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Wednesday, February 27, 2013
WolverineNation Mailbag

By Chantel Jennings

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The NFL combine has come and gone and wide receiver Denard Robinson (still, so weird to write that) performed how most thought he would perform -- inconsistently. And because of Robinson’s appearance at the combine, that meant he was not at the Michigan basketball game this past weekend, but it didn’t matter because there were plenty of other football faces in the crowd that people wanted to know about. Overall, it has been a pretty good week for Michigan sports, so let’s chat about it.

Next week Mike will take care of the mailbag so send your questions to him (@MikeRothstein, michaelrothsteinespn@gmail.com). And now, on to this week’s questions:

1) ZoobyQ via Twitter: Which true or redshirt freshmen do you anticipate having an immediate impact for the Wolverines in the fall?
Jake Butt
With the depth chart thin at tight end, Jake Butt is the most likely true freshman to make an early impact.
A: I’m going to cheat and say two answers, one for each year. Among the true freshmen, I’m going to go with tight end Jake Butt. He’s an early enrollee, so he’s not quite a true freshman, but eligibility-wise, he is. He’s talented -- don’t get me wrong -- but there’s also such a lack of depth at the tight end position. It’ll basically be between him, Devin Funchess and walk-ons, so he should be able to get on the field at least a bit. Among redshirt freshmen, I’ll say offensive lineman Kyle Kalis. I thought he might be that rare true freshman to see time on the offensive line this season just because he appeared so physically ready. Now, with an extra year in Al Borges’ playbook and Darrell Funk’s technique training, I think he could be a real difference-maker.

2) Robert Andrews via Twitter: Are we going to get more big men to hunker down in the paint so we won't get embarrassed by Sparty again?

A: I think it makes a huge difference with Jordan Morgan back in rather than Mitch McGary, Jon Horford or Max Bielfeldt. Take the second half against Illinois, for example. Morgan played 12 minutes in the second (five in the first) and in the second half the Wolverines outscored the Illini 43-27. Now, you can’t completely look at the stat sheet and say, “Well, that’s Morgan and that’s Morgan,” because a lot of what he does is just by being on the court or in the key. McGary is still a little rough around the edges. Teams aren’t as threatened when Michigan throws it inside to him. But because of Morgan’s comfort level with the offense, his passing skills and his moves around the bucket, teams really don’t want him to have the ball inside. As a result, they hunker down a bit more, leave lanes open for cuts and open up the outside a bit. We’ve seen some rough times for Glenn Robinson III and Nik Stauskas since Morgan went down. Things could change up for them when Morgan is back 100 percent.

3) Matthew Kirwin, Ann Arbor: What impact do you see Jerry Montgomery leaving having on the 2014 recruiting class? I don’t see his departure impacting our chances with any non D-line recruits. Is that fair to say?

A: It hasn’t seemed to have too much of an effect yet. In the same weekend he left, one of “his” recruits committed to Michigan. Now, that being said, the Wolverines lost a talented recruiter. He was in on so many different guys and because he was younger and had been in the game more recently, I think prospects had an easier time relating to him. With these new recruiting rules taking impact this fall, I think Montgomery is only going to become better as a recruiter (I mean, really, who do you think is a better texter -- Montgomery or Greg Mattison?). It’s not as though Michigan will fall apart without him. But he was a guy who formed relationships and brought some interest to Michigan that might not have been there otherwise. The Wolverines will need to find someone who can meet recruits where they are, because right now there aren’t a ton of guys on staff that can do that the way Montgomery did.

4) Brad Schellin via Twitter: What is your favorite U of M tradition, in regard to football?

A: As far as current traditions go, I’ll say the winged helmets. I think that’s just very emblematic of the school and other sports have even taken it to their respective fields and courts. However, if I were allowed to pick anything, it’d have to be Whiskey, the fox terrier that used to run around on the field at the Big House during halftime of games in the 1970s. I’m a big fan of marching bands and halftime shows, but that’s one I really wish I could’ve seen live.