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Posted on Fri, Aug 14, 2009 : 10:55 a.m.
Michigan football practice observations: Players happy to be in pads
By Michael Rothstein
Good morning to you. As the Big Ten Network descended on Ann Arbor last night and this morning for its Michigan preview show, the media horde was allowed in to watch the first five periods (and a bit extra) of the Wolverines' first practice in pads Friday morning.
Players probably liked the morning practice better as it wasn't too hot outside. Here are some things I saw:
Players seemed pretty amped up about being in pads for the first time. Three notable exclusions to the hitting bonanza: Running back Brandon Minor and wide receiver Greg Mathews were wearing green "limited contact" jerseys. Freshman cornerback J.T. Turner was out there, too, but not in pads yet due to the NCAA's no-pad rule the first few days of practice. Two other unidentified players (players in red and green don't have jersey numbers) were wearing red "no contact" jerseys and spent the media portion of the practice on the bikes.
Speaking of jerseys, all the quarterbacks wore white, meaning they are live.
What appeared to be the first-team offense: QB - Tate Forcier; RB - Brandon Minor; TE - Kevin Koger; WR - Martavious Odoms, Junior Hemingway and LaTerryal Savoy. OL, from LT to RT: Mark Ortmann, Steve Schilling, David Molk, David Moosman and Mark Huyge.
What appeared to be the second-team offense: QB - Nick Sheridan; RB - Kevin Grady and Michael Shaw; WR - Darryl Stonum and James Rogers; TE - Martell Webb; OL: Taylor Lewan, Elliott Mealer, Adam Barker, John Ferrara, Patrick Omameh.
While looking around during stretching, I saw what I thought I'd never see again - a really, really short defensive lineman. Stretching and warming up among the masses on the defensive line was No. 62, otherwise known as sophomore Dominique Ware, who stands at 5-foot-7, 248 pounds. He didn't do much of anything, but it really stood out amongst the 6-foot-4 trees.
NFL scouts in attendance: Detroit Lions (including Robert Porcher), Miami Dolphins, Jacksonville Jaguars, San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks.
Also in attendance, the family of kicker Jason Olesnavage.
As you'll learn throughout our practice observations, I've got a pretty large hankering for mentioning music (If you've followed my Tweeting at @mikerothstein, you've discovered that today). Here's what at least part of the Michigan playlist was Friday: "We're Not Gonna Take It," by Twisted Sister; "Tootsee Roll," by 69 Boyz; "Ice Cream Paint Job," by Dorrough Music; what I believe to be "Swing," by Savage and there was something that sounded like the first track off the old "Jock Jams" CD (and yes, I'm saying CD because that's what it was) with a Michael Buffer 'Let's Get Ready To Rumble,' yell followed by the hand-movement portion of Queen's epic "We Will Rock You."
TWISTED SISTER'S WE'RE NOT GONNA TAKE IT AND THEN BACK TO MORE OBSERVATIONS:
Working on punt returns were Greg Mathews, Donovan Warren, Martavious Odoms and Terrence Robinson.
Quarterback/running back combos during a handoff drill: Denard Robinson/Vincent Smith; Nick Sheridan/Michael Shaw; Tate Forcier/Kevin Grady; Nader Furrha/Fitzgerald Toussaint.
For another drill, quarterback/halfback/tight end combinations: Denard Robinson/Vincent Smith/Jon Bills; Nick Sheridan/Brandon Minor/Kevin Grady; David Cone/Michael Cox/Jonny Childers; Tate Forcier/Michael Shaw/John McColgan.
While everyone else was watching the M-Drill, I spied J.T. Turner - he of the recently eligible variety - working with a trainer on footwork, specifically backpedaling as he spent the first day of practice on the sidelines. Here's guessing he'll be in pads by Monday. One thing that stood about Turner was his height. He's 6-foot-2, but he looks a lot longer than that with his arms. I could have sworn, pre looking at the roster, that he might have been 6-foot-4.
During the M-Drill, wide receiver Darryl Stonum appeared to be injured, but it looked like the trainers were working on a potential cramp in his left leg. I'll be sure to ask Rich Rodriguez about that in an hour or so.
One thing overheard during the M-Drill said by defensive coordinator Greg Robinson: "88 (Craig Roh), get your ass in there" going against an offensive lineman.
As the media was leaving, Tate Forcier threw an out route to Greg Mathews that Mathews couldn't hold on to. As he lost it, he screamed at himself in disgust. Just a note, though, that Forcier throws a pretty nice, crisp ball for a freshman.
Michael Rothstein covers University of Michigan basketball for annarbor.com. If you have a question for a future Mailbag or want to reach him, you can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter @mikerothstein.