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Posted on Fri, Apr 20, 2012 : 5:59 a.m.

Ricky Barnum still adjusting to center, Michigan football offensive line 'not good enough' yet

By Nick Baumgardner


Brady Hoke instructs offensive linemen Ricky Barnum (52) and Patrick Omameh (65) during the Michigan spring game. Barnum, replacing All-American David Molk, saw his first action at center with mixed results.

Melanie Maxwell I

No one said Ricky Barnum's job would be easy this season.

Tasked with replacing perhaps the best college center in America last season, with little experience at the position in the first place, the Michigan football senior offensive lineman has his hands full.

And he knows it.

"There's a lot I have to do to up my game," Barnum said after Michigan's spring game. "I've got to get better."

Barnum's official debut as David Molk's replacement wasn't without its hiccups.


Denard Robinson bobbles a snap from Ricky Barnum during the Michigan spring game.

Melanie Maxwell |

The 6-foot-3, 292-pound center was part of two fumbled snaps during the spring game, one with starter Denard Robinson and the other with backup Devin Gardner.

Afterward, Barnum took full responsibility for the fumbles and said it's an area he'll continue to spend long hours on this summer.

"That was my fault, I'll take full blame," Barnum said of the botched snaps. "We didn't have that all spring, it was something new (in the spring game)."

"That's something I'm going to work on (all summer). Even if I have to come in Saturdays and Sundays as well, that's something I'm committed to doing."

Barnum's not the only new face in a new place up front.

Michael Schofield has officially moved out to right tackle to replace Mark Huyge, and during the spring game, walk-on Joey Burzynski took the early reps with the first string at left guard -- though junior Elliott Mealer also appears to be in the hunt for that spot.

That leaves just juniors Taylor Lewan (left tackle) and Patrick Omameh (right guard) as the two players returning to old spots.

And there's also a depth issue, as most of Michigan's second-unit offensive linemen are redshirt or true freshmen.

Incoming five-star lineman Kyle Kalis may be impressive, but simply walking into a starting spot up front as a rookie isn't something that's seen very often.

"In my opinion, I think offensive line is the most developmental position on the entire football team," Michigan offensive coordinator Al Borges said. "Very few (guys) can step up on day one and be right with it. Every so often you'll get a tailback, when I was at UCLA we had DeShaun Foster and from the day he stepped on campus, he was the best tailback we had.

"But you don't find many linemen like that. Usually they've got to go through some growing pains and get a little stronger, a little more aware."

As for the offensive line's showing in the spring game, players say it wasn't terrible, but it was far from where the finished product needs to be.

"(There have) been better days," Lewan said. "We have a long way to go."

Barnum agreed, but was nowhere near ready to panic.

Work has to be done, and he says the group up front looks forward to putting the time in.

"We've been in the system for two years now, and we all have to step up," he said. "I thought we could have done a lot better. We did OK, but it's not good enough.

"If we keep listening to the coaches, we'll be OK."

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



Sat, Apr 21, 2012 : 11:16 a.m.

It sounds like a lot of posters are counting on incoming freshmen to play a lot on the lines this year. Not a one of them has taken a snap in college football, yet, but many of you have Kalis and Pipkins as starters, if not stars. I don't care what any of you think. O line is probably the most difficult position in football to learn. D line isn't as difficult, but still hard to learn. I'd really be surprised if either Kalis or Pipkins are anything other than occasional backups this year. Pipkins probably has a better chance of seeing more playing time than Kalis. They won't be playing high school kids this year. The future is where their talent will shine. Not this year.


Fri, Apr 20, 2012 : 10:08 p.m.

Hey Ted, I haven't had a good belly laugh today please, just a morsel of insight.

Terry Star21

Fri, Apr 20, 2012 : 8:48 p.m.

Watch Barnum become as good, if not better as any center that has taken the field for Michigan. Talk all you want about not being good enough, if it helps on paper, by September all our players hard work and coaches dedication will prove team 133 has the tools and mentality to play the National Championship. Will wait for Michigan Man Ted to advise.... MgoBlueForTiM.....Barnum, Team 133 going all the way...


Sun, Apr 22, 2012 : 10:56 p.m.

Terry...where did you go to school? Mentality to play for the national championship? Are you kidding me? Where's the threat?


Fri, Apr 20, 2012 : 5:28 p.m.

This O-line has the least depth of any I've seen at Michigan. Poor recruiting over the last 4 years plus a lot of attrition are to blame. It will take several years for the coaches to fix it, but are doing a great job with recruiting. Help will arrive this fall with the 4 freshmen. I think there's a good chance Kalis will see the field this year.


Sat, Apr 21, 2012 : 8:48 p.m.

So does Hoke and co. Get a free pass for several years? Coaches always have to deal with attrition, if Hoke is as good as everyone says then he shouldn't have any problems or excuses.

John of Saline

Fri, Apr 20, 2012 : 2:56 p.m.

Training a center who's new to the position? Is that smart? No recruits who played center in high school?


Sun, Apr 22, 2012 : 10:54 p.m.

The MSU Spartans went 7-1 in the B10 in 2011 with a redshirt freshman center, Travis Jackson. We all know that Dantonio doesn't know how to recruit players...LOL! Where's the UM beef? Where's the threat?

Matt Patercsak

Fri, Apr 20, 2012 : 3:47 p.m.

Ricky Barnum played some center in high school, and has been working at center his entire career at Michigan in one degree or another. So to say "new to the position" may be a stretch. He was recruited by some powerhouse teams to play center.

Nick Baumgardner

Fri, Apr 20, 2012 : 3:07 p.m.

John, Center is arguably the most cerebral position on the offensive line, so having a senior like Barnum slide over (he has some, though limited, experience there) would be much better than asking a true freshman to step in. Successful true frosh offensive linemen are extraordinarily rare. Successful true frosh centers are almost nonexistent. Nick


Fri, Apr 20, 2012 : 1:53 p.m.

WORST case scenario? Here goes: Alabama 27 Michigan 10 (guess who puts three snaps on the ground?) Notre Dame 27 Michigan 24 (last second FG wins for ND - turnaround's a bear...) Michigan State 30 Michigan 17 (five Wolverines are injured, including Denard who has a dreadlock pulled out while at the bottom of the pile - Gholsten suspended) Nebraska 34 Michigan 28 (Pelini saves his job.......for awhile) Ohio 34 Michigan 31 (twenty-three Ohio players sell their gold pants but Urban looks the other way) Michigan 36 Ole Miss 27 - Liberty Bowl was rockin!!! BEST Case? Here goes: Michigan goes 12-0 and plays in the national title game against LSU, winning 21-0. After the game, Les and Brady join hands and sing "the Victors". LSU gets scared and gives Les an extension. Finally, don't you think the truth is somewhere ini between?


Sat, Apr 21, 2012 : 2:36 a.m.

Haha! Nice post. And yes I would agree that the truth is somewhere in between. Another 10 an 2 or even 9 an 3 would be very respectable with this schedule. Especially if we can break the sparty streak and continue the osu streak.

Terry Star21

Fri, Apr 20, 2012 : 8:42 p.m.

This is very funny, I enjoy your humor....


Fri, Apr 20, 2012 : 5:03 p.m.



Fri, Apr 20, 2012 : 1:45 p.m.

You can practice all you want, it is not the same as snapping in a game. Only game experience is going to correct that problem. Look at what happened to Rocko Koury in the Sugar Bowl. I'm sure he snapped great in practice, but could not hit the broad side of a barn during the first series of the Sugar Bowl. Molk ended up playing on one leg, just to make sure D Rob got the ball.


Fri, Apr 20, 2012 : 1:29 p.m.

"William Campbell might be remembered as the most overrated 5 star recruit to goto Michigan if he does not at least play average this year." Thanks to Rich ROD. Let's not forget about 5 Star recruit Ondre Pipkins DT that will be here in the fall. If Will Campbell can play good Michigan might plug in Ondre Pipkins in to the line and the D-line might be solid for Michigan. The best players will play.


Sun, Apr 22, 2012 : 7:01 p.m.

Trueblue - everyone who paid attention to Michigan football last year knows that Big WIll's playing was light years ahead of what it was the previous years. Still not up to his ability, but vastly improved. And you certainly can put it on his past coaching. A big part of coaching is motivating. If a defensive guy is on a team in which the defense is treated as "supplemental," how motivated do you expect him to be? The guys who remained motivated, like Mike Martin, were likely the exceptions, not the norm.


Sat, Apr 21, 2012 : 2:04 p.m.

"Thanks to Rich ROD" How did Campbell do last season under Mattison and Hoke? I'd say the amount he improved from his sophomore to junior seasons would be the average amount any player would improve with another year of experience. In other words, Campbell's lack of playing to his potential is not an issue caused by Rodriguez. It's all on Will Campbell. Sorry, can't blame this one on Rich.


Fri, Apr 20, 2012 : 4:49 p.m.

I think it is a virtual certainty that Pipkins will get significant minutes this year. If nothing else, it will give us much-needed depth.


Fri, Apr 20, 2012 : 12:36 p.m.

The offensive line and defensive line will be the weakest party of this year's team. If they are solid, the team can win 10 games. If they are weak, the team will win only 7 games. Michigan's schedule is much tougher than last year, and facing teams like Nebraska and MSU who have a wealth of talent in the trenches will test Michigan's lines. William Campbell might be remembered as the most overrated 5 star recruit to goto Michigan if he does not at least play average this year.


Fri, Apr 20, 2012 : 11:50 a.m.