Michigan Wolverines: Stephen Hopkins

FB Stephen Hopkins leaves team

December, 3, 2012
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ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Junior fullback Stephen Hopkins has left the Michigan football team.

Hopkins declined comment to ESPN.com, though following the announcement to the media Hopkins did tweet, "I love the University of Michigan and everything it means to be a Michigan Man. I look forward to getting my degree."

The junior finished his career with 48 carries for 194 yards and four touchdowns. He appeared in eight games this season, starting four, but he didn't have a single carry or reception.

Coach Brady Hoke had little to say on the matter and when asked why Hopkins left, said only, "You'd have to ask him."

Senior captain Denard Robinson said he was "a little bit" surprised to hear of Hopkins' departure.

"We support him," Robinson said. "He's still a brother to me. I would never say anything bad about him because that's my brother."
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The time he’d seen before came in games long decided, when his role was to enter and finish the game without making any errors, not to have a say in the outcome of it all.

Yet when Denard Robinson left Saturday’s game with a hand injury in the first quarter, redshirt freshman Russell Bellomy was inserted into a game in the first half for the first time in his career.

[+] EnlargeRussell Bellomy
Lon Horwedel/Icon SMIRussell Bellomy played the first meaningful minutes of his career after Denard Robinson left the game briefly.
“I liked how he got himself ready. Liked how he got himself ready during the week,” Michigan coach Brady Hoke said. “But Denard comes out and he’s taking snaps and getting himself ready to go.

“He was composed and calm and wasn’t overexcited.”

Bellomy completed 1 of 3 passes against Illinois over two separate stints -- one replacing Robinson in the first half and another in the second half with the game in hand.

His numbers, though, could have been better than that. Both of his incompletions were drops, one by Devin Funchess and the other by Roy Roundtree, which hit him right in the hands.

“When Russ got him, I told him to just do him, man,” Roundtree said. “It’s great that he got out there and I wish he would have had some completions. I felt bad for him after I dropped a pass.

“He didn’t get on me but I’m pretty sure he got upset. I told him I got him next time.”

Not the worst loss: Roundtree remembered riding home from East Lansing last season on a quiet bus. Most players had headphones on instead of the typical ride home chatter.

While the loss stung, it wasn’t his most difficult at Michigan. He wasn’t sure which one would be, actually.

“Nah, I probably had several of those,” Roundtree said. “When I first got here, coming in as a redshirt freshman to the winningest program and having a down year that we had.

“I wouldn’t want to say it was the hardest, most brutal loss because I took a lot of ‘L’s’ back then.”

His first three seasons at Michigan were not win-friendly as the Wolverines won three, six and then seven games under former coach Rich Rodriguez.

Injury update: Michigan running back Vincent Smith, who missed Saturday’s game against Illinois due to a hamstring injury, is expected back for Michigan State. So is fullback Stephen Hopkins, who has missed the past few weeks due to a hamstring injury. ... Hoke and Robinson both said the quarterback’s hand is fine after missing a quarter against the Illini due to injury. ... Safety Jordan Kovacs, who has worn a brace on his knee the past two weeks, said he knee is “fine” and that his bright blue knee brace is “a fashion statement.”

This and that: Going along with not wearing red, Hoke said Monday he doesn’t remember the last time he has worn green, either. ... Michigan offensive tackle Taylor Lewan, who is usually available weekly to the media, is not on the list of players for this week. Last season, Lewan and Michigan State defensive end William Gholston went at each other pretty well during the game. ... Hoke is planning on educating his team this week on Willis Ward, the second African-American to play at Michigan and the subject of a documentary about his benching due to racial issues when facing Georgia Tech on Oct. 20, 1934. The Michigan state senate deemed Saturday as Willis Ward Day.
J.T. FloydJoe Robbins/Getty ImagesJ.T. Floyd surprised teammates and family by lopping of his dreads before the Purdue game.
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- At the end of practices during the week, Michigan coach Brady Hoke gathers the defensive line together and has them do a drill to keep them active and ready to deal with some of the most mobile quarterbacks they will face.

He calls it “chase the rabbit.”

“You ever try to catch a rabbit,” Hoke said. “They are hard to catch.”

Not that Hoke has ever tried himself -- after asking a reporter if he had tried to catch one he said he never has, either -- but the point of the drill is to help his linemen take correct angles to the ball and also teach how to stay up to speed against guys like Michigan will face Saturday, Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase.

Michigan goes about this two ways. One is the rabbit drill. The other, which the Wolverines do each week as well, is run quarterback Denard Robinson against the first-team defense for multiple periods each week in practice.

It happens to keep defenders -- and, in theory, Robinson -- sharp and also prepare them for the speed of anyone they’ll face.

“We build a mindset and a mentality,” Hoke said. “With us going so much against each other, obviously 16 is kind of hard to corral once in a while. That helps us as a team when we’re a playing against a guy like Scheelhaase.”

Not dreading the cut: For five years, J.T. Floyd had not cut his hair, letting his dreadlocks grow through his entire career, making him easily recognizable on the field and along with Robinson, the dreads had become somewhat of a trademark for him.

Until last week, when he decided to cut them off.

“It was just time,” Floyd said. “Now I’m going for a different look. It’s just a different time.

“It was something, it was an easy decision to grow them out and just as easy a decision to cut them.”

One of the last people to see Floyd with the dreads was Robinson, who didn’t believe him when he said he was planning on cutting them. Robinson was also one of the first people to see him after the haircut.

He didn’t save any of them for posterity, either, letting the dreads be swept up by the barber. He didn’t tell his family, either, allowing it to be a Saturday surprise at Purdue, when Michigan suddenly had two short-haired cornerbacks.

“It was great,” Floyd said. “A great feeling the next morning to just wake up and rub your head and actually feel your scalp. Great feeling.”

Will Floyd’s decision rub off on Robinson, whose dreads are third only to his untied shoelaces and running ability as traits most recognizable with Michigan’s senior quarterback?

“I’m trying to persuade him to cut them, but it’s not going to happen,” Floyd said. “Not going to happen.”

This and that: Hoke said Jordan Kovacs, who played through an injury last week, is "good." ... Hoke said Tuesday’s practice was “comparable” to what he saw last week preparing for Purdue, which he deemed some of the best practices of the season. ... Hoke said Wednesday that tight end Brandon Moore is practicing again and could play this week, but wouldn’t commit to it. Hoke also said “we’ll see” when asked about the availability of fullback Stephen Hopkins. Hopkins has missed time due to injury.
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. --- During the bye week, Michigan coach Brady Hoke said junior wide receiver Devin Gardner was fine after sliding into a structure during a play at Notre Dame Stadium two weeks ago. But on Saturday night following the Wolverines' 44-13 victory at Purdue, Gardner addressed the issue himself.

"I hit the ground and my shoulder felt really weird," Gardner said. "I didn't really feel good about it. And then I was advised to probably stay down. I'm fine."

Against Purdue, Gardner caught two passes, accounting for 31 yards and one touchdown -- the only passing touchdown of the game.

"It's OK; I'm fine," Gardner said. "I played today and I felt like I played, blocked and did everything that receivers should do."

Other injuries: Senior safety Jordan Kovacs wore a brace on his right knee throughout the Purdue game, though he said he was fine. … Brandon Moore (MCL), Stephen Hopkins (hamstring) and Richard Ash (undisclosed) didn't make the trip to Purdue. … Brennen Beyer (knee) and Marvin Robinson (undisclosed), who were recently held out of games, both made the trip and played.

Hopkins, Beyer don't make trip

September, 22, 2012
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Michigan’s dress list is out and there are some interesting inactives for the Notre Dame game.

Fullback Stephen Hopkins and defensive end Brennen Beyer both were among those who did not make the trip, according to the dress list.

The others who did not travel, according to the list:
  • WR Bo Dever
  • S Marvin Robinson
  • QB Brian Cleary
  • DB Allen Gant
  • QB Alex Swieca
  • CB Blake Countess
  • S Charlie Zeller
  • WR Jonathan Keizer
  • RB Drake Johnson
  • S Andrew Offerdahl
  • DB Jeremy Clark
  • DB AJ Pearson
  • CB Al Backey
  • TE Nate Allspach
  • LB Antonio Poole
  • DT Kenny Wilkins
  • TE Dylan Esterline
  • DE Chris Wormley
  • K Seth Broekhuizen
  • LB Kaleb Ringer
  • DE Tom Strobel
  • OL Chris Bryant
  • DE Tom Strobel
  • LB Mark Lawson
  • OL Blake Bars
  • OL Ben Pliska
  • OL Kyle Kalis
  • DT Willie Henry
  • OL Erik Magnuson
  • OL Dan Gibbs
  • WR Jehu Chesson
  • TE Brandon Moore
  • K/P Kenneth Allen
  • TE David Mitropoulous-Rundus
  • TE Chris Eddins
  • TE Jordan Paskorz
  • K Anthony Capatina
  • TE Michael Jocz
  • DL Ryan Glasgow
  • DE Matthew Godin
Michigan football coach Brady Hoke met with the media Wednesday afternoon for the final time before the Notre Dame game Saturday. Here are a few quick notes from the press conference:

INJURIES
Out: Brandon Moore (MCL)

Notes: Talking Irish, injuries

September, 17, 2012
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ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Notre Dame might be moving to the ACC for almost all of its sports and its future rivalry with Michigan might be in some question, but Wolverines coach Brady Hoke played both sides when asked about it Monday.

“I don’t know, they are going to the ACC and they have to do what they need to do for them,” Hoke said. “If it continues, that’s great. If it doesn’t, then we’ll move forward.”

Michigan and Notre Dame have played fairly continuously over the past two decades and are slated to play yearly until 2018, when the contract calls for a two-year hiatus.

It is a rivalry, too, that has had its share of excitement. The teams usually would be the first early season barometer of where they might end up finishing the season. It is one of three main rivalries for the Wolverines, along with Michigan State and Ohio State.

Michigan is one of the few teams with a winning record against Notre Dame -- 23-15-1 -- and in South Bend, Ind., where the Wolverines are 9-8-1. The last three games of the series have all been decided by four points, with Michigan winning each one in the final minute.

“This is one of the oldest, fiercest rivalries in college football,” defensive end Craig Roh said. “You don’t treat this game like just another game. It’s Notre Dame. This is the peak of college football right here, Notre Dame versus Michigan.”

Splitting time at linebacker
While Hoke wouldn’t say freshman Joe Bolden and fifth-year senior Kenny Demens were essentially splitting time at middle linebacker, evidence would show otherwise. Against Air Force, Bolden played the entire second half. Against UMass, both Bolden and Demens saw fairly similar amounts of snaps.

Hoke did say how they divvy up snaps has nothing to do with different packages Michigan uses but is all about the performance of the two players.

“They’re both going to play,” Hoke said.

Bolden and Demens are both tied for fifth on Michigan in tackles with 12.

Injury update
Michigan looks like it will have some of its multitude of injured players back this week for the Irish.

Hoke said tight end Brandon Moore (knee) would “probably not” be ready for Saturday, but linebacker Desmond Morgan (head) and defensive lineman Richard Ash (body) “should be” ready. He wasn’t sure about the status of fullback Stephen Hopkins, who missed Saturday’s game with a hamstring injury, or defensive end Brennen Beyer, who has a knee injury.

Michigan goes injury-free Saturday

September, 15, 2012
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ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- As Michigan walked off the field Saturday after a dominant 63-13 win over UMass, the Wolverines had another victory, one they hadn’t seen this season.

They emerged from a game healthy for the first time this season. Kind of.

Michigan had no major injuries during the game, unlike the previous two weeks, when the Wolverines lost cornerback Blake Countess (ACL) for the season, tight end Brandon Moore (knee) for several weeks and defensive end Brennen Beyer (knee) for an unknown period of time.

“I don’t know if we had any boo-boos today,” Hoke said. “But we’ve had one of those years where we have had a lot of guys dinged up.”

However, the week itself wasn’t as kind.

(Read full post)

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Michigan sophomore linebacker Desmond Morgan will not play Saturday against UMass due to what Wolverines coach Brady Hoke called Friday a “little bit of a head problem.”

Morgan had started the first two games of the season for Michigan and is fourth on the Wolverines in tackles with 15. He also has 1.5 tackles for loss.

Replacing Morgan will likely be freshman James Ross III, who played extensively against Air Force last Saturday. Ross III has six tackles this season, including a half-sack.

Also out for Michigan on Saturday is fullback Stephen Hopkins, who has a hamstring injury, and starting defensive end Brennen Beyer, who has a knee injury.
Michigan's challenge against defending national champion Alabama may have just gotten even more difficult.

[+] EnlargeFitzgerald Toussaint
Rick Osentoski/US PresswireRB Fitzgerald Toussaint has been suspended indefinitely.
Star running back Fitz Toussaint has been suspended indefinitely following a weekend arrest for drunk driving. According to reports, the junior was stopped for a traffic violation in downtown Ann Arbor just a little before midnight Saturday and failed a breathalyzer test. Head coach Brady Hoke announced Monday afternoon that Toussaint is suspended indefinitely.

By definition, we don't know how long that indefinite suspension will last. It is reasonable, however, to conclude that Toussaint may not be available for the opener against the Crimson Tide at Cowboys Stadium. And if so, that's a tough blow.

Toussaint ran for 1,041 yards last season, doing much of his best work late in the season. He spoke confidently this spring about surpassing 1,600 rushing yards this season. His emergence in the middle of last year lightened the offensive load on star quarterback Denard Robinson and made the Wolverines' offense that much more versatile and dangerous. Michigan will need all the weapons it has to try and move the ball effectively against what is expected to be another fierce Alabama defense.

If Toussaint is out for the opener, or even longer, the Wolverines would most likely turn to sophomore Thomas Rawls as their main tailback. A physical, 219-pounder, Rawls earned praise from Hoke for his play this spring and was described by offensive coordinator Al Borges as "a battering ram." He doesn't have the explosiveness of Toussaint, but a guy who can run through tackles might not be bad to have against 'Bama, anyway.

Other options at tailback include veterans Vincent Smith and Stephen Hopkins and sophomore Justice Hayes. Still, there's a big dropoff from Toussaint to anyone else in terms of experience and production.

Again, we don't know for sure how long this suspension will last. Hoke dismissed receiver Darryl Stonum this winter after traffic violations landed Stonum in jail, but the troubled player had previous run-ins with the law. This is, as far as we know, Toussaint's first misstep.

It hasn't been a great offseason for Michigan players. Starting defensive tackle Will Campbell pleaded guilty earlier Monday to a civil infraction for blocking a sidewalk; he'll be sentenced later this week for a misdemeanor destruction of property charge. He had originally been charged with felony destruction of property and possession of alcohol by a minor. Receiver Jerald Robinson had a warrant out for his arrest for allegedly damaging a parking gate; his case is scheduled to be heard later this summer.

But Toussaint is the biggest name of the bunch and his suspension could be costly. Without him, the Michigan offense could be back to a familiar place in the 2012 opener: relying on Denard Robinson to make some magic.

WolverineNation mailbag 

July, 11, 2012
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Brennen BeyerAP Photo/Carlos OsorioBrennen Beyer will put his hand down this season and could be a surprise as a defensive end.
It has been quite the summer for sports. Between the Euro Cup and the Olympic trials, LeBron James finally getting his first ring and Roger Federer picking up his seventh Wimbledon title, there has been no lack of athletic entertainment.

And even without football Saturdays, the questions still swirl about what Brady Hoke and Co. have in store for 2012. So, I'm here to answer a few of those questions.

Kevin Ujvary via Twitter: Who is the dark horse player to watch for in Michigan football this year, anyone similar to Fitzgerald Toussaint last season?

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Michigan's youth movement from a couple of seasons ago continues to pay off now, as the Wolverines lose just one running back from last season, Michael Shaw, but return 1,000-yard rusher Fitzgerald Toussaint, third-down back Vincent Smith and almost all of their depth from a season ago.

This should be a position of strength for the Wolverines next season, aided by the extremely fast legs of senior quarterback Denard Robinson.

Spring practice could be a good chance for Michigan to build depth here for the future.

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Brady Hoke finished addressing the media for the final time before Michigan faces Illinois on Saturday.

Here's some of the head coach's thoughts and newsier items in convenient bullet form:

  • On Ricky Barnum, who had been out with ankle injury: "He did some things (Tuesday), a lot of the individual stuff, a little of the team stuff. We'll see. He'll play, but we'll see how healthy he is."
  • On halfback-turned fullback Stephen Hopkins: "His role has become bigger and really on the kickoff return team he's done a really good job blocking there and become more of a factor offensively and I think Hop, if he keeps moving in a positive fashion, he's going to be really good in this system for what we need."

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