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Posted on Fri, Mar 30, 2012 : 5:59 a.m.

Justice Hayes, three early enrollees among Michigan football spring standouts

By Nick Baumgardner


Michigan football coach Brady Hoke discusses spring practice last week at Schembechler Hall.

Melanie Maxwell |

Brady Hoke rarely gets too specific with the media when asked his opinion on specific players.

The Michigan football coach did, however, name several surprise standouts Thursday as the Wolverines approach the midway point of spring practice.

A good portion of those surprises have yet to play at down at Michigan, including redshirt freshman running back Justice Hayes.

"Hayes has shown some things with his abilities," Hoke said. "And I think the linebacker position is a very competitive position, having (freshmen) Joe (Bolden) and Kaleb (Ringer) kind of in the mix there a little bit puts a little pressure on some of the older guys."


Justice Hayes

Hayes, a 5-foot-10, 176-pounder from Grand Blanc, redshirted a year ago in a rather deep Michigan backfield. The Wolverines return leading rusher Fitz Toussaint as well as primary backup Vincent Smith.

But with the graduation of Michael Shaw and the snaps sophomore Thomas Rawls' is splitting between fullback and tailback, Hayes might not be as deeply buried on the Wolverines' depth chart in 2012.

As for the linebacker position, Bolden and Ringer have taken advantage of their early-enrollee status.

Earlier in camp, Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Mattison said he was a big fan of both Bolden, Ringer and freshman safety Jarrod Wilson, but he was going to have to see how things shook out once pads were put on.

Pads have been donned and, so far, Hoke approves of all three players -- Wilson included.

"Jarrod Wilson's working well right now at safety," Hoke said.

As far as veteran standouts go, Hoke pointed to senior receiver Roy Roundtree and junior wideout Jeremy Gallon as two players who have been on point throughout spring camp.

Roundtree, who will move to flanker this season, is looking to rebound from a 19-catch, 335-yard campaign from a year ago. Gallon, meanwhile, looks to build off a surprising sophomore season that saw him make 31 catches for 453 yards and three touchdowns.

Though there have been a few sleepers early on in spring camp, Hoke says the thing he's most excited about thus far is the overall position battle competition throughout the roster.

It's not quite where he'd like it, but then again, it probably never will be.

"I like all (the competition) that's going on," he said. "How much I like it is probably a five on a scale of one to 10.

"But that's OK, too."

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



Sat, Mar 31, 2012 : 2:04 a.m.

I like all the coach feels like Michigan again.


Fri, Mar 30, 2012 : 7:12 p.m.

In a perfect world coaches could say what they really feel about the team and game in general. However, ! ! !.


Fri, Mar 30, 2012 : 4:26 p.m.

All I know is that Coach spoke the exact same way last year at this time and we finished 11-2, with a Sugar Bowl Championship. So talk it how u wanna talk it Coach. GO BLUE!!!


Fri, Mar 30, 2012 : 4:16 p.m.

Bear in mind that the man just lost his father on Monday. Probably finding a lot more solace in coaching than in talking to the press. ..and speaking of coaching: I really hope that some return specialists emerge. In the tradition of Desmond, Woodson and Breaston, this team needs someone adept at catching kicks and/or punts and giving the team either great field position or a quick six.


Fri, Mar 30, 2012 : 9:48 p.m.

Thanks for reminding us about Coach Hoke's father's passing. I can not help but admire him for being here in Ann Arbor most of the time during this.


Fri, Mar 30, 2012 : 4:53 p.m.

Hear! Hear! Couldn't agree more. We need some guys to step up at both kick returner and punt returner. Having good players at those positions can make SO much difference in field position. I think Breaston was the most exciting punt returner I can ever remember at Michigan. You never knew what he was going to do when he took off with the ball. But, we also need to work on kickoffs - too many short ones last year, that again, gave up a lot of field position.


Fri, Mar 30, 2012 : 2:51 p.m.

Let's all remember and keep in perspective that these are practices. Some players will have good days and a few bad ones. Some will appear to have more potential and some less. While I look forward to the info coming out of these "press conferences" there is not a lot of news unless we learn about a key injury or someone leaving the team. Practices are all about ironing out mistakes and working on positive aspects.


Fri, Mar 30, 2012 : 2:13 p.m.

Just like you can lead a horse to water, you can mandate that a coach go up to a lecturn. Doesn't mean he's going to do what you want him to. Go Blue!

Scott Laux

Fri, Mar 30, 2012 : 2:13 p.m.

Coach Hoke never gets in trouble by saying too much. That's for sure. Some of his sentences have missing parts that might give a clue to whose doing well (like adjectives). Still, I like listening to Hoke. Mellow voice and one of a kind syntax. RR was entertaining, at first. Carr put me to sleep, just like his offenses.


Fri, Mar 30, 2012 : 2:06 p.m.

what about Vincent Smith?


Fri, Mar 30, 2012 : 8:08 p.m.

I agree with Matt. Hoke has always seemed pretty high on Vincent I would bet that he will be utilized much like he was last year.

Matt Patercsak

Fri, Mar 30, 2012 : 3:07 p.m.

I assume he's doing fine. Hoke loves him


Fri, Mar 30, 2012 : 1:46 p.m.

I got nothing from what Hoke said, except guys are doing things, and some other guys are doing some other things. This is starting to feel a lot like the old Michigan football. I used to hate how LC did this too, but after watching the press roast RR like a thanksgiving turkey, I fully understand why!

Steve McQueen

Fri, Mar 30, 2012 : 9:24 p.m.

11-2 with a bowl win is starting to feel like "old Michigan football" too.... which is most important dont you think?


Fri, Mar 30, 2012 : 7:18 p.m.

I don't get to charged up with interest anymore when coach Hoke speaks cause I know he has no intention of speaking what's really on his mind. I don't blame him for his reluctance to get down and dirty about the team and college ball in general coach has been around the block and I'm sure he's seen honest, talkative coaches speak their true feelings and have it come back and bite them in their butts.


Fri, Mar 30, 2012 : 4:20 p.m.

This is exactly what I get out of it as well. I had no idea that media covering a sports team they love everyday would TRY to roast the coach by asking leading questions and spinning his words, but it's the world we live in. Hoke and Michigan are much better off smiling and saying as little as possible when asked questions by the media, especially the Detroit Free Press. Unfortunately for fans, the media has ruined the chance for open discussion.


Fri, Mar 30, 2012 : 12:06 p.m.

1Block -- very true. How's this for coach speak: "Those guys (Ryan, Wilson and Hayes), they're doing some good things. And those other guys (Ash and Rawls), they're doing some things too. The level is not quite where you want it to be, as coaches, but, the leadership and toughness is there. As coaches, I think, that's what you want to see first off (leadership and toughness)."


Fri, Mar 30, 2012 : 11:18 a.m.

It's gotta be tough to write articles w/ all that coach speak.