You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Wed, Aug 22, 2012 : 5:59 a.m.

Longtime reserve Elliott Mealer emerges as likely starter at left guard for Michigan football team

By Kyle Meinke


Fifth-year senior Elliott Mealer, center left, appears to be on the cusp of starting for the first time in his Michigan career.

Melanie Maxwell |

Michigan football coach Brady Hoke said recently he wanted to select a starting left guard about 10 days before the season opener against Alabama.

Ten days before the season opener against Alabama, he appears to have his guy.

"Elliott Mealer has really done a nice job," Hoke said Tuesday during a news conference at Schembechler Hall. "If we were playing tomorrow, he'd be the guy.

"His work ethic, his leadership, the maturation process -- I'm really excited for Elliott as much as anything else, and for our football team."

Michigan replaced departed seniors David Molk (center) and Mark Huyge (right tackle) this offseason by moving their top two left guards, with senior Ricky Barnum sliding to center and junior Michael Schofield to right tackle.

Left guard, in turn, became one of the Wolverines' most critical position battles because they rely so heavily on the running game and their new-look offensive line needs time to gel.

Mealer was thought to be the leader in spring camp, but sophomore walk-on Joey Burzynski came on strong and began working with the first unit. He started the spring game.

Mealer, though, appears to have retaken control of that position with the season opener looming next week.

"He's playing faster," Hoke said. "I think he's playing with better technique. When you look at pad level and those things, he's finishing things better. I really believe it's more confidence. His confidence is at a high level."

Mealer committed to Michigan as a highly regarded recruit from Wauseon, Ohio, but was forced to redshirt his first season after tearing his right rotator cuff. He developed into a utility man the past three years, bouncing from guard to tackle, left side to right.

But he never cracked the lineup.

Now a fifth-year senior, he's on the verge of doing just that.

"It's been an amazing opportunity," Mealer said at the team's media day earlier this month. "Coming to the University of Michigan as an offensive lineman, you know what the expectations are coming into it. The great players, the incoming freshmen all the way to the seniors, there's always great competition at Michigan for any position.

"For me, I'm getting pushed by guys that I'm playing next to. The expectation is for the position, I'm working hard and expecting nothing but the best."

Mealer is poised to join an offensive line that features junior Taylor Lewan at left tackle, Barnum at center, senior Patrick Omameh at right guard and Schofield at right tackle.

Barnum and Schofield will make their first career starts at their respective positions when Michigan opens against Alabama. Mealer is expected to join them.

Freshman Kyle Kalis, another candidate at left guard, appears to have finished third in that job battle but could still factor into the offensive line rotation.

"He's not well back -- there's competition up front," Hoke said. "He's part of that competition, Joey is part of that competition. (Offensive line coach) Darrell (Funk) has done some things moving them around a little bit, trying to find those seven or eight guys who will fit and can play a lot of positions."

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



Wed, Aug 22, 2012 : 10:25 p.m.

I'm proud of Elliott I have been pulling for him since the end of last season to seize the starting job. I don't want to sound ignorant or anything but what does WCIMFH stand for?

Blu n Tpa

Thu, Aug 23, 2012 : 11:53 a.m.

Worst Coach in Michigan Football History and yes I proudly originated it's use. That and TiM.


Wed, Aug 22, 2012 : 4:34 p.m.

I was pulling for Elliott Mealer to be the starter all along but only if he deserved it by how he played on the field. Sounds like Kallis and Burzynski may also see playing time, especially if Mealer gets injured or does not live up to expectations as a starter. As a 5th year senior, he adds maturity and familiarity to the position that the first year players do not possess yet so I am guessing that was the tie-breaking factor for Coach Hoke and his staff. I wish Mealer all the best this season. He'll have a big challenge right off the bat with Alabama but I'm sure he and the rest of the team will give 100% effort against the Crimson Tide.


Wed, Aug 22, 2012 : 3:53 p.m.

This is good news because everyone knows Burzynski is a very smart competent guy to go in if he's needed. great overachieving walk-on. So if Barnum can handle the switch to center than we'll have a solid line with decent depth. Injuries are bound to occur. Also gives Kalis time to develop. The D line is the only big question mark???

Blu n Tpa

Wed, Aug 22, 2012 : 1:12 p.m.

Anytime someone complains about being slighted or wronged on these pages, please remember the Mealer family and what they have gone through. If that doesn't help you gain perspective then you might have serious problems yourself. MC I don't think Kyle "glossed over" anything. The story was about Elliott Mealer gaining the last starting position on the O-line and Kyle didn't see any reason to distract from that success at this time. Although the accident can never be far away from him, my guess is that he doesn't want it to define him forever. As of now he is the starting guard for the 2012 Michigan football team for his senior year. It's another defining moment in his life and I think everyone can feel good for that achievement. SMcQ Who needs some outside source to rate the football coaching staff at Michigan? You did a fine job and I wouldn't take another coaching staff ANYWHERE over the men Michigan has leading the team now. Michigan fans have the unique opportunity to see how important the coaching staff is in developing players into winners. I don't want a bunch of replies about how the players left by the WCiMFH were able to help last year's team win. All I have to say is compare the last 3 games of 2010 and the last 3 games of 2011. If you think it's not about coaching after that, bring it on. TiM Go Blue!

Blu n Tpa

Thu, Aug 23, 2012 : 11:50 a.m.

Tally, the sentence you quoted is in the middle of a paragraph. It ties the first part of the paragraph with the last, most important part of the paragraph. (Just like I was taught in high school in Bessemer.) Just for the fun of it, except for Coach Borges, you had defensive coaches playing on the offensive side of the ball. And more seriously, would you trust the same kicker under the WCiMFH or under last year's coaches to win the game in OT? That was the point. BTW, there is no way my sentence was the worst ever. Please!


Wed, Aug 22, 2012 : 10:09 p.m.

Blu, pretty good post until the end. Yes, the coaches did a good job, as did the players, and the 2 together ( THE TEAM ) did a good job. " I don't want a bunch of replies about how the players left by the WCiMFH were able to help last year's team win. " That has to be the DUMBEST comment ever posted. I see why you didn't want anyone to reply. You're right, those players did nothing to help, it was only the coaches. In the Sugar Bowl...I saw Borges allude the heavy pressure up the middle, scrambled to the right and bought enough time to find Hoke in tight coverage, yet threw the pass. Hoke reels it in, and HE - MAY - GO - ALL - THE - WAY...TOUCH DOWN!!! Mattison kicked a FG in OT for the win.

Blu n Tpa

Wed, Aug 22, 2012 : 4:03 p.m.

Paco I'm with you about how you talk to players. I know they heard or used all the swear words by college but a constant stream of it leaves the players feeling disrespected and that is a two way street. Successful coaches know this and use words that encourage and educate their players. Show your players respect and it makes you a better coach. Kyle, I figured that you wouldn't miss putting it in unless you didn't want it to distract from his accomplishment. Sound story line and thanks for all your coverage during fall camp. Now let's play some football. TiM Go Blue!

Kyle Meinke

Wed, Aug 22, 2012 : 3:01 p.m.

Blu, you nailed it on why I left out the accident on this story. Elliott fought for 5 years to crack the lineup, and now he appears to be doing it. That, to me, made this a football story. Here's a link to a story where I did tie the two together: Thanks Blu.


Wed, Aug 22, 2012 : 2:34 p.m.

One of my constant concerns about WCIMFH was his seeming inability to surround himself with top quality assistant coaches and advisors. It appears with coach Hoke we have top quality assistants who actually are teaching the players rather than constantly swearing at them.


Wed, Aug 22, 2012 : 12:21 p.m.

Elliot Mealer...a true Michigan Man in every sense of the word. The O-line gives me hope that this team can accomplish their goals this season. Big Ten Title, beat MSU, Beat Ohio. GO BLUE!!!


Wed, Aug 22, 2012 : 11:29 a.m.

It takes a man of great strength to go through what Mealer did and even function normally, let alone play a sport afterwards. Thumbs up to you Mealer, I hoped you would win the starting job this season!

Steve McQueen

Wed, Aug 22, 2012 : 11:26 a.m.

I'd like to say a few words about the assistant coaches that Coach Hoke has assembled. Darrell Funk, Coach Hecklinksi, Coach Jerry Montgomery, Coach Curt Mallory, Coach Ferrigno, Coach Smith and of course our friend Coach Jackson are outstanding leaders at their positions. These are the men that make things happen mostly behind the scenes. Michigan is lucky to have a great staff at every position. Go Blue.


Wed, Aug 22, 2012 : 4:06 p.m.

You didn't mention Borges? I've always had an "odd" feeling about him. He joined a very talented Auburn team in 2004 and they went 12-0, although, I'm not sure what he added. Before the end of the 2007 season, they had declined and he was gone before the bowl game??!??!

Steve McQueen

Wed, Aug 22, 2012 : 11:28 a.m.

I forgot Coach Wellman...the guy who spends more time with the players than any coach...Coach Wellman is a rock.

Steve McQueen

Wed, Aug 22, 2012 : 11:21 a.m.

3 cheers for Elliott. That guy and his brother Brock, are truly strong in ways that most of us will never realize. God bless the Mealers and Go Blue.


Wed, Aug 22, 2012 : 10:56 a.m.

Mealer stayed and now it has paid off for him.....I think he should be commended, with everything that has gone on in his life......also, the rotation they have will eventually show who the top five are.....


Wed, Aug 22, 2012 : 10:38 a.m.

You have completely glossed over the reason why Mealer tore his rotator cuff and hence have reduced the impact of your story and the accomplishment Mealer has attained here. This man lost a father, a girlfriend, and his brother lost the type of freedom the rest of the world takes for granted, namely the ability to function normally physically, the very night Mealer wrecked his arm. He climbed a mountain to get to this point that 99% couldn't imagine climbing.


Wed, Aug 22, 2012 : 3:48 p.m.

Ditto to Kyle. To keep going over it is undignified to everyone involved.


Wed, Aug 22, 2012 : 3:39 p.m.

I agree with Kyle, the accident was better left out of this particular piece.

Kyle Meinke

Wed, Aug 22, 2012 : 2:59 p.m.

MC, we've written exhaustively about the Mealer family's story. This, to me, was about Elliott as a football player, so I left it out. If you'd like to see more about where I tied the two together, check out this link: Personally, I think Elliott at some point wants to be defined by what he does on the football field, not by a tragedy from 5 years ago. The two are not mutually exclusive, but I thought for this one, leaving out the accident was appropriate.


Wed, Aug 22, 2012 : 1:07 p.m.

I couldn't agree more. What the Mealers have done off the field make them even more heroic than anything they could do on the field.