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Posted on Tue, Mar 15, 2011 : 5:54 p.m.

Michigan coach Brady Hoke addresses recruit Chris Barnett, injury report and start of spring football practices

By Pete Bigelow

A cautionary tale of a recruiting guru gone overboard? Or a simple change of heart at the last minute?

On Monday,’s Thayer Evans profiled Michigan football recruit Chris Barnett, a promising tight end who switched his commitment from Arkansas to the Wolverines.

Barnett’s father, Elzie, complained that he was shut out of his son’s recruitment process and that he would have preferred his son remain committed to Arkansas.

Instead, the more influential voice in Barnett’s decision was Baron Flenery, a co-founder of Dallas-based New Level Athletics, a one-time analyst for and someone FoxSports identifies as a “reputed street agent.”

At the time, Elzie Barnett said he did not know that Flenery had become involved as a go-between with his son and Michigan. (Here’s a link to the full story at FoxSports).

Michigan coach Brady Hoke briefly addressed the story Tuesday.

“I’m not going to get into the kid’s personal life,” he said of Barnett, who transferred five times and attended four different schools. “If he wants to talk about it, he can talk about it.

“But Chris is a heck of a kid who has done nothing but be very mature about how he visited, and in the conversations I’ve had in the home with him.”

Injury report

Thumbnail image for TROY-WOOLFOLK-MUG.JPG

Troy Woolfolk

They were supposed to be the starting cornerback tandem throughout the 2010 football season. Instead, Troy Woolfolk sustained a serious ankle injury that sidelined him the entire season and J.T. Floyd started eight games before suffering a season-ending ankle injury of his own in practice prior to the Wolverines’ game against Illinois on Nov. 6.

Entering spring practice, both still are limited by their injuries.

“A couple of guys are beat up,” Hoke said. “Floyd won’t play as much in spring ball. Woolfolk is getting better.”

Others hampered by injuries include linebacker Kenny Demens, who is recovering from off-season shoulder surgery. He is expected to be see limited action.

Hoke isn’t as optimistic on running back Teric Jones, who is recovering from knee surgery.

“He’s got a lot of rehab to do,” Hoke said.

Corner report Whenever Woolfolk does fully return, it’s uncertain whether the Wolverines will use the veteran defensive back at cornerback or safety. As a junior, he started six games at each position.

Without saying anything definitive, from a depth perspective, Hoke hinted that cornerback might be in his future.

“Safeties, we’re not bad,” Hoke said. “Corner, not as good. So that will be a decision, and we’ll see how he comes back too.”

Position changes Much-ballyhooed defensive recruit Will Campbell, who moved to offensive guard late last season, is back on defense.

In moves to strengthen the team’s depth at tight end, wide receiver Ricardo Miller, a Pioneer High School graduate, and former defensive end Steve Watson will both move to the position.

Practice schedule Michigan will kick off its spring football practices Saturday. The team’s first two practices will be non-padded. The Wolverines will hit for the first time this spring Tuesday.

More than anything, Hoke is looking to develop the toughness of his team, a point he emphasized numerous times Tuesday.

“We’ve got to do a great job of creating an environment that has toughness with it, and effort with it, and develop a lot of guys from a fundamental and technique standpoint,” he said.

Asked what he wants to evaluate first, he said later, “their attitude, their effort, the toughness they play with.”

Pete Bigelow covers Michigan football for He can be reached at (734) 623-2556, via email at and followed on Twitter @PeterCBigelow.



Thu, Mar 17, 2011 : 8:54 a.m.

If Chris Barnett transferred four times (and had to sit out a season each time), then he must be going on 22 years old. That could be a good thing: he'd be into his NFL career by now but they're not playing anyway, so Michigan's got him. ;-) I don't think those injury reports / updates are a good news item. Sounds like the players on defense who would have been seasoned veterans by now will be starting over - and still hobbling a little. BTW: I consider all those references to toughness just a way of saying Hoke is working with what he's got and is hoping these guys finally step up a couple of notches. I'm sure everyone who's watched Michigan's defense the past three years sees the hesitations and weak tackling, etc. Training a horse the wrong way produces a "bad horse" - lets hope human athletes playing defense for Michigan can unlearn some bad training this year.


Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 6:36 p.m.

Murrow, you know very well there is a difference between "didn't have success" and "can't coach". Bill Belichick didn't have success at Cleveland. Hell, if you want to clip a small portion of somebody's career as "proof" they aren't a good coach, look at Brady Hoke's first three years at Ball State. The point is that Rich Rod is a very good coach. He just didn't do well here for various reasons.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Wed, Mar 23, 2011 : 7:04 p.m.

I see the MCC is here in strength sounding like a broken record. Yes, whathisname left such a full field of talent. For example, the team will have, AT MOST, 10 scholarship offensive linemen in 2012--two deep at each position. If any one quits, transfers, or is injured, we will be in deep trouble on the offensive line. I'm certain that, somehow, this is Lloyd Carr's fault. As is the 110th ranked defense in the nation last year. As is the fact that, in three years, we didn't beat MSU, PSU, or OSU once. As is the fact that, in three years, we never finished with a winning record in the Big Ten. As is the fact that, in three years, we never beat a team that finished the season in the Top 25 (and only two that were in the Top 25 at the time we played them). Good Night and Good Luck

Blu n Tpa

Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 7:13 p.m.

I live outside AA and I have repeatedly stated "He can't coach." And, "he can't tell the truth." Want to argue that also?


Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 3:39 p.m.

Yes, if there is one thing Rich Rod has proven over his 20+ year coaching career, it's that he can't coach... There is a reason that nobody outside of Ann Arbor thinks Rich Rod is a bad coach. I'll give you a hint: it's because he isn't a bad coach.

Blu n Tpa

Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 1:52 a.m.

If the WCiMFH had so much speed, how come he couldn't win many games? Because he couldn't teach and COACHING is TEACHING. The record, The Record, THE RECORD!! TiM Go Blue!


Fri, Mar 18, 2011 : 1:54 p.m.

I believe Theo is referring what LLoyd left Rich Rodriguez. Rich Rodriguez never did not have the time needed to rebuild from the Neanderthal prototype that LLoyd Carr left Mich. stocked with. Brady should have 7or8 wins because Rich Rodriguez left a lot of talent some which was red shirted. Of course some like Tp will argue that point just for the sake of an argument. You are right Theo, speed is everything unless you just want decent at best big 10 seasons. I'm hoping when Brady learns how to handle all this speed that Rich Rodriguez left him he will incorporate more speed in his future programs. I think Hoke is going to freek out when he realizes the speed and potential of Denard let's hope he knows how to use it he sure talks a good game.


Wed, Mar 16, 2011 : 1:39 p.m.

Please don't mention whatshisname; The King, RR....they are all the same Theo,ghost, mission,tater, join hands together, don't be a hater because in the end; we're all the same elitists and poets all shifting the blame MEEEANchigan football will return from the muck If you cannot see this GOOD NIGHT AND GOOD LUCK!!! A RETURN TO MEEEEEEANchigan football is upon us! TiM!!


Sat, Mar 26, 2011 : 12:10 p.m.

Meany, are you referring to Rich Rodriguez. It's okay Meany his name is Rich Rodriguez and his legacy of fast football will be forever cherished by Michigan fans everywhere. Rich took the N out of Neanderthal and replaced that word with fast tempo. In time Mich. fans will realize what a great and innovative coach Rich Rodriguez was and this year brady will understand when he excels with the talent Rich Rodriguez left him oh and the speed that Rich left brady will forever change brady's notion of the average to good speed he's used to recruiting.


Wed, Mar 16, 2011 : 12:58 p.m.

These street agents are the next area of corruption in big-money high school sports recruiting - mainly basketball and football. Their relationship with coaches can be shady and influence kids' decisions toward a particular school. In Barnett's case, I'm sure there wasn't anything funny going on. But, on a nationwide scale, the NCAA will need to get involved in this sooner rather than later.


Wed, Mar 16, 2011 : 12:44 p.m.

Yes, truebluefan, "toughness" is a ridiculous word and it also implicates slowness, leather helmets, rugby, punting on 2nd down, not using your timeouts properly, getting sacked, having your passes batted down, etc... SPEED is the word for the 21st century! You won't get Crystal if you don't got speed; Listen up, Hoke. For speed we plead!


Wed, Mar 16, 2011 : 3:21 a.m.

Defensive recruit Will Campbell, who moved to offensive guard late last season, is back on defense. I'm sure the old coach said he could not play Defense..He knows what he talking about, his team gave up ONLY 400+ points a season!!


Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 6:31 p.m.

Seems to me the new coaching staff can't, either. Since they aren't even going to try. They're just going to put him back where he came from. Kinda screws your argument against the old coaching staff, hm?

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Wed, Mar 23, 2011 : 6:17 p.m.

Once again, Dusty, a remarkably obtuse reply followed by an insult. Nowhere did I say that the scheme should have been changed for Will Campbell (though, given the disaster that was the defense, maybe they should have considered it). No, I am saying that, apparently, the former band of incompetents could not or would not COACH Will Campbell to do anything other than "play off of the outside shoulder of the guard on the strong side" (the only thing one can conclude from your post). That they could not, apparently, coach Mr. Campbell into a new style of play speaks to their incompetence (not that it wasn't already manifest). Good Night and Good Luck


Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 3:38 p.m.

Right, because moving a kid back to the one position he can play is "adding value". No, it's not adding value. There is no coaching there. There is only letting him do what he already knows. If you were a coach, you wouldn't change your scheme every year because one kid doesn't get it. If you couldn't make that kid learn the scheme, then you'd do something else with him. Don't be a jerk.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Sat, Mar 19, 2011 : 5:46 p.m.

81W wrote: "I'm sure the real reason he was switched was because the previous d-line coach was not the best at developing his players" Dusty wrote: WWill Campbell couldn't play defensive line on a 3 man front. Do you know what a 3-tech is? It's when you play off of the outside shoulder of the guard on the strong side. That's what Will excels at, and that doesn't exist in a 3 man front because he's a tackle and not an end." Glad to see you agree with 81, Dusty. You've just shown that the previous band of incompetents were incapable of adding value to their athletes--that the athletes came here with the talents they had and that nothing more could be expected of them. Good Riddance. We now have a coaching staff that can . . . wait for it . . . COACH. Good Night and Good Luck


Fri, Mar 18, 2011 : 7:45 p.m.

Actually, Will Campbell couldn't play defensive line on a 3 man front. Do you know what a 3-tech is? It's when you play off of the outside shoulder of the guard on the strong side. That's what Will excels at, and that doesn't exist in a 3 man front because he's a tackle and not an end. With the switch to a 4-3, he can play a 3-tech again and be effective. THAT is why he was switched to offensive line. He was just taking up space on the roster in a defense without a 3 tech.


Wed, Mar 16, 2011 : 1:01 p.m.

I'm glad to see Big Will back on D. I'm sure the real reason he was switched was because the previous d-line coach was not the best at developing his players and they gave up. Mattison and Hoke will get Will back on track and turn him into a good defensive lineman.


Wed, Mar 16, 2011 : 2:03 a.m.

Did Kaleb, the guy who posts "Today's College Sports Links," get the pink slip in the layoff? Haven't seen his posting in a while. His posts usually made for good commentary. Hoping he is just on spring break.


Wed, Mar 16, 2011 : 1:44 a.m.

And the sun thankfully sets on the era of the head coach stealing all the defensive talent for the offense. Back to smash-mouth football, no excuses, and hopefully a dash of creativity on the offensive side.


Wed, Mar 16, 2011 : 1:27 a.m.

"Toughness" has to be the most trite and overused word in Hoke's vocabulary. Football is a tough man's sport. You won't excel at football if you're not tough. And you don't get recruited by an FBS school if you don't excel at football. Hoke needs to stop using that word. The things that matter are fundamentals, S&C and knowing the schemes/plays inside and out. Let's hear about how they're improving the team in those areas.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Wed, Mar 16, 2011 : 1:11 a.m.

If you don't want whatshisname mentioned, try not mentioning him. Works wonders. Good night and Good Luck


Wed, Mar 16, 2011 : 1:02 a.m.

This kid comes with a lot of red flags. I hope he pans out, and I hope we can be more choosy once our talent base improves.


Wed, Mar 16, 2011 : 12:13 a.m.

No blame on Lloyd, either. Nice to have a fresh start.


Tue, Mar 15, 2011 : 10:04 p.m.

This is the kind of Post I want to read, not one mention (blame) on Rich Rodriguez. Brady indicates some glitches but, moving forward.