Scouting the Big 10: Michigan

The '01 campaign was uncommon for the Wolverines; uncommonly bad. Most programs would consider a 7-4 record and New Year's Day Bowl appearance a success but not UM. Unfortunately 2002 does not look much better on paper. As usual the Wolverines have a stable of solid pro-prospects with the best possibly coming from the underclassmen ranks.

Michigan Wolverines

To our minds junior Tony Pape is the next great lineman that will come from Ann Arbor. In many ways he's a combination of Jon Jansen and Jeff Backus as he's a dominant run blocker with tremendous strength and power but also a solid pass protector that uses brains and technique as opposed to great athleticism. He definitely has early round potential in '04. The next best prospect for the NFL on offense could well be a second junior, running back Chris Perry, whose shown size and speed on the inside, as well as run instincts, but may not even start this season. Fullback BJ Askew was used as the feature runner part of last season as he's an athletic back that catches the ball well out of the backfield, giving top effort when used as a lead fullback. He is fast enough to get around the corner or create space between he and the ball carrier but is not a big, strong lead blocker that finishes off opponents or moves defenders out of the play. Bennie Joppru is an efficient tight end also lined up in the backfield as a blocker. He is neither explosive nor spectacular but rather a camp player that could make a squad as the third tight end. Senior Ronald Bellamy has displayed speed and pass-catching skills on occasion but playing behind the likes of Marquis Walker and David Terrell the previous two seasons has been a second thought in the offense. Still, he has size, runs well and a good senior campaign will get him drafted. Lastly, signal caller John Navarre seemingly took a step back last season and now must take two steps forward. Navarre has pocket passer size and adequate arm strength but his accuracy is not sharp, partly because of a terrible follow through, and his ability to scramble is zero. Needing to get it back together, Navarre could turn the heads of scouts going into his senior campaign should he flourish next year with less then stellar targets at his disposal.

On defense it is much the same; solid not spectacular talent. We've watched Victor Hobson three years now and like his skills, highly rating him coming into every season since 2000 (a result of the average quality of outside linebackers as much as anything else). Hobson is an athletic defender that scrapes well laterally, gets depth on his pass drops or displays force up the field, all along making plays in every direction. He has adequate speed and is quick arriving on the scene but his size (or lack there of) will push him down draft boards. Barely 6-0, Hobson does not have the great explosion and only average cover skills for a weak-side linebacker yet at the same time is small for the strong-side. Still, he is a solid middle round choice and should be effective as both a situational linebacker and special teams player. UM has a pair of safeties that will get middle round consideration. Cato June is a solid run stuffing safety that displays the ability to pass cover in a small area, but best making plays up the field. Julius Curry is better against the pass and has decent special teams potential. Lastly; junior Shantee Orr is a speed rusher and athletic defensive end that reminds us a bit of former Wolverine James Hall, now with the Lions.




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