'Confident' Tate Forcier among University of Michigan football team's early camp standouts
“Everybody can go ahead and be patient cause there will not be a starter named until right before the first game,” Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez said. “Maybe even be a game-time decision.”
For now, true freshmen Tate Forcier and Denard Robinson and junior Nick Sheridan are splitting practice reps, though Forcier spent most of Friday’s workout - Michigan’s first in full pads this fall - running the first team.
A January enrollee, Forcier is reaping the benefits from a spring practice that saw him top the depth chart after Sheridan got hurt. He’s further along in the playbook than Robinson, and center David Molk said he’s been impressed by the just-turned 19-year-old’s demeanor on the field.
“He’s confident,” Molk said. “He knows what he is and he knows he can make plays. It’s good. A little confidence will do you good.”
Robinson turned heads Friday, too, breaking at least one long run in practice. Teammates - even the fast ones - gush about his speed.
“He’s going to make plays,” running back Carlos Brown said. “Just watch out for him.”
Regardless who starts, Molk said the quarterback position is on more stable ground this year than last, when Sheridan and the since-departed Steven Threet combined for more turnovers than touchdowns and struggled to sustain drives.
“We have a solid three guys that can all play,” Molk said. “Well, two right now and Denard’s moving up. He’s starting to get a hold of it, but he hasn’t been in the offense long enough. It’s nice we have more options and whatever scheme we want we have a guy.”
Along with Forcier and Robinson, several other players have left lasting impressions in the first week of camp:
â€¢ Vincent Smith, the elusive freshman who joined Forcier on campus for spring practice, is in line for immediate playing time at running back. “Vincent Smith was one that caught our eye in the last couple of days, which has been impressive,” Rodriguez said.
â€¢ Defensive tackle Mike Martin has been disruptive in an otherwise thin front. “Mike in the middle is strong,” Molk said.
â€¢ The defense in general is tackling better and more in tune with fundamentals after allowing the most points in school history last year, Rodriguez said. “Making improvements,” said linebacker Stevie Brown. “I can’t tell you exactly where we’re at, but we’re making improvements every day.”
Dave Birkett covers the University of Michigan football team for AnnArbor.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org