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Posted on Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 5:59 a.m.

John McColgan, Michigan's forgotten starter, about to take on bigger role at fullback in new offense

By Kyle Meinke

Playing fullback for Rich Rodriguez is sort of like being a designated hitter in the National League.

You’re just not needed.

No one knows that better than Michigan senior fullback John McColgan, who received just as many carries the past three seasons as Rich Rodriguez himself.

That is to say: None.

But Rodriguez is out as coach, Brady Hoke is in and, suddenly, Michigan will be counting on the walk-on from Saginaw to contribute in a way he hasn’t since high school.

Quarterback Denard Robinson isn’t worried.


John McColgan

"That's one of the toughest guys I've ever seen in my life," Robinson said last week at Michigan’s media day. "He just loves contact. He never shies away from it.

"He'll get downfield on a couple pass plays, and he'll be one hard guy to bring down."

Michigan is ditching Rodriguez’s spread-option attack for a pro-style offense that is predicated on the power-run game and I-formations. That is a sharp departure from Rodriguez’s spread-option offense, which favored small, quick skill players, particularly in the backfield.

He rarely employed a fullback expect for in short-yardage and goal-line situations.

Rodriguez did not sign a single fullback recruit during his tenure. Former Saline High School standout Vince Helmuth, the Wolverines’ last true fullback commit who was recruited by former coach Lloyd Carr, transferred after one season under Rodriguez.

It left a void at the position. That didn’t matter under Rodriguez, but is an issue for Hoke and Borges, who plan to employ a power-run scheme that uses big linemen, tight ends and fullbacks.

That’s where the 6-foot-1, 240-pound walk-on from Saginaw Nouvel Catholic Central comes in — not that Michigan has much choice.

“(McColgan is) a tough guy,” Hoke said at the team’s media day last week. “He’s done a tremendous job there for us. ... When you look at it, he’s one of the true fullback bodies that (we) have.”

What is the fullback’s role in the new offense?

“Get the running back in the end zone,” McColgan said in a video published last week by the school. “That’s the fullback’s role, right there. It’s getting your man every play, basically.”

Hoke already has garnered a commitment from Utah fullback Sione Houma for next year. Until then, though, Michigan’s depth at the position is tenuous at best. McColgan and true freshman walk-on Joe Kerridge are the only fullbacks listed on the roster.

Offensive coordinator Al Borges said he plans to bolster depth at the position by getting another player snaps there.

“Assuming that there is always the possibility of someone getting hurt, we have actually messed with some other guys, and I don’t want to say who,” Borges said. “It is really pivotal, really important from our grouping perspective, that we don’t expose (who) right now.”

One possibility is sophomore running back Stephen Hopkins, who received snaps at fullback during the spring game. He also has good size at 6-foot, 228 pounds, which would help him in the blocking game.

Borges emphasized no matter who is slotted at fullback, McColgan will be the primary player at that position.

Kyle Meinke covers Michigan football for He can be reached at 734-623-2588, by email at and followed on Twitter @kmeinke.



Tue, Aug 23, 2011 : 2:42 a.m.

I haven't posted for a long time, but I see the same guys saying the same thing about the spread offense crap. We tried the spread for 3 agonizing years and have a losing record--especially in the Big 10 ( I refuse to use that stupid new logo). What we need is good old power football and a DEFENSE. We need linemen who are not just the equal of other Big 10 schools, but better. The game is won and lost on the lines. You new wave people know nothing about football if you don't know that. All you are is a fantasy football fan. Well, I want REAL football, not fantasy. I played for Bo in 1969. The linemen weren't anywhere as big as now, but were tough. All linemen should have blood on their knuckles and the bridge of their noses. Then you know they're playing, even in practice. The real football players play from tackle to tackle on both sides of the line. No team wins without them. Not even a team with Denard.


Tue, Aug 23, 2011 : 10:34 a.m.

Thanks for the photo 1st Down. That photo prominantly featured Jim Mandich: All-American tight end, captain of the team, and my life long best friend. Jim died of cancer last April. I miss him greatly.

Terry Star21

Tue, Aug 23, 2011 : 4:44 a.m.

Agree with 1st down - welcome back #58. Ignore the naysayers and tell it real and we'll listen to you all day. Look for Michigan to play Bo style and be successful from here out. I was a past player as well, #21. The thing I like about the Big Ten 'Classic Games' is seeing Michigan before 2008, the defense was amazing, grinding it out - they were 'winning' the games, wow do I miss that !!!!

1st Down

Tue, Aug 23, 2011 : 3:18 a.m.

Go Blue and welcome back #58. This photo is for you &amp; for tough football. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>

Terry Star21

Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 9:56 p.m.

I like this kid, not only from his back ground and toughness - but the fact he is a senior (walk-on) will make him very hungry to pound that ball forward. &quot;That's one of the toughest guys I've ever seen in my life,&quot; (Denard) Robinson said. Take that to the bank kids. @ Chad - the only reason nebraska was voted a share of the national championship was because quarterback Scott Frosts, interviewed on live CBS TV after their bowl game said, &quot;If you ask me, I dont think it should be a split title,&quot; he said after the Orange Bowl game. &quot;I mean, we proved today that we're the best team in the country, without a doubt&quot;. Probably one of the cheapest, sickest advertising every seen. Michigan was #1 going into the Bowl game, won their game and owns the mythical crystal - all alone for the 97' season. MgoBlueForTim......owning the crystal from 97' and making room in the trophy case for more.

Terry Star21

Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 11:25 p.m.

Actually, right after the game - When interviewed on national TV right after nebraska's bowl win, Frost chirped &quot;Well, if you watched our game today and you saw Michigan's game and you still think their better - then go ahead and vote them for #1&quot;. Probably one of sports worst - I mean saddest cases of reverse psychology one will ever see.


Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 6:27 p.m.

Mick, I agree. They definately where pastings. I was talking about bowl games and games vs. the SEC. I am sure there are more than just those in the years between 69' and 07' when most people think of smash mouth football at michigan and in the big ten. I think you would be hard pressed to equal them though with the amount of blowouts in the last 3 years when we supposedly were getting speed! The argument was that we need speed, as though we got it under RR or were on are way. Slow pastings (lose by more than 20) 69' to 07' = 7'! Speed pastings (lose by more than 20) 08'to 10' = 10' (we should put Toledo in here as well since well it was the first loss to a MAC team in school history)! = 11


Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 6:06 p.m.

received this e-mail from a friend but not shure who wrote it. . . . thought you might be interested in it. it is quite long so i will have to shorten it. . . 10 things i have heard from the scrimy. . . (1.) DENARD is not to worry in this new O. . . no one should worry about him. . . he is going to be electric! remember what troy smith used to do to us out of the pro-sets? yeah well magnify that by 5 fold and you will have DENARD in this O system. the similarities to VICK will begin after this season. (2.) FITZ put himself firmly back in the RB hunt today. VS has secured his spot as the 3rd down back, blocks and catchs well. (3.) JH is going to be all B10, some of his catches have been rediculous. (4.) TE depth is scary thin beyond KOGER. ODOMS should play a lot as should GRADY. (5.) DEMONS = real deal as does JAKE RYAN, both outstanding today. (6.) TWOOLF to remain at corner he had a very good day. FLOYD will rotate in as well at both corner spots as will COUNTESS. AVERY will start opposite TWOOLF. (7.) o-line looks scary physical. the line is going to be nasty this year and with an electric QB behind them it could be special. (8.) d-line is not as bad as last year but not quite average. front 4- BRINK, RVB, MARTIN, ROH AND BLACK will play some. the linebackers look above average and the good news is BRINKS looks like the real deal. (9.) at saftey CARVIN looked good in coverage and GORDON and FLOYD will be the nickel. (10.) JORDAN KOVACS best player of camp. WILE looks like the MICHIGAN kicker for the long term, kid just has a bomb. things are looking up. . . GO BLUE!!!

Terry Star21

Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 11:28 p.m.

umgoblue47...That sounds like something God would say. GoBlue !


Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 10:25 p.m.

I've heard Will Campbell is barely playing with the second team, and looks like he's washing out. Maybe moving him to the OL was the right move.


Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 7:27 p.m.

Thanks for the info. Definitely the kind of stuff die-hard fans want to hear. Hard to come to any conclusions from a scrimmage, especially 2nd hand info, but thanks all the same. I am cautiously optimistic about the offense, mainly due to the OL having experience together and some decent talent. With DRob, Roundtree, Hemingway &amp; Koger there are some weapons. I'm confident that one or more of the RB's will deliver this year, and this offense should be able to put pints on the board. The main worry, to me, is the DLine. Decent players in Martin &amp; RVB, but these are hard workers, not elite talent. Not much depth so God forbid an injury to one of them may be devastating. The DB's actually look like a strength this year. Imagine that. Hopefully the LB's can step it up to give us a fighting chance against the better teams. GO Blue!!!

Chad Williams

Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 5:44 p.m.

To win a championship its not just about speed or just being physical. The difference between michigan pre RR was the quickness on the interior line. You cant say that bama or lsu plays with little small fast guys. Those are some big boys on both lines but the quickness in the feet is what makes those teams that much better. The combonation of speed and power cant be stopped. That means your not gonna run uphill against them and your not gonna have the advantage sideline to sideline either. Michigan needs more athletes on the line like a Suh. Excellent run stopper AND pass rusher a Versatile athlete that you can toy with and put him in different spots. Michigan doesnt have that type of athlete right now on the D line. Martin is decent but he isnt going to dominate a game like Suh did vs texas. Roh is that type of guy who could stand up in a 3-4 look or down in the 4-3, but will he be effective is the question? Michigan has had great athletes but at the skill positions.


Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 6:16 p.m.

Agreed 100%. Look at how a middle-of-the-pack Miss. State just hammered us last year in the bowl game. The 2012 recruiting class will finally bring in some national level talent. But it'll take a couple of years for them to have much impact. It's usually in the Soph / Jr years when players make the biggest strides in their game. UM fans need to be patient. Support your team and have faith in Hoke &amp; Co. Give them the time to rebuild what RR destroyed.


Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 5:33 p.m.

A big fullback blocking and running tough yards and not fumbling for a player like Denard is basic football that always succeeds for winning teams, so I hope this fundamental translates to a defense capable of stopping the pro style offense as well.


Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 5:09 p.m.

Chiro, How about 2007 Appalacian State? Even though the score was close, I would call that a pasting based on the opponent was not a division one school. Or the very next week: Oregon 39 Michigan 7. That isn't a pasting by a fast team? Oregon beat Michigan by 32 points. Tennessee in 2001 won by 28.


Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 4:25 p.m.

I love the spread, I just didn't like the way RR initiated his spread philosophy at Michigan. I love the pro style and what coach Saben has done at Alabama is incredible and as long as he doesn't pull a Tressel , Alabama will be right up there as a contender every year, a short footnote on that is, thank god coach Saben didn't stay at mich. state. The one that amazes me was Jim Harbaugh's pro style play at Stanford. Now that took coaching to a whole new level. That Stanford team the last couple of years was gritty and tough as nails ya, Jim did a fine job coaching the pro style at a previously underachieving school, in football that is. The only other team that I think could have beaten Oregon last year was Alabama. My point is a pro style can compete favorably against a great spread team all depends on who the coach is and if he is given enough time to work his magic. Everybody needs to let Brady impement at a minimum3 years of recruiting and instilling his football philosophy at Mich. In my opinion, 3yrs. from now Bo's ghost can go back to a restful sleep.


Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 8:02 p.m.

Mick52 &quot;If RR can go 7-5 with a bunch of 1st and 2nd year players on offense and a lousy defense...&quot; We were 7-6 last year... you left off the beating we took by the SEC West's 5th best team. &quot;I expect nothing less than 9-3 since last year Michigan lost two games by 10 points, MSU by 17 with horrendous turnovers.&quot; We lost 6 games last year, and we lost ALL of them by 10 pts. or more (Iowa and PSU by 10, MSU by 17, Wiscy by 20, OSU by 30, and Miss. St. by 38). To say that BH and staff HAVE TO produce a 9 win season or they are failures is not being realstic, and is eerily similar to the kind of thinking that brought on the 3 year disaster we just went through in the first place. I personally believe a 9-4 season (with a bowl win) is possible ... but to say that they must win 9 games or they are failures is over the top.

Chad Williams

Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 6:01 p.m.

Hailmary, The true difference between what bama is doing and what michigan wants to do isnt the scheme or style, its the type of players. Mike martin is not even close to a marcell dareus. People have to understand why the sec is winning championships. Look at those athletes on defense. Freak of nature type of guys big physical and quick. Thats what the Big Ten in general is missing. OSU is the closest thing to an SEC defense and they are a few miles away. Better athletes on D will bring better results for michigan.


Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 5:55 p.m.

Mick52 You are delusional. You don't completely change schemes on BOTH sides of the ball, using players that fit the old schemes and expect instant results. With all due respect to the players, they are not on par with the level of talent that OSU has. Not even close. OSU has guys on their 2nd &amp; 3rd teams that would start at UM this year. We all gave RR a chance to completely change schemes and didn't moan too much in his first two years. And you come on here and claim that Hoke has to produce this year or he is a failure? I hope more than anyone that UM goes 9-3 or better, but I'm realistic enough to know that it is highly improbable given all the circumstances. MSU and OSU are loaded with talent, and neither of those schools are changing schemes. Let that sink in. I am confident that Hoke was the right hire and he will have UM back to the top of the heap soon enough, but yes, it will likely take 3 years, get over it.


Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 5:18 p.m.

Minimum three years? It better be this year. If RR can go 7-5 with a bunch of 1st and 2nd year players on offense and a lousy defense with its best DB disabled for the year, BH better do much better than that this year. I expect nothing less than 9-3 since last year Michigan lost two games by 10 points, MSU by 17 with horrendous turnovers. If Michigan is not at least 9-3 this season, this is a big failure. This team should be a big improvement with just improved tackling and less turnovers and much better in 2012. If it takes three years BH is doing no better than RR. In 2013 his 2012 recruiting class will have a year in. If you think it will take him 3 yrs to make this team a good one you must seriously doubt his ability. I can not stomach loosing to MSU or OSU any more.


Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 3:56 p.m.

The last time Michigan got pasted by a fast team was by Tennessee 01'(prostyle offense). USC was an NFL team in 06' (prostyle offense). When ever michigan plays someone with speed they do very well! Its tough to play for a national title if you dont win your conference. I think we can agree that the SEC is the fastest league and yet michigan is 6-2 against speed from 90' to 07'! I agree with Blu that it is important to keep McColgan healthy so that Denard can trust stepping into the pocket and making accurate passes instead of doing the double clutch pick that he has done the last 2 seasons. Thank goodness Yesterday is gone, Today is Today and It looks a lot brighter! Go Blue!

Chad Williams

Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 5:55 p.m.

USC a pro-style or high school style was faster than michigan. OSU 7 years in a row faster than michigan. Texas faster than michigan. Beating 3rd or 4th place SEC teams dont matter because they arent the best so bragging about beating a 4th place team is pointless. Oregon and a FBS team proved that speed can kill. The spread offense in general is dangerous because teams that want to play physical have to cover spaces. A


Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 3:13 p.m.

Saturday was supposed to be a watershed day for defining the two deep depth chart. No news yet?


Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 3:20 p.m.

I agree, did they end up cancelling the scrimmage or something? I can't find anything about it....


Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 3:06 p.m.

Speed without blocking? Ask Sam McGuffie how that worked, or Denard trying to work against a more physical Wisconsin, Ohio, or Miss St defense.


Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 12:21 p.m.

Let's remember that Leroy Hoard was a fullback at times and piled up the yards, not to mention winning the rose bowl MVP. All is not lost. I think there are many options out there.


Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 12:02 p.m.

Fullback shmullback, We want speed. Speed gets Crystal, Speed indeed! Let's not win a slow conference and then think the ship is righted. We tried that and always got pasted by the fast, progressive teams. Let's build on progress. Yesterday is gone. Sorry. Today is today.

Terry Star21

Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 11:35 p.m.

Hey buddy...12 days until the greatest show on earth. The mythical crystal ball went to Michigan in 1997. nebraska shared a piece of paper, i.e.; When interviewed on national TV right after nebraska's bowl win, Frost chirped &quot;Well, if you watched our game today and you saw Michigan's game and you still think their better - then go ahead and vote them for #1&quot;. Probably one of sports worst - I mean saddest cases of reverse psychology one will ever see.

Chad Williams

Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 5:50 p.m.

1st down: NEB got the crystal ball from 97 not michigan. They got the gold AP trophy. So no crystal balls in michigan history. Crystal ball is the coaches trophy and the ap. and chris floyd was 1997 its a new game and new athletes that are floyds size with more speed and quickness.


Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 3:26 p.m.

I presume Oregon would be an example of Theo's dreamed-for &quot;speed/spread&quot; team. From <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> &quot;Stat of the game ... 81. After averaging 304 yards per game on the ground, Oregon was held to 81 yards by the Auburn defense.&quot; And Auburn's defense wasn't really all that good compared to others. Defense matters ... and even an average-to-good defense can disrupt and stop a good-to-great &quot;spread&quot; offense. From &quot;The Bleacher Report&quot;: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> &quot;The star of the game was Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley, who was dominant at the point of attack and made several penetrating plays in the backfield. Largely because of Fairley, LaMichael James Oregon's running game never got rolling. The Ducks offense—which came into the game averaging 49 points—was held in check.&quot; My, my and I repeat ... my. Are you telling me that a physically dominant (read: &quot;strong&quot;) player can have an impact on a fleet-footed spread offense?


Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 2:51 p.m.

*sigh* ... forever with the &quot;false choice dilemma&quot; ... Theo's argument is that strength implies slow, and that strength and speed are mutually exclusive. They are not. Look at the true &quot;Crystal&quot; teams Theo drools over ... they are fast, for sure. And they have tremendous strength, particularly on the lines. Teams like Oklahoma, Alabama, Texas -- strength first, then speed. And they have speed ... oh my, do they have speed. It's just that speed is balanced with strength. This idea of a slow, plodding team is simply nonsense. And Theo knows it.


Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 2:10 p.m.

You beast me to it 1st Down. I was gonna bring up Chris Floyd. One of my all time favorite Wolverines. And Heartbreak, thanks for adding Leroy Hoard to the conversation, another great UM back. Can't wait to see REAL Wolverine football back on the field...although it may be a year or two. In the meantime, let's hope the coaching staff can guide Denard and his teammates to a respectable season and a win over ND, MSU and OSU. Let's Go Blue!!!

1st Down

Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 12:17 p.m.

4 words, self voting machine: Chris Floyd. National Championship. That was 1997, in case you have forgotten what REAL crystal looks like. Not the fake-crystal that your boys promised you and failed to deliver even a 35% conference winning percentage. We pray for you Theo. ( ;)


Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 11:15 a.m.

I just looked up this Kerridge kid. All-state two consecutive years as a punter and rushed over 2000 yds/34 TDs in his HS career. Wonder if he got a look when they were trying out punters. Could be a legitimate run option should the situation call for it.

Blu n Tpa

Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 10:50 a.m.

This will be one of the positions where injury can cause a real disruption in the whole offense. Michigan should consider itself lucky that it has a fullback at all given the tag football type offense being run the last 3 years. McColgan looks and talks like a tough guy fullback who lives to blow up LB trying to fill the hole. Time will tell of course but I look forward to the day when defenses have to bring another guy in the box for run support and Michigan make them pay with a Deep 6. TiM Go Blue!

1st Down

Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 10:48 a.m.

btw... our FB recruit for 012, Sione Houma had a 95 yd kick off return and rushed for 116 yards in his teams opener the other night.

1st Down

Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 10:47 a.m.

Rodriguez was a disaster. It was all about him trying to prove himself and his offensive scheme. All about him, not about the team. Not about what was best for Michigan. Not about Winning. Guys like John who are PURE football players, will thrive under Coach Hoke and Coach Borgess, who are selfless in their approach to bring back a winning program to Michigan...and will utilize the toughest and most talented players on the team. Go Blue. This is Michigan.


Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 4:59 p.m.

The defense was a disaster. The W-L record was a disaster. Not sure though if we will ever see a Michigan offense with the potential of last year's. Who care's about offense though? Defense wins ballgames.

Steve Pepple

Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 12:54 p.m.

A comment containing two sentences in all caps has been removed. Using all capital letters is the online equivalent of shouting and not allowed under our conversation guidelines.

1st Down

Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 12:15 p.m.

not when articles like this one constantly reference Rod and the dumb mistakes he made...sorry stan...cant let it go when it keeps coming up.. and we will see more of it this fall with every comment the man makes on CBS...go Blue.


Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 11:39 a.m.

Let it go. Rich has been gone for 7 1/2 months. The haters got their wish, so can't you at least be a bit gracious?