Written By T.J. Inman (@TJHoosierHuddle)
B1G East Spring Round-Up
Spring Game: April 18
-NCAA rules are often a bit convoluted and very confusing. However, rules are rules and OSU QB Braxton Miller is potentially in a bit of hot water after using social media to “advertise” AdvoCare (a product line that works when distributors bring on other individuals to sell under them, much like Avon or Norwex cleaning products…to make more money, you need to sell and recruits others to do the same). Miller is selling AdvoCare (not a violation) and posted a photo of himself with the products on Instagram (potentially a violation for using his image to endorse the sale of a commercial product). Ohio State is looking into the matter and we’ll update as news becomes available (judging by the recent pace of the NCAA, expect an update in roughly 6 years).
-Ohio State is fairly tight-lipped during Spring practices so there’s not a lot of information to share. However, some sources that have access to the program have anonymously shared some things they’ve seen at practice (to both landgrantholyland.com and ohiostate.247sports.com). First, there appears to be a shakeup in the defensive back depth chart. Cam Burrows (6’0” JR from Ohio) may be losing his spot to Damon Webb (5’11” FR from MI), Erick Smith (6’0” SO from Ohio) and Malik Hooker (6’2” FR from Pennsylvania).
-Wide receiver is a position in a bit of flux after the departure of deep threat Devin Smith. Noah Brown (6’2” SO from New Jersey) has apparently looked good at wide receiver and Corey Smith (6’1” SR from Michigan) has really impressed. Meanwhile, Johnnie Dixon (5’11” RS FR from Florida) is the leader to replace Devin Smith as the designated deep ball threat.
Spring Game: April 25
-Macgarrett Kings, a Senior wide receiver that was/is expected to start for the Spartans in 2015 was arrested in late February and charged with drunken and disorderly conduct and obstructing, resisting, hindering or assaulting a police officer. Despite the arrest and those charges, Kings is practicing and head coach Mark Dantonio said, “He’s not on probation or anything like that and we have things in place to square up the situation.”
-Michigan State has had four practices but perhaps the most interesting thing was the “Student Clinic” the team hosted last weekend. About 200 students showed up to “get to know the players, the coaches and the program” and Coach Dantonio thought it was another good opportunity for the football program to engage the community. I think it’s an interesting idea and I can imagine that a student who meets a few MSU football players and develops some kind of relationship with them might be more inclined to consistently attend games (then again, the students who show up a clinic are probably already attending games). It’s definitely something I think the IU squad might consider doing.
-RS FR Gerald Owens is someone that Dantonio mentioned has a “huge upside, no pun intended”. He phrases it that way because Owens is massive…6’2”, 260 pounds. According to Dantonio, Owens will need to keep his weight down but if he can, he’ll be a factor in the MSU backfield as soon as this season. Watching a mammoth battering ram is always entertaining (unless you’re the team being rammed) so it will be interesting to see if Owens can pair with Madre London or Gerald Holmes or T.J. Harrell to replace the departed production of Jeremy Langford.
Spring Game: April 4
-I’ve written about the Michigan quarterbacks previously. One thing I didn’t count on when speculating who would end up starting was that someone would transfer to the Wolverines in March/April and throw a wrench into things. Jake Rudock, former Iowa starting quarterback (off and on and eventually supplanted in bowl season and the minds of most Hawkeyes fans by CJ Beathard), is a graduate transfer that is eligible to play immediately for Michigan. Rudock had 16 touchdowns and 5 interceptions last season. Rudock moves well around the pocket but wouldn’t be considered a mobile threat, he generally checks down and doesn’t throw the deep ball much (or well for that matter). The term that would probably be associated most often with him is “game manager”. The transition to Michigan’s offense doesn’t figure to be all that difficult for Rudock because the offense projects to be similar in scheme to Iowa’s. I don’t think Rudock would be transferring to Michigan for his final season of eligibility if he didn’t think he had a legitimate shot at winning the starting position.
-Defensive coordinator DJ Durkin is pleased with the effort and intensity of his linebackers. “I like that group, I like our work ethic,” Durkin said. He specifically mentioned Desmond Morgan and James Ross as standouts heading into the Spring Game.
-Michigan’s coaches are preaching the value of versatility. They are looking for players to be able to play multiple positions and embrace the mentality of “next man up”.
-Penn State Nittany Lions-
Spring Game: April 18
-The Nittany Lions figure to have one of the better wide receivers groups in the conference. I’ve looked at a lot of different sources that have watched PSU’s Spring practices and each one of them seems to be gushing with praise for DaeSean Hamilton (6’1” JR from Virginia). Chris Godwin (6’2” SO from Delaware) and Geno Lewis (6’1” JR from Pennsylvania) have received praise as well.
-Penn State’s biggest issue in 2014 was their offensive line. In a word, it was awful. Christian Hackenberg rarely had time in the pocket and, as a result, he struggled to consistently move the offense with accurate throws. An infusion of talent is expected to improve the line and give Hackenberg a chance to make some plays. One of the guys who has impressed thus far is Paris Palmer (6’7” JR from North Carolina), a JUCO transfer that appears to be in line to start as one of the tackles. The offensive line still won’t be a strength but Penn State fans and coaches are hoping it’s no longer a crippling weakness.
Spring Game: April 11
-The Terrapins recently had a scrimmage in late March and Coach Randy Edsall talked about it afterwards. These quotes are taken from an article published on testudotimes.com, an excellent Maryland fan site. “It was very obvious today that the defense got the better end of the offense. Now we get a chance to evaluate it and grade it, then get back out on Monday and continue to get better and develop guys,” Edsall said.
-“The guy on defense that I think is really playing well and the leadership that he is bringing is Jermaine (Carter Jr., a JR outside linebacker). I saw some things today with Abner (Logan, a SR inside linebacker) that were a little bit better. We didn’t think he was as focused as he needed to be and we told him he needs to stay focused all the time.”
-Projected starting QB Caleb Rowe will miss all of Spring practice as he recovers from injury. Edsall doesn’t seem too thrilled with the play of the guy’s competing to be QB2, Perry Hills and Shane Cockerille. “Very inconsistent today. Today is the type of day that is tough conditions for a quarterback with the weather like the way it was and the wind,” Edsall said. “That is where you have to fight through things.”
-Rutgers Scarlet Knights-
Spring Game: April 24 (surprisingly, a Friday)
-Rutgers has only had two Spring practices but there are still some interesting things to note.
-The battle to replace Gary Nova as the starting quarterback was expected to be a 3-man competition between Hayden Rettig, Chris Laviano and Giovanni Rescigno (FR from Michigan). However, the “3-man battle” appears to now be a “2-man battle” as Rettig (transfer from LSU) and Laviano (SO from New York) have separated themselves from Rescigno. Rettig was a blue-chip prospect but he hasn’t thrown a competitive pass since 2012.
-Head coach Kyle Flood said that Myles Nash (a 6’5” SO that saw reps at both SAM LB and right DE), Robert Martin (6’0” SO running back from Pennsylvania) and Blessuan Austin (6’1” FR defensive back from New York) have stood out thus far.