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Posted on Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 10 a.m.

Michigan freshman Kyle Kalis competing at left guard, staff still not afraid to play rookies

By Nick Baumgardner


Michigan freshman offensive lineman Kyle Kalis (left) has competed at left guard so far this month.

Cleveland Plain Dealer

In a perfect world, Darrell Funk would love to have three years to develop every offensive line prospect that crosses his path.

But the Michigan football offensive line coach knows he doesn't live in a perfect world, and neither do the Wolverines.

Hampered by low numbers up front again this season, Funk -- and Michigan coach Brady Hoke -- have been blunt when speaking about the possibility of freshmen playing right away.

If they can hack it, they'll be in there.

"There used to be a day where you could just love up your young kids, you could redshirt them, they'd be on the scout team for two years and then that third year they're guys you're talking about," Funk said Sunday. "With our low numbers or not, you just don't have that luxury. You've got to push them a little bit that first year and you kind of have to get them in place by their second year to be a viable (player)."

Funk confirmed that freshman offensive lineman Kyle Kalis is in the conversation at left guard early on in camp, but did explain that it's far too early to tell how deep into that discussion he's gotten.

Kalis, a 6-foot-5, 294-pound five-star prospect out of Lakewood, Ohio, is currently running No. 3 on the depth chart behind both Elliott Mealer and Joey Burzynski -- who are currently battling for the top left guard spot.

Funk made no definite promises or predictions for Kalis, but did maintain the company line.

"We're not afraid to play freshmen if they can play," he said. "We had one at San Diego State, coach (Hoke) had one at Ball State, (because) they were better than the other guys.

"But right now, we're just pushing to get those guys (reps) and work them."

Asked earlier this summer if he thought he had a few freshmen on his roster that could see the field Sept. 1 against Alabama, Hoke replied, "we might." He refused to get into further detail, but did caution that working your way into a starting offensive line gig as a rookie is far from simple.

"The toughest thing for any high school kid is protection," he said. "That's the hardest deal. What are the protections? Are you sliding? Are you sliding strong? What's a double-read? Now put the fundamentals in front of that. So, that's the hardest thing."

Physically, Funk says he's been more than pleased with Michigan's 2012 crop of rookie offensive linemen. The Wolverines played with just eight scholarship offensive linemen a year ago, crippling the team's depth up front throughout the campaign.

Michigan issued scholarships to four first-year offensive linemen in the class of 2012: Kalis, Ben Braden (6-foot-6, 308), Blake Bars (6-foot-5, 291) and Erik Magnuson (6-foot-6, 285). They may be young, but they're certainly not small.

"They're all at, or around, the weight (they need to be at)," Funk said. "None of them are 250 that need to get to 300 -- they're all 285, 290. Now, it's about who can control their body weight."

Up front, Michigan seems comfortable relying on penciled in starters Taylor Lewan (left tackle), Ricky Barnum (center), Patrick Omameh (right guard) and Michael Schofield (right tackle). The left guard position is still up for grabs, but so are all the backup roles.

And whether it's a rookie or veteran, Hoke says it's important the team fills those holes.

"Two fronts better play (offensively and defensively)," Hoke said. "I think they will, but we're not near where we need to be with it."


Steve McQueen

Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 3:44 p.m.

That photo is epic.


Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 6:32 a.m.

Always a young team with lots of scholarships to offer every year at um.

Steve McQueen

Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 3:45 p.m.

hey red ceder... good to see things are status quo at your wonderful university. See here:


Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 9:44 p.m.

This is a great freshman class of o lineman but next years is even better- crazy good. Fox, Kugler, Dawson and Bosh are ranked ahead of Kalis on some sites and Tillman just behind. So playing Kalis (if needed) won't hurt us in 2016- when Kalis would be gone. In fact, with Barnum, Meallor, and Omameh all graduating- it would be good to get Kalis real game time, Next year is going to be a very inexperienced o- line (even if Lewan doesn't go pro).


Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 6:51 p.m.

I believe Kalis is physically capable of playing. But like Coach Funk says, can he pick up the necessary techniques fast enough and be able to handle the mental side of being a Big Ten OL? We'll have to see. But overall, I think before the season is over, we'll see Mr. Kalis on the field - at least as a backup. No redshirt likely for him IMO.

Robert Granville

Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 5:10 p.m.

Kyle is a mountain of a man.... seriously. I always considered myself pretty broad but his chest, front to back, might be wider than mine side to side. He's ready physically... no question about it. Tom Strobel and Amara Darboh are as well...


Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 4:31 p.m.

ok...know I'm being a bit nit-picky, but the headline "...staff still not afraid to play rookies" is a bit misleading. Your first 3 sentences show um has no choice but to play rookies...


Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 5:33 a.m.

Wait... so what you're saying is the staff isn't afraid to play the best players? Wow, so ballsy.


Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 12:56 a.m.

I like how you cherry pick which stats you use SEC fan...why not look at the overall records?? Ohio St. 7-10 Mich 20-5 Mich St. 5-6 Indiana 26-21 Illinois 2-6 Minnesota 5-3 Wisconsin 4-8 Penn St. 16-6 Purdue 4-5 Iowa 4-3 Northwestern 2-5 Nebraska 16-6 That is 91-84 in favor of the Big Ten. National Championships: 1936 Minnesota 1940 Minnesota 1941 Minnesota 1942 Ohio State 1947 Michigan 1948 Michigan 1951 Illinois 1954 Ohio State 1957 Ohio State 1958 Iowa 1960 Minnesota 1961 Ohio State 1965 Michigan State 1966 Michigan State 1968 Ohio State 1970 Ohio State 1997 Michigan 2002 Ohio State By my math that is 18 national championships...maybe they count differently down south?


Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 8:48 p.m.

The SEC Conference is doing a good job these days. Doesn't mean Michigan isn't a swell team to root for. What is not something to root for, is someone that spends all day long on a rinky-dink little website for a rinky-dink paper in a small town in Michigan.


Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 6:54 p.m.

@Dave. true, but the theme of the article is how few linesmen there are for UM. Therefore they have to look at playing freshmen as opposed to red-shirting them like they used to.


Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 6:52 p.m.

oh yeah...umy sure "owns" the SEC. let's see...umy is 7-4 versus the SEC in bowl games. Let's break that down shall we? umy versus 10+ win SEC teams: 1-3 umy versus 9 win SEC teams: 4-1 umy versus 8 win SEC teams: 1-0 umy versus 7 win SEC teams: 1-0 So, when umy plays the bottom of the SEC it does ok. Can't argue that. Now overall, SEC is 73-50-2 versus big 10 We also own 19 National Championships versus 13 for big 10 (since Poll era - 1936) SEC has also won 71.4% of it's BCS bowl games versus a piddly 48% for big 10. In fact, just to point out how pathetic the big 10 is, the big 10 conference champ has won a pathetic 35% of it's bowl games! (lifetime and/or in BCS era). guess that's why ya'll only strive to "win the big 10"...


Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 6:12 p.m.

Michigan is (12-5) against SEC In bowl games: Michigan is (7-4) against SEC Per decade W L T Win % PFPG PAPG 2010's 0 1 0 0.0 14.0 52.0 2000's 4 1 0 80.0 30.8 29.0 1990's 3 1 0 75.0 32.3 21.3 1980's 1 1 0 50.0 17.5 16.5 1970's 0 0 0 0.0 0.0 0.0 1960's 1 1 0 50.0 24.5 14.5 1950's 2 0 0 100.0 26.0 3.5 1940's 0 0 0 0.0 0.0 0.0 1930's 1 0 0 100.0 9.0 2.0

Nick Baumgardner

Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 5:13 p.m.

Michigan does have a choice here . It doesn't have to play Kalis if the two players ahead of him at left guard are up to the job. But if they're not, the staff says it won't hesitate to go with the freshman up front. Now, SEC, as far as developing offensive linemen faster? No, they don't have a choice, the process has to be quicker. According to Funk, that's not just at Michigan -- that's everywhere.


Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 4:57 p.m.

Actually, if you were to read the seventh paragraph, they state that he's third on the depth chart, but they will not hesitate to plat him, or any rookie, if he's the best guy (ninth paragraph). It doesn't say they have no choice but to play Rookies, it says the possibility is there. Trouble with reading comprehension?

Billy Bob Schwartz

Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 3:04 p.m.

Can't wait to see Kyle play when he grows up! Hope he gets a chance to develop as a player at least a little bit before he hits the bigtime. Still....