Chat with Michael Rothstein
Welcome to WolverineNation! On Thursday, reporter Michael Rothstein stops by to chat about the state of Michigan football.
Rothstein joined ESPN.com in 2011 after covering the University of Michigan for AnnArbor.com, Notre Dame for the Fort Wayne (Ind.) Journal Gazette and a host of colleges for the Daily News-Record (Harrisonburg, Va.). A Syracuse graduate and an East Meadow, N.Y. native, he lives in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Send your questions now and join Rothstein Thursday at noon ET!
Michael Rothstein (12:02 PM)
Hey everyone. Hope you're well and if you are in Michigan, enjoying this finally-great weather. It's the offseason, but doesn't mean you don't have a bunch of questions. So let's get right to it.
Kyle Flynn (Traverse City Michigan)
Do you think Lavert will be able to replace the scoring threat that was THJ?
Michael Rothstein (12:05 PM)
Kyle, I don't think it will be up to Caris LeVert on his own by any stretch. There's a much better chance Hardaway Jr.'s shots -- and Trey Burke's shots -- get divided up between Mitch McGary, Glenn Robinson III, Nik Stauskas, Derrick Walton/Spike Albrecht and LeVert when he is in the game. So I don't think it will be all on him -- but I bet he gets more playing time and opportunity.
Tom (Minneapolis, MN)
Hey Michael, Wolverine fan from MN here. I was wondering what WR you think will make the biggest impact this year, other than Jeremy Gallon? Also, is there anyone this spring who you think has emerged as a front runner in the tailbacks, or will it be tailback-by-committee?Thanks,Tom
Michael Rothstein (12:06 PM)
Tom, those are two really strong questions. We'll tackle the first one first. I think of all pass catchers, Devin Funchess will make the biggest impact other than Gallon, but he's not a wide receiver but a tight end. As far as receivers, I look at Amara Darboh and think he is your guy. He has enough height and speed to be able to create separation from receivers. Add in a much more accurate quarterback with a stronger arm in Devin Gardner and you'll see improved wide receivers across the board.
Michael Rothstein (12:08 PM)
To the running back question, no one has emerged as a front runner this spring -- but no one was going to because of the injury to Fitzgerald Toussaint and Derrick Green/Deveon Smith/Wyatt Shallman not being on campus yet. This won't be settled until at least the end of camp and more than likely the fall.
Jacob (Ann Arbor)
Will we get Jabrill Peppers and Deshawn Hand ?? And what other WR's are we still looking at that maybe will come to us ??
Michael Rothstein (12:09 PM)
Jacob, instead of answering that here, I'll direct you to this story, which has a lot of answers (but neither Peppers nor Hand has committed and until that point, you can't rule anything out): http://es.pn/16jg5FE
Zac (Ann Arbor )
As a fan of Wolverine football that tries to stay at least somewhat unbiased I dont see this squad doing any better than 8-5/9-4 this season; but would you agree that this Michigan squad has a shot to be truly special in 2014? Im talking Big Ten Championship and maybe even a member of the first playoff?
Michael Rothstein (12:12 PM)
I think Michigan's schedule sets up that it could have a really strong season in 2013. Having Nebraska, Notre Dame and Ohio State at home -- along with a much easier front portion of the schedule -- helps there. I've said 9-3 for a while now and I'm sticking with that prediction. Way too tough to figure out 2014, but any sort of run at a playoff will depend on both what the 2014 Big Ten schedule looks like and whether or not Devin Gardner is back.
Derrick Green (Ann Arbor )
Considering the last two backs to be #1 in both scout/rivals were Marcus Lattimore and Adrian Peterson do you believe I have a shot to have similar success early in my career? I dont see much competition from the current scholarship backs outside of Fitz who wasnt all that impressive last year anyway.
Michael Rothstein (12:13 PM)
Hello, Derrick. I think you have a great chance at success early on in your career, especially if you beat out Fitzgerald Toussaint for the starting job. I'd be surprised if Green didn't see the field in some capacity this fall.
Michigan Football (Ann Arbor )
Over/Under on our record being 9-4 this year? And over/under on our record being 11-2 next year?
Michael Rothstein (12:14 PM)
I think 9-4 is right on the money when it comes to the regular season (and Big Ten title game). As far as 2014, no way I'm predicting that. Too much can change. Way too much.
Is Michigan looking to add anymore offensive lineman to the upcoming class?
Michael Rothstein (12:16 PM)
Yes, Michigan will still add offensive linemen to this class or at least look to.
Ryan (The Den)
In regards to Jabril Peppers, do you know what Tom knows and are you willing to share?!?! :)
Michael Rothstein (12:17 PM)
No and no.
Dan (New York, NY)
How do you think Beilein has/will adjust to Michigan's upwards trajectory as a national basketball power, and the impact this has on recruiting. Presumably, as we continue to improve, we will be able to recruit higher ranked players. But this has never been Beilein's strength - it has been finding the diamonds in the rough, like Burke. With the additional wrinkle of not wanting Michigan to become a place for one-and-done's - Those Who Stay, and all that. How does that all play out?
Michael Rothstein (12:19 PM)
I think Beilein will adjust well -- and you've already seen that. Sure, Glenn Robinson III (and even Zak Irvin and Derrick Walton), ended up as high recruits but they improved post-commitment. I think you can look at the commitment and development of Mitch McGary as a good sign for that. Plus, Michigan is in on some very high-level guys now. I don't think it will be an issue.
D green, cant wait to see you play next year! go blue!that being said, Mike, your thoughts on Dev Gardner? I have seen him for over 5 yrs, and he keeps getting better, do you think he will have a break out year?
Michael Rothstein (12:22 PM)
I think I'm already on record somewhere saying Devin Gardner could have a monster season in 2013. He has all the tools. He has the size and speed combination NFL teams covet. He has the arm strength to make any throw. He's smart. He's personable. He also has the work ethic and want-to in order to be good. Add to that an offensive scheme which fits his skill set and you're looking at a strong, strong player in 2013. Or the potential for it.
Zac (Ann Arbor )
Maybe this is me seeing too much in common because of their relative stature, but do you see a lot of comparable attributes between Jeremy Gallon and Wes Welker? I could see Gallon really contributing some outstanding numbers this year with a QB who can actually throw the ball ( I loved Denard, but he was an Arm-Punter more than a QB)
Michael Rothstein (12:24 PM)
Ehh, yes and no. I don't honestly remember much of Wes Welker in college and I think you are going too much on a pure size comparison. Welker has some of the best hands I've ever seen. I think Gallon is more of a downfield threat in that regard and has extremely good leaping ability. I know some of Gallon's old teammates have set the bar for him at a 1,000-yard season and I'd tend to agree.
Todd (Port Huron, MI)
What is the status of Jake Ryan?
Michael Rothstein (12:25 PM)
Still injured. Working his way back from a torn ACL. Hoke said he thinks he could be back by mid-October, but I'll believe that for sure when I see it. Too many variables to make that true call right now.
Basketball Fan (The heart of $uckeye Country )
I think Trey Burke despite his size will have a very successful career as a rotation point guard behind somebody like Rose or Wall; but do you agree with me on the sentiment that Timmy Jr could have used another year in college? I just dont see him in his current state being near quality enough to take up a rotation spot on an NBA team. D-League at best.
Michael Rothstein (12:28 PM)
I actually think you are wrong on both. I've said this before, but I think Trey Burke is a future NBA starter who has a long (we're talking 10-plus years, here) career and maybe an All-Star berth or two. He is that good, still has room to improve and has an extremely good work ethic. Plus, the skill set is there and he has a knack for setting people up in the right spot. He'll be fine in the league. As for Hardaway Jr., another year in college wouldn't have done much for him, in my opinion. What he needs to improve on wouldn't have come across with the extra year of school. I think he could end up being a rotation guy in the league at some point. He does a lot of things well.
Greg Barber (South Carolina)
Do you think Michigian's O line will be nasty this year with Lewan and scofield running the show?
Michael Rothstein (12:29 PM)
The offensive line has the potential to be good, but it all depends on the interior and how fast those pieces come together. They could struggle at the beginning of the year (not Lewan or Schofield, but the line as a whole) and be pretty good by the season's end. Nasty? We'll see.
Frank (New Orleans)
Delonte Hollowell Jr. has been as afterthought at defensive back the past two years then he starts with first unit in place of Raymon Taylor in the spring game. Does Hollowell suddenly have an inside track on a starting job?
Michael Rothstein (12:32 PM)
I'd be surprised if he started but wouldn't be shocked if he played. Guys come along at different paces and he certainly seems to have found something good in his game. Still think Michigan's starting corners end up being Countess and Taylor to start the year,but Hollowell could definitely push them. He's been pretty strong on special teams at points in his career. If you remember, Michigan pulled off his redshirt midway through the 2011 season just for special teams.
Michael: i saw on U of M website that tickets for the Notre Dame game is more than the tickets for the OSU game. Why is that? i know ND is probably the biggest draw in college Football, but come on, it's not even a confrence game. Your thoughts?
Michael Rothstein (12:33 PM)
Those two tickets are the same price on the Michigan web site (along with Nebraska). All are $95.
Hey Mike, what games do you think michigan football will lose i can see ohio, northwestern thats it
Michael Rothstein (12:35 PM)
Kyle, I think they lose to Notre Dame, Northwestern and Ohio State (twice...one in the regular season finale. Again in the Big Ten title game). The concern with Notre Dame, to me, goes back to the earlier question on the offensive line. It being early in the season, that new interior won't have had a ton of time to come together yet against one of the better defensive lines in college football.
Wolverine In Enemy Territory (Dayton, OH)
MR - Thanks for taking question. What do you see as UM's 2013 team's greatest strength this year, and greatest weakness?
Michael Rothstein (12:36 PM)
You're welcome. Michigan's biggest strengths in 2013 will be Devin Gardner and its linebacking corps (even without Jake Ryan). Gardner, as I mentioned earlier in the chat, has a real chance to be a special player for Michigan this season. The linebackers have depth, talent and some experience. There is a lot to like there. As far as weakness, there is definitely some concern over the receivers and running game because there are still questions over who, exactly, will play. Those would be the two areas I would look at. There's talent, but not experienced talent.
Michael: Are you sad to see Notre Dame and Michigan calling it quits after next season?
Michael Rothstein (12:38 PM)
Yeah, mostly because of my background. I covered Notre Dame for four years (2005-2008) and then Michigan the past four seasons (2009-Present) so I've been at the past eight games and there is always something enjoyable -- and unpredictable -- about those games. It's a good rivalry and one I thought was quite good for college football.
After spring football, who do you see as our starting secondary? Also do you think we will see Dymonte Thomas get playing time? I was really hoping to see Terry Richardson pan out and get early playing time but that doesn't seem to be the case.
Michael Rothstein (12:40 PM)
To your second question first, I think you'll see Dymonte Thomas on the field at some point this fall. Where, exactly, remains to be seen but Michigan will find a spot for him. He might be one of those guys who is too good to not play. The starting secondary: I'd say Blake Countess and Raymon Taylor at the corners and Thomas Gordon and Jarrod Wilson at the safeties, with Marvin Robinson and Thomas pushing for time at the third safety. In nickel, it all depends on if Courtney Avery holds off either Gordon (which would open up a third safety spot for Robinson or Thomas) or Thomas there.
Michael: Quick question: Who has a bigger fanebase: Notre Dame or Michigan?
Michael Rothstein (12:42 PM)
They are both pretty large and are national fan bases. Everywhere I've traveled, I've noticed that.
Josh (Ann Arbor)
Hey Michael, I wanted to know our chances with basketball phenom Stephen Zimmerman as far as hoops go. I know he is planning a visit and is a big time recruit so I am very curious.
Michael Rothstein (12:43 PM)
I actually spoke with Zimmerman and his mom last night. They are still in the formative stages of planning when and where they want to visit -- he is a highly, highly sought-after prospect -- but they seem to like Michigan (among many other schools). He's a 2015 prospect and when I asked about making a decision, they both laughed. They are a long way off from that. Should have something on Zimmerman on the site later today.
Jon (New Jersey)
C'mon, be honest. How pumped are you for football in New Jersey every other year?!?!?
Michael Rothstein (12:45 PM)
If your last name is Bon Jovi, I would be even more excited. I'm a New Yorker by birth and at heart, so any time I'd get a chance to travel closer to home, I'm all for it. I think fans of other Big Ten schools will also like it a lot -- especially Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State.
Tantang (Jakarta, Indonesia)
Out of the trio of Blueitt, Booker, Looney, who is the most likely to commit to Michigan? How many scholarship is Michigan likely to have in 2014?
Michael Rothstein (12:48 PM)
Checking in from across the world, welcome to the chat! The scholarship situation for 2014 is somewhat fluid, mostly because of the potential of early entries for next season from some players. Right now Michigan has two players committed (Austin Hatch and Ricky Doyle) with room for one more. But..between the aforementioned potential early entries, there could be room for more. Plus, Hatch is still recovering from his injuries suffered in the plane crash almost two years ago. To your first question, still too early to tell. All are very much wanted -- and have a lot of places to choose from.
When do incoming recruits get on campus?
Michael Rothstein (12:49 PM)
End of June.
Who is Michigan's best Heisman Trophy candidate for the 2013 season?
Michael Rothstein (12:51 PM)
Dragon, this is an interesting question to me, but it is easily Devin Gardner. Why? If you took his stats from the last five games of the season and extrapolated them out through a full year, they would have compared favorably to other candidates in terms of passing. Plus, while Gardner is somewhat known, he isn't coming in with a ton of stardom and expectations on him already, which could only help if he has a really strong season. I'd watch for him.
Erica (San Francisco)
Hii Michael, love my Wolverines. Was curious to know about Adoree' Jackson. He plays with my younger brother and I heard he has Michigan on his list. Being that I graduated from the U of M I was curious about how serious he is about my school.
Michael Rothstein (12:52 PM)
Erica, Jackson has a Michigan offer.
Peter (Atlanta, GA)
Where does Lewan rank among all-time great Michigan OL if he has a truly great season?
Michael Rothstein (12:54 PM)
Probably up in the Jake Long/Jon Jansen area and not because of the number. If he has a great season after turning down first-round dollars to come back to Michigan, that would only enhance his stature among the Michigan community. If he does what he is capable of, which is being one of the top two or three offensive linemen in the country, then he has to be considered in that pantheon of player.
Graham (Naples, FL)
Any update on rehab for Fitz? Also, how close is Countess to being back to 100%?
Michael Rothstein (12:55 PM)
Graham, there isn't much to update right now. He felt pretty good during the spring and really won't be able to know if he is 100 percent until he takes that first hit in the fall. I know he's looking forward to that. Countess should be in a similar boat to Toussaint. Both should be fine come fall camp.
Michael Rothstein (12:55 PM)
Hey everyone, just five more minutes for me today so get those last questions in. Thanks.
Justen Ransom (Georgia )
With Gardner getting an extra year with a medical red shirt, what are the plans with Shane Morris? I know the Wolverines are thin at QB which makes me think they will not red shirt him but at the same time if he is as good as advertised you can't just have him on the bench. what do you see happening?
Michael Rothstein (12:57 PM)
Justen, it's too early to tell for multiple reasons. First, Morris isn't even on campus yet, so it is tough to know whether or not he is truly game-ready or could use the year. I'm of the opinion all quarterbacks should take the year if they can so they can learn the system and develop chemistry with players. As for Gardner's fifth-year, he has that option, but remember he is graduating this weekend so he would then be in grad school for two years if he takes his fifth-year. Gardner is the starter and what happens with Morris likely hinges on Gardner's health is the short answer.
Dan (New York)
Does it matter for the program where Burke ends up being drafted? If the right team gets the first pick and he goes there, does that help us in recruiting? Regardless, how cool would that be!!
Michael Rothstein (12:58 PM)
No, I don't think it does because he'll be in the lottery barring something crazy happening and will likely be in the top 5 or 6.
Hi Michael -- Do you really think Beilein will be able to implement a two big lineup next season with McGary and Horford/Morgan? It seems different from any style he's played previously.
Michael Rothstein (1:01 PM)
I think he'll look at it more seriously than he ever has before, mostly because of the personnel he has. He has four pretty good to elite bigs and a fifth in Mark Donnal coming in. That's a lot of depth for really one spot. Plus, with Mitch McGary saying he is going to play some four, that means you'll see some sort of Horford/Morgan combination at the five. he's talked about this since I started covering this team when it was Zack Gibson and DeShawn Sims as the two bigs. I think it happens more than you think this year.
Michael Rothstein (1:02 PM)
Well, that's my time for this week. Really appreciate all the questions and if I didn't get to yours, pop on our message board over at http://www.wolverinenationespn.com or ask me on Twitter @mikerothstein or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks again and as always, have a great, great weekend!