The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Friday, April 13, 2012 - 7
SPRING FOOTBALL GAME PREVIEW
by Zach Helfand I Daily Sports Editor
Fifth-year senior center Ricky Barnum is trying to fil the shoes of Rimington Award-
winning center David Molk.
Ricky Barnum: The center of attention
Expect fifth-year senior Ricky Barnum to be the Goldilocks of Michigan
Then-redshirt junior Rocko Khoury was too erratic in three forgettable
plays as the emergency center in the Sugar Bowl in early January. And in all
likelihood, Rimington Award-winner Dave Molk's performance last season
was too strong to replicate.
That means Barnum will likely fit in somewhere in the middle - just
Barnum converted to center after Molk's departure left the depth at the
position alarmingly thin. Last season, Barnum started in three games and
played in nine, at both guard and tackle.
Hoke praised Barnum's development on Thursday but said he still had to
work on the consistency of his snaps. As Molk's three-play injury during the
first drive of the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans made painfully clear, a liability
at center can derail an offense.
Junior quarterback Devin Gardner might get
a chance to see time at wide receiver.
Gardner planted at
Michigan coach Brady Hoke was
wracking his brain for a name on Thurs-
day. He was asked about the develop-
ment of his receivers and his answer
came quick. He rattled off the names of
four wideouts who all saw action last
season. But for 10 seconds, a fifth name
He wasn't actually going to say it, was
he? Was he about to put junior backup
quarterback Devin Gardner in the list?
"Who am I missing?" Hoke asked.
Someone in the press corps helped
him out - the name in question was that
of redshirt sophomore Jerald Robinson.
So for the moment, one of the worst-
kept secrets in the history of worst-kept
secrets remained exactly that. Still, the
major question heading into the Spring
Game is whether Gardner, still listed as
the backup to senior quarterbackDenard
Robinson, will see time at wide receiver.
Though Hoke said he has experi-
mented with Gardner in spring prac-
tices, Hoke and offensive coordinator Al
Borges likely won't want to reveal much
Still, the 6-foot-4 Gardner has the
speed and athleticism required to make
the switch. And if he does split out wide
for a few plays, that could signal more
consistent time in the fall. So keep an eye
out for No. 7 along the line of scrimmage
Michigan Spring Game
Morethanl00 Michigan football alumni have
signed upto participate infthe annual flag-
football game at Michigan Stadium
The Michigan football team runsits annual
scrimmage at Michigan Stadium
Michigan lacrosse takes on Ohio State in the
"Battle at the Big House"
Junior defensive tackle Jibreel Black made the movefrom the defensive end position
into the interiorof the defensive line in the off-season.
Jibreel Black: Michigan's inside man
Can junior defensive lineman Jibreel Black transition to the interior
alongside senior defensive tackle Will Campbell?
The undersized Black, who will move from the edge to tackle after the
graduation of three starting defensive linemen - Ryan Van Bergen, Mike
Martin and Will Heininger - is listed at 260 pounds. Compare that to Mar-
tin, the nose tackle last season, who was listed at 304. (And analysts still
consider Martin undersized entering the NFL Draft.)
Hoke said he likes the speed that Black injects into the defense, but he
concedes that he will be more effective in the fall after adding more weight
and strength. Black substituted in at defensive end in 13 games last season
during which he collected 18 tackles and a sack and a half.
Black gets his first test against upper-echelon Big Ten talent on Saturday,
when he tries to clog up the middle against redshirt junior running back
Fitzgerald Toussaint. Up next after that? Alabama on Sept. 1. Better to get
your reps in early.
Michigan coach Brady Hoke likes what he has seen out of his three early enrollees this
spring during their first spring camp.
Early enrollees as Michigan's prom kings
Michigan's early enrollees can't bring a date, but Saturday will have to
substitute for a high school rite of passage.
"If you think about it, they'd be going to prom," Hoke said.
Hoke was referring to freshmen Joe Bolden and Jarrod Wilson - listed
as four-star recruits - and Kaleb Ringer, a three-star.,
Each graduated early for a chance to join the Wolverines this semester.
Each arrived in Ann Arbor in early January, began taking classes and have
joined the team for the duration of spring camp.
Hoke said that he is "proud" of the way each has transitioned, but Satur-
day will be the first real test for the freshmen. Bolden and Ringer each play
linebacker, and Wilson will take reps at safety.
The early enrollees will be joined by the rest of their freshman class dur-
ing the summer and early fall. The class was a top-five class nationally, and
will bring plenty of attention and talent to town.
Sophomore defensive end Brennen Beyer is battling sophomore defensive end Frank
Clark for the starting weakside defensive end position.
Competition at weakside defensive end
With Black moving to the interior and senior defensive end Craig Roh
playing the strongside end, sophomore defensive linemen Brennen Beyer
and Frank Clark have been fighting to earn the starting spot at weakside
Clark appeared in 12 games last season but didn't make much of a splash
until he intercepted a pass from Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas
in the Sugar Bowl, which led to the Wolverines' second touchdown of the
Beyer played in11games, flip-flopping between defensive end and reserve
linebacker, and collected 11 tackles.
The two have remained relatively even in spring practice. Hoke said one
player has the edge one day, then it switches the next. The Spring Game will
be an opportunity for one to establish himself as the presumptive starter
over the summer.