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Tuesday, May 02, 2006

I am a bit leery of starting a regular mailbag column since I'm just a guy and answering questions from (hypothetically) adoring readers is sort of arrogant, but from time to time people ask questions and I want to answer them and if I'm going to do that I may as well post it, so here we go. Go go runon sentence.

I enjoyed your first-hand comments from the Spring Game. Any feelings about Carlos Brown's role on this team? On the official Michigan site, they list Brown as a RB/DB. I know you said he pulled off a big run in the game but with Hart likely here for the next two years, plus Kevin Grady (who we all assume will be a stud at some point), plus Mister Simpson and Brandon Minor (although these guys could end up at FB?) how does Brown fit in? Let's knock on wood and assume Hart is healthy all year and Grady gets it together. They have that 1-2 punch plus Alijah Bradley for mop-up duty. Does it make sense to move Brown to DB? What are you personal feelings on it, and what do you think U of M will do with him?


Brown is a running back first and foremost, but the way Michigan has had him practice in the spring raises an interesting question or two. Brown's seen time at tailback, quarterback (in the Bass package), and defensive back. Brown was recruited as a running back and, as a high school quarterback, is a logical guy to take over the spot vacated by Bass and his mangled knee, but what about defensive back? What's up with that?

A theory: going into the spring Michigan was terribly unsure about its corner depth and Brown was the only player from the offense who had the size/speed combination to play corner. Take a look at the healthy backups at RB and WR: Arrington, Savoy, Grady, Simpson, Bradley, Tabb -- not a rich field of possibilities. Tabb is the only one who even seems plausible, but deduction eliminates him: as a fifth year senior with speed to burn, he must not be able to cut, otherwise he'd be more than bench fodder. (Though Dutch was healthy enough to drop several passes during the scrimmage, he was recovering from a knee scope at the start of spring.)

With Sears and Stewart both garnering positive reviews during spring the immediate need for corners seems to have been addressed, so Brown can return to offense for now and stay there. The only situation in which he would get shifted would be a catostrophic recruiting year that yielded only one or (gasp) zero high-profile corners.

Will he redshirt? It seems unlikely. Brown showed up in January for a reason; unfortunately that reason appears to be "wasting a redshirt year." As NP mentioned, Michigan has two solid backs in front of Brown and a change-of-pace in Alijah Bradley. Any carries Brown picks up could be distributed amongst the four (or five, pending the uncertain status of Jerome Jackson) backs in front of him. You could make an argument that getting a player on the field in his true freshman year, even for token snaps, better prepares him to make a contribution as a sophomore. Braylon Edwards saw sporadic time as a freshman and then blew up for 1,000 yards as a sophomore. However, Brown doesn't find himself in the same situation Edwards did, where he was the heir apparent at WR and needed in the following year. Grady's a sophomore, Hart a junior. There's time to develop him.

As for Simpson and Minor, both are running backs at the moment. Simpson seems too short to be a thumping, Chris Floyd-type mauler, and Minor was promised a shot at RB -- something his high school career implies he richly deserves. He's a lock to redshirt and then hopefully he'll reprise Leroy Hoard.