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Posted on Sat, Dec 31, 2011 : 5:59 a.m.

Michigan receiving corps is a 'nasty crew' because of their punishing blocking style

By Kyle Meinke


Roy Roundtree: "I’m going to go out there and block my tail off."

Melanie Maxwell |

NEW ORLEANS — Michigan receivers coach Jeff Hecklinski looked around the film room before the Nebraska game, and made a simple request.

"'Hey, somebody needs to knock (star linebacker LaVonte David) out of the game,'" recalls Roy Roundtree. "'Who’s it going to be?’"

"We all looked around like, ‘Challenge is in the air’" Roundtree said.

It was the junior who answered the call.

"It was a screen play, and I went to go crack him, and I got him good," Roundtree said Friday during the team's bowling trip to Mid City Rock 'n' Lanes in New Orleans. "He ran off to the sideline, took his helmet off and took a knee.


Junior Hemingway: "We try to be a nasty crew, try to be the best blocking receiving corp in the nation."

"He was out for about two plays, and we ran it up the middle for a touchdown. So, I guess I did my job."

The Michigan football team's receivers have posted diminished stats almost across the board this year, with only receiver Jeremy Gallon exceeding expectations among the regulars.

Roundree's numbers have plummeted the most, going from a 72-catch, 935-yard season a year ago to just 18 catches for 345 yards this year.

The Trotwood, Ohio, native had the worst statistical season of his career — including his freshman season, when he grabbed 32 passes for 434 yards and three scores.

That decline is a function of a lot of factors outside of Roundtree's control, such as the change in offense and the often-erratic passing of quarterback Denard Robinson.

There also has been a greater emphasis on the running game, where Michigan has two 1,000-yard rushers for the first time since 1975. That means there were fewer opportunities for the receivers as a group, not just Roundtree.

Senior Junior Hemingway led the Wolverines with 32 catches for 636 yards and two touchdowns.

But to the receivers, there is more than one way to judge their performance, and they've maintained all year that, to them, blocking their position is just as important — or more important — than racking up receptions.

In fact, the only statistical goal they set for themselves weekly is for "pancake blocks," which tracks the number of defenders knocked on their butts.

Such as the one Roundtree delivered on David.

"If it's a run, we're gonna block 100 percent every time and try to embarrass the DBs and try to put them on their back," Hemingway said. "We try to be a nasty crew, try to be the best blocking receiving corp in the nation and, when it's time to make our plays in the receiving game, we can do that too.

"We're just multi-dimensional when it comes to playing receiver."

Virgina Tech has noticed, and is bracing for, that dimension when the teams square off Tuesday in the Sugar Bowl (8:30 p.m., ESPN).

"They're not good blockers, they're great blockers," Hokies defensive coordinator Bud Foster said.

Roundtree said they're great at it because of the new coaching staff's emphasis on blocking.

"Coach Hoke emphasized if you don’t block, you’re not gonna play," Roundtree said. "So, I’m not one of the biggest guys, but I’m going to go out there and block my tail off … marking sure no one touches my quarterback or my running back."

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



Sun, Jan 1, 2012 : 5:38 p.m.

Nice informative and educational article Kyle. I wonder if anyone knows where we might see a video of the block Rountree put on David?


Sat, Dec 31, 2011 : 10:15 p.m.

Only part of that article I didn't like was the quote from our wide receiver's coach. Same kind of quote that we saw out of MSU D-coordinator after the loss this year. I don't want to hear coaches tell anyone to take another player out of the game. I'd rather hear them say, "who wants to block them so much and so hard that they want to take themselves out of the game....." or something like that. Overall gist of the article is nice. I do know that Michigan receivers blocking has been an emphasis for years and this just continues that, even under the deposed coach.


Sun, Jan 1, 2012 : 5:37 p.m.

Come on, its pretty apparent that "take him out of the game" typically means make him ineffective (for our coaches and others). This might come from ongoing decent blocks, but it really must include a jarring block every now that puts the guy on the sideline for a bit. That's the goal of WR blocking AS WELL AS of linebacker play. Nobody is talking about 'really' hurting a guy - just making him ineffective. Which means hurting a guy - for a bit. This is football afterall.


Sat, Dec 31, 2011 : 11:38 p.m.

Heartbreak, I agree. My hope and thought is that he meant to take him out with hard, legal blocking that would force a player to take a play or two off. Personally I don't think Hoke would stand for any other meaning than that.


Sat, Dec 31, 2011 : 9:35 p.m.

Has anyone seen Ivan Putski down here in the NO. I beleieve he has my luggage tags, document wallet and engraved Sugar Bowl name badge!!! MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEANchigan is now a NASTY crew!!! I need my mean ole stuff, I am crying BOO HOO!!!

Terry Star21

Sat, Dec 31, 2011 : 7:12 p.m.

"Coach Hoke emphasized if you don't block, you're not gonna play,"........I love it when Coach challenges the players and no one person's position is ever secure on this team - you work hard, play all-out and your in ! What a great article Kyle, and what great quotes from 'tree'; "...marking (sp) sure no one touches my quarterback or my running back." This is Family, This is Michigan ! MgoBlueForTiM.........the family lives for Michigan football.


Sat, Dec 31, 2011 : 5:46 p.m.

UM receivers might just as well become good blockers. They only average 12 receptions per game. They have little else to do out there!


Sat, Dec 31, 2011 : 2:07 p.m.

"They're not good blockers, they're great blockers," Hokies defensive coordinator Bud Foster said. You know you are doing a job job if the opponent's defensive coordinator notices it on film. Having wide receivers who block well can be the difference between a short run and springing Deanrd or Fitz Toussaint for a long run or even a TD. Having wide receivers who block well is like having good hitters in baseball who also field their positions well. It can be the difference between winning and losing baseball games. Having wide receivers who block well is like having a your big man on your basketball team be able to shoot free throws well in addition to being able to score down low, get rebounds, and block shots.. It's all about being a complete player in whatever sport you choose. These seemingly little things can be the difference between winning and losing. I'm glad the U-M coaching staff emphasizes all aspects of the game. .


Sat, Dec 31, 2011 : 2:08 p.m.

I meant "good job" and not "job job".


Sat, Dec 31, 2011 : 1:42 p.m.

Kyle- Good article as this does add value, especially to young readers that are still learning the game and true efforts needed in team play. 15crown00 - your comment does not add value, last time I checked.

Billy Bob Schwartz

Sat, Dec 31, 2011 : 3:26 p.m.

sjs...I looked it up, too, and nope, it doesn't. There are a lot of receivers who don't block much, and a lot more that sorta block. If these guys are a terror, let's get to it.


Sat, Dec 31, 2011 : 12:38 p.m.

blocking is part of the game the last time i checked.