strength to fill in for Van Bergen or even see time at tackle. Redshirt freshman Kenny Wilkins was a highly-touted recruit who many thought would step in and compete for time at end, and he could do just that, although for now he’s listed at defensive tackle on the roster — we’ll see what happens there. The Wolverines also have talent incoming in true freshmen Brennen Beyer, Chris Rock, and Keith Heitzman, though it would be surprising if any of the new blood saw the field this fall — Beyer has the most talent, but is also quite small at 6-3, 225. This is another position group with a good set of starters and nice depth at backup, and end should be a definite strength for Greg Mattison’s reclamation project on defense.

  1. Jerry44ibiza said:

    Wilkins is listed as a DT on the roster but that refers to SDE under the new 4-3 under terminology.  In the Spring game he played SDE and all are hoping that he can step it up and become RVB’s solid back-up.  Word is that he is over 270 now but as we have no real weights since last August it is hard to tell.

    • Anonymous said:

      I agree, I think the depth situation will put him at SDE for the future too. Next year we’ll have Roh , Black,and Beyer, Rock, and Wilkins. Somebody knows where Heitzman will land but I haven’t met that person yet. It seems to make more sense to have Rock move inside with his bulkier frame than Wilkins where young Rock can be a backup, and established Wilkins can play in the 2 deep.

  2. Backusduo said:

    On the WR topic, we are all expecting Roy Roundtree to be an amazing WR this year and challenge for All Big Ten, but I wonder your thoughts on how realistic that is with the major change in his position? While I really appreciate Roundtree I also realize that much of his numbers last year came against Safetys and LBs and had him so open that a 40 year old plummer (40 yr old plummers have amazing hands) could have made the catch and turned up field because people were so worried about Denard running. I tease, but I just want to verify with you, that you think he has the skills to create seperation against a team’s #1 CB or run crisp routes that will result in him or a peer getting open.
    2nd question is Stokes. What has happened to him? Discipline problems? Not as talented as he was ranked? People have been dissapointed by Stonum’s career up to now, but at least he has been a faithful contributor. Stokes came in ranked about the same, and hasn’t seemed to make any impact at this time.
    Thank you for your feedback. I’ll hang up now, and take your comments off the web.

    • Alex said:

      Roundtree is really interesting; he played a little bit of outside last year while spending most of the year in the slot. If the quarterbacks have enough confidence in him — questionable, considering how he performed and dropped most of the balls thrown to him over the past few weeks — he’ll be just fine. If not, well, we have Hemingway, Odoms, Dileo (yes, I think he’ll be a big surprise), Stokes, Stonum and Koger. There will be no shortage of pass-catching threats for Denard and Devin, and I really think that we have the best receiving corps in the Big Ten. I also think Stokes isn’t bad, there’s just been a logjam at his position. He might have been slightly overrated coming out of high school since he was a freak at combines, but I still think he’ll have a good career before all’s said and done.

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