Big Ten: Delonte Hollowell

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Michigan’s path to winning the Outback Bowl just got more difficult. For the Wolverines, already trying to beat a top-10 team with a strong defense and a capable offense, losing starting cornerback J.T. Floyd, the most experienced and consistent corner on the roster, along with Big Ten punter of the year Will Hagerup is a big blow.

Now Michigan has to face South Carolina with sophomore Raymon Taylor and junior Courtney Avery as the starting cornerbacks. Taylor has proved he can play well against topflight opponents this season, but Avery has rarely been in a position to be an every-down player throughout his career.

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Some bad news for Michigan, which will be without its top cornerback, its award-winning punter and a reserve linebacker for the Outback Bowl on Jan. 1 against South Carolina.

The team announced Sunday that senior cornerback J.T. Floyd, senior linebacker Brandin Hawthorne and junior punter Will Hagerup have been suspended for the game for an unspecified violation of team rules. All three players won't travel with the team to Tampa.
"It is an honor to play football for the University of Michigan, and we have high standards and expectations for everyone that represents our program," Wolverines head coach Brady Hoke said in a prepared statement. "These young men used poor judgment in each circumstance, and these suspensions are teaching moments for our team."

Floyd recorded 48 tackles and five pass breakups for the Wolverines this fall, starting all 12 games. Hawthorne had 19 tackles. Hagerup earned the Big Ten's Eddleman-Fields Punter of the Year award after averaging a league-best 45 yards per attempt this fall.

This is the first known disciplinary incident for both Floyd and Hawthorne, whose college careers come to a disappointing end. Hagerup was suspended for the first four games of the 2011 season for violating team rules. It'll be interesting to see how Hoke approaches Hagerup's future as this isn't his first infraction.

Michigan lost starting cornerback Blake Countess to an ACL injury in the season opener and turned to Raymon Taylor to step in. Junior Courtney Avery is expected to step in for Floyd, while sophomore Delonte Hollowell and freshman Terry Richardson are also available.

Floyd's absence will be felt even though Michigan's secondary performed well most of the season. The fifth-year senior from Greenville, S.C., would have faced some familiar faces in the Outback Bowl. Very disappointing all around.

Sophomore Matt Wile will take over the punting duties for Hagerup.

Michigan recruiting analysis

February, 3, 2011

The class

Recruits: 20 (all high school seniors, one player enrolled early)

Top prospects: Four-star defensive backs Blake Countess and Delonte Hollowell could provide immediate help to a secondary that needs it in 2011. The Wolverines addressed their defensive front seven with Brennen Beyer, rated as the nation's No. 24 defensive end by ESPN Recruiting, as well as linebacker Kellen Jones. Although Michigan lost running back commit Dee Hart to Alabama, the Wolverines held onto Justice Hayes, who rates as the nation's No. 22 running back.

Needs met: Anyone who watched Michigan last season could identify the secondary as a glaring need, and the Wolverines addressed it with five defensive backs, including the nation's No. 14 and No. 15 cornerbacks in Countess and Hallowell. Field goals were an adventure in 2010 and Michigan wisely added kicker Matt Wile. Defensive line also was a need, especially with Michigan transitioning to the 4-3, and players like Beyer help.

Analysis: Coach Brady Hoke and his staff deserve a lot of credit for keeping several key verbal commits on board and making some late additions to the class despite taking over the program less than a month before signing day. From a ratings standpoint, this class won't go down as one of Michigan's best, but the late coaching change didn't hurt the Wolverines as much as it could have. Michigan needs several of the defensive recruits to blossom right away, especially in the secondary. Hayes and Wile also are players who could make an early impact.

ESPN Recruiting grade: B-

Big Ten lunch links

June, 24, 2010