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Posted on Sat, Aug 18, 2012 : 5:59 a.m.

Ondre Pipkins' injury injects further uncertainty into uncertain Michigan defensive line

By Kyle Meinke

Michigan freshman Ondre Pipkins suffered a neck injury Friday morning during practice, which first prompts concerns for his health as a human being. Depth charts can wait.

Breathe easy: Pipkins was out of the hospital in time to stroll around practice Friday afternoon, and did so without a neck brace. All promising signs.

It seems the 18-year-old has dodged some of the most serious concerns related to such injuries.

With that said, there's this: Pipkins is expected to play some this season for the Wolverines, so let's pause for a moment to talk a bit of football.


Ondre Pipkins

Pipkins plays on Michigan's defensive line, a position that has been decimated by turnover. It lost strong-side end Ryan Van Bergen, as well as tackles Mike Martin and Will Heininger.

This year's projected lineup features four players who combine for one career start at their current positions.

Michigan capably addressed Van Bergen's exit by sliding weak-side end Craig Roh to the strong side. The senior is a fourth-year starter, which allays concerns about his move.

Inside, though, Michigan is replacing Martin -- an All-Big Ten performer and third-round draft pick of the Tennessee Titans -- and Heininger with the underwhelming Will Campbell and underweight Jibreel Black.

Black has yet to play a down at tackle. Campbell has yet to play his downs consistently.

That's where Pipkins is expected to step in.

Campbell, a senior, is an unproven commodity who reportedly has turned a corner this offseason. Even if he hadn't, though, he might still have been forced into action because Michigan has no other real options at tackle.

Coaches have said nice things about reserves Richard Ash and Quintion Washington, but fact is, those players have about as much game experience as Pipkins.

And Pipkins -- all 6-foot-3, 340 pounds of him -- comes loaded with potential, as Michigan's most highly rated recruit in a 2012 class loaded with highly rated recruits.

Early returns, according to Roh and Campbell and others, indicate Pipkins is a force.

It seems, worst-case scenario, he is destined to play a reserve role behind Campbell.

Again, there has been no word on whether Pipkins' injury will affect him one day, one year or anywhere in between. Coach Brady Hoke won't address the media until Tuesday, and it's likely little will be known before then.

But Pipkins' situation injects further uncertainty into a position brimming with it.

Already this fall camp, another freshman defensive lineman -- end Chris Wormley -- tore his ACL and is out for the season. Another end, sophomore Frank Clark, was suspended following an offseason arrest for second-degree home invasion and his status for the Alabama game is unknown.

He, like Pipkins, was expected to make the two-deep roster.

At tackle, there's no question Michigan could use a healthy Pipkins against Alabama, which features what Hoke has called one of the best offensive lines he's ever seen.

It remains to be seen what happens with Pipkins. He may play, he may not. But that's part of the problem.

Camp was supposed to answer questions.

Halfway through, there's more than ever.

Kyle Meinke covers Michigan football for He can be reached at 734-623-2588, by email at and followed on Twitter @kmeinke.



Sun, Aug 19, 2012 : 3:06 p.m.

Bammer is going to FLATTEN the UM D Line.


Sat, Aug 18, 2012 : 10:05 p.m.

I just hope this injury does not spook him and affect his play and never end up fulfilling his true potential. That was the case with my own experience with a football injury. In my first year of play, another player in pre-season practice had stepped on my foot breaking my toe. My promising football career sadly came to an end. I probably would have started on the o-line because I was the heaviest kid in 6th grade that year. However, I just couldn't shake that injury. The memory of the pain and the fear of it happening again was too much to overcome. Only those who have put on the pads can relate . We put our butt on the line, accountable to our coaches and fellow warriors. There is an understood brotherhood amongst us and those of you who have never played will never understand.

Billy Bob Schwartz

Sun, Aug 19, 2012 : 12:24 a.m.

Ted...LOL! That's great. And it doesn't matter at what level it happens, it hurts. A career dashed at its inception. Go Blue!


Sat, Aug 18, 2012 : 8:23 p.m.

First Off. So glad that Ondre is OK! Second, our D is only two deep because (don't want to get into a previous coach discussion) it was a neglected facet of our game for a few years. Coach Hoke is doing the right things and it will take some time. If the 2012 and 2013 class performs as good as their rankings suggest, folks we will be a NATIONAL TITLE contender in another year or two. In the meantime, we actually can be a better team this year but lose more games than last year. (Our schedule is brutal). Nevertheless, I think 9 wins is attainable and that in itself would be a victory considering the schedule. GO BLUE!


Sat, Aug 18, 2012 : 5:55 p.m.

"Campbell, a senior, is an unproven commodity who reportedly has turned a corner this offseason. Even if he hadn't, though, he might still have been forced into action because Michigan has no other real options at tackle." Will Campbell has made more dents in cars than he has in offensive lines, so here's hoping for the best.


Sat, Aug 18, 2012 : 1:02 p.m.

Well written, Kyle. Ondre's health still comes first and formost. A testimate to the Michigan coaching staff for the prudent precautions on Ondre's initial injury. The Pipkins family no doubt should feel comforted knowing that their son is in good hands with this Michigan family. I always feel a kinship to fellow athletes who persuit their dreams, hopes and aspirations whether it be on a playing field, swimming pool, mat or track, so Ondre is still entitled to fullfill his dreams as a Michigan football player is he so wishes. This whole incident does tell me that the Michigan coaching staff does think of the well being of their players, first. GO BLUE!!

Wally the Wolverine

Sat, Aug 18, 2012 : 12:36 p.m.

I still don't understand the misguided RichRod bashing. Will Campbell, Quinton Washington, Richard Ash, and Jibreel Black were all 5 & 4-star recruits. These were the same type of safe, easy picks that have us hopeful of our future success with Hoke & company. Meanwhile, there are teams in our league that are having very good success with 2&3 star players. So what does this tell us? Coaching staffs everywhere should be a little more judicious with rating talent and not be overly reliant on what some arms-length rating agency says about a high school kid. So go ahead and blame the former coach, he was just playing the same game that we all get so excited about during the recruiting season.

Blu n Tpa

Mon, Aug 20, 2012 : 11:46 a.m.

To those who support the WCiMFH (and that's not even open for debate) please answer me this one question. What did you see in the last three games of the 2010 season, including the Gator Bowl, that gave you the confidence that things were getting better? Tom Coach Moeller had success on the field and I don't think he was stopped for DUI. You need to look at Coach Elliot's record before you make that comparison. It's not that close.


Sun, Aug 19, 2012 : 3:15 p.m.

Mass - DickRod went 7-5 in his final season in AA. He was the first choice at Bama and turned the job down. Satan was the second choice. I think that he will do well at Arizona (the only long term member of the Pac10 never to play in the Rose Bowl). Bum Elliot and DUI Moeller were much worse coaches than Rodriguez.


Sat, Aug 18, 2012 : 9:24 p.m.

Or you can say that the former staff may have recruited well but couldn't develope that talent worth a lick. Kovacs has turned into a steady beast at safety but he wasn't when he first walked on and he was starting as a walk on. The new staff has taken the talent that was left and actually done something with it, namely developed them into college football players


Sat, Aug 18, 2012 : 8:50 p.m.

Quinton Washington is a converted offensive linemen, RR did not recruit him to play DL Black was a three star


Sat, Aug 18, 2012 : 3:47 p.m.

Good assesment, Wally. You speak the truth my friend and it's hard to swallow for some of our fans. Why some of our fans still blame RR after an 11-2 season is beyond me. Everyone knows RR was the worst coach in our program history, but he did recruit well and truthfully, for his "OWN" system. Frankly, we're going to have to struggle this season because there are so many holes in our personnel, so 2013 should be much better for us. Gary, You may have missed the point of Wally's comment.


Sat, Aug 18, 2012 : 3:23 p.m.

What you seem to ignore is that RR and his Defensive Coordinators could not coach defense; Hoke and his defensive staff are coaching the kids RR recruited and Hoke's recruits and getting results. Michigan is playing defense, and RR's teams never did.


Sat, Aug 18, 2012 : 11:53 a.m.

Not to worry, Will Campbell to the rescue......sad thing is, he has to play and play well.....

Blu n Tpa

Sat, Aug 18, 2012 : 11:32 a.m.

Well done Kyle! Put the priority on the young man's health right at the top and let football and OP's playing status follow a respectful distance afterwards. Good news about OP returning to watch practice and not have to use any neck brace. Still, any kind of neck injury requires being careful to the extreme. Get well OP and see you on the field when when you're ready. TiM Go Blue!

Steve McQueen

Sat, Aug 18, 2012 : 11:31 a.m.

oooh we are all so scared. not. if it was not for the idiotically poor recruiting on the DL from the previous staff, Michigan would not be thin at that position.... that said, there is still talent there, and this is still Michigan. Best coaching staff in the Big Ten and Michigan never panics. Frankly it is tiring to read the same regurgitated "concerns" over and over again. The sky is not falling. Our thoughts should be about Pips health and being thankful that he is ok and escaped serious injury according to reports. As for the DL it will be just fine.


Sun, Aug 19, 2012 : 3:07 p.m.

Best coaching staff in the BIG 10????????????? NOT EVEN CLOSE! Dream on, Bullit!


Sun, Aug 19, 2012 : 2:24 p.m.

...and this is still Michigan. What the hell does that mean? This is still Michigan so everything will be ok... The concerns are legitimate. Might not be so lucky being virtually injury free, like last year.


Sat, Aug 18, 2012 : 3:52 p.m.

What is he supposed to write about? Is Kyle supposed to write about clear facts or fluff to tickle our ears because we can't handle reality. I thought his article was spot on and to the point, which gives us a realistic assesment of what we have on this team.

Blu n Tpa

Sat, Aug 18, 2012 : 11:55 a.m.

SMc I'm not sure what set you off but OP's injury was the impetus for this article. There is a reason to be concerned the lack of depth on the D-line and Kyle was pointing that out. As noted below, the article starts out focused on OP's health status. I would point out you ended with that which might give the impression that you don't have the player's well being where you should. I know that's not the case so let's move on. The WCiMFH earned that honor because he ignored the defensive side of the ball. He also forgot about kickers, tight ends, fullbacks, tall WRs, hulking LBs, D-line, O-line and special teams. Coach Hoke and staff are getting the players Michigan needs as fast as the system allows. They need to stay healthy, and lucky, until the depth chart is full. Remember TiM! Go Blue!