Michigan Wolverines: Junior Hemingway

Jeremy GallonAndrew Weber/US PressiwireJeremy Gallon will try to become the 10th Michigan receiver to reach 1,000 yards in a season.
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Jeremy Gallon brushed the question off, the entire premise actually. He insisted a 1,000-yard season would not be a big deal for him.

He focused his answers on what he could do for Michigan’s team, about helping the younger receivers the way Junior Hemingway and Roy Roundtree assisted him when he was a freshman.

Eventually, he couldn’t hold it in any more. Yeah, hitting 1,000 yards receiving in his final season at Michigan would mean something to him.

“It’ll mean a lot, but it’s just me wanting to come out and do whatever for my team,” Gallon said. “Stats and me catching the ball are the least of my concerns at this point.”

Fair, except he is the only one who believes it. His position coach, Jeff Hecklinski, publicly said it is a goal Gallon should shoot for. His former teammate, Roundtree, started pestering Gallon about 1,000 yards before last season even ended.

Michigan wide receivers know the importance of a four-digit season.

“A thousand yards is a big deal for anyone,” senior receiver Drew Dileo said. “It’s a big deal for Junior Hemingway, Roy Roundtree, Braylon Edwards.”

It is a big enough thing for the Wolverines that two of those guys -- Hemingway and Roundtree -- never got there. Edwards is one of two Michigan receivers, along with David Terrell, to have more than one 1,000-yard season. Edwards is also the single-season receiving yards holder, with 1,330.

The 1,000-yard receiving mark is an elusive one at Michigan despite the school's litany of big-name receivers. In school history, there have only been 12 1,000-yard seasons, spread among nine players.

Gallon is attempting to become the 10th. The good news for him if he does: The other nine all had at least brief careers in the NFL. The bad news: Other than Desmond Howard, all were prototypical professional receivers when it came to size.

Gallon, a fifth-year senior, was almost an afterthought in his first two seasons at Michigan. The change in coaching staff from Rich Rodriguez, who recruited him, to Brady Hoke could have been problematic. Hoke and his staff wanted to move to a pro-style offense featuring the big, tall receivers Michigan traditionally featured.

The 5-foot-8 Gallon is not that, and he easily could have been dismissed as another small receiver the staff was unsure of what to do with. Instead, he has the potential to turn into one of the top receivers in school history.

If that 1,000-yard season happens, he’ll finish his career in the top five in career receiving yards at Michigan. Depending how many catches it takes, he could end up in the top 10 in receptions, too.

“It’s a realistic benchmark for him,” Michigan receivers coach Jeff Hecklinski said. “If he reaches that plateau, then we’re moving the ball and we’re doing good things offensively. If he doesn’t reach that plateau, then we are probably struggling.

“I think it’s a good benchmark for us, too, because he is a guy on the outside that we need to make plays.”

In the past five seasons at Michigan this has never been an emphasis. It has been the read option or the reflexive reliance on Denard Robinson’s legs that has provided the offensive impetus for Michigan.

With Robinson gone and Michigan moving to a pro-style offense in which play action and downfield passing will be featured, Gallon’s role becomes more important.

The last Michigan receiver to gain 1,000 yards was Mario Manningham in 2007 (1,174).

Since then, Roundtree came the closest with 935 yards in 2010.

“For a personal goal for him [Gallon], I think he’s saying Michigan is used to having thousand-yard receivers and guys who are used to making plays like that,” Hecklinski said. “I think he’s seeing that as his goal, that he is having the opportunity to put himself in the same conversation as some of those guys.

“There are some huge names in there.”

Fresh ideas: Wide receivers 

June, 7, 2013
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Can a true freshman really contribute at the college level? Is it easier to do so at one position than another? Over the coming weeks WolverineNation will be breaking down the probabilities of playing time and projections of the Wolverines’ freshmen, position by position.

Depth chart analysis: WR 

January, 9, 2013
Over the next few weeks, WolverineNation will look at every position on the Michigan roster and give a depth chart analysis of each heading into the offseason.

For the second consecutive season, Michigan will enter a football season with some questions as to who, exactly, will catch the ball. Entering the 2012 season, with the graduation of Junior Hemingway, there were some options but few known quantities.

Entering next season, there once again are options, but even fewer players who have had past production on which to make a reliable projection.

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Notre Dame has the perfect record, the home crowd, the prime-time stage and the more complete team, not to mention three years of frustrating losses as fuel.

Brian Kelly's squad is all set up to finally take down No. 18 Michigan.

There's only one problem: Denard Robinson. Every Notre Dame player, coach or fan will shudder when they see No. 16 in a winged helmet Saturday night at Notre Dame Stadium. He's there to ruin their party.

When shamrocks face dreadlocks, dreadlocks win -- in unforgettable fashion.

Ever since Robinson took his first snap in a Michigan uniform -- a 43-yard touchdown run following a fumble in the 2009 opener -- he has been arguably the most exciting player in college football. More accomplished college stars don't have a highlight reel as extensive or as impressive as Robinson's. And no team has been Robinson's foil more than Notre Dame.

The Michigan senior quarterback has tormented Notre Dame the past two seasons.

[+] EnlargeDenard Robinson
Leon Halip/Getty ImagesLast season, Denard Robinson led Michigan's improbable comeback against Notre Dame.
In 2010, he set Michigan, Big Ten and Notre Dame records in rallying the Wolverines to a 28-24 victory in South Bend. Making his first career road start, Robinson shattered his own team total offense mark with 502 yards; set team records for total plays (68) and single-game road rushing (258 yards); recorded the fifth-highest rushing effort in Michigan history; set the Big Ten quarterback rushing record; recorded the longest run in Notre Dame Stadium history (an 87-yard scoring dash in the the second quarter) and the second-longest ever against the Irish (88 yards by Michigan State's Dick Panin in 1951); and set the single-game total offense record by a Notre Dame opponent.

Robinson also directed the game-winning drive (12 plays, 72 yards), which he of course capped with a 2-yard scoring run with 27 seconds left. Only three FBS quarterbacks had more yards in a game during the 2010 season than Robinson, and none faced a big-time opponent like Notre Dame.

His statistics against Notre Dame last September weren't quite as insane, although not far off (446 yards of total offense, 338 passing yards, 108 rushing yards, four passing touchdowns, one rushing touchdown). What stood out is that he did almost all of his work in the fourth quarter. Robinson completed only three of his first 13 pass attempts for 59 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions before firing a 77-yard pass to Junior Hemingway at the end of the third quarter.

"For three quarters," Michigan coach Brady Hoke said, "we did nothing on either side of the ball. Denard, in the fourth quarter, played well."

That's putting it mildly.

Robinson connected on 7 of 10 pass attempts for 202 yards and three touchdowns with one interception in the fourth quarter -- translating to a passer rating of 318.7 (he had 105.2 rating in the first three quarters). Robinson rallied Michigan from a 24-7 deficit entering the quarter and then from a 31-28 deficit in the closing seconds, finding Roy Roundtree from 16 yards out for the winning score with two ticks left.

"Man," Robinson said, "it was a great game."

Robinson wasn't available for an ESPN.com interview this week, and Michigan didn't spend much time discussing its recent triumphs against Notre Dame. Besides, it's hard for anyone -- Robinson, his coaches, his teammates -- to truly pinpoint why he has been so good against Notre Dame.

They'd just like it to continue Saturday night.

"It's interesting," offensive coordinator Al Borges said. "I don't know. He pretty much prepares the same way, from my perspective, for every game. He's just had good games against Notre Dame. ... I'm not sure why."

"I don't know if anybody knows [the reason]," Hoke said. "Every year's different, every game's different, the pieces that are on the field are different. It's just been lucky for us, lucky for Michigan, that he's played well."

"It just happened to be Notre Dame, as it should be when it is a big rivalry like that, that he performs his best," Wolverines wide receiver Devin Gardner said.

Not surprisingly, this week's scouting report for Notre Dame's defenders, who are coming off of a brilliant performance at Michigan State, was short and sweet.

Stop 16.

"He's a superior football player," Kelly said Tuesday. "He's a difference-maker. ... It's about our defense not giving up those big, chunk plays. We gave them up in the running game in [2010] and we gave them up in the passing game in [2011]."

Robinson has Notre Dame's full attention.

"He's the best player on the field," Kelly said.

Robinson has played only two full games against Notre Dame -- he had 21 rushing yards and no passing yards against the Irish in 2009 -- but already owns the career record for total offense by an Irish opponent (969 yards). He needs four passing touchdowns to tie the record for most against Notre Dame held by former USC star Matt Leinart. He probably won't catch Tony Dorsett for the career rushing record against Notre Dame (754 yards) or Steve Stenstrom for the career passing record against the Irish (1,020 yards).

Still, his impact in the rivalry won't soon be forgotten, especially if he leads Michigan to a fourth consecutive win against the Irish on Saturday night.

"He'll play his best against us," Kelly said. "We're prepared for that."

WolverineNation's Michael Rothstein contributed to this report.

Michigan in the NFL: Week 1

September, 11, 2012
Here's a look at how former Michigan players fared during Week 1 of the NFL season:
  • Jay Feely, K, Arizona: Made both his field goals and extra points in a 20-16 win over Seattle. Next up -- vs. New England, Sunday 1 p.m.
  • Leon Hall, CB, Cincinnati: Had four tackles (all solo) and two pass deflections in a 44-13 loss to Baltimore. Next up -- vs. Cleveland, Sunday 1 p.m.
  • Jeff Backus, OT, Detroit: Started at tackle and blocked for 429 yards of offense in a 27-23 win over St. Louis. Next up -- vs. San Francisco, Sunday 8:20 p.m.
  • Charles Woodson, CB, Green Bay: Had five tackles (3 solo, 2 assisted), two quarterback hurries, a forced fumble and 1.5 sacks in a 30-22 loss to San Francisco. Next up -- vs. Chicago, Thursday 8:30 p.m.
  • Tim Jamison, DE, Houston: Had one tackle and one sack in a 30-10 win over Miami. Next up -- vs. Jacksonville, Sunday 1 p.m.
  • Chad Henne, QB, Jacksonville: DNP in 26-23 loss to Minnesota. Next up -- vs. Houston, Sunday 1 p.m.
  • Steve Breaston, WR, Kansas City: Had two catches for 30 yards in a 40-24 loss to Atlanta. Next up -- vs. Buffalo, Sunday 1 p.m.
  • Junior Hemingway, WR, Kansas City: DNP (Practice squad) against Atlanta. Next up -- vs. Buffalo, Sunday 1 p.m.
  • Jake Long, OT, Miami: Started at left tackle and blocked for 275 yards of offense in a 30-10 loss to Houston. Next up -- vs. Oakland, Sunday 1 p.m.
  • Tom Brady, QB, New England: Completed 23 of 31 passes for 236 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions along with two rushes for one yard in a 34-13 win over Tennessee. Next up -- vs. Arizona, Sunday 1 p.m.
  • Zoltan Mesko, P, New England: Punted four times with a 33.5 yard net average, including a long of 51 yards and three inside the 20 in a 34-13 win over Tennessee. Next up -- vs. Arizona, Sunday 1 p.m.
  • David Baas, C, New York Giants: started and helped block for 269 yards of offense in a 24-17 loss to Dallas. Next up -- Tampa Bay, Sunday, 1 p.m.
  • Stevie Brown, DB, New York Giants: had two tackles in a 24-17 loss to Dallas. Next up -- Tampa Bay, Sunday, 1 p.m.
  • David Harris, LB, New York Jets: Had seven tackles (4 solo, 3 assisted) and three assisted tackles in a 48-28 win over Buffalo. Next up -- vs. Pittsburgh, Sunday 4:25 p.m.
  • Jason Avant, WR, Philadelphia: Had four catches for 27 yards in a 17-16 win over Cleveland. Next up -- vs. Baltimore, Sunday 1 p.m.
  • Brandon Graham, DE, Philadelphia: Had one tackle in a 17-16 win over Cleveland. Next up -- vs. Baltimore, Sunday 1 p.m.
  • Larry Foote, LB, Pittsburgh: Had eight tackles (7 solo, 1 assisted), a sack and a pass defended in a 31-19 loss to Denver. Next up -- vs. New York Jets, Sunday 4:25 p.m.
  • LaMarr Woodley, LB, Pittsburgh: Had three tackles (1 solo, 2 assisted) in a 31-19 loss to Denver. Next up -- vs. New York Jets, Sunday 4:25 p.m.
  • David Molk, C, San Diego: He played, but did not start, in a 22-14 win over Oakland. Next up -- vs. Tennessee, Sunday 4:25 p.m.
  • Jonas Mouton, LB, San Diego: Listed as inactive against Oakland. Next up -- vs. Tennessee, Sunday 4:25 p.m.
  • Jonathan Goodwin, OL, San Francisco: Started at center and blocked for 377 yards of offense in a 30-22 win over the Packers. Next up -- vs. Detroit, Sunday 8:20 p.m.
  • Mario Manningham, WR, San Francisco: Had four catches for 29 yards in a 30-22 win over the Packers. Next up -- vs. Detroit, Sunday 8:20 p.m.
  • Alan Branch, DT, Seattle: Had three tackles (1 solo, 2 assisted) in a 20-16 loss to Arizona. Next up -- vs. Dallas, Sunday 4:05 p.m.
  • Braylon Edwards, WR, Seattle: Had five catches for 43 yards in a 20-16 loss to Arizona. Next up -- vs. Dallas, Sunday 4:05 p.m.
  • Steve Hutchinson, OG, Tennessee: Started at left guard and blocked for 292 yards of offense in a 34-13 loss to New England. Next up -- vs. San Diego, Sunday 4:25 p.m.
  • Mike Martin, DT, Tennessee: Had one solo tackle and two assisted tackles in a 34-13 loss to New England. Next up -- vs. San Diego, Sunday 4:25 p.m.
ANN ARBOR, Mich. --Michigan redshirt sophomore linebacker Jake Ryan is wearing the No. 47 jersey, unretired Saturday before No. 19 Michigan's game against Air Force.

Ryan had five tackles in the season-opener against Alabama.

Bennie Oosterbaan's family was honored on the field before the game, presented with a framed No. 47.

This is the second Legends Patch awarded. Former Michigan receiver Desmond Howard was given the designation last season and his No. 21 jersey was first worn by Junior Hemingway and then this season by fifth-year senior Roy Roundtree. Oosterbaan's No. 47 is the first of four previously retired jerseys to be put back into circulation this season by Michigan.

Oosterbaan is one of two three-time All-Americans at Michigan, earning the honor in 1925, 1926 and 1927. After playing at Michigan, he started coaching at the school, first as an assistant for Fritz Crisler and then as the Michigan head coach from 1948 to 1958.

In that time, he had a 63-33-4 record and won the national championship in 1948. His teams also won or shared three Big Ten titles.

Oosterbaan was also a two-time All-American in basketball in 1927 and 1928.

WolverineNation mailbag 

July, 17, 2012
College football season is almost here. The SEC has begun its media days with the Big Ten on tap for next Thursday and Friday in Chicago.

With that comes an all-football version of the WolverineNation Mailbag. Remember, the 'Bag is only as good as the questions you ask, so shoot them over to michaelrothsteinespn@gmail.com or tweet them to @mikerothstein.

On to your questions:

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Steve BeastonJeff Moffett/Icon SMIFormer Michigan WR Steve Breaston will enter his sixth NFL season in 2012.
Catching Up With ... is an occasional series at WolverineNation where we chat with former Michigan football and basketball players to find out what they have been up to since they left the Wolverines.

Steve Breaston made a college and NFL career out of being multifaceted. While he plays receiver -- and is a good one -- Breaston is mostly known for his ability as a returner. While at Michigan, Breaston had 127 punt returns for 1,599 yards and four touchdowns along with 81 kick returns for 1,993 yards -- all school records.

When he wasn't returning kicks and punts, Breaston still caught 156 passes (fifth all-time) for 1,696 yards and 10 touchdowns. He left Michigan in 2007 and was selected in the fifth round by the Arizona Cardinals, where he spent four seasons before heading to Kansas City prior to the 2011 season. This season, he'll have a familiar face near him as the Chiefs drafted Junior Hemingway in the seventh round in April.

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Michigan spring wrap

May, 11, 2012

2011 overall record: 11-2

2011 conference record: 6-2 (2nd, Legends Division)

Returning starters

Offense: 6; defense: 8; kicker/punter: 2

Top returners

QB Denard Robinson; RB Fitzgerald Toussaint; WR Roy Roundtree; WR Jeremy Gallon; LT Taylor Lewan; RT Michael Schofield; DE Craig Roh; LB Jake Ryan; LB Kenny Demens; LB Desmond Morgan; CB J.T. Floyd; CB Blake Countess; S Thomas Gordon; S Jordan Kovacs.

Key losses

WR Junior Hemingway; WR Darryl Stonum; WR/KR Martavious Odoms; TE Kevin Koger; C David Molk; RT Mark Huyge; DT Mike Martin; DE/DT Ryan Van Bergen; DT Will Heininger.

2011 statistical leaders (*returners)

Rushing: Denard Robinson* (1,176 yards)

Passing: Denard Robinson* (2,173 yards)

Receiving: Junior Hemingway (699 yards)

Tackles: Kenny Demens* (94)

Sacks: Ryan Van Bergen (5.5)

Interceptions: Courtney Avery* and J.T. Floyd* (2)

Spring answers

1. Quarterback accuracy: Denard Robinson played one series in the public spring scrimmage, but coaches raved about his improved leadership, decision-making and accuracy throughout the spring. The latter two were major issues for Michigan last season. While it is unknown whether Robinson will truly be more accurate until Sept. 1 against Alabama -- Michigan closed all of its practices to the media this spring -- offensive coordinator Al Borges was very confident in Robinson’s potential for his senior season.

2. Cornerback has depth:
Two seasons ago, cornerback was the biggest question on Michigan’s team because of youth, inexperience and a lack of talent. That is no longer an issue. The Wolverines have as many as six players they could feel comfortable with come the fall, and that doesn’t include incoming freshman Terry Richardson (Detroit/Cass Tech), the highest-ranked player in Michigan's incoming signing class. Sophomore Blake Countess could turn into a star, and fifth-year senior J.T. Floyd is the most consistent corner the Wolverines have. They’ll be the likely starters.

3. A featured back is set: Borges made no hesitation: Redshirt junior Fitzgerald Toussaint is going into the fall as his top tailback -- a marked change from what the Wolverines endured last spring and through the first half of last season. Toussaint rushed for 1,041 yards and nine touchdowns last season, giving Michigan a dynamic dual running game with Robinson. With major questions at wide receiver and tight end, expect a lot of running from Toussaint and Robinson, especially early in the season.

Fall questions

1. Who is catching the ball: Michigan’s coaches spoke highly of Jeremy Gallon, Jerald Robinson and Roy Roundtree during the spring as their top three receivers, but Robinson has never caught a pass, Gallon has had one season of consistent productivity, and Roundtree saw his numbers plummet last season, where he had 19 catches for 355 yards. Tight end isn’t much better, as the position group has two career catches. Denard Robinson’s two best safety valves -- Junior Hemingway and Kevin Koger -- graduated so even if Denard Robinson is improved, he might need to hunt to find a reliable receiver option. Incoming freshman Devin Funchess (Farmington Hills, Mich./Harrison) could be an option at tight end.

2. Who is pressuring the quarterback: Michigan took its biggest hits on the defensive line, which saw three starters graduate -- Mike Martin was a third-round draft pick, Ryan Van Bergen signed a free agent contract and Will Heininger graduated -- and its fourth starter, Craig Roh, switch positions. Michigan insists it’ll be OK there. Will Campbell and converted end Jibreel Black will likely start inside, and either sophomore Brennen Beyer or sophomore Frank Clark will start at rush end. The success of Michigan’s defense last season relied on pressure the front four created. With an almost completely new group there, how they fare against opponents will be interesting to see.

3. Punting problems: Somewhere along the way last season, Will Hagerup lost his mojo, much like kicker Brendan Gibbons the year before. A strong-legged punter, Hagerup wasn’t connecting with the ball well and eventually lost his job to freshman Matt Wile. Now entering his junior year, Michigan hopes either Hagerup regains his form or Wile becomes more consistent. The Wolverines’ offense should be fairly prolific, but with a defense searching for pressure early on, it needs to be able to control field position with the punter.
The three-day NFL Draft came and went over the weekend with few surprises for Michigan players. Three players -- Mike Martin, David Molk and Junior Hemingway -- were drafted.

Many more were not.

The three players drafted equaled the 2010 NFL Draft, which had Brandon Graham go in the first round, Zoltan Mesko in the fifth round and Stevie Brown in the seventh.

In this year’s draft, Martin went to Tennessee in the third round, while Molk and Hemingway were selected in the seventh round by San Diego and Kansas City, respectively.

Hemingway, the last Michigan player taken, joins Steve Breaston as a wide receiver in Kansas City.

(Read full post)

He spent most of his career playing in an offense ill-fitting to his skills. But Junior Hemingway, the comfortable safety valve at receiver for Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson, has a place in the NFL.

Hemingway was selected by Kansas City in the seventh round with pick No. 238. He'll join former Michigan receiver Steve Breaston in Kansas City.

The Conway, S.C. native caught 88 passes for 1,638 yards and 11 touchdowns in his career, including two touchdowns in his final college game at the Allstate Sugar Bowl, where he was named MVP.

Previous five players picked at No. 238: 2011 -- David Ausberry, WR, USC (Oakland); 2010 -- Ricardo Mathews, DT, Cincinnati (Indianapolis); 2009 -- Stoney Woodson, CB, South Carolina (N.Y. Giants); 2008 -- Cory Boyd, RB, South Carolina (Denver); 2007 -- Abraham Wright, LB, Colorado (Miami)

More on Hemingway:

WolverineNation mailbag 

March, 28, 2012
Jeremy GallonRick Osentoski/US PresswireIf Denard Robinson and Jeremy Gallon can establish the chemistry that Robinson had with Junior Hemingway this past season, Michigan's passing offense will benefit greatly.

There hasn’t been a lot going on in Michigan sports. Basketball is done. Hockey is done. Spring football is underway, but we really won’t know what that looks like until the Spring Game on April 14.

So since very little is going on in Michigan sports, we can look at what’s going on in Ann Arbor. In recent news, it got kind of cold this week (well, not cold, just March-like), but I had Girl Scout cookies delivered to my house. I would consider that breaking even, though I believe Tom VanHaaren would consider it an automatic win (cookies trump weather for Tom). Mike doesn’t eat cookies, so he would be pretty disgruntled all around.

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They were two receivers hampered by scheme switches and injuries, but the departures of Junior Hemingway and Martavious Odoms from Michigan will hurt more than most people realize.

Hemingway was the big target with great timing and jumping ability who would often bail out quarterback Denard Robinson. Odoms was the sure-handed receiver with some speed who ended up being the Wolverines' best return man.

Then there's Darryl Stonum, who was supposed to lead this group. Instead, he's off the team following another violation of team rules.

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Former Michigan wide receiver Junior Hemingway might have put himself in position to be drafted in April after a good performance at the NFL combine on Sunday.

The Sugar Bowl MVP posted good numbers during his drill work in Indianapolis, where he was one of three former Wolverines trying out this week. As of 4:25 p.m. Sunday, he was the top finisher in two drills.

Former Michigan defensive tackle Mike Martin competed in the bench press Sunday, putting up 36 reps. That is currently tied for third among all combine participants. Former Michigan center David Molk, who only benched at the combine as he recovers from a foot injury, is second with 41 reps among all participants. Memphis defensive tackle Dontari Poe is first with 44 reps.

Here's a look at Hemingway's numbers and where he ranked as of 4:25 p.m. Sunday:

(Read full post)

The NFL combine has started in Indianapolis and while only three Michigan players were invited -- defensive tackle Mike Martin, wide receiver Junior Hemingway and center David Molk, who won't fully work out due to recovery from a foot injury -- they have not gone unnoticed.

Martin was named by ESPN analyst Todd McShay as the defensive tackle with the most toughness and highest motor.

"Ever since I’ve been at Michigan, all four years and then the Senior Bowl with the scouts, they all know I’m strong but the thing that is going to put me over the top is how well I’m going through my drills, my bag work, how I move my hips, being able to accelerate, coming out of my stance explosively," Martin told WolverineNation last month. "I think you have a guy who has 300-plus pounds on his frame that is strong and can move as well as a 260-pound dude is pretty impressive. That’s what I’m looking forward to the most."

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Michigan C Cites Concussions In Decision To Quit
Joe Schad discusses how concussions and a concern over long-term health have helped Michigan center Jack Miller decide not to play football his senior year.