Big Ten: Toney Clemons

We've reached halftime in the 3:30 p.m. games, and so far the big news is coming from Champaign:

Western Michigan 13, Illinois 10 I called this a potential trap game and a letdown for the Illini, who upset Arizona State last week and have their Big Ten opener against rival Northwestern so far. Whether that's what is going on in is up for debate, but the Illini are lucky to be as close as they are at the break. The Broncos have controlled the clock and have moved the ball very effectively through the air. Alex Carder has already thrown the ball 34 times. The Illinois defense came up with big stops when Western Michigan threatened the end zone most of the half, but Carder finally broke through with a touchdown pass late in the second quarter. Nathan Scheelhaase and the offense haven't had the ball enough, and the sluggish Illini are officially on high upset alert.

Ohio State 20, Colorado 7: Braxton Miller has had his freshman moments, but his first start has to be considered a success so far. Miller didn't complete his first pass until the 9:44 mark of the second quarter -- drawing a large cheer from the crowd -- but he followed that with a 32-yard touchdown strike to Devin Smith. Nice freshman-to-freshman connection there. The Buckeyes led 17-0, but Colorado finally showed some signs of life on a touchdown drive that ended with a pass to former Michigan receiver Toney Clemons. Before that, Ohio State's defense had dominated, and the Buckeyes were controlling the line of scrimmage on both sides. They still have to feel pretty good at intermission, especially after the Buffs gave them a gift field goal at the end of the half by fumbling a punt return inside the red zone.

Wisconsin 31, South Dakota 3: Almost as soon as I wrote that the Badgers were off to a flat start, they ripped off two quick touchdowns, then another before the half. That's the danger you face with that Wisconsin offense, both as a defense and a real-time blogger. Anyway, the Badgers should have no problems the rest of the way. Nick Toon is having a big day with 151 receiving yards and two touchdowns already. One major potential trouble spot: starting safety Shelton Johnson left the game on crutches. The Badgers are already thin at cornerback, and this doesn't help the depth in the secondary with Nebraska looming next week. Their goal should be to get out of this game without any further injuries.

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

Michigan athletic director Bill Martin released a statement Sunday night saying the school will launch a full investigation into the allegations made by current and former Wolverines players of NCAA violations committed by the program. 

Players told the Detroit Free Press and that Michigan violated NCAA time limits for practices and offseason workouts, including having players spend 10-12 hours at the football facility the Sundays after games.   

"We are committed to following both the letter and the intent of the NCAA rules and we take any allegations of violations seriously," Martin's statement reads. "We believe we have been compliant with NCAA rules but nonetheless we have launched a full investigation of the allegations in today's newspaper. We have already reached out to both the Big Ten and the NCAA and we will have more to say on this as soon as we have completed our assessment."

Former Michigan wide receiver Toney Clemons, who has since transferred to Colorado, told ESPN's Joe Schad on Sunday night that the allegations made in the Free Press report are accurate. 

"The allegations are true," Clemons said. "Nothing is fabricated or exxagerated in that story. I was there on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. or 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. depending on if guys needed treatment. You were there daylight to nighttime." 

Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez and associate athletic director for compliance Judy Van Horn also released statements Sunday night. 

"We know the practice and offseason rules and we stay within the guidelines," Rodriguez's statement reads. "We follow the rules and have always been completely committed to being compliant with all NCAA rules."

"During the season, the NCAA limits 'countable' practice activities to 20 hours per week," Van Horn's statement reads. "There are activities that don't count, such as rehab and getting taped. We educate our coaching staffs and student-athletes [in all sports] to keep everyone informed of the rules. Also, compliance and administrative staff conduct in-person spot checks of practice during the academic year and summer. We have not had any reason to self-report any violations in this area with any of our sports."

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

Chatted with Rich Rodriguez this morning about Michigan's hot start to recruiting for 2010 -- check Thursday's blog for more on that -- and he also talked a bit about Kevin Grady and Kelvin Grady, who both could play roles for the Wolverines offense this fall.

Kevin Grady, a senior running back, is working out with the team this summer after serving a 7-day jail sentence last month for violating his probation on a drunken driving conviction. Grady appeared in 11 games as a reserve last season and has seen his production decline since 2005.

But he might not have played his last down for the Wolverines.

"He's taking care of his responsibilities from the previous thing that he had," Rodriguez said. "His status with the team will be based on what he does over the next several months."

Kevin's younger brother Kelvin left Michigan's basketball team April and will attempt to play football for the Wolverines this season as a walk-on. Kelvin was a standout running back at East Grand Rapids High School and got recruited in both sports by Michigan and other schools. He started 33 games as a point guard for the Wolverines hoops squad.

Unlike Kevin Grady, whose size made him a natural fit at tailback, Kelvin is smaller and more explosive as a runner. Rodriguez said the younger Grady would get a shot at slot receiver.

"He's an outstanding athlete and he sees an opportunity," Rodriguez said. "We kind of teased him about it for about a year now. We would say, 'Why don't you play both?' because he was a really good high school [football] player.

"He's going to have an opportunity. He's obviously been out for a couple years, but he's still a young guy and he's been active and he's been training. So he's going to be in pretty good shape, and we'll see what happens."

  • Rodriguez said there "may be" more players who leave the program but didn't name anyone specifically. Michigan has seen several players transfer, namely quarterback Steven Threet and wide receiver Toney Clemons. "Academically, guys are doing pretty good," Rodriguez said. "For the most part, we're in pretty good shape."

Big Ten lunch links

May, 21, 2009
Posted by's Chris Low

Here's some of what's happening Thursday in the Big Ten:

A few Michigan transfer tidbits

April, 21, 2009

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

It appears less and less likely that former Duke basketball player Greg Paulus will join Michigan's football team next fall, but there's a chance Michigan could add another quarterback with a familiar name.

Jason Forcier, the older brother of Michigan freshman quarterback Tate Forcier, hopes to pursue graduate work at Michigan next year. And the elder Forcier, who started his college career as a Michigan quarterback before transferring to Stanford, hasn't ruled out a return to football.

"I'm pretty much in the same boat as Greg Paulus, just as far as appealing to the NCAA," Jason Forcier told

Jason took the GRE exam last week and is awaiting word on whether he will be admitted to Michigan's graduate sports management program. Football is not Jason's primary motivation to return to Michigan -- he plans to embark on a career in sports business -- but if he gets in, he could seek a waiver from the NCAA to use his final season of eligibility this fall.

"Obviously, sports is going to end for me," Jason Forcier said. "You've got to accept the facts. But it doesn't change my passion for it. So if I can still be involved with it somehow, I feel like I can still participate.

"With the waiver, it would look good that I got into Michigan when I was an undergrad and I transferred to Stanford and did well there, graduated. They know it wouldn't be for a football issue."

The possibility of Forcier joining his little brother on the field this fall remains well in the distance, but it'll be something to monitor.

In other Michigan transfer news:

  • Former Wolverines quarterback Steven Threet is considering Arizona State as a possible transfer destination, The Arizona Republic reports. He recently visited Oregon State.
  • Former Michigan wide receiver Toney Clemons visited Colorado last week and will also check out Cincinnati, Kyle Ringo writes in the Daily Camera. Clemons seemed to enjoy his visit and expects to make a decision on his destination by the first week of May.

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

The Big Ten preseason has seemed downright boring compared to the rest of the country.

There's no Mark Sanchez or Ben Olson crisis in this league, and though Ohio State has endured a few recent off-the-field incidents, the Buckeyes have nothing on Georgia. None of the four major quarterback competitions -- Michigan, Wisconsin, Penn State and Indiana -- are settled, and the one in Ann Arbor could drag on for some time. Wisconsin dismissed running back Lance Smith, but the Badgers remain well-stocked at the position. Penn State dismissed defensive tackles Phil Taylor and Chris Baker but still have depth at the position.

If the first two weeks of preseason practice have revealed anything, it's that a position that seemed weak in the league could be much better than forecasted.

The Big Ten lost seven of its top 10 receivers from last season, a group that included three-time league receptions leader Dorien Bryant, big-play dynamo Devin Thomas, Indiana career receiving leader James Hardy and Michigan stars Mario Manningham and Adrian Arrington. Aside from Ohio State, Penn State and Northwestern, every Big Ten team entered camp with some degree of uneasiness about the wide receivers.

Michigan State and Indiana lost superstars. Michigan lost almost everybody. So did Purdue. Illinois and Minnesota needed second options. Iowa welcomed back several prominent pass-catchers from injuries. Wisconsin was very young at the position.

The anxiety level has dropped quite a bit.

Illinois, which will stress the pass more this fall, has produced several good candidates to complement Arrelious Benn, including juniors Jeff Cumberland and Chris Duvalt, sophomores Chris James and Alex Reavy and freshmen Jack Ramsey, A.J. Jenkins and Cordale Scott. Highly touted Fred Smith will make an impact this fall at Michigan State, but he's been overshadowed a bit by classmate Keshawn Martin. Michigan's young wideouts impressed first-year coach Rich Rodriguez from the get-go, and the Wolverines will lean on players like Darryl Stonum, Martavious Odoms, Terrance Robinson, Toney Clemons and Junior Hemingway come Aug. 30.

I was extremely impressed after watching Wisconsin sophomore David Gilreath, a big-play threat with tremendous speed. Though I didn't see Purdue practice after media day, junior-college transfer Arsenio Curry certainly looks like he can contribute alongside Greg Orton. Playmaker Andy Brodell is back in the fold at Iowa, and sophomore Colin Sandeman looks to be pushing incumbent Derrell Johnson-Koulianos for the starting job. Ray Fisher and Andrew Means headline a group of Indiana wideouts that also include some promising freshmen.

There has been so much buzz about the spread offense sweeping through the Big Ten. It looks like the league will have the moving parts to make those schemes work this fall.

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Just got back from watching about 70 minutes of Michigan's first practice, including the first six periods. We saw more than I thought, but you can't take too much away from it.

The biggest news was that reserve running back Kevin Grady participated in the workout despite being suspended from the team following a drunken driving arrest July 2.

Head coach Rich Rodriguez will address Grady's situation when he meets with the media around 5:45 p.m. ET. Rodriguez said at Big Ten media days that Grady had been suspended and had to meet certain demands to get reinstated. It appears as though he's met them.

"It's kind of on a week-by-week basis on him getting back," Rodriguez said July 24. "He has to do certain things internally within the program to get back on the team. And then once he does that, there will be some playing-time penalties as well and then he's on a strict kind of a watch. He has to earn his way on the team, and we'll take it from there."

Grady, who police said had a blood-alcohol level of 0.281 at the time of his arrest, pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor drunken driving charge July 9. His next court date is set for Aug. 14, and he faces up to 93 days in jail if convicted.

The 5-foot-9, 228-pound Grady worked alongside Brandon Minor, Carlos Brown, Sam McGuffie and the other backs.

Other observations:

  • True freshman quarterback Justin Feagin already has changed numbers twice, so it was hard to spot him right away. Some of us thought safety Stevie Brown was taking snaps at quarterback until informed Feagin now wears No. 3 after previously donning Nos. 14 and 5. Feagin and Brown are among several pairs wearing the same number.
  • Feagin's speed is immediately noticeable, and he looked comfortable running some of the basic option pitches and throws in the spread offense. My guess is he'll be used to run some option this fall.
  • Four players rotated at quarterback -- Steven Threet, Nick Sheridan, David Cone and Feagin. Brown, a quarterback in high school who ran the spread, also took some snaps after missing the spring with a broken finger. Threet has a smooth throwing motion and excellent size, but he's not the fastest quarterback on the field. Both Threet and David Cone tower above Feagin and Nick Sheridan, who looked a bit shaky on some of his passes.
  • The media entered the sweltering practice field to the sweet sounds of Motown, being played from a golf cart driven by a team official. Like many teams, Michigan blares music to simulate crowd noise. We were treated to Marvin Gaye's "How Sweet it is" and several other hits.
  • Tight end Carson Butler looks great, slimmer and stronger. He should be a major asset for Rodriguez and the new starting quarterback.
  • Sophomore Toney Clemons stood out among the wide receivers. He's got excellent size (6-foot-3) and should be able to stretch the field. I made a point to watch freshman Darryl Stonum, who drew praise from offensive coordinator Calvin Magee following an out route. I was also impressed with LaTerryal Savoy, who has good size.
  • Rodriguez spent most of the media viewing period with the offense, primarily watching the four quarterbacks. He also worked with a group of wide receivers on how to read different coverages. After Threet ran an option play, Rodriguez went over and told him to take a different angle.
  • Almost no one was watching the defense, and I fell victim to it a little bit. But the first-team defensive line -- ends Tim Jamison and Brandon Graham, and tackles Terrance Taylor and Will Johnson -- looked good. Taylor is a big, big boy.
  • Freshman Michael Shaw seemed to be getting a lot of work at wide receiver. It's a little weird to see No. 20 in maize and blue who isn't Mike Hart.
  • We were greeted by new strength coach Mike Barwis as we entered the practice field. Yes, his voice really does sound like that.
  • Walking through Michigan's weight room on the way out, I stopped to check out the team-high totals for several categories. Johnson tops the bench-press chart at 500 pounds, Taylor squatted a team-best 625 pounds and cornerback Morgan Trent ran a 4.13 in the 40-yard dash.
Check back later as Rodriguez and several players address the media.

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

Here's the second half of my interview with Michigan offensive coordinator Calvin Magee.

How is Carlos Brown doing coming off the broken finger?

Calvin Magee: He'll be in camp, ready to go, yes.

And then up front, there are some questions about depth. What are you looking for from the offensive line in practice?

CM: We've got to get the young kids in here real early and get them going, which is a big plan for us. I was really excited about them leaving spring, with the guys that competed. We lack a lot of experience across the board, but they did everything we asked them to do in spring, and I couldn't be more pleased leaving spring with their efforts. I've got some positions we need to get more depth at, but I like the guys we got.

There's been so much talk about players' conditioning and the strides made this summer. Is that most important for the offensive linemen, given what you ask them to do?

CM: It was huge for them to get in shape and stronger. Looking at their bodies, they've all done that. We don't give them that eight, nine seconds of rest in that huddle. They've got to get going and be in shape and be able to go fast and line up and play. They've all responded to that, and I'm excited.

At wide receiver, do you lean on a guy like Greg [Mathews] with some experience, or are you really looking heavily to the young guys?

CM: I look at the guys that played. Greg played last year, [Junior] Hemmingway played a little bit last year, Toney [Clemons] played. Right now, those are the guys with the experience coming in, but we've got a couple guys like [Zion] Babb and [LaTerryal] Savoy and a couple of young kids that we feel real good about that came on in the spring at the end. That's again going to be a position where it's not settled at all, but we know who are the experienced guys, who did what in the spring, and we're going to throw the young kids in there really early and let it all work itself out.

How did [Darryl] Stonum look coming out the spring?

CM: I was excited about him. Coming in in January really benefited him a great deal. His body's changed. He's a fast guy that can catch the ball, so I'm hoping he's one of the guys that comes along. But he's been here. He was here in the spring, so he's got a big head-start on the assignment part of it all. Now he's not like a chicken with his head cut off, he can kind of relax and just play, not think so much.

Rich [Rodriguez] mentioned how he just wanted to move on from everything at West Virginia, to not have it as a distraction. What have you seen from him the last few weeks, since the settlement?

CM: I'm sure it is for him. I can get into that and talk 30 minutes now, all the crazy stuff. But the best part of Rich, even when it was all going on, every day he was there, taking care of business every day. It never (affected) these kids, so now that it's gone, it's hard to answer that. I know he's glad it's behind him, but we didn't see him a whole lot different because he was still leading us like he always has.

Were you disappointed in the way things turned out for him, or are you glad it's over?

CM: The main thing was we stayed focused on what we had to do here every day. Yeah, I think it was unfair. I don't mind saying that. But it's over with and we've got to move forward now. That's the direction we're going.

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

Despite losing seven of the league's top 10 receivers from last season, this group should once again be solid in 2008. Teams like Ohio State, Penn State, Illinois and Northwestern return groups of receivers that have played together for a season or longer. Minnesota has a budding star in Eric Decker, while Wisconsin lacks a proven wide receiver but boasts arguably the nation's best tight end in Travis Beckum. Purdue is restocking at wide receiver but has history on its side, and Iowa welcomes back several key contributors from injuries.

As with the running backs, these rankings are broken down into two sections:


 AP Photo/Phelan Ebenhack
 Wisconsin's Travis Beckum had 75 receptions for 982 yards last season.

1. Travis Beckum, Sr., TE, Wisconsin -- It's rare that a tight end tops this list, but Beckum transcends his often overlooked position. The All-America candidate had 75 receptions for 982 yards and six touchdowns last season. If Beckum returns at top form following offseason shoulder surgery, he'll continue to flummox defenses with his size and speed.

2. Brian Robiskie, Sr., WR, Ohio State -- He averaged 17 yards a catch and had the third most touchdown catches (11) in the league last season. Now imagine what Robiskie will do without a torn meniscus in his knee that required offseason surgery. A deep threat on a squad with several of them, Robiskie is on the brink of a big season.

3. Arrelious Benn, So., WR, Illinois -- Fully healthy after shoulder surgery, Benn could easily become this season's Devin Thomas and rise to the top of the list. Illinois will get the ball in his hands as much as possible, whether it's in a ramped up passing attack, out of the backfield or on returns. A good route-runner with breakaway speed, Benn might be the league's most dynamic player.

4. Eric Decker, Jr., WR, Minnesota -- After putting up big numbers for a bad team last season, Decker should get more praise from fans and more attention from defenses this fall. A tremendous athlete who also plays baseball for the Golden Gophers, Decker gives quarterback Adam Weber a proven target who can get to the end zone (nine touchdowns in 2007).

5. Deon Butler, Sr., WR, Penn State -- Butler quietly has become one of the league's most reliable receivers. He needs just 36 receptions to become Penn State's all-time career receptions leader and likely will claim several other school records. As the Nittany Lions transition to more of a spread offense this fall, Butler should excel.

6. Eric Peterman, Sr., WR, Northwestern -- Just when defenses label Peterman as a standard possession wide receiver, he'll gash them for a big gain. He tied for seventh in the league in receptions last season and will once again be C.J. Bacher's top target in the passing game, particularly on third down.

7. Greg Orton, Sr., WR, Purdue -- After playing behind three-time Big Ten receptions leader Dorien Bryant, Orton takes center stage as a senior. He must stabilize a new-look Boilermakers receiving corps and provide senior quarterback Curtis Painter a reliable first option. Orton has 125 receptions the last two seasons.

8. Andy Brodell, Sr., WR, Iowa --Remember the 2006 Alamo Bowl? Brodell torched Texas for a bowl-record 159 receiving yards, including a 63-yard touchdown. A broken leg cut short his 2007 season, but he's back and ready to restore his place among the Big Ten's top receivers.

9. Brian Hartline, Jr., WR, Ohio State -- Don't forget about Ohio State's other Brian, who collected 52 receptions for 694 yards and six touchdowns last fall. As Robiskie stretches the field, Hartline provides an excellent complement who goes over the middle and absorbs contact. He turned in an excellent spring as Robiskie recovered from injury.

10. Derrick Williams, Sr., WR, Penn State -- Most thought Williams would be higher on this list when he arrived in Happy Valley, but he hasn't matched the hype -- yet. His speed and athleticism remain top notch, and he should do well in a spread offense. A big-play threat who can do damage in the return game, Williams could finish his career with a flourish.


1. Ohio State -- Finding a third option remains on Ohio State's to-do list, but few teams boast a better passing tandem than the Brians. After a season to jell with quarterback Todd Boeckman, Robiskie and Hartline will punish defenses worrying about Heisman Trophy candidate Beanie Wells.

2. Penn State -- In terms of continuity at wide receiver, Penn State ranks at the top of the list. But the long-tenured group of Butler, Williams and Jordan Norwood hasn't always met expectations. As seniors, they should shine despite having to work with a new starting quarterback.

3. Illinois -- The league knows all about Benn, who will do even more damage at 100 percent this fall. His supporting cast includes Jeff Cumberland, a 6-5, 247-pound former tight end who can outjump defenders, as well as Chris James, who missed all of last season with a torn ACL. The Illini will accentuate the passing game more this fall, and this group should step up.

4. Northwestern -- This could be the Wildcats' best group of wideouts sinc
e they installed in the spread offense in 2000. Peterman is good for 6-10 receptions per game. Ross Lane provides Bacher with a red-zone threat, and Andrew Brewer, considered the team's top wideout before suffering a fractured humerus in training camp, rejoins the group.

5. Iowa -- Embattled quarterback Jake Christensen is thrilled to see what's coming back this fall. Brodell returns from a broken leg and gives Iowa a viable deep threat. Promising tight end Tony Moeaki is also back in the fold following an injury. Sophomore Derrell Johnson-Koulianos, the team's top receiver last season, provides depth along with Trey Stross.

6. Wisconsin -- Beckum and understudy Garrett Graham are the only reasons why the Badgers are this high. For them to stay there, several wide receivers must emerge from an unproven group. Kyle Jefferson displayed promise as a freshman and David Gilreath showcased his speed as a returner, but there are more questions than answers here.

7. Purdue -- It's impossible to replace Bryant's production or the mismatch problems Dustin Keller created, but Orton gives Purdue a strong first option with good size. More important, the Boilermakers have a track record of success at wide receiver and a senior quarterback (Curtis Painter) who can help unproven players. Junior-college transfer Aaron Valentin bolsters a group that also includes Desmond Tardy.

8. Minnesota -- I'm tempted to put the Gophers higher because of Decker, but there's not much behind him. Ernie Wheelwright's departure leaves a hole, which could be filled by dynamic freshman Brandon Green, sophomore Ralph Spry or several others. If Minnesota finds a solid second option for Weber, it will climb several spots.

9. Michigan -- Before you flood my inbox, allow an explanation. The Wolverines have no proven quarterbacks, only one semi-proven wide receiver (Greg Mathews) and a dramatically different offense to learn. A drop-off is likely, but not certain. Freshman Darryl Stonum bolsters the new-look corps, and players like Junior Hemingway and Toney Clemons could shine after waiting their turn for playing time.

10. Indiana -- There's no James Hardy on the roster, but juniors Ray Fisher and Andrew Means should stabilize a passing game led by quarterback Kellen Lewis. Tight end Max Dedmond provides another option in the new no-huddle offense, though another target or two needs to emerge.

11. Michigan State -- Javon Ringer told me to expect big things from this group, but I'm not convinced. Thomas and underrated tight end Kellen Davis will be missed, and Ringer had more receptions last season than any of the returnees. Deon Curry, Mark Dell, B.J. Cunningham and Blair White have the chance to step up -- and move up the list.