The Wolverine

May 2012

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Page 23 of 83

"I BY CHRIS BALAS t all starts up front." By now, those words have been heard so many times in Ann Arbor, some might think the phrase warrants a spot next to for- mer head coach Bo Schembechler's "Those who stay will be champions" on the locker room wall. Hoke is about physical play, and the wars are fought in the trenches. It takes playmakers to win, too — and finding some this spring was from Michigan head coach Brady Hoke ing aspect of his position. Hoke also pointed out that Roundtree had done a better job catching the ball with his hands as opposed to with his body this spring, and that his route run- ning "has continued to improve." "We've had some growth there," said Hoke of the senior. "I really think Roy has improved a lot. He's played in this offense for exactly 14 months now." The same could be said for the oth- OFFENSIVE And Other Spots This Spring On The paramount, and not just one or two. Depth is often the difference when it comes to Big Ten championships, and as always, a title is the Michigan team's goal. Wide receiver and back- up running back were under the mi- croscope this spring, but the coaches emerged from the April 15 spring game feeling better about both than when they started a month ago. "We had a really nice spring of- Michigan Sees Good Signs At Wide Receiver 23-yarder from back-up quarterback Devin Gardner — the biggest passing gain of the day — and had a solid spring all around. "Jeremy Gallon is doing a nice job for us, and [redshirt sophomore] Jer- ald Robinson," Hoke said. "Jerald tweaked his ankle a little bit late, but he's made some growth." At the slot, "[Junior] Jeremy Jack- fensively," offensive coordinator Al Borges said. "We got a lot of ques- tions answered. We had a chance to do some experimenting, although we didn't use any of it in the spring game. We did some things and turned another page in our offensive approach. "The people we knew could play pretty much proved they could play. We found a few guys along the way that, I think, are going to be contribu- tors. We've still got a ways to go." One of those proven playmakers, senior receiver Roy Roundtree, took another step in his evolution. Head coach Brady Hoke noted Roundtree's numbers dipped from 935 yards re- ceiving in 2010 to 355 in 2011, but he never complained of fewer touches, instead taking pride in the block- 24 THE WOLVERINE MAY 2012 son has shown some great flashes," Hoke added. "[Junior] Drew Dileo is a guy you can count on all the time for being in the right spots." Roundtree and Robinson would be U-M's primary deep threats, Hoke said. Borges noted he saw plenty from Robinson to believe he'd con- tribute significantly this fall. "He is one guy you're going to see ers. Though there weren't any huge gains in the April 15 scrimmage, red- shirt junior Jeremy Gallon caught a incoming freshman tight ends A.J. Williams of Cincinnati and Devin Funchess of Farmington Hills (Mich.) Harrison. Senior Brandon Moore, junior Ricardo Miller and walk-on Mike Kwiatkowski all saw plenty of action in the spring game, but none stood out. Tight end, in fact, might remain the biggest position of con- cern on either side of the ball, with more questions than answers. Running back, though, seems to The same will likely be said of AT MANY POSITIONS PROGRESS MADE have evolved as even more of a po- sition of strength. Redshirt junior Fitzgerald Toussaint enjoyed an outstanding spring coming off his 1,000-yard season, and the depth be- hind him seems to have improved. Sophomore Thomas Rawls opened eyes during the spring and in the spring game, scoring a pair of touch- downs in running with a purpose. He scored on a 20-plus-yard run in the spring game in which he broke a few tackles. Toussaint is physical enough, but Rawls takes it to another level over either Toussaint or senior third-down back Vincent Smith. "He's a different kind of runner than Fitz and a different kind of run- ner than Vince, and [redshirt fresh- man] Justice Hayes, too," Borges said. "He's a battering ram type of guy. When Thomas hits you, you're going to feel him. "He makes no concessions to the defense. He's got a little bit of stop- and-go ability, but I would not say that's his game. His game is running through people, making it very dif- ficult to tackle him and falling for- ward. He's done that all spring." One of the other provens is senior more and more of," Borges said. "He got banged up a little bit — nothing serious. He's a guy you're going to see step to the forefront. He's been very prominent in our practices. "Jeremy Jackson and Drew Dileo quarterback Denard Robinson, who made a noticeable leap forward in his decision-making and footwork, Borges assessed. The senior played just one series on the field in the spring game, the coaches taking no risks with their franchise player. Borges wanted to see more of have also been very, very active in our passing game. We have those people, and if some of the freshmen come in and show up and aren't awed by their surroundings, they may be able to contribute." Devin Gardner and redshirt fresh- man Russell Bellomy. Gardner tossed Sophomore running back Thomas Rawls scored the only two touchdowns of this year's spring game, including a determined 20-plus-yard run in which he broke some tackles. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL

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