January 1, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA; Michigan Wolverines defensive end Mario Ojemudia (53) against the South Carolina Gamecocks works out prior of the 2013 Outback Bowl at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan Football: Coach’s Corner — Defensive Ends — Plenty of Possibilities


Posted at 4:30am — 7/22/2013

Michigan Football: Coach’s Corner — Defensive Ends — Plenty of Possibilities

Once upon a time, not so long ago, discussion of the Michigan defense centered on the minimal number of defensive ends that could play at a Big Ten level. Recruiting did not seem to help the situation. Do you remember these names: Anthony LaLota, Kenny Wilkins, Jordan Paskorz, Antonio Kinard, and Chris Rock? Paskortz is now a tight end back-up, a guy who hung tough, stayed in school, and is working for the team. The rest of the above…

Fast forward to 2013 and the defensive end situation is looking much more promising. There is clearly more talent and depth.

Both defensive ends in the 4-3 under play a five technique, although the Michigan defensive coaches are want to call at least one end a five technique tackle. There is still a strong and a weak side designation in many other nomenclatures.

Coaches Hoke and Mattison have a nice mix of skills from the collective group of “new generation” defensive ends. Experience is short but the ever-present moniker potential is in a larger font.

September 15, 2012; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines defensive end Keith Heitzman (92) gets set to go at Massachusetts Minutemen offensive linesman Matt Sparks (78) as offensive linesman John Wallace (58) hikes the ball at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Keith Heitzman- is a red-shirt sophomore, but one of the elder members of the group. Heitzman is from Hilliard Davidson High School, just west of Columbus. Hilliard Davidson may have the best line coaching in Ohio. This school came out of nowhere and has won several Division One state titles during the last decade, breaking the Cleveland/Cincinnati stranglehold on state titles. It has been stated that a board could be placed across the backs of the offensive line and a level would then indicate no error.

This superior technique has helped Heitzman to be in contention for a starting position at strong defensive end. He was also known as being the strongest member of the Hilliard line group.

He is smart, well schooled, a technician, and does not fold his tent easy. Coaches like giving guys like this starting spots. Consistency counts: splendid on one play and awful on another is not a good recipe for defensive line success.

Tom Strobel- is a red-shirt freshman from the Cleveland area. Some talent sites considered him as just another recruit and some valued his skills and potential to a higher degree. He has good size at around 260 pounds and being over 6’ 5.” Tom was somewhat heralded and already antsy fans are wondering why Strobel is not starting, or at least playing a lot. Well, he did not play last year and Tom was rightfully red-shirted. And there is plenty of competition. His role may very well evolve as time passes. Strobel is not a wow factor athlete, but he has smarts and skills. Strength needs to continue to improve. But please remember he is only a freshman with two pretty good veterans ahead of him.

Mario Ojemudia- is a quick athlete who has gained some weight and strength; more is probably needed. He may serve this year as a valuable role player on passing downs. From his arrival on campus, Mario has been recognized as Michigan’s hope for an outside pass rush. At his current size, defensive end appears to be Mario’s permanent destination and pass rusher his specialty.

Frank Clark- was very much like Mario two years ago, except not as highly heralded. He is an above average athlete with enough athleticism and skill to make big plays. Frank is over 270 pounds and this is probably a very good weight for him to hold, assuming he maintains his speed. Clark should do better against the run this year with his additional experience and weight gain. He is now a junior and 2013 is a big year regarding judging career progress. Clark now appears to be with the program and working hard, his performance this year should be above average for a Big Ten defensive end. Michigan fans are hoping for more.

Matthew Godin- is a red-shirt freshman and as such is untested. Coaches certainly seem to be positive about Godin’s future at UM, and like about everyone else on this list he has been mentioned as a potential starter. Godin could also become an inside player as well, since he is approaching defensive tackle size. Odds are before all is done Godin will play more than one position.

Godin is a player that does not have the wow factor, but he is more of an old style football player that can be depended on for consistency.

Apr 13, 2013; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines quarterback Alex Swieca (13) is forced out of the pocket by defensive end Taco Charlton (33) and defensive end Tom Strobel (50) during the Spring Game at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Taco Charlton- a few years ago was only about 220 pounds and played as a pass rusher in high school. When Taco was a senior, he became an every down player and gained some notoriety. Some sites were not impressed, while others saw him as a potential gem in the rough. The Michigan staff saw the second possibility and jumped early. He is now over 260 pounds and 6’ 6.” He is not J. Clowney, but is an excellent athlete. During the last fifteen months, Taco has come a long way, improving in many game facets. Some still hint he takes plays off, but he knows that cannot happen if he wants to play the majority of downs. Taco is an excellent fit in every regard at Michigan. Although he could be red-shirted, the odds of that decreased greatly with his spring play.

Chris Wormley- has been listed as both defensive end and defensive tackle. We will all have to wait and see what the fall brings regarding his position. One thing for sure, he could be a monster-size strong side end. And he is athletic enough to play the edge. When he wants to get it on 100%, Wormley is a major talent.

Sep 1, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Michigan Wolverines defensive end Brennen Beyer (97) in action against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Cowboys Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Brennen Beyer- is currently a linebacker, helping out with depth in lieu of the Jake Ryan injury.

There seems to be little argument that Michigan has greatly improved at defensive end in the last five years. There is very good, but not great talent. However, there are some guys that may turn into impact players, such as Clark. Then, there will be several guys who are consistent RVB types and will rely on technique, smarts, and toughness, such as Keith Heitzman

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Written by GBMWolverine Staff

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