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Posted on Wed, Mar 17, 2010 : 2:58 p.m.

Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez: Outside receiver, secondary areas of concerns

By Dave Birkett


Michigan sophomore Je'Ron Stokes looks to catch a pass during drills at spring practice on Tuesday afternoon.

Melanie Maxwell |

Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez said Tuesday his two biggest areas of concern heading into spring practice are outside receiver and the secondary. beat writer Dave Birkett analyzes both positions, the questions facing the Wolverines and where Michigan will turn for answers.

Outside receiver
Who's back: Junior Hemingway, Darryl Stonum, Je'Ron Stokes

Who's gone: Greg Mathews, LaTerryal Savoy

Top newcomers: Jeremy Jackson, Ricardo Miller, Jerald Robinson

Birk's Eye View: Both Hemingway and Stonum showed flashes of brilliance last year, but Michigan's top returning receivers are slot men Roy Roundtree and Martavious Odoms. It's conceivable Roundtree can play outside on occasion, but the Wolverines are best off keeping him in the slot. Hemingway (16 catches, 268 yards, 2 TDs) is out most of the spring after offseason knee surgery, so the three early enrollee freshmen - Jackson, Miller and Robinson - have an opportunity to earn playing time. Jackson, the son of running backs coach Fred Jackson, is the most polished of the bunch, while Miller appears the most physically ready. Stokes is the wild card of the group. He played sparingly last year as a true freshman (6 games, 2 catches) but has speed to stretch the field. Expect him and two of the freshmen to settle into the rotation behind Hemingway and Stonum.


Who's back: Troy Woolfolk, J.T. Floyd, Mike Williams, Jordan Kovacs, Vlad Emilien, Teric Jones

Who's gone: Donovan Warren, Boubacar Cissoko

Top newcomers: Cam Gordon, Thomas Gordon, Justin Turner, Cullen Christian, Demar Dorsey, Marvin Robinson

Birk's Eye View: Michigan was awful against the pass last year, and Warren's decision to turn pro early leaves the Wolverines young and thin in the defensive backfield this spring. Woolfolk will start at one cornerback spot, while Floyd and Turner vie for the other job. Floyd, a third-year sophomore played in nine games and made two starts last year with mixed results. Turner, a redshirt freshman, would have gotten on the field if not for a late start to fall camp. Christian and Dorsey won't be on campus until the summer and have an uphill battle to start, but both are talented enough to force their way into mix. At safety, both Kovacs and Mike Williams have starting experience, but neither appears a fit in Michigan's defense. This is a big spring for Emilien, who never cracked the rotation despite enrolling early last year. Cam Gordon is a converted receiver with the ball skills to push for playing time, while incoming freshman Marvin Robinson might be end up being the best of the bunch, though it's tough to expect a true freshman to start in the Big Ten. It'll be interesting to see how much Kovacs and Williams have developed this spring, or if they're just placeholders for Michigan's talented-but-unproven underclassmen.

Dave Birkett covers University of Michigan football for He can be reached by phone at 734-623-2552 or by e-mail at Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.



Thu, Mar 18, 2010 : 5:55 p.m.

The biggest area of concern is we have the most overrated coach in college football. I cannot beleive he is still here. Sad times for Mi football. In two years he has took the winningest program in college football to last place in the Big Ten and almost certain probation. Great hire for all the other teams in the Big Ten.


Thu, Mar 18, 2010 : 7:16 a.m.

Michigan needs a tall, fast receiver who can go over people to catch the ball. We haven't had anyone like that since Arrington a few years ago. The recruiting has failed to sign anyone like that for a while. Granted though, those kind of receivers are in heavy demand around college football and they don't really want to come to play in this type of offense which seems to feature the slot guys more. Still, possibly Stokes or Jackson may eventually fill that role - we'll see.


Thu, Mar 18, 2010 : 6:08 a.m.

Biggest area of concern is character. Given RR's recruiting and the fine example he sets, we're likely to have plenty of off field problems. Expect that to overshadow some slight improvement on field (it would be hard to be worse than last season).


Wed, Mar 17, 2010 : 2:47 p.m.

Kovacs and Williams??Is he serious?The Dbs will be Turner and Christian, backed up for a while by Dorsey.These are guys that can run.Warren was hurt his last two years and a bust in the pro combine.He as never that fast but could stay with the average receivers.He never caught anyone from behind.Tate and Floyd had fun with him when Bobo failed.Dorsey had 14(!)intercepts last year and catches everyone from behind.Turner is a redshirt blazer and Christian has a 40 inch leap and is a handfighter. Woolfolk will get his job back at safety and provide leadership which Warren never did, but they guy to watch will be Marvin Robinson,the terror of South Florida.He is big and fast and is not known as "bonecrusher"for nothing.Throw in another 6-7 guys and you can come up with many variations that all have Big Ten talent. The sleeper:Ray Vinopal was a lightly regarded safety from Cardinal Mooney in Youngstown when he broke a 57 yard run to begin a rout in the class C title game.There were 10 div 1 players on the field but the sheer speed of Vinopal blew everyones mind that saw it.After seeing he had a solid season on film,UM offered, along with OSU and others, but UM got there first.His 4.42 speed and 330 bench were impressive for a 5'10,180lb back. The wideout position needs some immagination but could be very strong.The key move would be to move DRob to RB opening up the WR position to super-frosh Austin White.The slot position can release Roundtree as it is filled up with Gallon, Terrance Robinson (a 4.35 guy) and Odums.Delio could see action as he is may be the most skilled of all of them.Stokes, White and Roundtree at wideout backed up by Stonum,Hemingway and the three Freshmen gives Michigan many combinations to work with.In the double slot the lineup would include Gallon and Odums plus Dorsey and DRob.That is too much speed for any Big Ten team to deal with.


Wed, Mar 17, 2010 : 2:18 p.m.

Is that a kid in the background? Is he coaching? IS THAT ALLOWED?