Michigan Wolverines: Roy Roundtree

Michigan season preview

August, 19, 2013
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Can Michigan make the jump from the cusp to an actual Big Ten championship game? A look at the 2013 Wolverines:

MICHIGAN WOLVERINES

Coach: Brady Hoke (66-57, 19-7)

2012 record: 8-5

Key losses: QB/RB Denard Robinson; WR Roy Roundtree; RG Patrick Omameh; C Elliott Mealer; DE Craig Roh; DT Will Campbell; MLB Kenny Demens; CB J.T. Floyd; S Jordan Kovacs

[+] EnlargeDerrick Green
Tom Hauck for ESPN.comCould running back Derrick Green be the key to Michigan's season? The touted freshman is expected to compete for the starting job right away.
Key returnees: QB Devin Gardner; RB Fitzgerald Toussaint; WR Jeremy Gallon; TE Devin Funchess; LT Taylor Lewan; RT Michael Schofield; DT Quinton Washington; DE Frank Clark; LB Jake Ryan (injured); LB Desmond Morgan; CB Blake Countess; CB Raymon Taylor; S Thomas Gordon

Newcomer to watch: There are a couple of freshmen who could see major snaps for Michigan, but the most notable is running back Derrick Green. He will push Toussaint for the starting job immediately and could end up as the featured back by the end of the season. The other two freshmen who could see major time are early enrollees: defensive back Dymonte Thomas and tight end Jake Butt. Neither will likely start, but both will be key reserves or used in subpackages.

Biggest games in 2013: Michigan had all of its key games on the road last season. This year, the Wolverines will have their two toughest games at home: Notre Dame on Sept. 7, and Ohio State on Nov. 30 in the regular-season closer. The Buckeyes, though, cap a difficult month for the Wolverines, who have trips to Michigan State on Nov. 2 and Northwestern on Nov. 16.

Biggest question mark heading into 2013: Who will run the ball? As the Wolverines complete their transition to a pro-style offense, they need a capable running back lining up behind quarterback Gardner. Considering the importance of play-action in what they will try to do offensively, they will need a back to gain yards to keep the whole offense balanced and a defense confused. The main candidates are Toussaint and Green, with freshman De'Veon Smith, redshirt freshman Drake Johnson and junior Thomas Rawls also pushing for time.

Forecast: Good. Like most teams that are near the end of a rebuilding phase, depth at certain positions is questionable, which means anything written here would be for naught if Gardner, Gallon or Lewan were injured for any length of time. Provided those three offensive stalwarts stay healthy, the Wolverines have a strong shot at making a run to the Big Ten championship game.

Michigan’s season could come down to whether it can beat Michigan State and Northwestern on the road. It is entirely possible that by the time the Wolverines and Buckeyes play in the regular-season finale that both will have wrapped up divisional titles and Big Ten title game trips. The best news for Michigan in all of this is how the schedule breaks down. After Notre Dame in Week 2, the Wolverines have only one real challenge -- at Penn State -- until November. This will allow a young offensive line to gain confidence and chemistry, and a young defensive line a chance to figure out how to beat Big Ten linemen.

A road win at any of those three places could lift Michigan into a different level, because one of the major issues with coach Brady Hoke has been his inability to win a game of any significance away from Michigan Stadium, where he has yet to lose.
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.”
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Every Michigan offensive play has a little bit of magic to it. Seriously. Not Criss Angel stuff. Something more intricate.

Try the sleight of route.

In his third year as Michigan’s wide receivers coach, Jeff Hecklinski teaches all of his receivers to leave the line of scrimmage the same no matter the play. Run? Pass? Doesn’t matter. Make like you are running a route.

Try, actually, to go deep. Be so precise, so similar, opposing corners and safeties are unsure of what is coming. Get them to start backpedaling or, better still, turn to cover a deep route.

Then, Michigan’s receivers know they have accomplished exactly what they needed.

[+] EnlargeDrew Dileo, Jeremy Gallon
Rick Osentoski/US PresswireMichigan wide receivers Drew Dileo (26) and Jeremy Gallon (10) are hoping more end-zone celebrations will result from blocking for each other this fall.
The importance of this will only increase for Michigan as its offensive philosophy shifts to a pro-style offense predicated on the success of play-action sells from the quarterback and receivers.

Opponents have noticed the blocking. Defensive backs understand facing Michigan’s receivers will be tougher. Not because of their skills, but because of what they do without the ball.

“They act as if they are more excited to block than they are to catch a pass,” Minnesota safety Brock Vereen said. “Sadly, I’m not even exaggerating.”

This starts in the preseason, when Hecklinski has 15 minutes daily to work with his receivers. Half of each session, his receivers will not touch a ball.

Instead, he will motion to the usual offensive linemen tool, the five-man sled. Most college receivers know how to catch. Many run crisp routes. At Michigan, blocking passes all of that.

Blocking at Michigan, Hecklinski explains, is the easiest path to playing.

“We’ll do some two-man sled work, do some five-man sleds, hit some bags,” Hecklinski said. “A lot of the same things the offensive line does. The offensive line, they train to block every day. We can incorporate those drills into the stuff we do.”

Hecklinski rarely sees live what he teaches accomplished in games. Perched in the coaches’ box, his in-game job is to watch the interior of the offensive line against the linebackers, so he only knows the exploits of his receivers when they tell him on the headset between series. They’ll celebrate pancaking a cornerback or hitting their general goal of combined double-digit knockdowns every game.

Hecklinski reviews receiver tape the next day. Based on what he watches -- and how beat up his players are -- he’ll taper the blocking work back to one session a week as long as the results are showing up in games.

By then, Hecklinski’s message reached his players.

“A lot of wide receivers won’t use all that energy,” Purdue cornerback Ricardo Allen said. “Like if it is a running play to the other side, why do I need to run full speed? Why do I need to go cut this safety off? People like Denard [Robinson] was probably very happy he had receivers like Roy Roundtree and [Jeremy] Gallon last year. He got 50- and 60-yard runs because the corners were never able to go in on the run.”

Hecklinski’s blocking mantra, always based on hitting hard, evolved as he moved with Brady Hoke from Ball State to San Diego State and then to Michigan. At Ball State, he said, he used to teach his receivers to cut block consistently.

Hecklinski removed cut blocking upon arrival at Michigan for two reasons. First, a shift in blocking rules in college football made cut blocking a riskier choice with penalties. The second dealt with the ability of the defensive backs his receivers faced.

This began at Ball State and became clearer when the staff put together in the MAC and Mountain West reached the Big Ten.

“They are like those Weeble Wobbles that you had growing up,” Hecklinski said. “You can throw a great cut and he’s right back up making a play and golly, that’s a great cut.

“You got him down, took his legs out and then he pops back up it’s a three-yard gain. So we took all cut blocking out of it.”

Now, he wants his players to act as boxers on the perimeter. He uses analogies to other sports but this is a favorite. He wants his receivers to treat each play as a mini-boxing match.

“I’m going to try and throw my right uppercut as hard as I can and we’re going for the knockout punch every time,” Hecklinski said. “I’m trying to Mike Tyson you in the first round.”

Start with an initial rope-a-dope. Hit as hard as you can. Try to run through the chest or shoulders of a defensive back. Blow him up. Knock him down.

It’s simple, really. If Michigan is successful, what starts at deception fast turns into big-play blocking devastation.
As Michigan’s preseason approaches at the end of this week, WolverineNation takes a look at the 10 players who are most indispensable for the Wolverines this season. This doesn’t mean the most talented players, but rather the players, if Michigan lost them, would be in the most trouble.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Devin Gardner’s future -- at Michigan, in football -- was an enigma a season ago. Would he be a quarterback? A wide receiver? Could he realistically transition from throwing passes to catching them and if he did, would he be the deep threat Michigan was missing.

He was, kind of. Gardner proved to be a capable wide receiver last season, but when Denard Robinson injured the ulnar nerve in his right arm, ending his time as a quarterback, Michigan and Gardner found the deep passing threat it had lacked since Brady Hoke and Al Borges took over at Michigan.

Recruiting Roundtable: Camp surprises? 

June, 24, 2013
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ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Tom is on vacation this week, but before he left, we sat down to hash out a few recruiting topics. We didn’t invite in any outside writers this week, but we did throw in an extra question for good measure. This week, we look at the 2014 class and Michigan’s football camp.

1. Do any of the 2014 commits remind you of any current Michigan players?


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WolverineNation mailbag 

May, 8, 2013
5/08/13
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ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Replacements and leadership are topics which come up during every offseason for every sport.

We'll examine those topics in this week’s WolverineNation Mailbag, featuring your questions. Have questions for next week? Send them to @chanteljennings on Twitter or at jenningsespn@gmail.com.

Now, on to this week’s queries.

M2go4blue from The Den asks: How well can we expect Michigan basketball to continue the success from the last two years, with the lack of upperclassman leadership this coming season? From last year, five seniors and a three-year starter in Tim Hardaway Jr. are gone. That's a lot of leadership missing.


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Michigan spring wrap

May, 3, 2013
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2012 record: 8-5

2012 conference record: 6-2

Returning starters: Offense: 6; defense: 6; kicker/punter: 3

Top returners:

QB Devin Gardner, WR Jeremy Gallon, TE Devin Funchess, LT Taylor Lewan, RT Michael Schofield, DT Quinton Washington, LB Desmond Morgan, LB Jake Ryan, CB Raymon Taylor, S Thomas Gordon

Key losses

QB Denard Robinson, WR Roy Roundtree, OG Patrick Omameh, C Elliott Mealer, DE Craig Roh, DT William Campbell, LB Kenny Demens, CB J.T. Floyd, S Jordan Kovacs

2012 statistical leaders

Rushing: Denard Robinson (1,266 yards)

Passing: Denard Robinson (1,319 yards)

Receiving: Jeremy Gallon* (829 yards)

Tackles: Jake Ryan* (88)

Sacks: Jake Ryan* (4.0)

Interceptions: Thomas Gordon* and Raymon Taylor* (2)

Spring answers

1. Defensive line fine: Michigan had to replace a four-year starter in Craig Roh as well as defensive tackle Will Campbell up front. It doesn’t seem like it will be an issue. Michigan has a potential star in Frank Clark at rush end as well as depth at the position with Mario Ojemudia and Taco Charlton. Keith Heitzman, for now, seems to have locked up a spot at strong side end, but there is a lot of talent there, too. The Wolverines have depth at all four spots and while competitions will continue into the fall, Michigan should be able to rotate at defensive coordinator Greg Mattison’s leisure.

2. Devin Gardner’s progression: After the way he played toward the end of last season, there was not much doubt about Gardner as the starter, but Michigan’s coaches appear happy with his growth throughout the offseason. He has developed as a quarterback the way the coaching staff has liked, and this is even more critical because he is the only healthy scholarship quarterback until Shane Morris arrives next month. Gardner's teammates believe in him and he is setting up for a big year.

3. Tight end weapons: Michigan still doesn’t have great depth at tight end, but what the Wolverines do have is a young group of guys who will become big targets for Gardner as the position evolves into a more featured role. Devin Funchess could have a breakout sophomore season and Jake Butt has a similar skill set. A.J. Williams slimmed down as well, perhaps turning him into more than just an extra blocker.

Fall questions

1. Who runs the ball: Michigan was never going to be able to answer this question in the spring with Fitzgerald Toussaint coming off a broken leg and freshmen Derrick Green and Deveon Smith still not on campus. But none of the running backs who participated in spring made a lasting impression on the coaches, meaning if he is healthy, Toussaint will likely receive the first chance at winning the job in the fall.

2. Can Jake Ryan be replaced: Michigan seems confident with its grouping of Brennen Beyer and Cam Gordon at strongside linebacker, but part of what made Ryan Michigan’s best defender was his ability to instinctively be around the ball. Whether or not Beyer or Gordon can do that in games remains to be seen. If the combination of those two can approximate that, Michigan’s defense should be fine.

3. Can the interior of the line hold up: Michigan is replacing both of its guards and its center. While the combination of redshirt sophomore Jack Miller at center and redshirt freshmen Ben Braden and Kyle Kalis at guard has a ton of talent, none have taken a meaningful snap in a game before. How they mesh with returning tackles Taylor Lewan and Michael Schofield, along with how they connect with each other on combination blocks on the inside, could determine not only Michigan’s running success this fall, but also how many games the Wolverines win in Brady Hoke’s third season.
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- When the confetti fell from the Georgia Dome on Monday night, the 2012-13 basketball season was officially over and the Michigan basketball team was just a few made shots and defensive possessions away from a national title.

And while it might not have been the fairytale ending the Michigan basketball program was hoping for, the Wolverines have kept maize and blue relevant into April, something that hadn’t happened in quite some time. And for those weeks, football seemed to take a back seat to basketball around the country and in Ann Arbor.


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WolverineNation Mailbag 

March, 13, 2013
3/13/13
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ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- It’s March and there’s so much madness. First of all, the basketball team, even with its No. 5 seeding, is poised to make deep runs in the Big Ten and NCAA Tournaments. The quarterback who had video-game like moves is now on the cover of a video game. And the maddest part of it all is that Tom left for vacation for a week and the recruiting world didn’t have a major shakeup. I guess that’s only for when he goes to grocery store or furniture shopping. It’s madness, I tell you!

Anyway, Mike will be handling the mailbag next week. So make sure if there’s any madness that you consult with him on it by sending questions to michaelrothsteinespn@gmail.com or @MikeRothstein. And now, on to this week’s questions.


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ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Roy Roundtree plans to treat tomorrow like he did so many fall weekends in Michigan. He’ll plan on going to bed early tonight.

[+] EnlargeRoy Roundtree
Michael Hickey/Getty ImagesRoy Roundtree is looking forward to running the 40-yard dash at Michigan's Pro Day on Thursday.
Wake up early Thursday. Eat some breakfast and then head for one of the most critical days of his life.

Michigan’s pro day is Thursday and for most of the Wolverines participating, it is their first real chance to prove themselves in a Combine setting in front of scouts. Most of them plan on treating it just like they did when they played football games in Ann Arbor.

“I’m pretty focused on all of the drills because that’s what I’ve been working on since the Outback Bowl,” Roundtree said. “Also been working on my 40. Everybody wants to see if you run fast or run slow.

“The biggest thing is the 40.”

Most of Michigan’s prospects would agree. Only one, Denard Robinson, had the chance to run the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. Others, such as Roundtree, defensive lineman Will Campbell and safety Jordan Kovacs, were able to show off for scouts in various all-star bowl games.

But for the majority of Michigan’s players, this is their first -- and potentially last -- chance to make any sort of impression on the men who will determine their professional futures.

(Read full post)

Over the next week, WolverineNation will give a brief look at five players to keep an eye on during spring practice for varying reasons.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- For the time being, Michigan has a wide receiver problem, more so than a season ago when the question of who would replace Junior Hemingway was a big one in Michigan’s offense.

Now, the Wolverines are even more inexperienced than a year ago. Roy Roundtree’s graduation leaves a massive hole opposite likely No. 1-receiver Jeremy Gallon and with no obvious complement as a tall receiver to the more diminutive Gallon, it is a wide open spot.


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WolverineNation roundtable 

February, 28, 2013
2/28/13
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Trey Burke and Aaron CraftAP Photo/Michael ConroyMichigan's star point guard Trey Burke wants to know -- which way to a No. 1 seed?

Every Thursday, our writers sit down to discuss some Michigan sports. Today, they take a look at the looming NCAA Tournament, Ohio State’s recruiting class and what or whom the Wolverines offense needs to fear in this upcoming season.

1. With less than three weeks until Selection Sunday, what seed to you think the Wolverines eventually pick up? (Editor's note: The answers below were filed before Wednesday night's loss at Penn State)


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State of the Rivalry: Wide receivers 

February, 20, 2013
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The writers at WolverineNation and BuckeyeNation put their heads together to break down the rivals’ 2013 classes. Position-by-position, they’ll give you a look at who Brady Hoke and Urban Meyer brought in and, ultimately, which class edged out the other. It’s too early to say what will happen over the next few seasons, and we won’t make any promises except that Hoke and Meyer are going to put talent on the field.

[+] EnlargeDontre Wilson
Travis L. Brown/ESPNDallas.com Dontre Wilson's playmaking abilities will make him a dangerous weapon in the OSU offense.
Ohio State got: If there was ever a position where Urban Meyer proved he was one of the best closers in the game, it is the wide receiver position. The Buckeyes headed into the last week of recruiting with just Taivon Jacobs (Forestville, Md./Suitland) and Jalin Marshall (Middletown, Ohio/Middletown) in the fold. Meyer picked up junior college standout and former Akron (Ohio) Buchtel star Corey Smith (East Mississippi Community College) first before really closing the door. Dontre Wilson (Desoto, Texas/Desoto) was next to commit with James Clark (New Smyrna Beach, Fla./New Smyrna Beach) wrapping things up as a signing day special. It left no room for Jacobs, who stayed home to play with his brother at Maryland. What it also did was give the Buckeyes three four-star commitments in the final week and rounded out a position of strength that has four four-star signees to help Meyer and his spread offense continue to grow.


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WolverineNation Mailbag 

January, 30, 2013
1/30/13
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ANN ARBOR, Mich. – What a week for Michigan sports. A top ranking for the basketball team and a big commitment for the football team. But I believe that good things come in threes, so let’s consider this mailbag the third good thing for Michigan sports this week.

Next week Mike will be handling it, so send your questions to michaelrothsteinespn@gmail.com or @mikerothstein. Now on to this week’s questions.

1) Alex Koschik, via Twitter: How can Texas A&M have 32 commits when Michigan’s max is around 27?

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Depth chart analysis: WR 

January, 9, 2013
1/09/13
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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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