Chat with Chantel Jennings
Welcome to WolverineNation! On Thursday, reporter Chantel Jennings stops by to chat about the state of Michigan football.
Jennings joined ESPN.com in 2011 after covering University of Michigan athletics for three years at The Michigan Daily. Jennings graduated from the University of Michigan with degrees in English and Spanish and lives in Ann Arbor.
Send your questions now and join Jennings Thursday at noon ET!
Chantel (11:59 AM)
Hey everyone! Welcome to the chat today. It's pretty chilly here in Ann Arbor and I'm joining y'all from my favorite coffee shop, so the goal is to stay warm and chatty for the next hour. Let's go!
Phillip (A stadium near you)
Chantel, after what most would consider a disappointing season for the Wolverines, what is the most important issue that BIG BLUE has to improve on if they hope to take a step toward the BiG 10 championship and The Rose Bowl?
Chantel (12:02 PM)
I always think stuff like this is interesting, because had Michigan won the Outback Bowl, I think people would be saying it wasn't a disappointing season. And from that aspect, Michigan was one big play away from that point. Two weeks ago I would've said Michigan needs to improve the most on the O-line, but with Lewan returning, I think he'll take care of that and snap his line into shape. So I think most of their issues are defensive (and yes, I know Michigan needs a run game, but hear me out). The Wolverines didn't get enough pressure up front this season. They need to get pressure on the QB with a four-man rush, and they really didn't. Then, because of that the secondary gave up big plays. So, if the front four can get to the QB that would help out the secondary and LB, so I'll say the D-line.
Shawn (FT Benning Ga)
Is there any chance we could see MI in the mix for Laquan Treadwell's decision today? Is there any dialogue between him and any of MI coaches?
Chantel (12:04 PM)
I think Michigan has been out of it for a while. I would be more shocked today if he picked Michigan than I was yesterday reading about the Te'o stuff.
CWoodson (Ann Arbor)
Are you concerned at the lack of skill players being brought into the program. Hoke seems to not be able to attract WRs, RBs, DBs etc. our lack of speeed will be an issue thoughts??
Chantel (12:06 PM)
Charles, thanks for joining us today -- valiant effort last weekend.
Chantel (12:08 PM)
As for your question, Hoke and co. are bringing skill players in, they're just not the No. 1 in the country. They know how to spot talent. Hoke did a lot with a little when he was at SDSU and give it a few years and I think you'll see some of these guys pan out. Look no further than Jake Ryan -- who came into Michigan as the No. 60 (YES SIXTY) LB in the country. Several players have told me that Mattison made Ryan "a project" and look what has happened there. So I think these coaches can bring the best out of their players and they've brought guys in that they believe have a lot of potential.
Linus Larraby (San Diego)
Who did you Lennay Kekua (it's a verb now) your picture from? Even Te'o would find it hard to believe Chantel Jennings is a blonde haired white girl.
Chantel (12:09 PM)
My parents were creative... I have sisters named Tezra and Zaryn, so by some measures, I definitely have the most normal name in my family.
Hi Chantel, it seems Michigan is bringing in a ton of TE's all of a sudden. Is there a plan to go back to that success of the 90's with guys like Riemersma and Tuman?
Chantel (12:10 PM)
I think at all levels of football right now we're seeing more incorporation of the TE -- there's just so much more to do with them. Yes, Hoke loves when his WRs block, but would you rather have Jeremy Gallon or Devin Funchess blocking??? But yes, I think once Borges settles into the offense here with a pocket passer, we'll see a lot of tight end options out there.
Josh (Toledo, Ohio)
Do you see them bringing in Derrick Green? If so does he start day one?
Chantel (12:12 PM)
Michigan has definitely put themselves in a good spot with Green and his friendship with David Dawson is a great bonus. Does he have the talent to start? I think so. It'll depend on how Fitzgerald Toussaint rehabs and people keep forgetting about Deveon Smith -- he could give whoever starts a run for their money.
How many years do you think it will take Hoke to get back to the national spotlight
Chantel (12:15 PM)
Give it a couple years for the Wolverines to be top-10 at the end of the season. That takes strong play at every position and the Wolverines are bringing the guys in they want, but it takes time to develop talent. How long til they're playing for a national championship? At least four I'd say.
brach (saginaw michigan.)
IF you had to put a percentage on the odds of us landing D Green what would it be?? Is Cameron Hunt still the other most likely candidate?
Chantel (12:17 PM)
As I said, Michigan is in a good place with Green. As far as Hunt, I don't think they'd take seven O-linemen. That'd be pretty insane.
Denard (Somewhere in FL)
Where do you think my draft stock is at? With a solid Senior Bowl showing and good combine, what do you think my ceiling is draft-wise?
Chantel (12:19 PM)
Denard, so good to hear from you. We have quite the celebrity grouping in today's chat. Well, in the senior bowl you'll be playing WR but people still think you could play DB or on special teams. You have multiple skills so multiple teams could probably see themselves using you. I'd say late second round, early third round.
Who's the strongest football player in the weight room? And do any freshman or RS freshman o-liners start next year?
Chantel (12:22 PM)
Not exactly sure, but I'd put my money on Kyle Kalis. I went to one of his workouts last summer and it was ridiculous. He was working out with another o-lineman who was headed to a smaller D-I school this fall and he absolutely destroyed the kid in everything. Before I realized the kid was also headed to college I figured he might be a sophomore or something just because I didn't realize how far ahead of the game Kyle was. It could've been really awkward considering the kid was still much, much bigger than me and couldn't beaten me up really easily.
Stashu (Detroit, MI)
Chantel. What player do you see as a sleeper and could provide a nice impact with the Maize & Blue in 2013
Chantel (12:23 PM)
Dymonte Thomas. He's a quiet kid and we didn't hear a whole lot about him because of that. But he's a physical kid and is coming into a secondary that could use some help.
Mike (Ann Arbor)
Read any good books lately?
Chantel (12:24 PM)
Nice question. Reading Paradise Lost right now and my next book that I'm on to is The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, per recommendation of a good friend. Though, I'm always looking for suggestions!
Chantel, do you think that after next year we'll start seeing more of the elite skill players once they see what the Borges offense will look like? If I was a WR over the last 2-3 years and saw how little they were used, I don't think I'd be headed to Ann Arbor. But with Gardner and the pro style offense, I think it will help in the future.
Chantel (12:26 PM)
I think it will help for offensive skill players to see what Borges wants to do rather than just hear about it. Imagine seeing one scheme and then being told, yes but in a year we're completely transitioning to something different. I'd be a bit skeptical, I think. I've talked with a few prospects this year that said it was weird to watch this Denard-centric offense and imagine what it would look like with Devin or Shane as QB.
Mike (Bluffton Ohio)
If Green knows where he's going to commit to, then why not just say it and not make everyone wait until Jan. 26th??? Why all the drama!
Chantel (12:28 PM)
Because there's still something so great for these guys about being able to announce it themselves. It's their moment, let them enjoy how they want.
With the departure of Jordan Kovacs, who will take over for him at the safety spot?
Chantel (12:29 PM)
I could see Jarrod Wilson stepping in. With another spring ball and off season with Mallory and Mattison, he should make more strides. He has the size and will continue to gain weight. He's a smart kid and I could see him being a big help in the secondary.
Jimmy (West Michigan)
In you opinion, how important is tonight's game @ Minnesota? I'm of the belief that taking care of home court, and winning all the "should-win" road games keep you in the mix. Need to steal a few road wins against the top half of the league to win it. Is tonight the night we stake our claim?
Chantel (12:31 PM)
Every Big Ten game is important. And I think it'll be hugely important to see whether Michigan pulls itself up by the boot straps and puts together a full game on the road or if it digs itself another hole. Minnesota is a tough, tough team and they're freakishly athletic. Michigan doesn't face many teams that will be as athletic, if not more so, than itself. This is one of those days.
Who needs to step up for the basketball team tonight to get a win as they take on the 9th ranked Gophers in the Barn? After being rattled in their first road test, do you see the freshmen responding in another tough road game?
Chantel (12:33 PM)
Trey Burke needs to play within the offense tonight. And then you have to have at least two of the freshmen really contribute (points-wise). Jordan Morgan needs to compete with Mbakwe, which will be an interesting match up.
Brian (akron ohio )
Chantel with Webb going to ohio it seems alot of the top kids in Michigan are gone already for the class of 2014 who is still out there that we (Michigan) can still get or flip .....Webb maybe ?
Chantel (12:36 PM)
Webb's recruitment is far from over. Outside of that, you've got some in-state guys the Wolverines like. OL Tommy Doles is a Grand Rapids kid who's good, academically focused. He'll visit Michigan this winter. Mallory was out to see Carl Fuller and Jalen Embry at Detroit King this week. DL Malik McDowell would be a huge get for Michigan, and he likes the Wolverines.
robbyt003 (Grand Rapids)
Do you think Horford will see significant time tonight due to Minnesota's rebounding ability? Or possibly play McGary/Morgan on the floor at the same time?
Chantel (12:38 PM)
It'll be a balancing act of athleticism with size. We might see Glenn Robinson asked to hit the glass more this game (think Zack Novak-like). But I'd imagine we'll see some possessions with two big men. Horford is more athletic than Bielfeldt, but you have to also weigh how rehabbed Horford is...I'm not sure on that.
Ken (Ann Arbor)
What kind of access do you get to the players and coaches of the football/basketball teams? Just curious.
Chantel (12:39 PM)
We have press conferences, which are usually "podium-ed." Meaning, the players and coaches are at a podium and the media is on chairs in front of them - so it's mass interviewing. Sometimes (like post game for basketball), they'll bring in three players at once and you kind of bounce from one guy to another.
What's up with the decommits from 2014?
Chantel (12:40 PM)
Denzel Ward is still committed.
What are your thoughts on Drake Harris reopening his recruiting and do you think Michigan has a legitimate shot with him? Supposedly, he grew up a Michigan fan
Chantel (12:43 PM)
Right now he likes: Michigan, Ohio State, Florida, Florida State, Georgia and Alabama. He wants to just play football, so he's opening it up.
Ivan (Lafayette Park)
What's your favorite coffee shop order?
Chantel (12:44 PM)
Caramel latte FTW.
Zack (Wolverine country)
D line seems to be in question thats always been an area where michigan has prided it self. why has there not been hard recruiting in that area or am I missing something?
Chantel (12:48 PM)
Michigan is bringing in guys. Remember, the points of focus with this staff might be a bit different than the past staff and it takes more than a year to turn a team into your team. Taco Charlton: good. Maurice Hurst: good. Henry Poggi: good. Trust me, things are looking up on the d-line.
Fabio (Ann Arbor)
Who has the best hair between myself, Jake Ryan, or Denard Robinson?
Chantel (12:49 PM)
Difficult question. I'm going to pick Denard's, mainly because he had it braided really intricately during a press conference shortly before the bowl game. I was amazed.
Tom hanks (Casted away)
Jokes done well recruiting in the Midwest do you think he'll start spreading his recruiting lines to Florida Texas or even cal?
Chantel (12:50 PM)
They'll always start in the midwest, 4-5 hours from Ann Arbor. But look at this week -- Ferrigno has been in Cali, Hoke and Montgomery have been in the south, Borges is in Oklahoma today. They will start in the midwest, but they will find their talent wherever it is.
Lennay Kekua (Palo Alto, CA)
With Demens gone, who do you think will play middle linebacker next year for Michigan? Will Ryan slide over, will it be Desmond Morgan, or will one of this year's freshmen take over?
Chantel (12:53 PM)
I'd imagine it to be Joe Bolden. He proved himself enough this year and will have another spring ball to gain speed and weight, while working with Mattison. I look for him to be another one of Mattison's "projects."
When do you see the 2014 class start to take form?
Chantel (12:55 PM)
I imagine they'll pick up a few during the basketball season. Michigan coaches are out and about recruiting as I type, and they'll try to get kids on unofficials for games. Look for the MSU weekend and IU weekends to be HUGE. I don't think it'll be quite the snowball the 2013 class was, but we'll see.
Jordan (kansas city) [via mobile]
How well would denard do playing cornerback OR quarterback for the cheifs if they can draft him in the 2nd or 3rd round?
Chantel (12:57 PM)
Well, I've never seen him play CB. And I haven't seen him really play quarterback in quite a while (he hasn't thrown in a game in months). So it'd be pretty hard to guess how he'd do for an NFL team...
Blake (Ann Arbor)
There has been much speculation that Shallman will be a fullback at Michigan. Is this what the coaching staff is looking at? And how soon can he have an impact?
Chantel (12:58 PM)
They'll use him as a U-back.
Chantel (1:00 PM)
OK, well great chat today everyone! Thanks for joining, reading and asking questions. If I didn't get to your questions, send them to me on Twitter (@chanteljennings) and I'll try to get to them today. Otherwise, Mike will be chatting next week! Have a good and safe weekend.