Big Ten: Anthony LaLota

Monday Big Ten personnel nuggets

September, 13, 2010
Update your depth charts, please ...

  • Redshirt freshman defensive end Anthony LaLota has asked for and received his release and intends to transfer from U-M. LaLota, who redshirted in 2009 and hasn't played this season, was rated the nation's No. 13 defensive end in the 2009 class by ESPN recruiting.
  • Linebacker Mike Jones likely will have season-ending surgery on his broken leg, and defensive end/linebacker Brandon Herron is day-to-day with an ankle injury.
  • Wide receiver David Gilreath (concussion) doesn't appear on this week's depth chart, and his status for the Arizona State game (ABC, 3:30 p.m. ET) is to be determined. Coach Bret Bielema said Monday that Gilreath needs to overcome any post-concussion symptoms before being able to return. Gilreath had to be taken off the field in an ambulance Saturday after taking a blow to the head on a punt return.
  • Wide receiver Nick Toon (turf toe), linebacker Chris Borland (shoulder) and defensive end David Gilbert (concussion) all could return to practice Tuesday.
  • The status of starting right tackle Josh Oglesby (knee) will be determined later in the week.
  • Bielema also said wide receiver Kraig Appleton would have to earn an associate's degree from a junior college before having a chance to return to the team. Appleton was indefinitely suspended in February and struggled academically before leaving school.
  • Freshman running back Matt Perez will miss the season after tearing his ACL in practice last week. Perez was a likely redshirt candidate.
  • Wide receiver Tandon Doss is expected to practice today after missing the season opener with a groin injury. The All-Big Ten receiver will return Saturday at Western Kentucky. Receiver Dre Muhammad also should return after missing time with an ankle injury.

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

The learning curve is accelerated at Michigan this spring, and not only on the offensive side of the ball. 

Granted, the offense remains young and thin at quarterback, but most players are in their second year running Rich Rodriguez's spread. Wolverines defenders, meanwhile, are installing a new system under new coordinator Greg Robinson. 

  Chris Livingston/Icon SMI
  Obi Ezeh is looking forward to defensive coordinator Greg Robinson's blitz-heavy scheme.

"They're a little bit ahead of us," linebacker Obi Ezeh said of the offense.

Before Tuesday's practice, the defense needed to catch up.

So less than 30 minutes before taking the field, Robinson unveiled three or four brand-new blitz packages for his defenders. Then he gave Rodriguez the green light to move forward with the offense.

"They were like, 'Learn this stuff and then let's go out and run it,'" Ezeh said. "We started off real shaky, but toward the end of practice, everybody started coming together and it looked really good. So I like the attitude, that never-quit attitude that we're trying to develop here."  

Ezeh senses a renewed attitude for a unit that, despite some solid performances in September and early October, ranked 10th in the Big Ten in points allowed (28.9 points per game) and ninth in yards allowed (366.9 yards per game). Michigan's offensive futility under Rodriguez drew most of the attention last fall, but the defense turned in one of its worst statistical performances in team history.

Coordinator Scott Shafer resigned after only one year and took the same job at Syracuse, where Robinson served as head coach for four years before being fired and coming to Ann Arbor. Robinson is Michigan's third defensive coordinator in as many years, but his plan for the unit isn't totally foreign to the players.

"It resembles a lot of the stuff we were doing with coach [Ron] English, so some of the older guys did it before," Ezeh said, referring to Michigan's defensive coordinator from 2003-07. "I got the feeling that it's going to be blitz-heavy, so I'm excited for that."

(Read full post)

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

Scouts Inc. national recruiting director Tom Luginbill recently published his Top 10 classes of early enrollees. Not surprisingly, Michigan comes in at No. 2 behind Georgia, while Penn State ranks No. 8.

Check out the full list, but here's a tidbit from Luginbill on Michigan's class:

"The Wolverines' seven early arrivers will all have an impact. But we think QB Tate Forcier [No. 14] has a chance to make the quickest, biggest splash. At 6-foot-1, 183 pounds, Forcier doesn't have ideal size. But with his speed and Jeff Garcia-like ability to improvise outside the pocket, Forcier's a good fit for Rich Rodriguez's spread offense. Look for defensive linemen Anthony LaLota [No. 13 at DE] and William Campbell [No. 21 at OT] to also compete for time right away."

And here are his thoughts on Penn State:

"Though we're not sold on Kevin Newsome at the [quarterback] position [we ranked Newsome as our No. 15 athlete], he no doubt helps out with depth. Right now, Newsome plays more like a street-ball winger than a polished college prospect. That's why we think he could be an even better linebacker or safety. Colleges looked at versatile Gerald Hodges as a safety, quarterback and return specialist. We like Hodges [our No. 17 safety] in the secondary -- he's a fantastic interceptor -- where he could push for playing time right away."

Michigan certainly needs its early arrivals to catch on quickly this spring, particularly Forcier, who gets a head start on Denard Robinson. Spring practice also should be very beneficial from Newsome, who can apprentice for Daryll Clark and start polishing his game for a backup role in 2009 and a possible starting job in 2010.

Not every Big Ten team has early enrollees, but I was a little surprised that Ohio State didn't make Luginbill's list. The Buckeyes boast four early enrollees, including heralded offensive lineman Jack Mewhort. Wisconsin also got a nice head start with four early arrivals, including quarterback Jon Budmayr and defensive tackle Jordan Kohout.

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

No two Big Ten teams experienced a more eventful signing day than Illinois and Michigan.

Both programs lost verbal commits and added some key signees. Both addressed some needs and came up short in other areas. There weren't many dull moments for head coaches Ron Zook and Rich Rodriguez and their assistants.

Illinois unveiled its class of 20, which can be found here. The day began with Illinois losing wide receiver commit Kraig Appelton to Wisconsin, but the Illini held on to Appleton's high school teammate, wideout Terry Hawthorne, who could make an immediate impact.

Quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase likely will be Illinois' quarterback of the future, and the team added key pieces on both lines and at defensive back. The ability to lure Justin Green from Ohio State should bolster Illinois' rushing attack and return game. Illinois did lose several commits in recent weeks and won't make the splash it made in 2007, but this seems like a solid class.

Michigan's class of 22 signees can be seen here. Signing day brought more good than bad for the Wolverines, who added quarterback Denard Robinson, wide receiver Je'Rel Stokes and cornerback Adrian Witty. They lost two defensive tackle commits but certainly upgraded the skill positions on both sides of the ball. Defensive end Craig Roh and defensive tackle William Campbell should be immediate contributors on a line that loses three starters. Robinson and Tate Forcier likely will be in the mix for the starting quarterback spot this fall.

Rodriguez's ties to Florida showed up in this class, which features eight players from the Sunshine State.

Here are some notes on Michigan's class from the official release:

  • (William) Campbell and [J.T.] Turner are the top-rated players in the state of Michigan and Ohio, respectively. This is the first time that the Wolverines had the top-ranked athletes from both states since 2002: Prescott Burgess (Ohio) and LaMarr Woodley (Michigan).
  • (Tate) Forcier's brother, Jason, played at Michigan during the 2005 and 2006 seasons before transferring to Stanford. Both of Tate's brothers play in the Pac-10: Jason (Stanford) and Chris (UCLA).
  • Six recruits are ranked among the ESPNU 150: Craig Roh (48), Quinton Washington (82), Isaiah Bell (92), Denard Robinson (102), Tate Forcier (145) and Taylor Lewan (149).
  • Defensive end Anthony LaLota was the No. 2 prospect in the state of New Jersey.
  • High school teammates Taylor Lewan and Craig Roh are listed as the fifth- and fourth-ranked players in the state of Arizona, respectively.

Michigan State had fewer surprises today, but Mark Dantonio unveiled a class of 23 that appears to be the program's best crop in recent memory. ESPN's Scouts Inc. ranks the Spartans' class at No. 21 nationally. Among the highlights are running backs Edwin Baker and Larry Caper, tight end Dion Sims and quarterback Andrew Maxwell.

The Spartans went local with 12 in-state players and only two from outside the Big Ten region (Floridians Denzel Drone and Jairus Jones). The class is heavy on offensive linemen (5), linebackers (5) and wide receivers/tight ends (5).

Michigan State's signing list and bios can be found here.



Saturday, 10/25