Big Ten: Justin Feagin

Big Ten lunch links

January, 11, 2010
Big weekend in the NFL playoffs for former Big Ten running backs, as Shonn Greene (Iowa-New York Jets) and Chris "Beanie" Wells (Ohio State-Arizona Cardinals) both advance.

Big Ten lunch links

October, 20, 2009
Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

Follow me on Twitter during the Big Ten coaches teleconference, which starts right now.

Big Ten lunch links

August, 12, 2009

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

Find the missing link.

Big Ten mailblog

August, 11, 2009

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

A few quick questions and answers.

Stewart from Dallas writes: In regards to recent reports that Rich Rodriguez did not know of Justin Feagin's criminal past or police record, how can a head coach of a major program not be aware of this? Shouldn't someone know or is Rodriguez lying again (he did it before at WVU)?And is Feagin just the first of a pattern of questionable players that will be brought into Ann Arbor (he did it before at WVU)?

Adam Rittenberg: Feagin didn't appear to have any known issues during the recruiting process, and coaches do miss things from time to time. Still, it's a knock against Rodriguez, who, like many successful coaches, has had his share of bad apples. Feagin told police that he didn't face any repercussions for his arrests as a minor, so there might not be records that are readily available on him. The key part is your last sentence. If Feagin is the only Rodriguez recruit to turn out like this, the clamor will die down. If other problems follow, it could spell trouble for Rodriguez.

Dr. Jack from North Hollywood, Calif., writes: Dear Adam,I enjoyed your article on returning starters. I read another article written on that same subject. They did a statistical breakdown of returning starters and the amount of wins generated over a 3 year span. The author used the Big 12 conference.It basically showed that it didn't matter. The big schools could reload and still find success where as the smaller schools could return 22 and still have issues.My feeling is that is all comes down to what position is coming back. Obviously quarterbacks being the most important. Beyond that it becomes extremely difficult to quantify.Pete Carroll/USC are a perfect example. He was so upset that Sanchez left that he trashed him initially to the media. [Terrelle] Pryor will be the deciding factor when, in my view, OSU beats the Trojans. Can you tell me where to find a breakdown of the players that are returning from individual schools.

Adam Rittenberg: An excellent analysis, and I'd expect nothing less from the good doctor. Returning starters don't mean everything, and the position group can definitely loom large when evaluating who's back and who's not. It's never easy to replace a multiyear starter at quarterback or on the offensive line, while replacing a star wide receiver seems a bit easier because freshmen and sophomores can contribute right away at those spots. As for finding the returning players from each team, check out the online media guides for each Big Ten school.

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Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez stood his ground Monday when asked about former player Justin Feagin, who was dismissed from the team last month following his role in a failed cocaine deal.

Feagin told University of Michigan police that he used to sell drugs in his home state of Florida and had been arrested for battery and trespassing. According to Rodriguez, Feagin's checkered past didn't surface during the recruiting process.

"Trust me, no coach in America is going to want to take a guy that has baggage or that they think is a bad guy," Rodriguez said. "We certainly won't. But everything in the recruiting process [with Feagin] that we had heard was all positive and our dealings here was there was no negatives until that recent thing. And once we heard that, it was immediate dismissal."

Rodriguez dismissed Feagin hours after the player met with police and later consulted Feagin's mother and his assistant coaches about any potential red flags they missed.

"Sometimes there's mistakes made and if it's an avoidable mistake then we have to look and say what did we miss?" Rodriguez said. "And sure, you do that. And that's the first thing that happened. As soon as we found out this situation, you boot him off the team, then you call the coaches in and say, what did we miss? You call the mother up and say, 'Hello, Mrs. Feagin, what did we miss?'"

Rodriguez is fighting the perception that he recruits questionable characters.

Several of his former West Virginia players got into legal trouble, though many programs deal with similar issues. But the coach maintains he does his due diligence during the recruiting process.

"You know, there are some guys you recruited and they never would have given any hint of ever getting into trouble or being poor academically," Rodriguez said. "And all of a sudden they go to college and they make mistakes and you have to adjust accordingly."

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

ESPN's Joe Schad is reporting that former Michigan quarterback/slot receiver Justin Feagin will not have a chance to transfer to Appalachian State because of academic issues and the new details about his departure from Michigan.

Appalachian State, an FCS powerhouse which upset Michigan in 2007, had expressed interest in adding Feagin, who played sparingly as a reserve quarterback for the Wolverines last fall.

This shouldn't surprise anyone, given what we know now about Feagin's exit from Michigan and what he told police in Ann Arbor. Football players usually get second chances, but you can't blame Appalachian State from wanting to stay away.

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

Two and a half weeks after Michigan dismissed slot receiver Justin Feagin for violating team rules, the real reasons behind Feagin's release have come to light.

The Detroit Free Press has a comprehensive report about Feagin's dismissal, which details his involvement in a failed cocaine deal that led to a fire near his dorm room at Michigan.

The detailed police report contains a police interview with Feagin, who admits he used to sell drugs in his home state of Florida and said he arranged a cocaine deal for a fellow Michigan student in exchange for $600. The Michigan student, T.J. Burke, tells police that Feagin was known to sell marijuana.

Last week, Burke pleaded guilty to felony arson and faces up to 10 years in prison. ESPN's Joe Schad reported Friday that Feagin likely will transfer to Appalachian State and could play this season for the Mountaineers.

Needless to say, this isn't good for Michigan, which opens preseason camp Monday and hopes to turn the page on a disastrous 2008 season. The worst part isn't even the Feagin-Burke hullabaloo, but the fact that Feagin came to Michigan with a checkered past and seemingly continued his troublesome ways after arriving on campus.

Feagin was a late addition to head coach Rich Rodriguez's first recruiting class, and Rodriguez will undoubtedly be asked Monday how much he knew of Feagin's problems in Florida.

Rodriguez has taken heat for the number of players who have left the program since his arrival, and some have questioned whether the program's culture has changed for the worse. I doubt the Feagin story will linger too long, as quarterback Tate Forcier's preseason progress and other on-field issues take precedence, but it could hurt Rodriguez if more personnel problems crop up down the line.

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

ESPN's Joe Schad is reporting that former Michigan quarterback/slot receiver Justin Feagin plans to transfer to FCS power Appalachian State and could play this season as long as he's academically eligible.

Michigan dismissed Feagin last month for an unspecified violation of team rules. 

The Michigan-Appalachian State connection here is somewhat intriguing, though I doubt Feagin is trying to stick it to his old school by joining a team that handed the Wolverines arguably their most shocking loss ever (until Toledo last year). Appalachian State, as many of us found out after the upset in Ann Arbor, has been a first-rate program at the FCS level and a good destination for transfers.

Feagin came to Michigan as a quarterback and competed briefly for the starting job before being moved to slot receiver.

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

Not surprisingly, a Michigan team that often looked dysfunctional on the field in 2008 also lacked cohesion outside the spotlight.

"Last year, there were a couple of doubters, a couple of players who were like, 'Why we doing this? Why this and that?'" running back Brandon Minor recalled. "[They were] shaking their heads, blowing things off, not really paying attention to the coaches."

The predictable result: a 3-9 season, quite possibly the worst in team history, and no bowl game for the first time since 1974.

As the Wolverines prepare for Year 2 under Rich Rodriguez, Minor thinks the gulf between players and coaches has been bridged, primarily because those who lacked trust in the staff are no longer part of the program. But to many outside the program, the large number of player departures at Michigan only underscores the lack of cohesion within the walls of Schembechler Hall. Since the start of the 2008 season, Michigan has had nine transfers, a dismissal and a few players who left the program and didn't continue playing.

The roster has been reduced in recent weeks as offensive linemen Dann O'Neill and Kurt Wermers transferred to MAC schools and slot receiver Justin Feagin was dismissed for violating team rules. Wermers said disagreements with the coaching staff triggered his departure, but learned that he was academically ineligible and wouldn't have played this fall.

Michigan players acknowledge some friction existed in the past, but the team has turned the page heading into 2009.

"The guys that leave the program, it's something personal," cornerback Donovan Warren said. "It's nothing wrong with the team. For the most part, everyone's on the same page, everyone's here every day, putting in work. Those guys who left, it's just one bad grape out of a million."

Warren has felt a greater sense of comfort during the second full offseason under Rodriguez's staff, who increased the demands for strength and conditioning.

"We know what to expect, the runs, we see our bodies changing," he said. "We know we have to live up to what they want us to do. We also have expectations as players."

Those expectations call for a much smoother season, both on and off the field.

"We're on the same page," Minor said. "There comes a time you've got to put all that personal pride to the side and decide what we want as a team. At the end of the day, we're a team. When people look back at our team, the team of '09 at Michigan, I want to leave a good legacy behind. I don't want people to say that team had a cancer in it or the team was terrible or whatever."

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

Michigan is down another player, this time because of a dismissal. Sophomore slot receiver Justin Feagin was given the boot following an unspecified violation of team rules.

Head coach Rich Rodriguez said in a statement Saturday that Feagin's infraction occurred Thursday night.

The 6-foot, 198-pound Feagin is best known as being a fringe candidate for Michigan's starting quarterback job in 2008. He appeared to have the skills best suited to run Rodriguez's spread option attack, but he never made enough progress to bypass Steven Threet and Nick Sheridan. Feagin appeared in four games as a freshman last fall, rushing for 52 yards on 11 carries, before moving to slot receiver.

Feagin's dismissal doesn't figure to hurt Michigan too much on the field, though it's another APR hit and the latest player departure for a program that has seen quite a few under Rodriguez. Offensive linemen Dann O'Neill and Kurt Wermers both recently transferred to MAC schools (Western Michigan and Ball State). Wermers cited disagreements with the coaching staff as his reason for leaving, though sources told that he was academically ineligible and unable to stay on the team.

Feagin is the second player recruited solely by Rodriguez's staff to leave the Michigan program.

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

After watching Michigan's offense stall in 2008, most Wolverines fans judged the quarterback competition this spring by only one factor -- the development of Tate Forcier.

Sure, Steven Threet and Nick Sheridan were back, but the thought of a 2008 rerun at quarterback sent shudders through Wolverine Nation -- "trauma-induced flashbacks," as puts it. Forcier, a true freshman who enrolled in January, brought skills that better suited Rich Rodriguez's spread offense and had an entire spring to sharpen them.

As it turns out, Forcier will have a busier spring than anyone anticipated.

Threet transferred last month, and Rodriguez announced Thursday that Sheridan will miss the rest of spring ball after sustaining a small fracture in his right leg during Tuesday's practice. Sheridan, who started four games last season, has a nondisplaced fracture that will not require surgery, and he's expected to be fine for preseason camp in August. The injury occurred during a scrimmage situation.

If Forcier's ascension was a foregone conclusion, Sheridan's injury shouldn't be too much of a setback for Michigan. Forcier will get every opportunity -- and more -- to make the necessary improvements in his game.

Still, Sheridan was taking snaps with the first-team offense, and given the nature of injuries to spread-offense quarterbacks, his development this spring meant a lot, too. And who knows? Maybe he improved enough to create significant separation with Forcier.

The bottom line is an already thin position, which happens to be the most important on the field, now features a true freshman (Forcier) and a junior (David Cone) with one collegiate pass attempt, in 2007 no less. Slot receiver Justin Feagin, who worked as a quarterback last season, will now take more reps at quarterback.

The starting job could very well come down to Forcier or fellow freshman Denard Robinson, who arrives this summer and doesn't lack self-confidence. But at the moment, Michigan doesn't have much of an insurance policy behind the two tenderfoots, neither of whom weighs 200 pounds.

Michigan has 10 more practices this spring, including the spring game April 11 at the Big House. Rodriguez and his staff will get an incredibly thorough look at Forcier.

Will they like what they see?

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

Michigan junior wide receiver Toney Clemons is leaving the program and has been granted his release.

Clemons appeared in 19 games for the Wolverines, starting two games as a true freshman in 2007 and one last fall. He has 12 catches for 106 yards in his career.

Concerns about fitting in with Michigan's spread offense proved to be the deciding factor for Clemons, who is a cousin of former Michigan star wideout/return man Steve Breaston.

"It's time for me to make a change and go in another direction than what I am needed for," Clemons told the Valley News Dispatch. "I still love Michigan. It's still my No. 1. Athletically, this is the right move for me. I want to take my blessings and gifts elsewhere."

Clemons wants to transfer to a Pac-10, ACC or SEC school, though he said he hasn't ruled out Big East members Pitt and West Virginia, both of which are close to his hometown of New Kensington, Pa. The 6-foot-3, 205-pound Clemons appears on Michigan's roster for spring ball but had not practiced.

"I had a long talk with [head coach Rich Rodriguez] and he wasn't too happy with me leaving," Clemons said. "I just don't want to play in a spread offense. This is best for me as an athlete."

Clemons becomes the third offensive player who started a game last season to transfer from the team. Running back Sam McGuffie left for Rice, and quarterback Steven Threet hasn't announced his next destination.

The Wolverines seem to be featuring smaller, quicker receivers in the spread and have decent depth with Martavious Odoms, Greg Mathews, Darryl Stonum, LaTerryal Savoy, Junior Hemingway and others. Former quarterback Justin Feagin also is working as a slot receiver, and Michigan in February signed Je'Ron Stokes, an ESPNU 150 prospect.

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

Michigan fans everywhere are itching for any morsels of information about the team's ongoing quarterback competition, and no one is more captivated than a certain high school senior in Deerfield Beach, Fla.

As Nick Sheridan, Tate Forcier and David Cone compete for the top job in spring practice, a fourth candidate is monitoring the Ann Arbor arms race from afar.

"I'm always keeping an eye on what's going on up there," Denard Robinson said.

Robinson is finishing his senior year at Deerfield Beach High School, where he starred as a quarterback and cornerback. He expects to join his new teammates at Michigan immediately after graduation.

Although the other three quarterbacks get a head start in the competition this spring, coach Rich Rodriguez has no plans to name a starter until well into preseason camp. Robinson will arrive a bit late to the party, but his pedigree and skill set might put him in the spotlight very soon.

If fellow true freshman Forcier doesn't create some distance with a strong spring, Robinson could close the gap in a hurry.

"The whole time, they've been telling me the same thing," Robinson said, "that I have a real good chance to contend."

For now, he remains clued into the competition through Wolverines quarterbacks coach Rod Smith, with whom he talks every other day, and Michigan slot receiver Justin Feagin, a fellow Floridian who started off as a quarterback last year before making the switch. Smith updated Robinson on Michigan's first spring workouts when the two spoke Monday night.

"Going over it with coach already, I think I'll be able to catch up fast, real fast," Robinson said. "I'm just going up there to handle business."

Despite a smallish frame (6-foot, 180 pounds), Robinson boasts top-end speed and the ability to freelance with his feet, keeping plays alive and gashing defenses for big gains. He hopes his playmaking skills match those of quarterbacks like Shaun King and Pat White, who starred in Rodriguez's offense at Tulane and West Virginia.

Robinson kept close tabs on White the last few seasons.

"He had a pretty good, strong arm, but nobody really recognized it because he didn't have so many good receivers," Robinson said. "Me going to Michigan, they've got good receivers like [Greg] Mathews and [Martavious] Odoms, so it's going to be a good thing. Then we've got Je'Ron [Stokes] coming in. I think I'm going to have a good receiving corps, and I could probably do better things than Pat White did because I have those wide receivers."

Robinson watched Michigan's offense sputter last season, as the Wolverines finished 109th nationally in total offense, 108th in passing and 99th in scoring. But he wasn't discouraged by what he saw.

Quite frankly, Robinson thought he could do better than the men taking snaps in 2008.

Soon enough, he'll get the chance to prove it.

"I love competition," he said. "That's what I live for. That's why I play the game of football, for competition. I guess it boosts my confidence. It makes me play better."

Big Ten mailbag

February, 17, 2009

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

Mike A. from Altoona, Pa., writes: Adam, I love the blog and your hard work is appreciated! I noticed you had left off the home and home series Penn State supposedly scheduled with Nebraska for the 2014-2015 seasons. Did the renewal of this series fall through or can you confirm it's gonna be played? Also, do you know if there is any truth behind a PSU-UNC series being scheduled for the 2016-2017 seasons? Thanks Adam!

Adam Rittenberg: Thanks, Mike. Neither school has the series listed on their schedule right now, but that certainly could change. Nebraska's 2014 schedule only lists Fresno State as a nonconference opponent. Southern Miss is the only nonleague team listed for 2015. There have been some rumors about Penn State adding North Carolina to the slate. Virginia is already on board, but I wouldn't be surprised if the Tar Heels are added as well. Nothing is official yet.

Evan from Washington D.C. writes: Adam I am just trying to figure something out. Now that Threet is leaving Michigan everyone is talking about the two new quarterbacks coming in and what role they will play. But what about Sheridan or even Feegin? Feegin fits in the spread nicely.

Adam Ritttenberg: Nick Sheridan certainly will have an opportunity to compete for the starting job. He started four games last year but really became the backup after Steven Threet showed some promise in late September. As for Justin Feagin, he was nearly moved to slot receiver several times last year and likely will wind up there at some point. Threet's transfer could change things, but it sounded like Feagin wasn't developing enough at the QB position. I really would be surprised if Tate Forcier or Denard Robinson isn't the starter on Sept. 5.

Todd from Wilmington, Ohio, writes: Adam, thanks for the blog, you help me keep up with college football news that I am really interested in. In your analysis of the Buckeyes, you looked at 3 main areas: Running Backs, Offensive Line, and Defense. I think one of the biggest issues that will make or break Ohio State's chances for a Big 10 championship and BCS berth will be at wide receiver. DeVier Posey and Lamaar Thomas showed flashes of real talent this year, and Dane Sanzenbacher looks like a really good safety net guy. I think one of OSU's biggest problems this past year was at that position. What's your take on the Buckeyes Wide Receiver situation? Thanks.

Adam Rittenberg: You bring up a good point, Todd. Despite losing the Brians (Robiskie and Hartline), Ohio State should be as good and possibly a lot better at the wide receiver position in 2009. DeVier Posey was very close to taking on a more enhanced role last year. Another offseason in the system should really help Posey, plus the fact that he's very close with quarterback Terrelle Pryor. Sanzenbacher arguably was the most reliable receiver on that team last year, a very tough player who made tough catches. It obviously will be a younger group in 2009, but it could be a better one.

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More opinions on Threet's transfer

February, 16, 2009

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

Quarterback Steven Threet's decision to transfer from Michigan continues to be a bit of a head scratcher.

This could very well be a smart move for Threet, who should be able to find an opportunity to play and, more importantly, an offensive system that better suits his strengths. He had his moments last fall and could still put together a nice college career, possibly at an FCS school.

On the flip side, Threet could have been Michigan's starter in 2009. He might not have been the favorite to win the job with two freshmen (Tate Forcier and Denard Robinson) in the mix, but it's hardly a guarantee that a freshman would develop enough in practice to cement himself as the starter. As much as the team struggled in 2008, Threet still had eight starts under his belt and would have had more if not for injuries.

Why didn't he want to compete again?

The question was posed to Detroit Free Press Michigan beat writer Mark Snyder.

Threet undoubtedly saw where he stood with this coaching staff. They appreciated his toughness and his ability to fight through last season's arm injuries and a concussion. But if they believed in him leading this team, they would not have aggressively recruited two quarterbacks for next year's class.

While Rich Rodriguez would like to have Threet around to help teach the offense to freshman Tate Forcier in the spring [and Forcier and freshman Denard Robinson in the summer], it was clear Threet was not likely to hold the job for long, even if he had made strides.

The spread system might have been the deciding factor for Threet, who didn't shy away from a potential competition with Ryan Mallett after transferring to Michigan from Georgia Tech in 2007.

"'Coach, I'm going to go back to Michigan, and I'm going to beat Mallett out for that starting job,' [Phil] Jacobs said Threet told him."

Michigan clearly would have benefited from Threet staying, if only to provide depth and guidance to Forcier and Robinson. I don't believe Rodriguez ran off Threet, but he made it clear that the competition is wide open. As it stands now, the Wolverines are both thin and inexperienced at their most important position heading into 2009.

"You can look around and see some numbers: Nick Sheridan, Justin Feagin, Tate Forcier, Denard Robinson, even David Cone," blogger Chris Burke writes in The Diag. "The problem is that we painfully learned last year how hard it is to run Rodriguez's system without experience in it. Outside of Sheridan -- and maybe Feagin, to a much-lesser extent -- the QB spot is back to where it was before last year."

Forcier gets a head start in the learning process this spring, but Michigan desperately needs him and Robinson to catch on quickly.



Friday, 11/28
Saturday, 11/29