The Wolverine

2014 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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120 ■ THE WOLVERINE 2014 FOOTBALL PREVIEW a great Big Ten program. I didn't even visit: I just automatically committed. "[Former Michigan head coach Rich Ro- driguez] was recruiting me a little bit before, so I knew a little bit about Michigan. I had heard great things about Hoke, and I knew that Michigan was the kind of program I wanted to be a part of." Heitzman had every intention of starting — and ending — his time at Michigan on the defensive side of the ball. After taking a redshirt season in 2011, Heitzman earned his way onto the two-deep the following season. "It was pretty nerve-wracking," Heitzman said. "I didn't really think I was physically ready at that time. The first game was against Alabama, so I was jittery and nervous and all that stuff. Once I settled down, though, and got used to the role, it fit really nicely." Last year, Heitzman jumped into the start- ing lineup. When outside linebacker Jake Ryan went down with an ACL injury in the spring, Brennen Beyer, now a senior, moved from defensive end to Sam linebacker to fill the void. Players Who Have Switched To The Other Side Of The Ball, Last 20 Years Redshirt junior Keith Heitzman is making a big transition this year, hop- ping to tight end after three years as a defensive end. In the last 20 years, 18 total Wolverines have made similar moves, to varying levels of success. The most common switch is for an offensive or defensive lineman to swap sides of the ball, but remain on the line. In the last 20 years, seven players have done that: Damon Denson (DL to OG in 1995), Chris Ziemann (DT to OG in 1997), Maurice Williams (DT to OT in 1998), Dave Petruziello (DE to OG in 2001), Dave Pearson (DL to OC in 2002), John Ferrara (DT to OG in 2009) and Quinton Washington (OG to DT in 2010). For the purposes of this list, we'll exclude those seven players and take a look, in chronological order, at players who have made more drastic transitions to the other side of the ball: 1. Ian Gold, running back to linebacker — Gold spent the 1996 and 1997 seasons at running back. As a freshman, he tallied three carries for nine yards in a blowout win at Minnesota. Other than that, he was buried on the depth chart. As a linebacker in 1998 and 1999, though, he racked up 163 total tackles, 18 tackles for loss, six sacks, three forced fumbles and two picks. He earned All-Big Ten honors both seasons. 2. Charles Drake, running back to safety — Drake spent his rookie year in 1999 at running back, tallying just 12 carries for 13 yards, before making the transition to safety the following offseason. Drake started 26 games in the next three years (13 at safety and 13 at cornerback), rack- ing up 168 total tackles, 11 tackles for loss, six sacks, eight passes broken up and a pick. 3. Eric Rosel, linebacker to tight end — Rosel lettered as a linebacker in 1998 and 1999, tallying just six combined tackles in those two seasons. He spent the next two seasons at tight end. Although he caught just two passes for 20 yards, Rosel developed into a reliable blocking tight end and earned three career starts on offense. 4. Evan Coleman, fullback to outside linebacker — Coleman started two games at fullback as a rookie in 1998, but he played behind Aaron Shea in 1999. He tallied three carries for seven yards in those two sea- sons. Coleman transitioned to outside linebacker, where he started four games in 2000 (none in 2001). He registered seven tackles, three tackles for loss, two sacks and a fumble recovery in those two years. 5. Phil Brackins, linebacker to tight end — As a sophomore line- backer in 2000, Brackins registered six total tackles. He spent his final two seasons at fullback, starting one game as a junior and playing behind team MVP B.J. Askew as a senior in 2002. 6. Brian Thompson, linebacker to fullback — Thompson redshirted in 2002 and recorded five total tackles, mostly in special teams duty, as a linebacker the following season, before moving to the other side of the ball. He started seven total games at fullback in 2005 and 2006, also play- ing some tight end. He recorded 19 catches for 123 yards and two scores. 7. Will Paul, defensive tackle to fullback — Paul spent the 2003 and 2004 seasons at defensive tackle, tallying just one total tackle in those two years. After transitioning to fullback, Paul recorded two career starts on offense. 8. Doug Dutch, wide receiver to cornerback — As a wide receiver from 2004-06, Dutch registered four catches for 34 yards before switch- ing to the defensive backfield for his last two seasons. Dutch did not see the field much in 2007 or 2008, recording just one career tackle, versus Notre Dame. 9. Carson Butler, tight end to defensive end — Butler was a fairly productive tight end, tallying 19 catches for 412 yards and three scores as a sophomore and junior in 2005 and 2006. He struggled to find a role in new head coach Rich Rodriguez's offense in 2008 and gave defensive end a try. He registered five total tackles that season. 10. James Rogers, wide receiver to cornerback — Rogers came in as a freshman cornerback in 2007 before spending his sophomore and junior years at wide receiver. He started two games at wide receiver and caught three passes for 64 yards. He moved back to defense as a senior in 2010, starting all 13 games at cornerback. That year, he registered 40 tackles, two tackles for loss, three passes broken up and three interceptions. 11. Steve Watson, defensive end to tight end — Watson didn't see the field much as a redshirt freshman tight end, moving to defensive end for the 2009 and 2010 seasons, recording just eight tackles. He moved back to tight end for his fifth-year senior season, Brady Hoke's first in Ann Arbor, and started four games there. His lone career catch came that season — a nine-yard touchdown grab versus Northwestern. — Andy Reid 118-121.Keith Heitzman.indd 120 6/19/14 2:56 PM

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