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February 02, 2012 - Image 6

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The Michigan Daily, 2012-02-02

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6A - Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Kalis headlines formidable Wolverine front

By TIM ROHAN
Daily Sports Writer
Short-handed but not discour-
aged, Darrell Funk found that the
hardest part of his job in 2011 was
logistics. With just eight offensive
lineman on scholarship - most
programs have about 14 - Funk's
graduate assistant, Roy Manning,
would joke with Funk that it took
him a half hour every day just to
figure out the rotations for prac-
tice.
He'd sit down and think out
all of the scenarios, which grew
more complicated when redshirt
junior Ricky Barnum went down
with an injury. After the starting
five, who backed up whom? And
in practice, where would the reps
go?
"Sleepless nights are kind of
a given for an (offensive) line
coach," said Funk, who now must
deal with losing his Rimington
Trophy winning center, David
Molk, and a reliable fifth-year
senior in Mark Hugye.
Here come reinforcements.
National Signing Day on
Wednesday was good to Funk,
who will have four quality
recruits - the best class he's ever
had, he said - who will make
his job much easier. When Funk
coached at Colorado State, he
said, he once had a four-man class
that featured all four-year start-
ers, and each one spent time in
the NFL.
"If you go 4-for-4 with all NFL
guys, that's a good class," Funk
said. "And this class is more tal-
ented than that.
"It's going to be a few years
before we get exactly where we
want, but I'm telling you, the
quality of the kids just got better
with these four."
Targetingsize to help alongthe
transition to a pro-style offense,
Michigan coach Brady Hoke

you. And that's one thing that
Kyle does real well."
Funk laughed, describing one
clip in which Kalis knocked over
an umpire "when he was throw-
ing someone around" and couldn't
decide whether to help the man
up or find another victim.
On Wednesday, the potential
of Kalis and Magnuson stood out,
but so did one absence - that of a
legitimate center recruit.
For four years, Molk may have
been the offensive line's most
indispensable player, providing
cohesion and consistency. When
he tore a tendon in his foot during
warmups before the Sugar Bowl
in January, redshirt junior Rocko
Khoury stepped in for three
disastrous plays.
"I think three bad snaps and
an offensive series with negative
yardage helped it," Molk said last
week. "I just taped it up, sucked it
up and played."
Though he sounded confident,
Funk wasn't as upbeat when he
ran through the successors to
replace Molk, all of whom have
practiced at center: Khoury,
who'll be a fifth-year senior; Elliot
Mealer, the do-everything back-
up; Barnum, who's never played
center in a game at Michigan but
has in practice; and two unher-
alded youngsters, freshman Jack
Miller and redshirt freshman
Joey Burzynski.
The lack of a new scholarship
freshman in that mix wasn't due
to a lack of trying.
"I'm not saying we didn't
recruit a center," Funk said. "But
with these four (we did sign),
these guys are going to play other
positions and we'll - at least for
another year - we'll use the guys
that we have in the program to
anchor that down.
"We'll be fine."
If not, Funk may suffer through
many more sleepless nights.

ERIN KIRKLAND/Daily
Michigan redshirt sophomore Taylor Lewan and redshirt junior Patrick Omameh are joined by a four offensive linemen in incoming 2012 recruiting class.

nabbed Kyle Kalis (305 pounds),
Erik Magnuson (275), Blake Bars
(275) and Ben Braden (319) - all of
them exceed 6-foot-5.
Hoke and Funk recruit line-
man with positions in mind they
have Magnuson - a consensus
four-star recruit - pegged as a
left tackle, with his prerequisite
athleticism and basketball back-
ground.
Bars and Braden have tackle-
like bodies Funk said, but will
slide inside to play guard. Bars
is a four-star lineman, Braden a
three-star, according to Rivals.
com.
During recruiting, Funk told
them that a redshirt season
wasn't a guarantee. Hoke's man-
tra, the best players are going to
play, rings true on the offensive

line. If a freshman is in the top
two spots in the depth chart,
Funk said, he could play immedi-
ately. It just might not be at their
optimal position.
"For all the guys that I've had
that have had the chance to go on
to the NFL, most of them didn't
finish their career at the same
position they got their first start,"
Funk said. His hand was forced
last season, when Barnum's inju-
ry forced redshirt sophomore
Michael Schofield to play at guard
for most of the season.
"You ask a kid, 'Hey, you're
going to be a left tackle, but do
you want to start this game at
this position?' or 'You're going to
be a right guard, but do you want
to play backup or do you want to
play?' And usually they say they

want to play," Funk said.
Kalis, who may be the gem of
the group, wants to play imme-
diately: He told Funk he wants to
be a right tackle, which has a gap-
ing hole with Hugye graduating.
Funk obliged, and Kalis will be a
right tackle, but the starter's spot
isn't guaranteed.
Hoke described Kalis as a
"powerful, strong, road-grading
type of offensive lineman." The
recruiting websites disagreed
with each other slightly - Rivals.
com pegged Kalis as a five-star
recruit, Scout.com had him as a
four star.
Funk fondly recalled the first
time he spoke with Kalis, who
decommitted from Ohio State
once Jim Tressel was fired. Funk
had to excuse himself from a
a KYLE KALIS - 0L

family dinner at Damon's in Ann
Arbor. He wouldn't say when
exactly they first spoke, other
than it was cold outside and
"more than seven months ago."
Funk remembered Kalis know-
ing Michigan tradition, asking
great questions and hitting it off
well. Outside the restaurant was
a big picture of Jake Long. Funk
mentioned it to Kalis, who knew
all about the All-American with
a mean streak similar to his own.
"He just wants to tear your
head off every play," Funk said.
"And we need that. ... You can
have really good skill positions
guys like we have, and that's
important. But at the end of the
day, it starts up front.
"It starts with knocking the
heck out of the guy across from

a AMARA DARBOH - WR

" TOM STROBEL - DE

" DEVIN FUNCHESS - TE 9 ERIK MAGNUSON -OL A.J. WILLIAMS - TE
" ALLEN GANT - DB w DENNIS NORFLEET - RB " JARROD WILSON* - DB
" MATTHEW GODIN - DT a MARIO OJEMUDIA - DE " CHRIS WORMLEY - DE
* WILLIE HENRY - DT a ONDRE PIPKINS - DT * ALREADY ENROLLED

o

" BLAKE BARS - OL
" JOE BOLDON* - LB
" BEN BRADEN - OL
" JEHU CHESSON - WR
" JEREMY CLARK - DB

SIONE HOUMA - RB

TERRY RICHARDSON - DB

* ROYCE JENKINS-STONE - LB a KALEB RINGER* - LB
* DRAKE JOHNSON - RB a JAMES ROSS - LB

NVOL NNr

RELEASE DATE- Thursday, February 2, 2012
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