Big Ten: Ray Vinopal

Big Ten lunch links

March, 24, 2011
I love Westerns, the bloodier the better, that's my favorite type of movie -- that and anything set against the backdrop of competitive cheerleading.

Big Ten personnel nuggets

March, 23, 2011
Pretty busy news day in the Big Ten as Iowa kicked off spring ball and two other coaches met with reporters.

Here are a few personnel nuggets of note ...

  • All 13 players hospitalized in January with rhabdomyolysis have been medically cleared for spring practice, coach Kirk Ferentz said Wednesday. Ferentz said the group will be brought along slowly and closely monitored as they get up to speed.
  • Six Hawkeyes players will miss the spring: wide receiver Marvin McNutt, defensive tackle Steve Bigach, safety Tanner Miller, linebacker Shane DiBona, tight end Austin Vier and fullback Brad Rogers. Vier has a serious back injury and Rogers is still being checked out after a heart ailment was detected in December. All the other players should be fine by the summer.
  • Linebacker Tyler Nielsen will participate in spring ball but not live scrimmages.
  • Ferentz said A.J. Derby is competing at quarterback alongside John Wienke and likely front-runner James Vandenberg.
  • Safety Ray Vinopal, who started six games last season for the Wolverines, has left the program and returned home to Youngstown, Ohio, because of family reasons, coach Brady Hoke said Wednesday.
  • Starting center David Molk has a hamstring injury and Rocko Khory is taking most of the reps with the first team.
  • Several other players are limited, including cornerbacks Troy Woolfolk and J.T. Floyd and running back Michael Shaw, and Hoke doesn't think Michigan will be ready for a full-blown spring game on April 16.
  • Like Michigan, Minnesota doesn't boast enough depth to have a full spring game on April 23, coach Jerry Kill said Wednesday.
  • Safety Kim Royston, granted a sixth year of eligibility after missing all of last season with a broken leg, is medically cleared to practice Thursday. Kill said the coaches will be careful with Royston.
  • Kill said all jobs are open and MarQueis Gray will need to earn the No. 1 quarterback spot.
  • Kill talked about finding out who can handle football and academics at the same time this spring.
  • Penn State updated its spring roster and there were a few interesting tidbits, including the official return of cornerback Derrick Thomas. The sophomore was suspended for most of last season but should figure into the plans for the secondary this fall.
  • The (Harrisburg) Patriot-News' Bob Flounders details the Lions' offseason weight gains here, but what really stands out is redshirt freshman quarterback Paul Jones at 6-foot-3, 245. Wow. Maybe Daryll Clark won't be the biggest Penn State quarterback in recent memory.

Michigan recruiting analysis

February, 4, 2010
Michigan Wolverines

The class

Recruits: 27 (all high school seniors, seven early enrollees)

Top prospects: Safety Demar Dorsey is the top-ranked recruit in the Big Ten, according to ESPN's Scouts Inc. Quarterback Devin Gardner, an ESPNU 150 selection, will compete for snaps right away. Defensive recruits like Marvin Robinson, Cullen Christian and Richard Ash might be able to help the beleaguered unit early on.

Sleepers: Safety is a huge need for Michigan in 2010, and Ray Vinopal and Carvin Johnson both could factor into the mix there. Linebacker Jake Ryan, a late bloomer during recruiting, also is a player to watch.

Needs met: Arguably no Big Ten team needed to bolster a particular position like Michigan needed to bolster its secondary. The addition of Dorsey gives the Wolverines a possible immediate contributor in the back four. Rich Rodriguez added the quarterback he needs in Gardner, and Michigan also stocked up at wide receiver, defensive line and linebacker.

Analysis: Michigan started quickly, lost a bit of ground with elite prospects and then finished strong by adding Dorsey on National Signing Day. Rodriguez signed a large and important class that must help a struggling defense this fall. Gardner will push Tate Forcier at quarterback, and the early enrollees at both wide receiver and running back will be fun to watch this spring. If this class doesn't bolster Michigan's defense immediately, the Wolverines will be in trouble.

Scouts Inc. grade: B-plus

What Rich Rodriguez said:
  • "Demar is a very athletic guy. Very fast. Has indicated he may run track as well. So it will be good news for our track program. A fast guy. He can play corner and safety. We'll probably start him at corner first, eventually teach him the back end stuff as well. Also returns kicks. Runs very well."
  • (on Devin Gardner) "It helps he got in early. I don't know if 15 spring practices can really give you a whole thing. But I know it helped Tate [Forcier] last year. Devin is going to have pieces around, veterans that know what we're trying to do offensively and all that. But again, until I see him at spring practice and how quickly he picks up the plays and all that, I couldn't tell you. I know he's very competitive. He's one of those guys eager to learn."
  • "Our back-end guys, linebackers and safeties and corners, are guys we felt we needed to play in space. And so we tried to address that with the athleticism. Again, these guys are young. Let's not put too much on too soon. They have to come and earn a spot and all that. But immediately the competition has risen on the defensive side of the football."