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March 05, 2001 - Image 16

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The Michigan Daily, 2001-03-05

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8B - The Michigan Daily - SportsMonday, March 5, 2001

Combine

'01

Three linemen in the first? Could happen

%,4

Train and Terrell look
to make an impression

By Seth Klempner
Daily Sports Writer

INDIANAPOLIS - Jeff Backus,
Steve Hutchinson and Maurice
Williams were drawn to Michigan
by its tradition for creating NFL-
caliber linemen. In 1997, they added
to the Michigan football tradition by
winning a national championship
-and were brought together as a unit
in 1998 when coach Lloyd Carr
moved Williams from defensive end
ato offensive tackle during spring
,practices. Four years later, as the
final seconds ticked away at the
Citrus Bowl, they finished their
careers as Michigan football players
by raising the level of expectations
for Michigan offensive linemen.
On April 21-22, these three men
will yet again create a new standard
for excellence. Michigan could pos-
sibly have an unprecedented three
offensive linemen drafted in the first
round of the NFL draft.
"That would be great," Williams
said. "It shows the kind of line we
had this year, and the pride that
Michigan has and the tradition of
great offensive linemen coming out
here."
During the grueling three days of
the NFL combines, where many
players were described themselves
as being treated like meat, being
pulled and pushed everywhere while
getting little sleep.
Despite all of this, players are
expected to be at their physical peak
and perform flawlessly in probing
interviews.
"Things are going well, but I am
glad it's over. It's been a long three
days," Backus said before leaving
Indianapolis. "You interview with
every team, (they go over) all your
medical history, MRI's, x-rays and
whatnot"

During their senior season, the
three allowed Drew Henson to sit
back in the pocket, giving him time
to find second and third receivers.
The offensive line gave up just 18
sacks and helped Michigan quarter-
backs combine for just five inter-
ceptions. They also opened up holes
for the running backs, allowing
Anthony Thomas to break the
Michigan career rushing record and
average 5.4 yards per carry.
Hutchinson, the most decorated of
the trio, was named to his fourth all-
Big Ten first team, becoming just
the fourth Big Ten player to receive
the honor four times. The only other
Wolverine to receive that distinction
is Mark Messner (1985-88).
Hutchinson is an All-American,
was named Big-Ten offensive line-
man of the year and was a finalist
for the Lombardi award which is
given to the nation's top offensive
lineman.
Hutchinson made 33 starts out of
35 games played. He gave up his last
sack during the 1999 season in a
game where his shoulder was hurt. It
is the only sack Hutchinson can
recall allowing in his college career.
According to his player represen-
tative, Darrel Wills, NFL scouts are
very impressed with Hutchinson.
"He is big, tough and fast," he
said. "He benched an impressive 31
reps at 225 pounds while running
the forty-yard dash in 5.1 seconds
(in the top half for offensive line-
men)."
Hutchinson, who is expected to be
the first of the Michigan linemen
taken in the draft, has been project-
ed to go as high as No. 8 in the draft.
Hutchinson and Backus cite for-
mer teammate and current
Washington Redskins starter Jon
Jansen as the offensive linemen they
emulate and model their games

after. Jansen made the jump from
college to the pros smoothly and
ended up starting every game his
rookie year for Washington on an
offensive line that allowed just 31
sacks.
"Jansen does everything the
right way, he really works hard,"
Hutchinson said. (Jansen's start-
ing) gives me hope. He's a great
player, he deserves everything he
gets," Hutchinson said.
After moving to offensive
tackle following the 1997
season, Williams saw con-
siderable action as a
sophomore and junior
while developing his skills
as an offensive linemen.
But it was not until his
senior year that he began
receiving national attention.
While several scouts have
pointed out his need to bulk
up, they also point out his
natural athleticism and well
of untapped talent after y
starting just one year on the
collegiate level. Even
though he was unable to
work out at the com-
bine, his excellent per- /
formance during the
Senior Bowl and
strong showing dur-
ing Michigan's Pro
Day will help
increase his draft
status.
Wills, who also represents
Williams, said Hutchinson and
Williams are doing extensive train-
ing down in Florida to get stronger
and prepare themselves for the NFL
tests. They are also making sure that
the players do not revert back to old
habits while fine-tuning and polish-
ing their technique.
"I am working, trying to get

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By Jim Weber
Daily Sports Writer
INDIANAPOLIS - Anthony
Thomas is Michigan's all-time leading
rusher and David Terrell has stood out
as a wide receiver for the past three
years, but they still have to prove them-
selves to NFL scouts.
Vertical leaps, 40-yard dashes and
bench presses have become important
parts of the evaluation process prior to
the NFL draft. Activities like these, as
well as physicals, took place at the
NFL combine in Indianapolis two
weeks ago as the event has exploded
into one of the biggest offseason mea-
sures in the NFL.
The 40-yard dash is particularly
important for Thomas and Terrell, both
projected to go high in the draft.
Unfortunately, Thomas was unable to
improve his status with his time of 4.51
seconds in the 40-yard dash, remaining
as the fourth rated running back in the
draft --just as he was prior to the com-
bine, behind Mississippi's Deuce
McAllister, Wisconsin's Michael
Bennett, and Texas Christian's
LaDainian Tomlinson.
Despite both the slow track at the
RCA Dome and the tiring process of
the event as being detrimental the 40-
yard dash, Thomas believes he ran
well. Even so, his competition still ran
faster times under these conditions
"It doesn't hurt him but it doesn't
help him," said ESPN's John Clayton.
"When you got Tomlinson running a
4.38 and the other guys running 4.3's, it
doesn't help."
Clayton also had bad news for
Thomas and his hopes to be drafted in
the first round, considering his current
status as the fourth best running back
in the draft.
"It's hard, anymore, to get four first
round running backs because it is hard
to get to the draft and have four teams

with the primary need at the running
back position." said Clayton.
Furthermore, he said there might
only be six teams looking for a running
back in this draft.
Terrell, on the other hand, decided
not to run at the combine, opting to
workout in front of scouts on March 16
in Ann Arbor for Pro Day.
Currently, Terrell is rated as the top
receiver in the drat and expected to go
in the top two or three picks. NFL
scouts believe Terrell is the complete
package with size and speed - - and
Terrell knows it.
"Playing receiver in this time, a lot of
people want to get the big receivers -
the big, strong receivers that can block
and go downfield and can stretch the
field," Terrell said. "As I said before,
those are all qualities that I possess."
He needs a fast 40-yard dash to
remain ahead of North Carolina State's
Koren Robinson as the top receiver.
"David has to show a good time or,
if not, he will probably drop out of the
top five," said Clayton.
In an attempt to try and niove up the
draft board, Thomas and Terrell have
both been training in Florida.
Thomas has worked specifically on
improving his 40-yard dash and his
bench press with personal trainers and
coaches. Olympic runner Michael
Johnson has even stopped by to help.
Meanwhile, Terrell is learning from
former Buckeye greats Paul Warfield
and Cris Carter in Carter's Get Fast
Program. Terrell said that along with
speed, he is working on catching the
ball, studying game film, and learning
NFL offenses with Warfield, hoping the
hard work he has put into the draft will
pay off.
"Shucks," Terrell said. "My whole
life I have been running 4.3's and 4.4's
and if I run anything less, believe me I
am going to get Bill Willy at the 'Get
Fast Program.'"

,
/G /

AP PHOTO
David Terrell

stronger in my 225 lift for Pro Day,
three cone drill and technique stuff
drill work," Backus said. "I am not
in school so that keeps me busy."
Hutchinson "is a big, strong, pow-
erful guy with great feet," Anthony
Thomas said. "Backus is a big guy
who can maul a guy pretty quickly.
Maurice is a big guy with good feet,
a good guy for the left side."

LIVING ON THE EDGE
BY NAWEED SIKORA DAILY SPORTS WRITER

he balance beam is arguably the
toughest event in women's college
gymnastics. While standing on a
beam only as wide as the palm of their
hand, gymnasts are required to perform
incredible flips and jumps - knowing that
the slightest lapse in mental concentration
will lead to a fall, destroying what could
have been a smooth routine and a high
score. But don't tell that to Michigan junior
Shannon Mackenzie.
"I love the beam. I love competing on it,
I love practicing on it - everybody thinks
I'm kind of weird," she said.
With astounding confidence and compo-
sure, Mackenzie has developed into one of
Michigan's finest beam performers and
role-players. But unlike many of her team-
mates, Mackenzie was not a highly sought
after recruit. Instead, Mackenzie's path to
the college level was filled with unexpect-
ed twists and turns. Still, because of her
love for the sport - and a bit of luck -
this freshman walk-on has established her-
self as a regular for Michigan on the beam.
Mackenzie, who grew up in Midland,
began her gymnastics career at the age of
two with her mother.
"When I was two, my mom enrolled me
in one of those mommy-and-me gymnastics
Masses," Mackenzie said. "I did that and I
swam until I was about eight. At that point,
I had to decide which sport to do, so I chose
gymnastics."
After she made the decision, Mackenzie
departed for Japan, where she lived and
practiced gymnastics for three years.
"My dad worked for Dow Corning, so he
got transferred there. That was definitely a
different environment for gymnastics. It
was much stricter there.
"I was too young to compete for the high
school team, so I worked out in a Japanese
gym. It was very formal there - we
weren't allowed to talk or play any music.
They took sports in general very seriously
over there."
Upon returning to Michigan when she
was 12, Mackenzie continued competing
with the Midland Gymnastics Club until
A balancing act
Over the past three years, Mackenzie has
hadinany masterful performances on the
beam. Here is a recap of just a few:
n Freshman year, Mackenzie finished tied for
fifth overall at the NCAA Regionals with a
9.850.
Last year, Mackenzie finished in first place
overall against Michigan State with a 9.925.

another sudden turn of events.
"I injured my ankle when I was 14,"
Mackenzie said. "It's always bothered me;
I've had to tape it for about seven years
now. Because of the injury, I was pretty
sure after my senior year of high school that
I wasn't going to do college gymnastics."
Thankfully - for Mackenzie and coach
Bev Plocki - Kim Riley was there to
change her mind. Riley, a gymnastics judge
for the state of Michigan, was hired by dif-
ferent gymnastics clubs around Michigan
to critique the routines of the members.
Riley also judges several of the
Wolverines' competitions, including their
most recent home meet this season against
Southeast Missouri State. She had known
both Plocki and Mackenzie for a long time.
"I have known Shannon since she was
about seven. I knew her private coach, so I
would go to her club every year to evaluate
the kids. I also judged her at several differ-
ent club meets. She was so talented, that by
the 10th grade, I felt her balance beam rou-
tine was already at the college level," Riley
said.
"She had told me that she wanted to go to
Michigan, so I told coach Plocki and (assis-
tant coach) Scott (Sherman) to come out
and watch Shannon in a competition. She
was so nervous that she must have fallen at
least three times."
Despite the shaky performance, Plocki
asked Mackenzie to join the team as a
walk-on. One year later, Plocki wa's thank-
inc Riley for her tremendous recommenda-
tion.
"We knew that she might not be able to
train in every event," Plocki said. "But we
knew that college gymnastics would be a
great chance for her to gain some valuable
team experience.
"She is such a pleasant woman. It's been
awesome watching her become such a big
part of the Michigan program."
Over the past three years, Mackenzie's
contributions to the gymnastics program
have continued to grow. As a freshman,
Mackenzie competed on the beam in eight
meets, finishing with an average score of
9.706.
"Freshman year was definitely my
favorite because it was a great season. We
had some struggles in the beginning, but we
pulled it off in the end and did well at
nationals," Mackenzie said. "College in
general is just so much more fun. I hated to
compete at the club level because I was
really nervous and inconsistent. Being here
has really helped calm my nerves when I
compete."
Last year, Mackenzie proved herself to

Utah is too
tough for 'M
tumblers
By Naweed Sikora
D~aily Sports Writer
Despite racking up their second highest point total
of the season, the seventh-ranked Michigan women's
gymnastics team was unable to respond to the pressure
in Salt Lake City, and fell to No. 3 Utah 197.425-

196.675.
With the win, Utah
extended its home
winning streak to 162
meets. During that
time, only three teams
have come within a
point of defeating the
Utes
"For the most part,
I feel that we per-
formed well," coach
Bev Plocki said. "We
had an uncharacteris-
tic fall on the floor
from Bridget Knaeble
and we had ancouple
problems on the
beam,but it is very
difficult to beat a
team like Utah, and it

Top 15

The latest poll of the top 15
in women's gymnastics:
1. UCLA
2. Alabama
3. Utah
4. Georgia
5. Stanford
6. Nebraska
7. Michigan
S. Iowa State
9. Arizona State
10. Florida
11. Penn State
12. Ohio State
13. Oregon State
14. Iowa
15. California

a

excited me that we were able to keep it close."
During the meet, several of the Wolverines were suf-
feiing from colds, which adversely affected their per-
formances. Karmna Senior, usually a regular in all four
events, couldn't compete in three events due to her
cold.
"It's really hard to say how much the colds hurt us,"
Plocki said. "Karina couldn't compete in three events
-- that obviously hurt us.
Michigan took a slight lead after the first rotation
when it competed on the uneven bars. Elise Ray and
Bridget Knaeble performed well, finishing second and
third overall, respectively. But Utah was able to capture
the lead after the second rotation and never looked
back.
Despite the loss, Michigan had no reason to be dis-
appointed in its performance. Freshman Elise Ray con-
tinued het torrid pace, winning the all-around compe-
tition and tying for first on the balance beam and the
floor exercise. For Ray, it was her third all-around title
in the past four meets. Sophomore Janessa Grieco won
the vault with a career-high score of 9.950 and also
scored a season-high on the floor.
The Wolverines also recorded their highest team
score for a road meet this season, eclipsing their mark
at Georgia by .05 of a point.
"I am not really concerned about the loss," Plocki
said. "We were able to keep it close, and that indicates
that in a neutral area, we have the ability to beat any
team "

ALYSSA WOOD/Oaily

I

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