Chat with Michael Rothstein
Welcome to WolverineNation! On Thursday, reporter Michael Rothstein stops by to chat about the state of Michigan football.
Rothstein joined ESPN.com in 2011 after covering the University of Michigan for AnnArbor.com, Notre Dame for the Fort Wayne (Ind.) Journal Gazette and a host of colleges for the Daily News-Record (Harrisonburg, Va.). A Syracuse graduate and an East Meadow, N.Y. native, he lives in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Send your questions now and join Rothstein Thursday at noon ET!
Michael Rothstein (12:01 PM)
Hey everyone and welcome to this week's chat. Hope you're enjoying the first week of summer (even if the weather isn't totally cooperating throughout the country). Let's get started on your questions.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
What College Football Freshmen do you think will be the best for Michigan?
Michael Rothstein (12:03 PM)
Chris, I think this is two different answers. In the short term, I think Derrick Green ends up having the most immediate success because there is playing time available and a chance for him to have some carries early. Overall, though, I look at Taco Charlton, the defensive end, and see a guy who has the frame and speed to be a future NFL difference maker. By the time he is done with the Wolverines, watch where his career arc has gone.
Don (Chicago, IL)
With so many great, early commitments, will Michigan finish with the #1 class?
Michael Rothstein (12:05 PM)
The early commitments are great for Michigan, but considering less than half of the top 25 have made decisions and the Wolverines only able to take so many players due to the 85 scholarship rule, it will really depend who Michigan fills its class out with. If it keeps landing ESPN 150 guys, then it has a shot.
Duke AA,MI [via mobile]
Are the kickers settled, solid?
Michael Rothstein (12:06 PM)
As far as I can tell, yes. Matt Wile will handle punts and, likely, kickoffs. Brendan Gibbons will be the field goal kicker. Kenny Allen will be able to back up both of them as Will Hagerup sits out the season.
Prince Manchester NH [via mobile]
Have you heard anthing about a QB pickup to backup Gardner?
Michael Rothstein (12:06 PM)
At this point it becomes less and less likely with each passing day.
Tut Pyramid Egypt [via mobile]
Does UM ever scout,recruit in Canada? Have any quality players come from there?
Michael Rothstein (12:09 PM)
Michigan has pulled players from Canada in the past, including Renaldo Sagesse, who played for Michigan from 2007 to 2010. So there is some precedent there when necessary. On the basketball side, Nik Stauskas is Canadian so there is a starter on the team now from up north.
With the loss of Golson, does the ND game become a gimme?
Michael Rothstein (12:10 PM)
A gimme, no. Notre Dame's defense is too strong -- it'll be an elite unit, especially up front -- for that to happen. But Golson being out does give the Wolverines a bigger advantage with their defense against the Irish offense.
Who would you say is the best player from Oregon to ever play football at Michigan?
Michael Rothstein (12:14 PM)
That is a great question, Jim. The Michigan roster archives online don't have many players from the state listed as having played for the Wolverines, but I'm going to go back over a century and say Willie Heston from the Fielding Yost-led Michigan teams in the early 1900s.
Matthew (The Great White North)
Is it possible Peppers takes Thomas Gordon's spot at Safety next year?
Michael Rothstein (12:15 PM)
Possible, sure, but right now Peppers projects as a cornerback. A lot can happen between now and when Peppers steps on campus for the 2014 season, though. There is also a bunch of talent in that secondary, including Dymonte Thomas and Jarrod Wilson, that could make it hard to push for taking Gordon's spot immediately. It'll be something to watch, though.
Bigger Michigan commit at the time..Chris Webber or Jabrill Peppers?
Michael Rothstein (12:16 PM)
Tough to say. Recruiting was...not paid attention to nearly as much back when Webber, Jalen Rose and Co. committed as the Fab Five to Michigan. I think on the court, Webber because a single basketball player can make such a difference in a game offensively and defensively. But from pure notoriety and all of that, I'd say Peppers.
When do freshman have to report to AA?
Michael Rothstein (12:18 PM)
Late June. On or around June 23, if I am remembering right.
When do team practices get back under way?
Michael Rothstein (12:18 PM)
The official dates haven't been announced yet, but it will be some time in early August.
Matt (Ann Arbor)
With Golson out at ND, does that change your prediction for Michigan in that game and the overall record for the season? You had mentioned before (although I did disagree) that your reason for picking ND over Michigan was that you believed Golson would have a big game and a big season.
Michael Rothstein (12:20 PM)
Matt, yes, it does. Without Golson (and with a much less mobile quarterback in Tommy Rees) this game is a much better shot for Michigan to win. I said when it happened on Twitter I think the Wolverines now win this game and finish the year 10-2. Golson's skill set would have caused major issue for Michigan (as mobile quarterbacks have historically) but without him, the Wolverines are in a much better spot.
how excited should we actually be about Frank Clark?
Michael Rothstein (12:21 PM)
I'm a big believer in not believing much spring practice hype because it doesn't always pan out, but Clark's combination of size, speed and pass rushing skills lead me to believe he has a chance at a really good season in 2013. Won't know for sure until after the Notre Dame game where he might truly be, developmentally, but he has a shot to have a breakout year.
Can michigan be a national championship contender in the next 3 years?
Michael Rothstein (12:23 PM)
Yes, it can, although with the entire system shifting to a four-team playoff determined by a selection committee, it is tough to completely know how that will all shake out. But Michigan should have a team capable of making a push to get into the playoff within the next three years. I have little doubt about that.
If Gardner is able to stay healthy, how do you see Michigan's season going this year? Big Ten Championship game?
Michael Rothstein (12:23 PM)
That's the big if with the entire season, but if he does stay healthy, I think Michigan goes 10-2 and faces Ohio State in the Big Ten title game.
How many true freshman do you think will see a decent amount of playing time?
Michael Rothstein (12:26 PM)
That's a good question, John. Jake Butt is a guy who can see immediate time due to need at tight end. Dymonte Thomas, throughout the spring, is a guy who showed that he will certainly push for major snaps. One of the Derrick Green/Deveon Smith group will also probably seem some of the workload at running back. Taco Charlton impressed me during the spring scrimmage and has the potential to be a big difference maker in the next few years. How Frank Clark and Mario Ojemudia play, though, will likely determine how much time Charlton sees.
Steve V. (Sioux Falls SD)
What do you think the likelyhood of our new 2014 CB recruit convincing other top 25 guys to join up with BIG BLUE?
Michael Rothstein (12:26 PM)
He's going to make a major run at it, Steve. Told me as much Sunday when he said to call him "Commissioner Peppers."
shane morris (ann arbor)
Will I see the field this year?
Michael Rothstein (12:27 PM)
As long as you still have vision, I believe you will be able to see it. Whether or not you play on it or not, well, that's probably going to be up to you and up to Devin Gardner's health.
What are your expectations fron Devin Gardner this upcoming season?
Michael Rothstein (12:29 PM)
He could have a massive season, Cameron. His skills translate well to both what Michigan would like to move to offensively as well as a future in the pros. Curious to see how much he improves with a full offseason as the starter and more time to get familiar with receivers not named Jeremy Gallon. The biggest concern with Gardner's potential progress is the questions surrounding Michigan's run game and the interior of the offensive line. If the Wolverines can't run and can't block, Gardner is going to be in a tough spot.
Greg Mattison is getting up there in age, how long do you see him sticking around? Whenever he does decide to call it quits I see that as a huge loss for UM.
Michael Rothstein (12:30 PM)
I would agree with you on the second part. Mattison is both a great defensive mind and one of the Wolverines' top recruiters -- in fact named the best recruiter in the nation during the last cycle. In his case, though, age really appears to be a number. He seems energized for football and recruiting still and recently signed a contract extension. So he'll be around for at least a few more years.
Do you think Cam Gordon will have a big year filling in for Jake Ryan?
Michael Rothstein (12:32 PM)
It'll be interesting, Dan, because Gordon is one of those players who has always appeared to have the physical tools but could never get on the field due to either who was in front of him or switching positions (he was both a wide receiver and safety at points in his football life). Michigan will need him to not necessarily have a "big" year but at least be serviceable. Between Gordon and Brennen Beyer, Michigan needs the two of them to come close to Ryan's production as one player from a season ago.
There seems to be a lot of inexperience in the two deep along the Offensive Line. How do you expect our linemen to develop and how do you think they will fare in the big ten this year? Who will develop more by the season's end, our O line or Ohios D Line?
Michael Rothstein (12:35 PM)
There is a lot of inexperience along the two-deep offensive line. There is much talent there among the young linemen, but it is tough to truly project how they will develop. Kyle Kalis and Ben Braden seem to have the most immediate potential to make a quick difference, but they will have to deal with learning game rep speed while taking meaningful snaps early. To your second question, not sure. It is really difficult to project development during a season in May because so much can happen.
Do you think Drew Delio will end up playing the slot this year and a bigger target like Amara Darboh would play on the outside with Gallon?
Michael Rothstein (12:36 PM)
Yes, that is what I think. Have a tough time seeing Dileo and Gallon as the two outside receivers. Watch Darboh (and Jehu Chesson) as guys to line up opposite Gallon. Dileo will get his snaps in the slot.
steve (battle creek, mi)
Ive seen many predictions of UM losing to Northwestern this year. Whats the advantages they have over UM to win?
Michael Rothstein (12:37 PM)
It is a road game, Steve, and that is the first thing. Second is Northwestern has a lot of returning talent, including my longshot pick for Big Ten offensive player of the year Venric Mark. They also have a mobile quarterback in Kain Colter and Michigan has historically struggled with those. Michigan should be able to score on the Wildcats, but Northwestern should be able to keep pace.
Stefan (Kansas City)
What are you eating for lunch?
Michael Rothstein (12:38 PM)
Not sure yet. Might make some thai food after our chat here. Thoughts?
How do you think will be the two starting guards this season and how will they fair?
Michael Rothstein (12:40 PM)
In football, it'll be Kyle Kalis on the right and, eventually, Ben Braden on the left. They'll both struggle early but be pretty good by the end of the season, mostly due to a rapid learning curve. Watch out for Graham Glasgow at left guard, though. He has been -- and will likely continue to -- push Braden.In basketball, Derrick Walton Jr. and Nik Stauskas will likely be the starting guards with Spike Albrecht and a combination of Zak Irvin and Caris LeVert backing them up. Michigan basketball has a lot of interchangeable depth this year.
Carl LaFong (Warsaw In)
Thank you for picking against Notre Dame with the loss of Golson. Last year he did nothing against Michigan and Rees bailed the Irish out. Michigan has no answer for the Irish defense and the Chicken comment from Hoke will play a role in this game. ND by ten
Michael Rothstein (12:41 PM)
You're welcome. And from talking to athletes for the past 11 years, if any momentum from the "chicken" comment last past the first quarter, I'd be shocked. I would agree that Rees did bail out Notre Dame last season, but Denard Robinson also gifted the Irish a lot of short fields. It's going to still be a good game. Also, Golson is the better quarterback than Rees. Just is.
Jon (Detroit )
Do you think Joe Bolden will end up winning the starting spot over Morgan at MIKE?
Michael Rothstein (12:43 PM)
I don't. I think Bolden will see playing time, but Desmond Morgan is an instinctual player who has the experience necessary to line players up in the right spots and to read offensive play calls. Bolden is a talented player who will surely see some time, but if Morgan stays healthy, have a tough time seeing him being anything but the starter this season.
Brandon (Frankfort, MI)
Looking at Peppers video on YouTube he kind of seems like a hot dog( with all the dancing and celebrating). You see any problems in the future with his head getting to big and thinking he's better than everybody? In turn causing problems and limiting his potential?
Michael Rothstein (12:43 PM)
In one word: No.
Harold (Charleston, SC)
Why is Michigan struggling to pulling in the OL recruits this year when they have had great success over the last two classes?
Michael Rothstein (12:46 PM)
I wouldn't look at it like that. They just aren't in the market for as many offensive linemen as they have been in the past. They have a lot of young, talented linemen. The coaching staff knows this, too, and there is something to be said for spacing how many recruits you have in each class each year. Especially with offensive linemen, where the goal is to redshirt all of them.
Keith Law (Bristol)
enjoyed your snarky response to Shane Morris' question, keep up the good work :)
Michael Rothstein (12:47 PM)
I didn't mean to come off too snark. Michigan should hope he doesn't play much, though, because if he does it likely means a Devin Gardner injury and then any realistic expectations for a Big Ten championship game berth this season are, well, probably out.
GBK (Lincoln Park)
Didn't Biakabatuka come to Michigan via Canada?
Michael Rothstein (12:48 PM)
Yes. This would be another player from up north.
Do you think this team plays in the Rose Bowl this year?
Michael Rothstein (12:50 PM)
Maybe. I know that's a cop out type of answer, but just follow me here. Depending what else happens nationally, Michigan could end up there even with a Big Ten title game loss (or not making the league title game) if Ohio State (or another team) ends up in the national championship game.
Michael Rothstein (12:50 PM)
Just 10 or so minutes left in this week's chat. Get those last questions in.
Jcbdog (San Diego)
I would feel more comfortable if Brady would wear a headset during games and have a pulse on the O.C. Any thoughts?
Michael Rothstein (12:51 PM)
Here's the thing -- I've seen Hoke wear the headset before. He just chooses not to wear it all the time, and I have no problem with that. In critical junctures, though, he'll throw a headset on to communicate with offensive coordinator Al Borges. He doesn't need to defensively because Greg Mattison is there on he field with him. I think too much has been made of this.
Peppers looks like a Reggie Bush type on offense... how much do you think Michigan will use him on offense WHEN he signs?
Michael Rothstein (12:54 PM)
I think it'll depend on what Jabrill Peppers wants to do, Fuller, and what Michigan looks like in both the secondary and offensively at that point. Way too early to really predict that. I know there are a lot of comparisons to Charles Woodson with Peppers, but let's wait until he actually plays defense first before speculating too much about being a two-way player.
BB (Las Vegas)
Not sure if you mind taking a basketball question with all the football questions. I noticed that the championship run of the basketball team has created a significant interest in particular the 2014 / 15 classes - that seems very positive. Along those lines - what are the odds we get Booker and/or Looney?
Michael Rothstein (12:56 PM)
I'll gladly take a hoops question, BB. Interest seems high from big-name 2015 and even 2016 prospects coming off of that run. Most of the 2014 prospects they are in on, they were in on before the title run. Looney doesn't technically have an offer yet, to my understanding, because he hasn't visited. Still think Michigan has a shot with Booker. I'd keep an eye on Kameron Chatman, though. He's a Top 50 player who is scheduled to visit Michigan this weekend for its college practice camp.
Bryan (Ann Arbor)
What's your take on top recruits wanting to play together? Are you finding they are threatened by the potential competition, or does team success outweigh the risk of reduced playing time (at least initially)?
Michael Rothstein (12:57 PM)
I have no problem with it at all and in some ways, this has always happened. Look at top classes across the country. If you want to win national titles, you want to accumulate as much talent as possible. Plus, high-end players want to play with high-end players because the more there are, the better shot at the aforementioned national championship. I like it.
Couple questions: 1) What is the status of Countess? I have heard precious little about him this spring. Will he start? 2) What is the current buzz on Wilton Speight? He just participated in a QB camp in California. How did he look and will he make an impact in his RS Fresh year?
Michael Rothstein (12:59 PM)
Your first question I'll answer with he appears to be healthy from Devin Gardner's vine and also from what players and coaches have said. I'm still cautious, however, until I see him make a cut, tackle a player or get blocked during a game. To your second question, you're looking three seasons out at this point if you're talking about 2015 with a redshirt year for Speight in 2014. Way, way too early to project that. Get back to me in eight months on that.
Zack (Ann Arbor)
I feel like I've heard virtually nothing about Ondre Pipkins. I remember thinking and hearing that he was going to blow the door open on the competition. Is he behind in his development?
Michael Rothstein (1:01 PM)
I wouldn't say "behind" because every player will develop at his own pace. But he'll play some again this year, probably in a rotation with Quinton Washington. If he is too good to keep off the field, he could line up next to Washington, but take a look at Jibreel Black and Willie Henry there. If Pipkins isn't starting next season, when Washington graduates, then the development question can come into play.
Michael Rothstein (1:02 PM)
My time for this week has concluded. Thanks for all of the questions and if I didn't get to yours, feel free to drop me a note on Twitter @mikerothstein or ask away on our message board over at WolverineNation (http://www.wolverinenationespn.com). Have a great weekend and enjoy the hopefully nice weather!