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, Mar 23, 2011 : 4:06 p.m.

Michigan football safety Ray Vinopal leaves team and other notes

By Michael Rothstein

The Michigan football team’s already-thin secondary is down yet another member.

Safety Ray Vinopal, who would have been a sophomore in the fall, has left Michigan for personal reasons.

“Ray decided to go back to Youngstown,” Michigan coach Brady Hoke said Wednesday. “Had a family issue.”

Hoke did say that Vinopal’s departure was permanent.


Ray Vinopal

The 5-foot-10, 193-pound safety started six games last season, made 33 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss and intercepted one pass.

He also played special teams in all 13 games.

Messages seeking comment left at Vinopal’s home in Youngstown, Ohio, and with his high school coach at Cardinal Mooney, P.J. Fecko, were not immediately returned.

No position changes ... for now Hoke said Wednesday he hasn’t made any position switches three practices into his first spring as Michigan’s coach.

“Not right now,” Hoke said. “There may be some later. We’re just kind of looking at it. But not right now.”

He also said he figures to have some sort of depth chart put together by the end of spring camp, but it’ll mostly be fluid entering the fall.

“Nothing’s given,” Hoke said. “You’re going to have to earn it whether you came out as a starter during the spring from what you do all summer from how you work and how you prepare in fall camp.”

Kicking in progress Michigan’s biggest issue last season came from an atrocious kicking game. The Wolverines, between Brendan Gibbons and Seth Broekhuizen, made four of 14 field goals and missed two extra points.

Thus far this spring, Hoke hasn’t gone too deep into the kicking game, but plans to later this week.

“They’re doing OK,” Hoke said. “We haven’t gone full bore into it. We started to on Tuesday, starting doing it yesterday a little more.”

Part of the issue with identifying a kicker is that the rest of the issues around the kicking game — from the snap to the hold to the protection schemes — are also being installed.

“You’re kind of building those blocks together,” Hoke said.

This and that Michigan plans to practice mostly inside during the spring, in part because of the weather and because, unlike during Hoke’s previous time in Ann Arbor, the Wolverines can actually throw deep patterns, kick off and punt in the Glick Field House. They couldn’t do that in Oosterbaan. … Sophomore Stephen Hopkins has worked some at fullback through the first few practices. … Rocko Khoury has handled the majority of snaps at center with David Molk nursing a hamstring injury.

Michael Rothstein covers Uniersity of Michigan basketball for He can be reached at (734) 623-2558, by e-mail at or follow along on Twitter @mikerothstein


Blu n Tpa

Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 4:59 p.m.

I loved JL at Wisconsin. Kid from a small town in northern Wisconsin who made it impossible for the coaches to take him off the field. RV could have developed into that type of player but he's distracted by what's happenng back at home. It happens to thousands of young college students nationwide every year. But having two articles on him in less than 24 hours? Maybe if he knew he was so important he might have stayed.


Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 1:48 p.m.

Go Blue.


Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 12:24 p.m.

Undersized? That didn't stop Jim Leonhard (former Badger great) from having further success on the next level with the Jets. Ray sure had a nose for the football and best wishes to him and his family.


Mon, Mar 28, 2011 : 12:51 a.m.

You mean 2nd and 3rd tier programs like Oregon, LSU, Florida, Auburn, Arkansas, Florida State, Penn State, and Stanford? All of them have a starting safety that is Ray's size or smaller in either height, weight, or both. And there are a bunch more from top 15 schools who are Ray's height and within 10 pounds of him as upperclassmen. You think Ray couldn't put on 10 pounds in 2-3 years? You're whole argument is complete garbage. Not surprising, though. So many people on here just spew nonsense with no facts to back it up and then insult people when shown numbers. Why would you be any different? But hey, I'm sure one of you will report this post and it'll be deleted. We can't have anybody with ACTUAL FACTS messing up the (poor use of) rhetoric around here.


Sat, Mar 26, 2011 : 2:58 a.m.

You're right, there's nothing wrong with Ray's size. Most 2nd and 3rd tier programs are stocked with kids just like Ray. Of course the elite teams recruit kids who are bigger and faster, but we are no longer in that class thanks to the Hack. I wish Ray the best of luck in his future endevours.


Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 11:35 p.m.

Just like Ray's size has no correlation to what Ray will or won't be. He's not absurdly small. We're not talking 5'5", 140. We're talking 5'10" 195 entering his Sophomore year. There is absolutely nothing wrong with his size despite what you say.


Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 4:19 p.m.

Again, another meaningless comparison. Leonhard's size, skills, and desire have no correlation to what Ray will or won't be.


Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 2:27 a.m.

I hate to see any of the kids leave, not because of the football team, but because they lose out on the Michigan education and experience. Michigan is a special place. I can't imagine having left it without my degree. I wish Ray the best in whatever he does going forward (as long as he doesn't end up at OSU!). As far as the football team goes, I don't think this will have a lot of impact. He was an undersized player who won't fit the future of the Michigan team. There are other kids available that can fill those spots.


Sat, Mar 26, 2011 : 2:52 a.m.


Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Fri, Mar 25, 2011 : 12:27 a.m.

"When you make a statement like "he's too small", and you find an example of someone the same size who is successful, then your statement becomes hogwash. If 5'10" 195 isn't too small for the NFC West, I really don't think it's too small for the Big Ten." Gotta love the illogic. Sort of like: Spud Web was 5'7" tall and played in the NBA, so it should be expected that anyone who is 5'7" tall can play in the NBA Yeah. Right. Good Night and Good Luck


Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 6:23 p.m.

When you make a statement like "he's too small", and you find an example of someone the same size who is successful, then your statement becomes hogwash. If 5'10" 195 isn't too small for the NFC West, I really don't think it's too small for the Big Ten. "Funny" indeed.


Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 4:14 p.m.

Funny. Earl Thomas size has as much correlation to Ray'e size as my size does. Heck, why not compare his size to that of Earl Campbell when he was in Hugh school? Its just as meaningful. Ray seems like a good kid and he'll probably do well in a Big East program. I don't think that's what we're shooting for any more.


Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 12:41 p.m.

Ray Vinopal is bigger than Earl Thomas was at this stage of his college career. Earl is starting at free safety for the Seattle Seahawks right now.


Wed, Mar 23, 2011 : 8:43 p.m.

Well, considering he was pretty much a sure thing at starting safety (the only other body at his position right now is an incoming freshman who isn't even on campus yet), I doubt the reason he is leaving is anything other than what he says it is. Good luck, kid. And thank you for working your tail off last fall despite your unit having their butts handed to them on a weekly basis.


Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 12:49 a.m.

Thanks Josh, very short and to the point about Ray, good response.


Wed, Mar 23, 2011 : 11:17 p.m.

Sure thing at starting safety? Someone must not be very well informed. Ray was a hard worker but just did not have the size or speed to be a legit starting safety in the Big 10. My guess is that Kovacs will most likely lock down one safety spot with Josh Furman and hard hitting Marvin Robinson (both highly touted recruits but red shirted last year) competing for the other spot, maybe even taking Kovacs' position.


Wed, Mar 23, 2011 : 8:20 p.m.

So what, same thing happened to our Rich Rod at different times the last 3 years of course it's going to occasionally happen to Brady, boys and girls it's just normal human behavior, happens all across the country to the great team and poor teams alike. For everyone Brady loses don't forget the same thing happens to all the teams in the 10 we just don't normally follow the other teams quitters. Yes, Yes work on that kicking game.