2008 Michigan Preview: Secondary

Projected Depth Chart

CB FS SS Nickel CB
Warren (So) S. Brown (Jr) Stewart (rSr)
Harrison (Sr)
Harrison (Sr) Trent (rSr)
Dutch (rSr) Williams (rFr) Chambers (So) Williams (rFr) Woolfolk (So)
Cissoko (Fr) Smith (Fr) JT Floyd (Fr)

Safeties and Nickels
Safeties Jamar Adams and Brandent Englemon are gone, but Junior Stevie Brown will be given another chance to start at safety, and the other spot will likely be manned by senior Brandon Harrison or 5th-year senior Charles Stewart. At nickel, redshirt freshman Michael Williams may get some playing time, or he could even move into the safety rotation.


Michigan Safeties and Nickels 2007
Name Tackle TFL Sacks Int
Jamar Adams 92 2.5 1 3
Brandent Englemon 86 2 0 3
Brandon Harrison 42 6.5 0.5 1
Stevie Brown 28 0 0 1
Charles Stewart 14 1 0 0
Anton Campbell 11 0 0 0
Artis Chambers 7 0 0 0
Shakir Edwards 1 0 0 0

5th-year senior Morgan Trent and sophomore sensation Donovan Warren are back to man the corner positions. Trent is blessed with speed, and Waren is a pure cover man. Woolfolk may be one of the first backups, along with Nickelman Brandon Harrison. Freshman Boubacar Cissoko will likely contribute as well.


Michigan Corners 2007
Name Tackle TFL Sacks Int
Donovan Warren 52 1.5 0 1
Morgan Trent 41 2 0 2
James Rogers 6 0 0 0
Troy Woolfolk 5 0 0 0
Doug Dutch 1 0 0 0

Notes: Rogers is expected to move to offense this year.

After the implosions of the App State and Oregon games, Johnny Sears was booted from the team, Stevie Brown was relegated to backup duty, and the Michigan secondary quietly became one of the best in the country. Trent and Warren comprise one of the best cornerback duos in the conference if not the nation. Stevie Brown is a good athlete and big hitter, and if he has taken the time to grasp the mental aspects of the position, should become a great safety down the line. Brandon Harrison is little and speedy, but most known for whiffing on sacks in nickel blitz situations. Several of Michigan’s backup DBs have had injury issues in the past, which are hopefully gone with the reign of Mike Barwis. The freshmen will contribute some, but mainly to get playing time for future years, not because their services are absolutely required.

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John Ferrara Moves to the Offensive Line

On the Big Ten Network’s Michigan special last night, head coach Rich Rodriguez revealed that defensive tackle John Ferrara has moved to the offensive line. What does this mean?

For the defense, the dpeth at tackle is probably developing well. Despite the loss of Marques Slocum, the unit could clearly afford the loss of a depth player who was decent, but nothing special. Renaldo Sagesse and Jason Kates are likely turning into capable backups, meaning that Ferrara was free to move elsewhere.

For the offense, this adds another body to a unit that sorely needs some depth. With both Corey Zirbel (a projected starter) and Mark Huyge (a key backup) out of the time being with injuries (a minor ligament issue and a high ankle sprain, respectively), he can help make sure there are enough players to have backups. Also making up for Zirbel’s loss, David Molk will move in as the starter at center, and David Moosman will move to guard.

Ferrara will likely get a better shot at playing time than he would have on the other side of the ball, and his reported strong summer in the weight room can help him become a contributor.

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2008 Michigan Preview: Linebackers

Projected Depth Chart

Mouton (rSo)
OR Panter (Sr)
Thompson (rSr)
OR Ezeh (rSo)
Ezeh (rSo)
OR Evans (So)
Logan (Sr) Panter (Sr) Patilla (rSo)
OR Herron (rFr)
Demens (Fr)
OR Witherspoon (Fr)
Fitzgerald (Fr) Hill (Fr)

Obi Ezeh was the starter in the middle last year as a redshirt freshman. The outside linebackers, Shawn Crable and Cris Graham are gone, but not necessarily lamented. On the strong side, expect redshirt freshman Marell Evans to work his way into a starting role. On the weakside, redshirt sophomore Jonas Mouton is a good athlete, but has been plagued by injuries during his firs two years at Michigan, and hasn’t been able to master the mental aspect of linebacking. He will battle senior Austin Panter, the former junior college defensive player of the year, for a starting role. 5th-year senior Johnny Thompson and redshirt freshman Brandon Herron provide some depth. Michigan also brought in a big freshman class of LBs, and a couple, such as Kenny Demens or JB Fitzgerald, may be asked to contribute.


Michigan Linebackers 2007
Name Tackle TFL Sacks Int
Shawn Crable 90 28.5 7.5 0
Chris Graham 90 7 1 0
Obi Ezeh 67 4 2 1
Johnny Thompson 30 2 0 1
Austin Panter 7 0 0 0
Jonas Mouton 5 0 0 0
Max Pollock 3 0 0 0

Graham’s departure isn’t quite addition by subtraction, but it’s pretty close. A lot of Michigan fans feel the same way about Crable, but I personally believe that he was just misused. Bad football players do not get drafted by the Best Team Ever Until They Lost in the third round. Ezeh should be improved from last year, and he is getting to be a big boy for linebacker. Marell Evans is a good athlete who is known for his work ethic. Johnny Thompson has never done anything to stick out to me, I think he would be a depth player if this team had a linebacking corps that you might expect from Michigan. A couple of the freshmen may be expected to contribute, but the coaching staff would prefer to play the upperclassmen.

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2008 Michigan Preview: Defensive Line

Projected Depth Chart

Graham (Jr) Johnson (rSr) Taylor (Sr) Jamison (rSr)
VanBergen (rFr) Kates (rSo)
Ferrara (rSo) Banks (rSo)
Criswell (rJr) Sagesse (So) Martin (Fr) Patterson (Jr)

Defensive Tackles

In the middle, Senior Terrance Taylor and 5th-year Will Johnson are the tackles. There is little depth among the backups, particularly with Marques Slocum leaving the team this summer. Redshirt sophomores Jason Kates and John Ferrara will be the backup tackles. Renaldo Sagesse has reportedly had a good summer and should challenge for playing time as well. Don’t be surprised to see true freshman Mike Martin in the rotation, either.


Michigan Defensive Tackles 2007
Name Tackle TFL Sacks
Terrance Taylor 55 8.5 3.5
Will Johnson 40 2.5 0.5
Marques Slocum 8 0.5 0
John Ferrara 2 1 0
Jason Kates 1 0 0

Taylor is a big run-stopper at defensive tackle, and has been a starter since his sophomore year. Johnson enters his second year as a starter, though I found him entirely uninspiring last year. The backups are far less touted and experienced than the starters across the line, but they will have to get the job done as well. While the starting DLine is probably the strength of the Michigan team, the lack of depth is one of the major weaknesses.

Defensive Ends
One the ends, Michigan returns another pair of starters. Junior Brandon Graham is a terror from the defensive end position, and 5th-year senior Tim Jamison mans the other side. Jamison is a more traditional speed rusher, but Graham has an element of quickness to his game as well. The backups are Ryan VanBergen, Adam Patterson, and Greg Banks. A man-sans-position thus far in his career, senior Andre Criswell will give end a shot this year.


Michigan Defensive Ends 2007
Name Tackle TFL Sacks
Tim Jamison 52 10 5.5
Brandon Graham 25 9.5 8.5
Greg Banks 7 0 0
Adam Patterson 4 1 1

Graham is a very athletic pass rusher on one side, but fans are still waiting for Tim Jamison to live up to his potential. Many are hoping that a good ass-kicking in the weight room under new strength coach Mike Barwis can unlock the thus-far dormant ability. The lack of depth at end is a major weaknesses. Few have gained significant playing time thus far, and there aren’t even that many bodies at the position. Until he showed up to camp ineligible, it was thought that Marcus Witherspoon might become a defensive end. A likely redshirt this year may be the perfect opportunity to switch positions.

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2008 Michigan Preview: Offensive Line

Projected Depth Chart

Ortmann (rJr) Moosman (rJr) McAvoy (rJr) Zirbel (rJr) Schilling (rSo)
Huyge (rFr) McAvoy (rJr) Molk (rFr) Barnum (Fr) Dorrestein (rSo)
O’Neill (Fr) Wermers (Fr) Barnum (Fr) Mealer (Fr) Zirbel (rJr)
Khoury (Fr) Omameh (Fr)

Offensive Line
We’ve all heard the facts: four starters are gone, including the NFL’s number one overall pick, a multi-year starter next to him, a Michigan legacy who transferred to Ohio State, and a guy who was never in good enough shape. The lone returning starter is Stephen Schilling at right tackle. The redshirt sophomore started every game last year, and accounts for 13 of the entire squad’s 16 career starts. The other positions are mostly up for grabs, but redshirt junior Mark Ortmann will probably man the other tackle spot. On the inside, redshirt junior Cory Zirbel, redshirt sophomore David Moosman, redshirt junior Tim McAvoy, and redshirt freshman David Molk will compete for the final three spots. Moosman has the upper hand at center, with Zirbel likely at one of the guard spots. Several other players will provide depth, including 6 freshmen.

This may be the hardest-hit unit on the team aside from quarterback. Schillling is probably the best athlete on the offensive line, and Molk has tons of potential on the inside, likely as a future center. Ortmann is a classical big left tackle, and it remains to be seen if he has the athleticism for the spread system. The same could be said for most of the players along the interior as well, who were recruited to Michigan’s old power run game. If the offensive line has time to gel, it shouldn’t be a catastrophe, but until we see them accomplish something on the field, they remain the biggest question mark.

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2008 Michigan Preview: Receiving Corps

Projected Depth Chart

Butler (rJr)
Massey (rSr)
Mathews (Jr) Hemingway (So) OR Stonum (Fr) Odoms (Fr) Clemons (So)
Webb (So) Savoy (rJr) Roundtree (Fr) Robinson (Fr) Rogers (So)
Watson (rFr) Babb (So) Shaw (Fr) OR Horn (rFr)
Koger (Fr) OR Moore (Fr)

Wide Receivers and Slots
Mario Manningham and Adrian Arrington both left to ply their trade in the NFL, leaving Michigan with a very young wide receiver group. Junior Greg Mathews is the most experienced of the bunch, and is a near-lock to be a starter. Sophomores Junior Hemingway and Toney Clemons look to get a lot of playing time as well, with Clemons playing on the outside or in the slot. 4th-year junior LaTerryal Savoy will probably be a depth player. Freshmen should play a significant role in the receiving corps as well. Early enrollee Daryll Stonum may be the most physically gifted wideout on the team, though fellow freshman Roy Roundtree is expected to redshirt. In the slot, freshmen Martavious Odoms, Terrence Robinson, and Michael Shaw will likely contribute.


Michigan Wideouts Receiving 2007
Name Rec Yds TD Yds/Rec
Mario Manningham 72 1174 12 16.31
Adrian Arrington 67 882 8 13.16
Greg Mathews 39 366 3 9.38
Junior Hemingway 4 37 0 9.25
LaTerryal Savoy 1 9 0 9.00
Toney Clemons 1 5 0 5.00
Michigan Wideouts Rushing 2007
Name Att Yds TD Yds/Att
Mario Manningham 19 119 1 6.26
Greg Mathews 2 17 0 8.50
Junior Hemingway 5 9 0 1.80

Stonum is likely the team’s best deep threat, whereas Greg Mathews is a possession-type player. Junior Hemingway and Toney Clemons have speed, and Clemons has very good size, too – he may have put on enough weight in the spring and summer to become a super-athletic tight end. Despite his size, Clemons also has the agility to play in the slot, showing off what a fantastic physical specimen he is. Savoy is a possession receiver, and should only get a few catches all year, unless he has improved drastically in the offseason. In the slot, Odoms and Robinson are both tiny guys with speed to burn and good moves as well. Shaw has a little more size, and may play a slot/RB split duty. He has very good speed as well, and even if he isn’t used in the slot, he will be a good receiver out of the backfield. Those whining about Rodriguez’s continuing to recruit wide receivers need only realize that he intends to play with several of them on every play, and look at the thin depth chart.

Tight Ends
At tight end, redshirt junior Carson Butler and redshirt senior Mike Massey are expected to start. Sophomore Martell Webb, redshirt freshman Steve Watson, and freshmen Kevin Koger and Brandon Moore are behind them. There are more tight ends on this team than you can shake a stick at. Carson Butler will likely get the lion’s share of starting snaps. Andre Criswell has moved to the defensive line after playing tight end in 2007.


Michigan Tight Ends Receiving 2007
Name Rec Yds TD Yds/Rec
Carson Butler 20 246 2 12.30
Mike Massey 4 38 0 4.28
Andre Criswell 2 32 0 5.09
Chris McLaurin 1 11 0 4.60
Michigan Tight Ends Rushing 2007
Name Rec Yds TD Yds/Rec
Carson Butler 1 16 0 16.00

Butler is an athletic tight end, but is prone to mental mistakes like false starts and holding. Massey is the classic Michigan tight end, and is a capable if not exceptional receiver. He has been plagued with injuries throughout his career, and may exceed expectations if he can stay healthy. Webb is a similar athlete to Butler, whereas Steve Watson is more of the classic Michigan TE. It will be interesting to see if he can find a good place on this team. Of the two freshmen, Koger is more ready to play, but his services might be needed on the defensive side of the ball as well, which remains to be seen.

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2008 Michigan Preview: Offensive Backs

Projected Depth Chart

QB Speed RB Power RB MX
Threet (fFr) Brown (Jr) Minor (Jr)

Moundros (rSo)
Feagin (Fr) OR
Sheridan (W – rSo)
McGuffie (Fr) OR Horn (rFr) Grady (rJr) Helmuth (So)
Cone (rSo) Cox (Fr)

Uh, crap. Both players who threw any meaningful passes last year are gone, Chad Henne (the four-year starter) to the NFL and Ryan Mallett (the ex-heir-apparent) to Arkansas. The cupboard isn’t entirely bare, but it’s damn close. Steven Threet, a redshirt freshman who sat out last year after transferring from Georgia Tech, was a four-star recruit in 2007, but isn’t the mobile player that Rich Rodriguez would like in his spread. Walkon Nick Sheridan is more athletic, but a worse passer. Incoming freshman Justin Feagin is expected to get some playing time as the dual-threat that Rich Rodriguez desires. Redshirt sophomore David Cone… at least he’ll leave Michigan with a good degree.


Michigan Quarterbacks Passing 2007
Name Comp Att % Yds TD Int Yds/Att
Chad Henne 162 278 58.27 1938 17 9 6.97
Ryan Mallett 61 141 43.26 892 7 5 6.33
David Cone 1 1 100.00 21 0 0 21.00

Michigan Quarterbacks Rushing 2007
Name Att Yds TD Yds/Att
Ryan Mallett 33 -38 1 -1.15
Chad Henne 24 -120 0 -5.00

Threet and Feagin had better be able to step up, otherwise Michigan’s offense might be in big trouble. Threet will be the passer of the two, and Feagin will be eased into the offense with running plays, and eventually work his way into the passing game. Sheridan will likely only be used as a contingency plan, and Cone doesn’t look to get any playing time. If spring was any indication, there needs to be a lot of improvement in this unit for success.

Four-year starter Mike Hart departs as Michigan’s all-time leading rusher. Stepping up, however, Michigan has a number of viable options. Redshirt junior Kevin Grady was the backup in 2005 and 2006, but was out last year with an ACL injury. He is also expected to be suspended for an indefinite period of time for a July DUI arrest. True juniors Brandon Minor and Carlos Brown were the backups last year, and filled in when Hart was out. Redshirt freshman Avery Horn is a speedy option, though he might not have the moves to be a true tailback. Incoming freshmen Sam McGuffie and Mike cox will challenge for playing time. The fullback will either be redshirt sophomore Mark Moundros or true sophomore Vince Helmuth.


Michigan Running Backs Rushing 2007
Name Att Yds TD Yds/Att
Mike Hart 265 1361 14 5.14
Brandon Minor 90 385 1 4.28
Carlos Brown 75 382 4 5.09
Mike Milano 5 23 0 4.60
Jim Potempa 6 16 0 2.67
Michigan Running Backs Receiving 2007
Name Rec Yds TD Yds/Rec
Mike Hart 8 50 0 6.25
Mark Moundros (FB) 3 11 0 3.67
Brandon Minor 3 1 0 0.33

Grady is the most powerful runner of the three, though he has problems fumbling in the past. He hasn’t shown the vision that was expected of him coming out of high school. Brandon Minor definitely loks the part of a D-I football player, and his imposing figure is an accurate indicator of his strong running style. He doesn’t have the best speed, but he runs with power. Carlos Brown is the speedster of the proven players, though his vision has been criticized in the past. He has taken snaps at quarterback as well, and may be the recipient of a direct snap or two. Horn is fast, but doesn’t really have moves or vision, and is best when he gets the ball in space and has to do little other than run fast in a straight line. Sam McGuffie’s internet fame speaks for itself, and Cox seems to be in the mold of Brandon Minor. Helmuth is the more athletic fullback, and is more likely to be a “runaway beer truck,” but Moundros picked up the offense better in the spring and may get the starting nod.

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First Official Depth Chart Released

Items of note (obviously subject to major change after fall camp):

  • Your OL (from left to right): Ortmann, McAvoy, Moosman, Zirbel, Schilling.
  • Starting TE: Butler or Massey.
  • Greg Mathews and JR Hemingway starting split ends.
  • Toney Clemons starting slot, backed by… Jim Potempa?
  • Threet and Sheridan listed as co-starter at QB.
  • Moundros over Helmuth at FB.
  • RB: Minor over a three-way tie between Brown, Grady, and Horn.
  • Starting linebackers: S-Austin Panter, M-Obi Ezeh OR Johnny Thompson, W-Marell Evans OR Jonas Mouton.
  • SS listed as BHarrison OR CStewart.
  • Return specialists: Punt – Warren, Kick – Brandons Minor and Harrison.

The VB Depth chart will probably be updated in short order, as part of the team preview.

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Post-spring Summary: Linebackers

Mouton (rSo) Thompson (rSr)
OR Ezeh (rSo)
Ezeh (rSo)
OR Evans (So)
Logan (Sr) Panter (Sr) Patilla (rSo)
OR Herron (rFr)
Demens (Fr)
OR Witherspoon (Fr)
Fitzgerald (Fr) Hill (Fr)

Arriving in the fall: Kenny Demens, Marcus Witherspoon, J.B. Fitzgerald, Taylor Hill.

With a fair amount of depth here, and not much at DE, someone among the linebackers who played DE in high school may start bulking up and change positions. Michigan loses a few seniors, but only one of them (Johnny Thompson) is a projected starter. In recruiting, Michigan can probably hold out for a top guy or two unless they lose a couple players to defensive end.

Class of ’09 Linebackers
Name Measurables Rating Hometown School Offer? Timetable Player Notes Recruiting Notes
Jelani Jenkins 6-1, 200, 4.45 ***** Wheaton, MD Our Lady of Good Counsel Offer Student-athlete with a 4.0. Washington Post all-Met 1st team as a junior. Virginia wants him like it’s their job. Will he stay closer to home?
Julius Ferrell 6-1, 230, 4.55 **** Youngstown, OH Liberty Hits like a ton of bricks. Described as David Harris-like. Ohio State may not have room for him in their class. His teammate Isaiah Bell is committed.
Jonathan Pippin 6-1, 210, 4.5 *** River Ridge, LA John Curtis From the program that sent Joe McKnight to USC. He lists a lot of SEC schools and Michigan.
Dan Mason 6-1, 223, 4.59 *** Pittsburgh, PA Penn Hills Pitt is his early leader, and he lists West Virginia, which may translate to new-UM.
John Michael Davis 6-1, 220, 4.59 *** Los Flores, CA Tesoro Dropped from a 5-star after Scout’s first re-evaluation. Grew up a Michigan fan. He is currently listing Michigan, but how well will New-UM recruit California after the departure of Ron English?
Dan Fox 6-3, 215 *** Cleveland, OH St. Ignatius Attended UM junior day.

After a very large 2008 LB class, this isn’t a huge area of priority. Michigan can hold out for higher-level prospects.

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Post-spring Summary: Defensive Backs

CB FS SS Nickel CB
Warren (So) S. Brown (Jr) Stewart (rSr)
Harrison (Sr) Trent (rSr)
Harrison (Sr) Williams (rFr) Chambers (So) Dutch (rSr) Woolfolk (So)
Williams (rFr)

Arriving in the fall: Boubacar Cissoko (CB), JT Floyd (Nickel), Brandon Smith (SS).

Committed Safeties
Name Measurables Rating Hometown School Player Notes Recruiting Notes
Isaiah Bell 6-3, 205 *** Youngstown, OH Liberty Junior Film. Michigan’s fourth commit, on 3-31-08

Class of ’09 Safeties
Name Measurables Rating Hometown School Offer? Timetable Player Notes Recruiting Notes
Devonte Holloman 6-2, 200 ***** Charlotte, NC Independence Offer Post-officials decision, potential early enroll SS prospect. He also plays QB in high school, but is unlikely to toss the rock in college. Fluffy fluff. Notre Dame, Florida, and Clemson are the top 3. He has said he wants to stay close to home. He wants to get down to 5 schools by the end of summer.
Jonathan Scott 6-3, 190, 4.6 *** Daytona Beach, FL Seabreeze Offer Strong safety prospect. He has family at both Georgia Tech and Ohio State. Michigan in his top 5.
Dorian Berry 6-3, 200 *** Baldwyn, MS Baldwyn A big dude who projects as a SS. He may have trouble qualifying for college. Hopson-Mississippi connection.
Rod Woodson 6-1, 200 **** Olive Branch, MS Olive Branch Jay Hopson gives Michigan the ability to recruit Mississippi.
Shamari Benton 5-11, 175 *** Birmingham, MI Brother Rice Early decision Plays OLB and standup DE in HS. He’ll need to add tons of weight to be on LB, or show faster 40 times to be a safety. Favors Michigan State over Michigan.
Brock Reynolds 5-11, 175 *** Battle Creek, MI BC Central Thin safety prospect. He’ll need to add more weight to get high-DI offers.

A ton of safety prospects out there right now.

Committed Cornerbacks
Name Measurables Rating Hometown School Player Notes Recruiting Notes
Justin Turner 6-2, 200 **** Massilon, OH Washington Junior Film. Michigan’s second commit, on 3-28-08

Class of ’09 Corners
Name Measurables Rating Hometown School Offer? Timetable Player Notes Recruiting Notes
Dre Kirkpatrick 6-2, 180, 4.5 ***** Gadsden, AL Gadsden City Offer Signing day decision Scout’s top defensive back early in the recruiting game. Looking mostly at southern schools. He visited Auburn 2-22 weekend Going to Bama 3-8 weekend.
Brandon McGee 6-0, 180, 4.45 **** Plantation, FL Plantation Offer He is a HS QB as well. Grew up an FSU fan, but is also interested in Ohio State.
Travis Hawkins 5-11, 185, 4.42 **** Gaithersburg, MD Quince Orchard Offer Early enroll A lot of big-time offers imply that he will be a very good prospect. Plans to visit Ann Arbor.
DJ Hunter 6-0, 190 **** Middletown, OH Middletown Favors Indiana and Ohio State, along with Miami of Florida. He claims offers from the entire Big Ten except OSU and Michigan.
Tony Graham 5-11, 185, 4.44 **** Trotwood, OH Trotwood-Madison Michigan’s emerging pipeline into T-M can only help with Graham. He plans to attend Michigan’s summer camp.
Corey Brown 6-2, 185, 4.58 **** Monroeville, PA Gateway Offer Also plays WR on offense. Sam Webb video interview. He is friends with some Pitt players (Shayne Hale, Cam Saddler), and his HS coach is a Pitt supporter.
David Conner 6-0,200 *** Batesville, MS South Panola Offer Plays safety in high school, but will probably grow into an OLB in college. He’s a little short for the position. He was a first team all-state selection in 2007 according to the Clarion Ledger. Michigan is among his first offers.
Javanti Sparrow 6-0, 170, 4.49 *** Chesapeake, VA Western Branch Super-fast track star who is a HS teammate of Kevin Newsome. Interested in attending the same school as teammate Newsome.
Ryan Campbell 6-0, 175, 4.38 *** Columbus, GA Shaw Super-fast track star who is a HS teammate of Kevin Newsome. Jim Stefani notes that he is originally from Michigan.
Varmah Sonie 5-10, 160 *** Apple Valley, MN Apple Valley A friend of WR Bryce McNeal Visited Michigan with McNeal last weekend.

Michigan will like at least one super.

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