Michigan Football: Week 3 Spring Practice Stock Report
The Michigan football team is close to completing it's first three weeks of this year's spring practice.
Week four will conclude with the annual spring game, April 13 at Michigan Stadium.
Unfortunately, the major news emanating from Ann Arbor this spring has been the devastating ACL injuries to starting linebacker Jake Ryan and backup quarterback Russell Bellomy. Both will be out of action for all or most of 2013.
So far in training camp, the first two spring practice stock reports mentioned that Devin Gardner, Cameron Gordon, Joey Burzynski, Amara Darboh, (Jehu Chesson), Jack Miller, Royce-Jenkins Stone and Chris Wormley saw their stocks rise, while Thomas Rawls, Jake Ryan, Kyle Kalis and Chris Bryant saw their stock fall.
Follow along to see why five additional players' stock rose while one's has fallen,
Stock Up: QB Brian Cleary
Brian Cleary's stock rose by both talent and circumstance. The redshirt freshman is now firmly implanted as Michigan's backup quarterback due to the injury to Russell Bellomy.
Despite walking on at Michigan, the 6'3”, 199-pounder has all the physical tools necessary to compete in the Big Ten. Cleary toiled in obscurity last season, but is now one twisted ankle away from being Michigan's starting signal caller.
This fall, he will be competing with incoming freshman Shane Morris for Devin Gardner's understudy. Coincidentally, Cleary (Detroit Jesuit) and Shane Morris (De La Salle) both competed in the highly regarded Detroit Catholic League.
Offensive coordinator Al Borges spoke of Cleary at Thursday's press conference (via mgoblue.com):
He’s been taking reps, and he’s real bright. He got into Michigan on his own. He’s a very very good student. His deal was just to get football smart. Get him out there to give him a few reps and give him some experience and let him learn a little bit through trial and error. But in terms of understanding, coachability, throwing ability, if you just watch Brian throw the ball you would think he’s a scholarship player.
Stock Up: SAM, Rush-End Brennen Beyer
When SAM linebacker Jake Ryan suffered his devastating knee injury, defensive coordinator Greg Mattison was able to correct two problems by moving one player.
Brennen Beyer, who played rush end last season, was moved to SAM (where he actually played in 2011). The move eliminated the glut at end (Beyer, Mario Ojemudia, Frank Clark and Taco Charlton), while adding needed depth at SAM (Beyer and Cameron Gordon).
The ability to play multiple positions is certainly a plus, and playing them at a high level is a charm.
"Brennen Beyer has probably improved more than any other man on the team, as far as being a pass rusher,” Mattison said at his Thursday press conference (via mgoblue.com). “I worried about him a year ago rushing the passer. This year in a lot of our drills, he's the fastest off the football.”
The 6'3” 254-lb junior, who will back up Gordon, can actually play three positions. In addition to SAM and rush-end he also plays a pass-rushing end in the nickel package.
Stock Up: MIKE Desmond Morgan, WILL James Ross III. Stock Down: MIKE Joe Bolden
Michigan's improved depth become apparent last season when freshman Joe Bolden pressured Kenny Demens at MIKE, and freshman James Ross III pushed Desmond Morgan at WILL.
Using Michigan's philosophy of playing its best 11, Morgan was moved to MIKE, while Ross remained at WILL.
While it might seem like Joe Bolden is the odd man out, he will still get plenty of reps at both inside linebacker positions.
Morgan, who started 11 games as a sophomore, finished the 2012 season with 81 tackles, while Ross had 36 and Bolden 31.
Stock Up: TE Devin Funchess
At 6'5”, 229 pounds, Devin Funchess arrived at Michigan as both a tight end and wide receiver prospect.
Despite his lack of weight, Funchess settled in at tight end and finished 2012 with 15 receptions, including a team-leading five touchdowns.
He wasn't known as a great run blocker, so this spring the FWAA Freshman All-American has been working on being a better all-around player.
Offensive coordinator Al Borges spoke at Thursday's press conference about Funchess's aspirations (via mgoblog.com):
This spring he’s really taken a lot of pride in improving every phase of his game. We go into spring football and Devin Funchess, during the season, was featured more as a receiver, but this spring football we’re not as concerned about that. We’re more concerned about developing his overall game rather than seeing how many passes he can catch in spring football. We kind of know that’s his strength. We want to shore up every other phase of his game. He’s done a nice job. His footwork’s improved in the run game and every part of that—every part of his game has gotten a little bit better.
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