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Posted on Fri, Mar 16, 2012 : 2:05 p.m.

Rocko Khoury among 4 fifth-year seniors leaving Michigan football program, and more notes from Brady Hoke's spring practice press conference

By Pete Cunningham

Michigan football coach Brady Hoke was back in a familiar spot on Friday -- at the podium in Schembechler Hall, talking about the Wolverines.

On Saturday, Michigan will kick off its 14-practice spring camp, which culminates with the annual spring game on April 14 at Michigan Stadium.

Hoke sat down with sports reporter Kyle Meinke earlier this week to discuss the upcoming spring practice sessions. The second-year coach said some position changes have already been made and discussed how cautious he has been to assure the success the Wolverines enjoyed last season isn't of the fleeting variety.

Also, the eighth installment of our eight-part, position-by-position spring preview concluded today with the team's specialists. Check out that story, which includes links to the previous seven previews.

On Friday, Hoke answered more questions from the assembled media. Here is a recap of the hot topics, starting with the confirmation that center Rocko Khoury, punter George Morales, tailback Michael Cox and receiver Terrence Robinson are no longer with the team.

All four would have been fifth-year seniors, but plan to graduate in the spring with one year of eligiblity remaining. They'll be eligible to transfer and play immediately under the NCAA's postgraduate transfer program.

Backup linebacker Isaiah Bell also left the program, the university confirmed earlier this week.

Hoke opened his press conference by commenting on the tornado that touched down in Dexter on Thursday, saying "Our thoughts and prayers are with those folks that went through that."

Other topics addressed:


Rocko Khoury

On attrition:

"We got some guys who are going to graduate. George Morales is going to graduate, Rocko (Khoury) is going to graduate, Terrence Robinson will graduate and Mike Cox is graduating."

On whether it was his decision or their decision or mutual:

"I think that's their decision (in every case)." Hoke said they could take advantage of NCAA postgraduate transfer rule.

Hoke would not specify if moving Ricky Barnum to center was because of his strength at that position or the weakness of others. He said the decision to move Barnum was made before Khoury's decision to graduate.

On how big the spring will be for defensive lineman Will Campbell:

"I think it’s big, but I think he’s made great progress…on how he looks and his leadership standpoint…The ability to slide from a three technique or a tackle position to a nose position is important."

On Craig Roh's move to strong-side defensive end:

"I think they've really embraced it. ... He was like 'OK, I get to eat a little bit more.' If someone said that to me, I’d be happy."

On the wide receiver position:

"There will be heavy competition and it will be competition. ... Jeremy Gallon is a guy who has shown some tremendous ability."

On the offensive line:

"I think there's some good competition, but at the same time I think you're going to see some improvement in some young guys, a guy like Chris Bryant ...and Ricky Barnum, we're going to start him at center, ... and Elliott Mealer getting the opportunity at the guard position and see how he ends up. (Michael) Schofield will go out to right tackle and obviously Taylor (Lewan) will play left tackle."

On expectations:

"Your expectations don’t go down. They better increase, because the bar’s going to be set high."

On having a highly regarded 2013 recruiting class:

"This is not an exact science because you don’t really know what you get until they get here. This is a hard game to play and hard to be a championship teams and play."


Justice Hayes

On sophomore running back Justice Hayes:

"He's a back. ... The good thing about him is he can catch the ball and has great explosion. He's a a guy who, kickoff returns, I think would be a guy we really want to look at and see if he can be that guy because he's got a gear to him that's a little different."

On the anticipated format of the spring game:

"It'll probably be a lot like last year to be honest with you. We'd love to have a true spring game, there's no doubt about it. ... Our numbers aren't where they need to be (on offensive and defensive lines, specifically in terms of scholarship players)."

On the holes the team needs to fill moving forward:

"When you look at where they were at, there's some obvious holes we have to fill, from the standpoint of defensive line, with the three seniors graduating at that position who played a lot of snaps for us last year."

General statement on status of the team:

"As far this team, Team 133, I think we have a lot of questions. I know I do. ... We’ve had a good winter, you can see some guys developing and working hard."

On Thursday's pro day:

"They represented Michigan well and we’re proud of them for that."

Pete Cunningham covers sports for He can be reached at 734-623-2561, by email at and followed on Twitter @petcunningham.



Sat, Mar 17, 2012 : 6:48 p.m.

As for the departing fifth year seniors; it was about the Depth Chart. Rocko Khouri had his chance in the Sugar Bowl game and as Brady Hoke said more than once: "This is a big boy's game." Sorry to see Mr Khouri could not execute when it counted. Michael Cox; the tailback stable is growing. Justice Hayes and Thoms Rawls will also be a force. Michigan will do just fine and I wish Mr Cox well (@ UMass) Your really had to look deep in the depth chart to find Morales. As for receivers, Michigan is solid. Have a great spring, Team 133, see ya in mid April!

Zack Conley II

Sat, Mar 17, 2012 : 3:04 p.m.

THe Coach has to be allowed, to put together his own team. We all agree, that we had a great season, but we are still a work in progress. This opens the roster up, for newer recruits. Michigan is becoming Michigan again, so Coach, you have my support. GO BLUE!


Sat, Mar 17, 2012 : 1:49 p.m.

Wow, Saban and the SEC got nothing on this guy. Ole Jabba eats up 5th year seniors faster than he does a bag uo pork rinds.


Sun, Mar 18, 2012 : 2:50 a.m.

WOW. . . meyer will never have anything on COACH HOKE! DEVEON SMITH the 7th best player at TB position and another ohio kid that has taken the higher road and committed to MICHIGAN!! i guess oscar meyer had better build a higher fence around the state of ohio, LOL!! GO BLUE!!!!!!


Sat, Mar 17, 2012 : 12:30 p.m.

On Craig Roh's move to strong-side defensive end: "I think they've really embraced it. ... He was like 'OK, I get to eat a little bit more.' If someone said that to me, I'd be happy." Touche!! And BIG Al too!!! For lunch my menu is kinda large, 5 hamburgers, 3 shishkabarbs!! MEEEEEEEEEEEEEANchigan football is ready and able!! As BIG AL, Roh, and Brady sit down and the table!!

Terry Star21

Sat, Mar 17, 2012 : 3:22 a.m.

Steve.....though the talk continues, the only thing that counts is - the ex-coach is looooooooooooong gone.....

Bennie's Curse

Sat, Mar 17, 2012 : 2:46 a.m.

Where are dynamic recruits Forcier and that somersaulting Texas running back these days?


Sat, Mar 17, 2012 : 12:55 a.m.

Looks like "Those that stay" Just run out of eligibility. These guys were smart to bolt.


Sat, Mar 17, 2012 : 12:14 a.m.

Leaving because Hoke is such a wonderful coach to play for....LOL!


Sun, Mar 18, 2012 : 2:35 a.m.

NO RECRUITING because COACH HOKE is such a wonderful coach to play for. . . MICHIGAN just picked up recruit #16 DEVEON SMITH, ranked 7th at the TB position!! dandy dan better go back and re-take recruiting-101 LOL!!! what a joke!! GO BLUE!!!!!!

Steve McQueen

Fri, Mar 16, 2012 : 10:38 p.m.

It is terrible that the one guy on the team with a Flintstone-era name...has decided to move one. Hurts our OL depth, even though the guy couldnt make a snap in the Sugar Bowl last year, even as a 4th year center... anyway word on the street, is that Mike Cox has moved on to UMass where he will play out his final year of eligibility. This is a smart move. Cox, when healthy, is a dynamic and penetrating runner...though his upright running style is not well suited for the physical Big Ten, and he could not keep it up long enough to make an impact at Michigan....he should do very well for UMass.


Fri, Mar 16, 2012 : 9:43 p.m.

This is a sports "section", if you go to the top of the page and click NEWS you will find the tornado is the lead story, just as if this were an old fashioned newspaper. The editors got it right.


Fri, Mar 16, 2012 : 9:06 p.m.

They graduated so its the right thing- they got a great education without student loans. This frees up four scholarships for the class of 2013. It's a win-win. GoBlue 1984 is right. If this had happened under RR it would have been hysteria from all the "Michigan men". Front line headlines at the free press and calls for an ncaa investigation. Glad RR is gone and love Hoke but i hate hypocrisy.

Terry Star21

Fri, Mar 16, 2012 : 8:52 p.m.

I think that this is more of a success story because the four athletes are following their dream of graduating. They still have an option of playing for another team if they choose. And if you ask them, bet they say nothing but good things about M. Wish them the best. The story up north or down south would just be; 'Four players leaving the university' I'm sure. MgoBlueForTiM........getting beefier up front


Sat, Mar 17, 2012 : 2:21 p.m.

In this case graduating on time probably hurt these kids. Had they still needed classes to graduate Jabba never would have cut them. It would hurt Michigan's APR score. UM is a borderline school on the APR. If it gets any lower they will not be bowl eligible. Of all the bowl teams in 2011/2012 only Louisville had a lower APR. I believe the great academic institution of Michigan was 49th out of 50 teams. It makes you proud doesn't it Brandon?

Matt Patercsak

Fri, Mar 16, 2012 : 8:04 p.m.

This is nice, Khoury leaving means that Barnum will no doubt be the starter, which means that Mealer or Bryant will start at left guard. The line is getting a massive size upgrade this season, both sides of the ball


Fri, Mar 16, 2012 : 7:53 p.m.

Good luck to the 4 guys who left in their future endeavors. Good to see guys actually graduate in 4 years with a tough football schedule, and thanks for serving our university and team!! I was looking forward to Rocko as the center (who would mess with a guy named Rocko?), but it isn't so. I always liked Cox when he came into games, but he must not have been a good practice player. Didn't know too much about the other two. Opens up more spots for recruiting, I guess. Go blue.


Sat, Mar 17, 2012 : 3 a.m.

True enough Stan. Sorry for being wrong on that.


Sat, Mar 17, 2012 : 1:20 a.m.

Actually, these departures do NOTHING for 2013. These student athletes all would have been fifth year seniors and would have been out of eligibility at the end of the season. The 2012 class was finalized in February, so it's not like they will add anyone to the class they just signed.


Fri, Mar 16, 2012 : 6:54 p.m.

If Rich Rodriguez was the head coach you would have made this headline news over the tornado ... shame on you shame!

Steve McQueen

Fri, Mar 16, 2012 : 10:40 p.m.

6 BT wins, 13 BCS wins total...22 losses....and you guys are still crying about how he was treated... I suppose that he planted that seed in some people's minds, that he was somehow a great coach who was mistreated at Michigan...heck, he keeps saying it every time he is interviewed by ESPN... so the fact that a few misguided Michigan "fans" and trolls who still post here longing for the days of the Rich Rod Error...shouldnt surprise me...but they still do, because the insanity behind their rational is mind boggling.


Fri, Mar 16, 2012 : 9:07 p.m.

You're right. Some of the criticism was absurd.