Shaughnessy (6-foot-6, 230 pounds) has been an impressive talent since the day he stepped foot in practice. He was the Badgers' best pass rusher during fall training camp and he picked up the nuances of the position very quickly.
"He's a kid that I was on as a sophomore when I was recruiting him in Connecticut," defensive line coach John Palermo said. "He's an exceptional athlete. I can't tell you he was a great football player in high school but he was an exceptional athlete. He's the kind of rush ends you look for. Big, tall, lanky kids. My biggest probably concern coming in was would he be physical. And he went like… off the charts on that. I couldn't believe how physical he was when we first started practice. He was doing a lot of one-on-ones against a guy like Joe Thomas and having a little success. So I knew he liked football. I knew he was physical. And that was up to me really to coach him because he's very athletic."
Shaughnessy played well on a rotational basis in the Badgers' first two games. But after Cooper went down in the second quarter at North Carolina last week, Shaughnessy had to play nearly every snap at right defensive end the rest of the way. He stood up to that challenge as well, passing his first big test of durability.
"Well, he's still standing," Palermo said. "He played 55 snaps or something the other night. So, I hope that answers the question. For a freshman football player he's very mature. For a guy that is as wiry and thin as he is, he's a very, very physical player. He has nothing but a great upside to him and a great future here."
Injury update: Hart out, Massaquoi in
The Ann Arbor News reported this morning that sophomore Mike Hart, Michigan's top tailback, will miss tonight's game with a left hamstring injury. Hart suffered the injury against Notre Dame two weeks ago and sat out last week's contest against Eastern Michigan.
Michigan, though, received good news in that tight end Tim Massaquoi (sprained right wrist) will play tonight. Massaquoi, a consensus first-team All-Big Ten pick a year ago, caught three passes for 19 yards in Michigan's season opener but has missed the past two games. However, reserves Tyler Ecker and Mike Massey have been productive in his place, with a combined 11 receptions for 99 yards this season, giving UM excellent depth at the position.
In Hart's absence, sophomore Max Martin and freshman Kevin Grady will serve as the Wolverines' top two tailbacks. Grady has 35 carries for 151 yards and a touchdown this season, while Martin has 31-123-2 and Hart has 30-121-1.
"Like everybody says, when you're at Michigan, you have the best players in the country, whether it's the first, second or third teamer," Palermo said. "I think Hart was an exceptional player. I think their other two backs are very good players. But it's going to come down to the O line and D line. As much as I maybe dread saying that right now with all the injuries and the problems we have. I think that's what it's going to come down to — who plays better up front. On both sides of the ball."
Randle El back in the mix
UW sophomore receiver Marcus Randle El was nursing a pulled hamstring last week and did not travel to Chapel Hill, but receivers coach Henry Mason expects Randle El to be available Saturday versus Michigan.
Randle El (5-foot-10, 186 pounds) enjoyed a strong fall training camp but did not earn a spot among the Badgers' top four receivers, thus limiting his role in the rotation. He played considerably in the Badgers' blowout win over Temple two weeks ago, catching one pass for a 29-yard touchdown and returning three punts for 47 yards.
Randle El is behind seniors Jonathan Orr and Brandon White on the Badgers' depth at "Z" receiver while classmate Jarvis Minton is backing up Brandon Williams at "X". Randle El is also White's backup as the slot receiver ("W") in UW's three-receiver set.
"We pretty much knew where Jarvis was going to be. The competition was more between Marcus and Brandon White," Mason said, referring to fall training camp. "Brandon at this point in time has won the job as our third receiver.
"Marcus was hurt last week, didn't make the trip, with a hamstring pull. We're really not going to know much more until he gets himself healthy and gets himself on the field. I think he'll be ready to go this week."