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Posted on Tue, Aug 3, 2010 : 3:56 p.m.

Mark Moundros' move to linebacker not a gimmick, Michigan football coach Rich Rodriguez says

By Dave Birkett

CHICAGO - Rich Rodriguez and Mark Moundros have different takes on how much time at linebacker the former fullback can expect to play for Michigan this fall.

“I’m probably near the bottom” of the depth chart, Moundros said Tuesday at Big Ten football media days.

“He may be pulling your leg,” Rodriguez said. And, “The first day he may be lined up as starting (middle linebacker), I don’t know. The coaches are going to talk about it this week. He’s not there as a gimmick.”


Mark Moundros

Moundros, Michigan’s starting fullback the last two years, approached Rodriguez shortly before the start of spring practice and asked if he could switch to defense.

The idea had merit. Moundros started both ways in high school, had always been one of Michigan’s best special-teams tacklers, and the Wolverines were far from settled at linebacker.

Obi Ezeh is a three-year starter in the middle, but was benched late last season for inconsistent play. His backup, Kenny Demens, has limited game action on defense.

“My thought (was), I’ll let him go over for a couple weeks and bring him back,” Rodriguez said. “Nope. Didn’t happen He’s there.

“By mid-spring I said I don’t think we’re going to be moving this guy.”

Moundros dove into the position like he does almost everything. He practiced exclusively at linebacker in the spring, peppered defensive coordinator Greg Robinson with questions about scheme and technique, and pored over film with Ezeh and Demens, picking their brains about the position and Michigan’s defense.

Despite some initial - and expected - sluggishness making reads, Moundros said he felt at home playing defense.

“I’ve always had a defensive mindset, I guess,” Moundros said. “Fullback’s the closest thing to defense on offense. I just felt if I could contribute then I wanted to try in the spring, and if they felt I couldn’t contribute then I’d do what’s best for the team and continue to play fullback.”

Since Michigan uses the fullback so sparingly in its spread offense - Moundros has three career carries, and had none last year - neither Moundros nor Rodriguez is worried about Moundros’ ability to re-assimilate to the offense, if necessary.

A bigger concern, at least for a few freakish minutes in June, was whether Moundros would be able to play at all after he was a passenger in a two-car accident that seriously injured his teammate and cousin Jon Bills.

Moundros sustained only minor bruising and soreness. His brother, Kirk, a former Michigan fullback, suffered a serious concussion, and Bills broke his pelvis, fractured two vertebrae in his neck and is in a halo for four more weeks.

“To see your two brothers in the car knocked out after an accident, it’s pretty scary,” Moundros said Tuesday in his first public interview since the wreck. “I just got down on my knees and prayed and I knew that it was in God’s hands, and thanks to God that they’re both OK.”

Moundros said the accident has made him more appreciative of life and the opportunity he has playing football. Of course, where he plays remains to be seen.

“I’d like to see the field a little more, but more importantly I’d rather win,” Moundros said. “And if that (means competing) at linebacker and help make the guys around me better than that’s what it is.

“If I don’t play a snap anywhere on special teams, on offense or defense, Michigan’s goal is always to win a Big Ten championship and that’s what I’ve been and everyone on Michigan’s been striving for since I’ve been here.”

Dave Birkett is a sports reporter for He can be reached by phone at 734-623-2552 or by e-mail at Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.



Wed, Aug 4, 2010 : 7:34 p.m.

I don't know what all the hoopla is about. Mark played fullback and linebacker in highschool. It won't be a stretch for him to grasp the position. Hes not going to corner. We also have John McClogan, a redshirt junior, at fullback. How many fullbacks did Lloyd keep on his roster? If you're Wisconson then it may be a bigger deal. Besides, we need depth at linebacker worse than FB.


Wed, Aug 4, 2010 : 7:16 p.m.

I love this kid's attitude. Regardless of what's going on at the top, it's guys like this that I pull for in the Maize n' Blue.


Wed, Aug 4, 2010 : 3:32 p.m.

It is every football coaches dream to have an athlete like this, I have heard other schools in the B10, mostly notably michigan state and ohio state that have players frightened to play a certain position, and opt for somewhere else. Here we have a great Michigan student athlete, like many of the others at UM, coached by a great UM coach, that is just looking for a way to better help the Wolverines....priceless...

Jaxon Boyfriend

Wed, Aug 4, 2010 : 2:59 p.m.

I think it's great we have players like Moundros, whom can play a variety of positions, and three quarterbacks that could start for any team in the Big Ten, and other players that can rotate. If by chance someone is injured etc., we can quickly adapt personal - something some of the second tier teams like msu and osu can not do. Advantage Michigan, Always.....


Wed, Aug 4, 2010 : 2:30 p.m.

Then or than? You need to work on this Dave. Id like to see the field a little more, but more importantly Id rather win, Moundros said. And if that (means competing) at linebacker and help make the guys around me better *THEN* thats what it is.


Wed, Aug 4, 2010 : 8:12 a.m.

Moundros is a solid football player and one of the few seniors on the team. Since Rodriguez basically doesn't use fullbacks, this was a good move. I just wish he had done it sooner. He may have been able to help out last year when linebacking was so bad. Eventually, Michigan needs to get away from raiding other positions to find linebackers, and start recruiting more pure LB's. It's OK to fill out the depth chart. But relying on positions switchers or walk-ons as starters will not result in a championship caliber defense.


Wed, Aug 4, 2010 : 7:12 a.m.

really? i've seen this before. when a team doesn't have the players it needs they start moving things around. sure they say "so-and-so saw we needed more presence at position-x, and he stepped up" but any OBJECTIVE football fan will hear "we realized we didn't have a player for position-x, and so-and-so had the closest set of skills needed for that position". this move may work out fine...but the bad news starts when the injuries pile up. then who takes over? what positions can fill in for others? is there enough depth to continuously move people around? between the defensive musical chairs, and the uncertainty at qb, um has a long season ahead of them.


Tue, Aug 3, 2010 : 10:30 p.m.

Now I know there has been skepticism expressed, but this player is what I think college football is about, and he has "captain" all over him. Do what the team needs, fill a spot, etc. Reminds me of Ian Gold and Mayes (the 97 captain). Too bad he won't have the opportunity to be voted captain until the season is long over.


Tue, Aug 3, 2010 : 8:49 p.m.

Geese, what is this supposed to be like some weekend club league tackle football team? Everybody gets to play, and everybody gets to play 3 different positions. wanna play QB? sure. wanna be a WR? Why not. next thing there going to start playing kids both ways like some class D high School football team. this is starting to get a bit ridiculous.

Sean T.

Tue, Aug 3, 2010 : 4:52 p.m.

This was a good move for Moundros and the team. He's a pretty good athlete and is very physical.

Terry Star21

Tue, Aug 3, 2010 : 3:55 p.m.

History has produced the best athlete scenario is, "Play players where they are happy" - if at all possible. Not that he would play any less than 100% at any position he has placed, but playing where he likes (if possible) would be like hitting a 'refresh' button for him in the second half.