Big Ten: Ricky Barnum

Only 22 Big Ten players heard their names called during the 2013 NFL draft, the league's lowest total in nearly two decades (it had 21 draftees in 1994).

But as soon as the draft ended Saturday, the free-agent signings began. And there were plenty around the Big Ten from all 12 squads.

Here's our first look list of free-agent signings or team tryouts from the conference. As a reminder, this is not a final list, and we'll have updates later on either here on the blog or on Twitter.

Here we go ...

ILLINOIS

C Graham Pocic, Houston Texans
DE Justin Staples, Cleveland Browns
DE Glenn Foster, New Orleans Saints

INDIANA

C Will Matte, Kansas City Chiefs (tryout)
DE Larry Black Jr., Cincinnati Bengals
DT Adam Replogle, Atlanta Falcons

IOWA

WR Keenan Davis, Cleveland Browns
OL Matt Tobin, Philadelphia Eagles
QB James Vandenberg, Minnesota Vikings

MICHIGAN

WR Roy Roundtree, Cincinnati Bengals
S Jordan Kovacs, Miami Dolphins
LB Kenny Demens, Arizona Cardinals
DE Craig Roh, Carolina Panthers
OL Elliott Mealer, New Orleans Saints
OL Patrick Omameh, San Francisco 49ers
OL Ricky Barnum, Washington Redskins
LB Brandin Hawthorne, St. Louis Rams
(WR Darryl Stonum, dismissed before the 2012 season, signed with the Kansas City Chiefs)

MICHIGAN STATE

CB Johnny Adams, Houston Texans
DT Anthony Rashad White, Pittsburgh Steelers
OL Chris McDonald, New England Patriots

MINNESOTA

CB Troy Stoudermire, Cincinnati Bengals
TE MarQueis Gray, San Francisco 49ers
CB Michael Carter, Minnesota Vikings

NEBRASKA

DE Eric Martin, New Orleans Saints
LB Will Compton, Washington Redskins
TE Ben Cotton, San Diego Chargers
TE/FB Kyler Reed, Jacksonville Jaguars
K Brett Maher, New York Jets
DE Cameron Meredith, Oakland Raiders

NORTHWESTERN

OL Patrick Ward, Miami Dolphins
DL Brian Arnfelt, Pittsburgh Steelers
LB David Nwabuisi, Carolina Panthers (tryout)
WR Demetrius Fields, Chicago Bears (tryout)

OHIO STATE

CB Travis Howard, Houston Texans
S Orhian Johnson, Houston Texans
FB Zach Boren, Houston Texans
TE Jake Stoneburner, Green Bay Packers
DE Nathan Williams, Minnesota Vikings
DL Garrett Goebel, St. Louis Rams
LB Etienne Sabino, New York Giants

PENN STATE

OL Mike Farrell, Pittsburgh Steelers
CB Stephon Morris, New England Patriots
OL Matt Stankiewitch, New England Patriots
FB Michael Zordich, Carolina Panthers

PURDUE

CB Josh Johnson, San Diego Chargers
QB Robert Marve, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
RB Akeem Shavers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

WISCONSIN

CB Marcus Cromartie, San Diego Chargers
CB Devin Smith, Dallas Cowboys
S Shelton Johnson, Oakland Raiders

Michigan's Lewan gears up for Clowney

December, 10, 2012
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Hours before Michigan's game at Nebraska, Wolverines offensive tackle Taylor Lewan and two of his linemates killed some time in the hotel by watching South Carolina take on Tennessee.

[+] EnlargeTaylor Lewan
Patrick Green/Icon SMIMichigan offensive tackle Taylor Lewan has been studying South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney in preparation for their Jan. 1 bowl game.
Not surprisingly, Lewan soon noticed No. 7 in maroon for the Gamecocks. Sophomore defensive end Jadeveon Clowney is hard to miss.

"You know what," Lewan told teammates Elliott Mealer and Jack Miller, "that guy's a good player."

Lewan had no idea at the time that he'd be spending most of December watching Clowney. Michigan faces South Carolina on Jan. 1 at the Outback Bowl, and no individual matchup in the game brings more intrigue than Lewan vs. Clowney.

Both men have appeared on All-America teams and earned conference recognition, as Lewan won the Big Ten's Rimington-Pace Offensive Lineman of the Year award and was a consensus first-team All-Big Ten pick. Clowney claimed the Ted Hendricks Award as the nation's top defensive end, the SEC Defensive Player of the Year award from the league's coaches and unanimous All-SEC honors. Clowney recorded 13 sacks and 21.5 tackles for loss this season.

"I can't say enough about him," Lewan said. "He's a great player, and I'm excited about the opportunity to go against him. Big, physical player, gets his hands off, swings a lot."

Lewan hasn't faced a defensive end quite like the 6-6, 256-pound, freakishly athletic Clowney in the Big Ten this season. He said the closest comparisons are Ohio State's John Simon -- the 2012 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year -- and former Purdue star Ryan Kerrigan, who won 2010 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year honors before becoming a first-round pick of the Washington Redskins.

Lewan has been projected as a potential first-round draft pick if he chooses to forgo his senior season. Clowney can't enter the draft until after the 2013 season, but he's the most draft-ready true sophomore in college football. Lewan says he's not thinking about his draft decision, or whether a matchup against Clowney gives him a gauge of what he could do at the next level.

But he does plan to see plenty of the South Carolina star in Tampa.

"He lines up across from the left tackle every time, from what I've seen," Lewan said. "I'm not sure what their game plan is, but I'm sure we'll be going against each other a lot."

Lewan acknowledges that Michigan's offensive line has had its ups and downs this season. The Wolverines eclipsed 400 yards of offense six times and were held to fewer than 300 yards four times, including in a Nov. 24 loss to rival Ohio State in the regular-season finale.

Although "one game won't define us as an offensive line," Lewan knows there's a lot at stake against Clowney and a South Carolina defense that ranks in the top 20 nationally in total defense (12th) scoring defense (13th), rushing defense (15th), sacks (fifth) and tackles for loss (19th).

"There's three seniors on the starting offensive line right now (guards Patrick Omameh and Ricky Barnum and Mealer), and I want them to go out with a bang," Lewan said. "There'd be nothing better than going out with an Outback win."
Ohio State
  • The Buckeyes' hopes of getting running backs Jordan Hall and Carlos Hyde going at the same time has taken another setback. Hyde and Hall were finally both healthy enough to both play against Michigan State, but Hall left in the first half with a knee injury. Urban Meyer said Monday that Hall has a PCL tear in his right knee and will be doubtful for the Nebraska game. A PCL tear is not as serious as an ACL or MCL tear, but it is an injury that could hold Hall out for more than one week. Meyer said Hyde, who came back last week from an MCL sprain, isn't 100 percent yet but is getting very close to it.
  • Meyer also announced that sophomore receiver Tyrone Williams had been dismissed from the team for violating team rules. Williams hadn't done anything this season but saw action as a true freshman, when he was known as T.Y. Williams. He had intrigued fans because of his height -- a listed 6-foot-6 -- but will not be a part of Ohio State's plans going forward.
Illinois
  • Coach Tim Beckman said Monday linebacker Jonathan Brown didn't look like himself in the first half against Penn State and is receiving treatment. Brown will be evaluated throughout the week.
  • Illini safety Earnest Thomas will play this week at Wisconsin despite being ejected from Saturday's game against Penn State because of a helmet-to-helmet hit on Matt Lehman. Beckman said Thomas' hit wasn't intentional and that the decision to eject him was a "judgment call" by the official.
  • Illinois sophomore defensive tackle Jake Howe will miss the rest of the season with a broken arm.
Michigan
  • The bye week appears to have worked well for the Wolverines' health. Head coach Brady Hoke said defensive end Brennen Beyer, who has missed the past two games with a knee injury, should return this week at Purdue. Wide receiver Devin Gardner, who took a hard fall near the end of the Notre Dame game, has been practicing and is ready to go this week. Hoke also pronounced fullback Stephen Hopkins, who's been out the past two games with a hamstring problem, has recovered and that starting guard Ricky Barnum has gotten over his shoulder injury.
  • The one guy who's not quite back is tight end Brandon Moore, who hasn't played since suffering a leg injury in the opener versus Alabama. But Hoke said Moore is making good progress.
Northwestern
  • True freshman defensive end Ifeadi Odenigbo (shoulder) and linebacker Roderick Goodlow (torn ACL) both will miss the rest of the season, coach Pat Fitzgerald announced Monday. Odenigbo will seek a medical redshirt and have four years of eligibility left. Odenigbo was the second-highest rated recruit to sign with a Big Ten team in 2012, according to ESPN.com.
  • Fitzgerald said he's very optimistic all players injured Saturday against Indiana will play this week at Penn State, including top safety Ibraheim Campbell (shoulder) and wide receiver Christian Jones (elbow).
Wisconsin
  • The Badgers' new depth chart lists Kyle French as the field goal kicker, with Jack Russell on kickoffs. Russell missed an extra point and a 41-yard field goal against Nebraska as the Badgers lost 30-27. He's 0-for-2 on field goal tries this season.
  • Bret Bielema said defensive linemen Brendan Kelly (hamstring) and Pat Muldoon (hand) could return this week against Illinois. He's also hopeful that defensive back Shelton Johnson, who broke his arm against Oregon State, could be ready to rejoin the team this week.

Big Ten lunchtime links

May, 2, 2012
5/02/12
12:00
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Hey, didn't you use to be Albert Pujols?

Big Ten lunch links

April, 20, 2012
4/20/12
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If Corey Crawford were writing these, they'd be called lunch leaks. Brutal.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- On paper, Ricky Barnum has one of the toughest jobs for Michigan this spring.

Barnum is stepping into the shoes vacated by David Molk, who won the Rimington Trophy last season as the nation's top center. Add in the fact that Barnum has never played center in a game, and that he missed most of last season with injuries, and that sounds like a tall order.

But the fifth-year senior is confident that the Wolverines won't miss a beat with him snapping the ball this season.

"It's not an easy task, because David Molk was a very talented player," he says. "But I have come a long way.

"I really like playing center a lot, and it's something I can see me doing strongly. I can be very good at it."

Barnum snapped to Denard Robinson as a backup when he was a freshman before eventually playing some at tackle and staring at guard. Some rust could have been expected when he moved back to center this offseason, especially in a Michigan offense that often puts Robinson in the shotgun. Yet Barnum proudly says he's had no bad snaps all spring.

Moving to center also brings far more leadership responsibilities than playing guard, as the center makes the calls for the entire line. Barnum says the rest of the line has supported him in that role.

"They all have a trust and faith in me," he said. "They all believe I'll make the right call. And if I do make the wrong call, they just go with it. But I haven't made too many. I haven't had anybody get on me and say, 'Ricky, you made the wrong call.' It's all been, 'Thanks, you made the right call.'"

Barnum has natural size for the position at 6-foot-3 and a large sub sandwich away from 300 pounds. He has good mobility when healthy, which he wasn't last year because of problems in both ankles.

He said Molk has given him pointers, mainly telling him to stay aggressive and showing him how push out with his non-snapping hand. Barnum is putting those ideas in practice this spring for a rebuilt offensive line that is coming along.

"He's working at it," Robinson said. "Ricky's getting better."

It's likely unrealistic to expect Barnum to match Molk's level of play. But he sure seems to have Molk's confidence.

"I see center as a great fit for me because I like to learn and I like to compete," Barnum said.

WolverineNation links: Center of attention

March, 30, 2012
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WolverineNation has more coverage of the Michigan Wolverines:

Chantel Jennings writes: Ricky Barnum was a center once. Now that Rimington Award winner David Molk has graduated, he's a center again and can't wait for the challenge.

Michael Rothstein writes: Every spring has a few surprises, but Brady Hoke is pleasantly surprised with some of the developments with the Wolverines.

Jennings caught up with Dominique Booth Insider: The 2014 wide receiver prospect has seen his recruiting interest pick up and was impressed by what he saw on a trip to Michigan.

Big Ten lunchtime links

March, 29, 2012
3/29/12
12:00
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I was promised a jetpack.

WolverineNation Sunday links: Lining up

March, 25, 2012
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Chantel Jennings writes: Michigan is revamping its offensive line, as Ricky Barnum moves from guard to center and the coaches look for a starter at one guard spot and one tackle spot.

Michael Rothstein writes Insider: Junior Will Hagerup and sophomore Matt Wile are using the spring to resume the punting battle they carried out last season.

Jennings writes Insider: Detroit Cass Tech linebacker William White goes over his evaluation process as his recruitment starts to take off.

Jennings writes Insider: 2015 quarterback Jayru Campbell and running back Johnny Miggins were two of 10 Detroit Cass Tech prospects to visit Michigan on Saturday.
Michigan offensive coordinator Al Borges likes what he has to work with this spring. And who wouldn't be excited about Denard Robinson and Fitz Toussaint returning in the backfield as the offensive core?

But like every team, the Wolverines have some issues. One of the key concerns is building a solid two-deep along the offensive line.

"It's a position where we feel good about the kids who are playing," Borges said. "We just need to enhance our depth."

Michigan must replace Rimington Trophy winner David Molk at center, and Ricky Barnum will get the first crack at the gig. Barnum was injured most of last season, and has played left guard in the past.

"He's athletic," Borges said. "Ricky can move. He's really has the profile more of a center. He's smart, he understands who to block and he's played some guard, which should have some carry-over to center. So I think Ricky is going to be fine."

Making up for Molk's leadership might be the toughest task this spring. Borges said Barnum, left tackle Taylor Lewan, and senior guard Patrick Omameh should help pick up the slack in that area.

The starting group up front should be solid, with senior Elliott Mealer taking over at left guard, and Michael Schofield moving to right tackle to replace Mark Huyge. Behind them is a lot of inexperience. Borges said redshirt freshmen Jack Miller and Chris Bryant should contribute. And an incoming freshman like Kyle Kalis has a chance to crack the depth chart.

"We'll see how quick they can pick it up," Borges said.

Another area of concern is tight end, which loses departed seniors Kevin Koger and Steve Watson. Borges said senior Brandon Moore, who has played sparingly, and Ricardo Miller, who's more of a receiving tight end, will get the bulk of the work this spring. But it's a position that remains unsettled.

"We're looking at other kids, and the jury is still out," Borges said. "It's a position where, if a freshman came in and showed something, he could probably make a contribution."

Incoming recruit Devin Funchess could be that guy, though he'll likely need to put on some weight. The Wolverines also signed A.J. Williams as a tight end prospect.

"Seeing who's going to come to the forefront and be our starting tight end this spring, that's huge," Borges said.

Big Ten lunchtime links

March, 14, 2012
3/14/12
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There's always a siren singing you to shipwreck.

Big shoes to fill: Michigan

February, 13, 2012
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Spring practice kicks off in March, and each Big Ten team will be looking for some key replacements in their depth charts. We're going to take a look at two players on each Big Ten squad who leave big shoes to fill and who might be ready to step in at those spots.

Let's start off with the Michigan Wolverines.

BIG SHOES TO FILL: Mike Martin, DT

[+] EnlargeMike Martin
Lon Hordwedel/Icon SMIMike Martin has been a consistent presence in the middle of the defense for Michigan.
Why: Three-year starter anchored the middle of the defensive line. He earned second-team All-Big Ten honors in both 2011 and 2010. Martin appeared in 49 games, starting 37 at nose tackle, and finished his career with 172 tackles, including 25 for loss and seven sacks. His value goes far beyond the numbers, as he consistently took on double-teams and topped the opponent's scouting report before games against the Wolverines.

Replacement candidates: William Campbell (6-5, 322, Jr.); Quinton Washington (6-4, 302, So.); Ondre Pipkins (6-3, 335, incoming freshman); Richard Ash (6-3, 301, Fr.) Kenny Wilkins (6-3, 280, Fr.)

The skinny: Head coach Brady Hoke, who works directly with the nose tackles, has some work ahead this offseason in trying to replace Martin, the heart and soul of Michigan's defense. Is Campbell finally ready to take the next step? The former blue-chip recruit has the talent but hasn't quite blossomed. Pipkins arrives with a lot of buzz and could work his way into the rotation at a position with few proven players.

BIG SHOES TO FILL: David Molk, C

Why: Four-year starter won the Rimington Trophy in 2011 as the nation's top center. Molk was a consensus first-team All-America selection in 2011. He earned first-team All-Big Ten honors from the league's coaches in each of his final two seasons. He started 41 games at center, and his absence was felt any time he wasn't on the field. Offensive coordinator Al Borges placed a great deal of responsibility on Molk last fall, and Molk delivered for a unit adjusting to a new system.

Replacement candidates: Rocko Khoury (6-4, 287, Jr.); Ricky Barnum (6-3, 292, Jr.); Jack Miller (6-4, 263, Fr.)

The skinny: Khory has been the heir apparent to Molk for several years, but his snapping struggles early in the Sugar Bowl sounded a few alarms among Michigan fans. If Khoury isn't the answer, Barnum might be. He started three games at guard in 2011 before being slowed by ankle problems. Miller is an intriguing prospect who needs to bulk up a bit.

Big Ten lunchtime links

January, 9, 2012
1/09/12
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So, who ya got tonight? I'm picking 'Bama, 17-14.

For links on Penn State's hiring of Bill O'Brien, click here.

Game day at Spartan Stadium

October, 15, 2011
10/15/11
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EAST LANSING, Mich. -- It's windy and a bit chilly at Spartan Stadium, but the sun has poked through the clouds and should stick around for kickoff of this key Legends Division matchup.

The buzz in this rivalry is palpable. Michigan State students were in their seats nearly two hours before the scheduled start, and they lustily booed Michigan's kickers during warm-ups. They cheered when the Spartans entered the stadium for their pregame walk, as most of the players were already wearing their bronze helmets that will be part of today's special uniforms.

The wind -- with predicted gusts as high as 45 mph -- could play a major factor in the kicking and passing games. The wind is coming in over the west side of the stadium and will likely cause swirls on the field and the end zones.

As far as injury updates go, Michigan State will welcome back receiver Bennie Fowler from a foot problem. Defensive lineman Tyler Hoover is still out. Michigan guard Ricky Barnum is dressed and may play but isn't expected to start as he recovers from an ankle injury. Michael Schofield will continue to start in Barnum's place.

Big Ten lunch links

September, 29, 2011
9/29/11
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Are you happy? You have reduced me to a person who eats a shoe.

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