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Posted on Sat, Apr 7, 2012 : 5:59 a.m.

Now healthy, Michigan football junior Cam Gordon fully embracing strongside linebacker role

By Nick Baumgardner


Michigan linebacker Cam Gordon celebrates after a tackle against Ohio State last season. His emergence at strong-side linebacker this season gives the Wolverines depth and more options as the season wears on.

Jeff Sainlar I

If Cam Gordon was frustrated last season, Greg Mattison really doesn't blame him.

Recruited as a wide receiver before switching to safety under former Michigan football defensive coordinator Greg Robinson, Gordon was asked to take on a different role shortly meeting Mattison last winter.

Once a wideout, then a safety and now an outside linebacker? Mattison understood any apprehension Gordon may have felt.

"If I was a safety and some old, bald-headed guy came in here and said 'we're going to take you from safety and put you right up there on a big tight end,' I'd kind of go 'OK,'" Mattison says with a mock look of concern on his face. "But any time it didn't work well, I'd look over at that coach (and wonder what was happening).

"This year, he's doing it very physically. And if (something) doesn't work, he knows why. And knows how to get better at it."

Entering the season-opener last season, Gordon seemed to be easing into his new position just fine. He ended fall camp atop Michigan's depth chart at strong-side linebacker.


Cam Gordon

However, a football-related back injury derailed those plans -- and eventually cost him much more.

Gordon missed the first six games of the season due to the injury and by the time he returned, Jake Ryan had emerged as one of Michigan's most consistent outside linebackers, pushing Gordon further down the depth chart.

Gordon played in seven games last season, but only appeared at linebacker in one contest. He finished with just four tackles after racking up 77 as a redshirt freshman in 2010.

If the injury weren't enough, the overall comfort level at the position was even more of a hindrance for the 6-foot-3, 222-pound Gordon.

Since then, Gordon's back has returned to full health and his overall knowledge of his new position has increased exponentially.

"Cam can probably say 'I know now I am a SAM,'" Mattison said. "A year ago he moved from safety down there and (it was) 'we'll see.' Now he says 'yeah, I understand this part of it, and I want to be good at this.'

"But he's been great (this spring). He's worked very hard in the weight room."

Mattison said Gordon is learning how to become a better pass rusher by the day, and his presence among the front seven only adds to the overall speed of Michigan's aggressive, blitzing defensive schemes.

More importantly, Gordon's emergence gives the Wolverines depth -- and more options as the season wears on.

"I'm really excited about (Gordon) because Jake really never came off the field last year," Mattison said. "He truly played almost every snap of every game. Now, it allows you to (have) a very, very good player that can complement him."

Now with a healthy Gordon and an ever-improving Ryan, Mattison's hopes that any lingering frustration from his strong-side linebackers will fully become a thing of the past.

"Cam and Jake have worked very, very hard at that position this spring," he said. "And I really believe they've improved."

Nick Baumgardner covers Michigan sports for He can be reached at 734-623-2514, by email at and followed on Twitter @nickbaumgardner.



Mon, Apr 9, 2012 : 6:21 a.m.

Good to hear Cam is doing well. He is going to have to work hard if he is going to jump Ryan. Either way, it definitely seems LB is becoming an area of very good depth.


Sun, Apr 8, 2012 : 8:10 a.m.

The only problem with Cam getting more playing time? We have to take Ryan off the field, and that's a prospect I'm not particularly crazy about...

Matt Patercsak

Sat, Apr 7, 2012 : 9:03 p.m.

for some reason I'm just not a Cam Gordon fan. He doesn't look like a linebacker. I'd like to see him make some plays before I drink his Koolaid


Sun, Apr 8, 2012 : 2:18 a.m.

I've seen him play and I like what I see so far, diamond in the rough but Mattison is a good stone polisher.

Terry Star21

Sat, Apr 7, 2012 : 6:47 p.m.

It is true, Cam is one of those players you really want to see do well....Mattison's desire to spend the extra time and Cam's desire to work at that will make the greatest of differences....great story, CAM....'a rotating mechanism used to deliver pulses of power' (thank you Webster). MgoBlueForTiM..waiting for 'Michigan Man Ted's' advice..


Sat, Apr 7, 2012 : 9:42 p.m.

lol! Love the Websters' Cam definition!


Sat, Apr 7, 2012 : 5:16 p.m.

Am a Cam Gordon fan as well and hated to see him deal with the injuries from last season that put him down the depth chart. Adversity can either sink a student athlete of make them stronger. Desire to overcome is key. If they have that, then succeed in overcoming that, they come out better mentally as well as physically. Cam seems to have these attributes. I hope to hear and read and eventually see good things from him.


Sat, Apr 7, 2012 : 2:55 p.m.

Cam was my pick for "breakout player" last year, but his injury set him back. I remembered seeing him flying to the ball the year prior and looking like a fast, athletic defender that really liked to hit. I'm going with him again this year and I'll add Russell Bellomy to the list. (My off-the-wall, crazy talk prediction: We'll see Bellomy at QB, with Denard and Gardner in the slot and WR at some point in the Bama game. Watch Bama's DC krap a ton of bricks at that formation!) Based on who we have at LB now, and the elite group of LB recruits coming in, we may take the "Linebacker U" title away from Penn State in the near future. Keep these articles's ridiculous how we scavenge for scraps of info about the program at this time of year...die-hard fans can't get enough. GO BLUE!!!!


Sat, Apr 7, 2012 : 9:51 p.m.

There really is an awful lot of offensive firepower at Borges disposal...and I forgot about Hayes, 1bit...looking forward to seeing what the younger tailbacks will bring to the mix. I expect the Oline to be pretty solid, Omameh is what, a three year starter and Schofield and Lewan sure seem solid at both tackle spots. I expect Barnum will rise to the challenge at C and the other guard spot is the only real question mark ( well, depth, but let's assume they all stay healthy) If Denard can improve his decision making and delivery, this will be hard team to prepare for. It will be difficult to match last years results, but team 133 has the potential to be pretty good, maybe even really good. Can't wait!

Scott Laux

Sat, Apr 7, 2012 : 8:13 p.m.

That would be something. Touissant and Denard in the backfield. Roundtree and Gardner as receivers. I'm a beleiver in Bellomy.


Sat, Apr 7, 2012 : 5:13 p.m.

It will also be great to see what Justice Hayes will bring to the table. See you at the Spring game (hopefully in this kind of weather!)


Sat, Apr 7, 2012 : 4:50 p.m.

burton. . . i like your off-the-wall prediction and it could happen? i hope we ge to see DG in the game a lot more this fall, but i also want to see BELLOMY and RAWLS get more reps. they are both my pick's for breakout player's! GO BLUE!!!!!!

Scott Laux

Sat, Apr 7, 2012 : 2:40 p.m.

Class guy. Real character.


Sat, Apr 7, 2012 : 12:31 p.m.

Mr. Gordon's story is amazing: selfless positioning, sacrificing for the team, trusting his coaches, working through injury, improving skill set, tenacious work ethic . . . The list is staggering . . . Mr. Gordon is quite an impressive individual and athlete. Excellent job, Mr. Gordon! Best wishes at school, in sports, and beyond. Thanks for this story, NB and


Sat, Apr 7, 2012 : 5:18 p.m.

Well stated, ditto for me.


Sat, Apr 7, 2012 : 12:12 p.m.

Good stuff great to read the particulars about an up and coming player like Cam also great name reminds me of another great player same name. Won't be long and our maize and blue will be slapping the banner as they take the field. Don't you all feel good about Coach Brady Hoke at the helm?