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Posted on Sat, Mar 31, 2012 : 5:59 a.m.

Brennen Beyer vs. Frank Clark one position battle to watch as Michigan football spring practice continues

By Nick Baumgardner

The overall experience level between Michigan football sophomore defensive ends Brennen Beyer and Frank Clark isn't incredibly high.

But don't tell Taylor Lewan that.

"They're sometimes a hassle for me," said Lewan, who will likely be the Wolverines' starting left tackle for a third straight year in 2012. "I'm not going to lie."


Frank Clark (57) made an impact as a freshman, including this interception in the Sugar Bowl.

Melanie Maxwell |

Beyer and Clark are engaged in one of the Wolverines' hottest position battles this spring, both youngsters competing at weak-side defensive end, the main pass-rush spot in coordinator Greg Mattison's defensive scheme.

The 6-foot-3, 225-pound Beyer made 11 tackles in 11 games as a freshman a year ago, but did so as a linebacker. After Mattison and coach Brady Hoke opted to move senior Craig Roh from weak- to strong-side end this spring, Beyer was moved from the linebacker corps to the defensive line.

Clark (6-foot-2, 228), meanwhile, appeared in 12 games as a freshman last season, finishing with 10 tackles and one incredibly athletic interception against Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl.

Neither is long in the tooth, but both were good enough to get on the field during their first year in the program. And moving forward, Lewan says either player should be able to wreak havoc on opposing quarterbacks from the edge this fall.

He should know. He's fighting against them each day in practice.


Frank Clark


Brennen Beyer

"I think they're doing great," he said. "They're quick guys who get off the ball and know what they're doing.

"Phenomenal technique for younger guys."

Beyer's move to defensive line and his subsequent competition with Clark is all part of Mattison's plan to get the best 11 players he has on the field at the same time by creating intense competition at each spot.

With Beyer on the line, Jake Ryan and Cam Gordon are now in more direct competition at linebacker, as are freshmen Joe Bolden and Kaleb Ringer.

"You want to be able to put your people in the best position, but also have competition when you're doing it," Mattison said. "I think that's what's happened so far."

With Roh busy learning his new position, and fighting to add weight, he says he hasn't had a great deal of time to work with Beyer and Clark as they vie for a starting spot.

But then again, he says he doesn't really need to.

"Both those guys are athletes," he said. "They're quick guys. Brennen Beyer's a bit more stocky, he's a run stuffer. Frank is just a freak athlete. Both those guys are doing a great job learning, but they need to keep growing more and more.

"(And) they've got coach Mattison. He's a better teacher than I ever will be."

Nick Baumgardner covers Michigan sports for He can be reached at 734-623-2514, by email at and followed on Twitter @nickbaumgardner.


Matthew Durr

Wed, Apr 4, 2012 : 5:57 a.m.

Ethanblue you're using the weight of Beyer and Clark that was listed their freshman year. The same thing can be said for Jibreel black and Craig roh as far as listing weights from the previous year.

C.j. Duffiney

Mon, Apr 2, 2012 : 5:23 p.m.

how big are clark and beyer ? also how big are black and washington ?

Ted Bundy

Mon, Apr 2, 2012 : 1:43 p.m.

Latavis- You are right. The coaches have been quoted saying Beyer and Clark are 250+ lbs. I trust what the coaches say over a web site anyday.

Latavis Thompson

Sat, Mar 31, 2012 : 4:03 p.m.

The last time I checked, they both were well over 250lbs...just sayin


Sat, Mar 31, 2012 : 7:17 p.m.

Sorry eagleman, those aren't updated ht/wt's. I had read Clark was up to 255lbs and Beyer is even bigger.


Sat, Mar 31, 2012 : 5:33 p.m.

You would be wrong. Check


Sat, Mar 31, 2012 : 3:10 p.m.

I appreciate the informed comments here. My understanding is that both Beyer and Clark are sophomores and that would make them RR's recruits, is that right? If so, it'll be interesting to see how effective they are under Mattison's and Hoke's coaching and development. We have some reason for optimism. After all, last year's defense was a huge improvement and there's little reason to suppose there won't be some improvement this year. We all know that Alabama will be a great challenge, especially since Texas is where the game will be. But I'd never count Michigan out completely. Last year at this time, absolutely no one believed Michigan would end with a 11-2 season. Go Blue! Team 133: We are believing in you!


Sat, Mar 31, 2012 : 8:52 p.m.

Beyer committed to play for Rich. Clark came in after Hoke was hired. All the scholarship players this season were recruits that committed to play for Rich, save four or five.


Sat, Mar 31, 2012 : 2:30 p.m.

The lack of size on our Dline is definitely a concern. In a previous article it was mentioned that Jibreel Black has been moved to DT...and he weighs in at around 260. I'd be willing to bet Alabama's OLine averages around 310 lbs... It's gonna take some serious coaching to get this defensive front ready to handle the likes of Bama, MSU, OSU, Neb. etc. I'm confident the offense will be able to put up some points, and the back seven should be pretty solid, it all comes down to the front four rotation on how far this team can go.

Latavis Thompson

Sat, Mar 31, 2012 : 4:06 p.m.

And Ondre Pipkins will be there in the summer

Scott Laux

Sat, Mar 31, 2012 : 3:16 p.m.

Campbell and Washington are both 315 plus. If those guys play hard we'll be OK against Alabama. But that's a big if.


Sat, Mar 31, 2012 : 1:03 p.m.

I just want to point out that both Beyer and Clark are both under 230 pounds, and even with 10-15 pounds would be considered small for DE. It's amazing what winning does to all of those making excuses like undersized d-line when UM was losing under RichRod. Not trying to stir up coaching issues: just pointing out that the biggest difference between winning and losing is good coaching of the players you have.


Sat, Mar 31, 2012 : 11:56 p.m.

trueblue- RR's offense wasnt any better than Borges' this year btw. Lots of points against bad teams, and low points against good ones. Borges still got UM in the end zone against the better teams.

Steve McQueen

Sat, Mar 31, 2012 : 8:50 p.m.

Whatever. Rich Rod failed at Michigan, because he and all of his position coaches stunk. Period. The DL coach was a joke. So it comes down to coaching, doesnt it after all?


Sat, Mar 31, 2012 : 8:50 p.m.

Michigan was NOT undersized on either D or O line under Rich. It's been disproven time and time again with facts. The fact remains that the defense was an utter disaster under Rich because the X's and O's were bad and the players' technique was poorly coached. All that is on Rich because he hired and maintained the defensive staff for two straight years. Combine a defense like last year's with Rich's offense and you have a perennial national title contender.

Scott Laux

Sat, Mar 31, 2012 : 3:08 p.m.

Yup. Boise state. Top ten tam every year. Their recruiting classes usually ranked in the 60's or 70's. Coaching is king.