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Thursday, July 25, 2013
Roundtable: Borrowing, BBQ and surprises

By Michael Rothstein, Chantel Jennings & Tom VanHaaren

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Every Thursday our writers sit down and discuss three topics in Michigan sports. Today, they steal football players from other Big Ten teams, ponder this weekend’s barbecue and reflect on the offseason.

1. If you could steal an offensive and defensive player from another Big Ten team before this year's fall camp, who would you pick and why?

Tom VanHaaren: This was more difficult than anticipated. There are obviously a lot of good players to choose from, so I found myself debating quite a bit. I decided to go with Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier and Nebraska wide receiver Kenny Bell. I think both could help fill holes and would be good additions. Shazier plays WILL, but you probably could let him stand anywhere and he'd make plays. And Michigan could use a good-sized, veteran receiver like Bell.

Chantel Jennings: I would steal Michigan native and Penn State wide receiver Allen Robinson. He had a breakout season last year, and I think the Wolverines would benefit from having a taller deep threat who has proven himself. Right now they’re really just hoping Amara Darboh or Jehu Chesson pan out, but they’ve yet to be tested. Defensively, I’d go with Minnesota defensive tackle Ra'Shede Hageman. Obviously the defense won’t be effective if the D-line isn’t stout, so in that regard Hageman might be the best choice, because he’d be able to help anchor Michigan’s relatively inexperienced line.

Michael Rothstein: Offensively, I'd also take Robinson from Penn State. Michigan desperately needs a second receiver, and after catching 77 passes for 1,013 yards last season, he would fit in well with the Wolverines. Defensively, I would grab Purdue defensive tackle Bruce Gaston Jr. The Wolverines have some holes on the defensive line, and Gaston Jr. would be able to line up next to fifth-year senior Quinton Washington and turn Michigan's defensive line into a formidable group immediately.

2. Outside of Leonard Fournette, which barbecue visitor intrigues you the most?

VanHaaren: Offensive lineman Sterling Jenkins (Pittsburgh, Pa./Baldwin) is who I'm interested to talk with after the event. He's a 2015 prospect, ranked No. 75 in the ESPN Junior 300 and at 6-foot-8, has an excellent frame. He has spent some time with 2014 Michigan commit Chase Winovich (Jefferson Hills, Pa./Thomas Jefferson), so I think this visit could propel Michigan up his list even further if it goes well.

Jennings: Wide receiver George Campbell Jr. (Tarpon Springs, Fla./East Lake). Campbell has been highly impressed with the Wolverines and has visited quite a bit, but I think an event like this could help push Michigan far out in front and give him a taste that he won’t get on an SEC visit.

Rothstein: Probably 2016 quarterback Messiah DeWeaver (Trotwood, Ohio/Trotwood Madison). Michigan likes to target and offer its quarterbacks early, trying to make them among the first commits in their classes. DeWeaver, from Trotwood, Ohio, is a guy who still has a long way to go to reach college from an academic and years standpoint, but he could be exactly the type of quarterback Michigan could want in that class. He intrigues me from that perspective because it is so far out.

3. Now that the summer is pretty much over, which offseason moment was the most surprising to you and why?

VanHaaren: It has to be Jake Ryan's injury. Any injury is surprising, obviously, but Ryan was primed to have an excellent year and anchor the defense. His injury is a huge loss for that defense and created some problems with depth going forward.

Jennings: I was surprised that two 2014 offers went out at camp. After seeing cornerback Brandon Watson (Elkton, Md./Eastern Christian Academy) and wide receiver Freddy Canteen (Elkton, Md./Eastern Christian Academy) play, I can totally understand why the coaches offered them. However, if you had told me a month before camp that two offers would go out, based off who I knew was coming to camp, I wouldn’t have believed it.

Rothstein: Nothing really surprises me anymore. OK, that's a lie, the Aaron Hernandez situation in New England surprised me for obvious reasons. As far as Michigan, there wasn't much which stunned me at all. For Michigan, it was a pretty quiet offseason compared to last season. Not many transfers. Not much from the legal side of things. Even Taylor Lewan and his roommates getting a baby pig, realistically, wasn't too shocking.