Michigan Football: The 10 Most Important People in the Program
The Michigan Wolverines are one of the most prestigious programs in the country and have recently climbed their way back into the national spotlight. After finishing with an 11-2 record and winning a BCS bowl, it's great to be a Michigan fan right about now.
But with the success comes people that work together that help make all of that happen. Of course the players have a lot to do with the success on the field, but coaches, administrators, trainers and a bunch of other people behind the scenes do their part as well.
So as we inch closer to the college football regular season, here are the 10 most important people the Michigan Wolverines have working for them right now. These 10 men will play a huge part in hopefully another successful season for this program.
10. Director of Strength and Conditioning, Aaron Wellman
Wellman has spent time with head coach Brady Hoke before, after being on the staff of San Diego State and Ball State. He enters his second season as the team's strength and conditioning coach and helps get this team prepared physically and mentally for game day. He also teaches leadership which is extremely underrated if a team wants to reach national championship goals.
This is the guy that players will work with during the summer as they begin preparing for fall camp.
"It's always about the leadership," Hoke said. "He does a tremendous job. He teaches the mental as much as the physical. At the end of the day it's from the neck up." (Via The Detroit Free Press)
If Michigan wants to take that next step, it must find leaders on the football team, it's Wellman's job to find them.
9. Quarterback, Shane Morris
While Shane Morris may not help this year's team at all, he is the future of this program and will be expected to take over as early as next season. Current quarterback Denard Robinson is a senior this year, and there isn't a reliable option behind him once he graduates.
Morris is a 5-star recruit from the 2013 class and has all of the traits to have a very successful career. He has great size at 6'3", 202 pounds, a strong arm, a great delivery and his athleticism is underrated as well.
Morris will have to learn on the fly next season and will likely be thrown into the fire week one. There will be a lot of pressure on this young man, and the future of this program lies heavily in his lap.
8. Running Back, Fitzgerald Toussaint
It was 2007 the last time the Michigan Wolverines had a runner not named Denard Robinson that rushed over 1,000 yards in one season. Sophomore running back Fitzgerald Toussaint broke that streak last year, rushing for 1,041 yards and scoring 10 total touchdowns.
When Toussaint rushed for 100 yards or scored at least two touchdowns last season, the Wolverines went 6-0. Everybody knows about Robinson and his dual-threat abilities, but having a reliable running back that can take the pressure off of the Heisman candidate only makes things that much harder for opposing defenses.
If the third-year running back can play with a little more consistency this time around, Michigan could end up having one of the better one-two punches in all of college football.
7. WR Coach and Recruiting Coordinator, Jeff Hecklinski
Hecklinski is responsible for helping Michigan land these top recruits such as Morris and the 17 other talented players that have given the Wolverines an early commitment. He is also the wide receivers coach, which will play a big part in the Wolverines success this season. In 2010, Michigan was the second top passing team in the Big Ten, last year it dropped to number eight in the conference.
It will be an even tougher road with wide receivers Junior Hemingway, Martavious Odoms and tight end Kevin Koger no longer on the roster.
Hecklinski has done a fabulous job in bringing the talent to Michigan, now he must find a few receivers that can help catch the football to make this offense more balanced.
6. Defensive Tackle, William Campbell
In 2009, William Campbell stepped on the Michigan campus as one of the top rated defensive linemen of that class. He was rated a 5-star recruit by many top recruiting sites and many Wolverine fans expected huge things from him. Three years later and he has 3.5 tackles for loss and only three career sacks.
Needless to say, he is not even close to living up to that hype.
Last season, Michigan finished fourth in the Big Ten with a solid 30 sacks on the year, but with many defensive linemen no longer around, including sack leader Ryan Van Bergen, somebody has to step up this season.
Campbell has lost a lot of weight as he prepares for his final season with Michigan. If he can help pressure the quarterback this year, the Michigan defense will be much better off.
5. AD, David Brandon
Brandon has only been the Michigan athletic director for a little over two years, but has dealt with an investigation by the NCAA, made the Big House even bigger and got rid of Rich Rodriguez and hired Brady Hoke. (Which seems like it was a brilliant decision so far)
He also plans to spend another $250 million to help renovate the rest of the Michigan facilities.
Brandon had big shoes to fill, replacing William C. Martin, but so far he seems to be on the right track and is doing a fantastic job at making sure everything runs smoothly with this program.
4. Quarterback, Denard Robinson
There are several key players on this Michigan team, but none are as important as quarterback Denard Robinson. He is this Michigan offense and will carry the Wolverines as far as he is able to take them. The last two seasons, he's led this team in both passing and rushing yards, and is by far one of the most explosive players in all of college football.
Robinson must play well in order for this team to win and more times than not he finds a way to seal a victory.
With the experience Robinson has at the quarterback position, and the talent returning on the defensive side of the ball, this may be the Wolverines chance to win the Big Ten and compete for a possible national championship.
3. Defensive Coordinator, Greg Mattison
In 2010, Michigan had a defense that was ranked dead last in the Big Ten, and only managed to sack the quarterback 18 times. Greg Mattison came in, and in one season, he turned this defense around to where it finished fourth in the conference and racked up 30 sacks.
The improved defense was a huge part in last year's success and will play an even bigger role if this program hopes to take that next step. Offense only does so much; it's the defense that wins BCS bowls and national championships.
If Mattison can get even more production out of a defense that returns eight starters, this is a unit that could once again turn some heads in 2012.
2. Offensive Coordinator and QB Coach, Al Borges
Michigan's offense was ranked 42nd in the country last year, averaging over 400 yards a contest. But with Al Borges, it isn't really about the offensive production that matters this season, it's about getting Denard Robinson to be a better quarterback. We know the Heisman candidate can make plays with his feet, but the 26 interceptions in the last two seasons is a concern.
Borges has been working with the senior quarterback on his footwork and his mechanics all offseason.
"He still has an occasional error," Borges said. "The thing about Denard is because he's so athletic, he can create. ... He has that ability. Now, he has to understand, and we're talking to him all the time about creating, yet not doing something that simply isn't there. Make plays, don't make miracles." (Via Ann Arbor.com)
"As long as his judgement is good, he's deadly, because he can do so many things you don't draw up on the chalkboard."
If the Wolverines can get the same production from Robinson this year, with fewer mistakes, they will win majority of their games, and Robinson will receive his first invite to New York.
1. Head Coach, Brady Hoke
And the most important person in this Michigan program will be head coach Brady Hoke. He's the guy that led this program to double-digit victories and a BCS bowl for the first time since 2006. Wolverine fans haven't been this excited about the football season in a long time and you have to believe he is a big reason the recruiting is through the roof at the moment as well.
Many are wondering just what type of encore Hoke will have after an extremely successful season. A tougher schedule this time around will tell us a lot about the head coach, but if last year showed us anything, it's that this program is in great hands for years to come.