Frank Clark blossomed into a steady defensive end last season, adding 4.5 sacks to total 6.5 for his three-year career. Of the other defensive ends expected to be on the 2014 two-deep, Brennen Beyer, Mario Ojemudia and Taco Charlton amount to only 4.5.
Considering the entire defensive front was indifferent while pressuring the passer, it’s understood that Clark, the group’s only senior, doesn’t feel the love.
And frankly, that’s the way he wants it.
“It’s going to inspire us,” Clark spoke about being disrespected. “What I want, I want everyone to look down on us. I want all the media, I want all critics to look down us. I don’t want to be in the top-25. I want us to be one of those teams that’s a surprise. Because that’s what we are going to do – we’re going to shock the world.”
A total turnaround might be a lot to ask. Losing their final three games to Iowa, Ohio State and Kansas State, nearly losing to Akron and Connecticut, and getting spanked by Michigan State 29-6—there’s no question about the fans’ skepticism.
“He (defensive coordinator Greg Marrison) said ‘We can be a great team, you guys can be an even better defense if you guys want to be.’ ” Clark added: “That means simply to us, just come with everything we got to have during summer conditioning, summer workouts and the summer camp and we’ll have a great season.”
Clark said he saw flicker of it in the spring game.
“I see a lot of guys flying around. I see a lot guys running to the ball. A lot of guys making plays and giving it their all,” Clark said. “And really seeing the guys taking off on plays. You really didn’t see any big plays. You seen our corners did their job and I believe on D-line we did our job.”
Michigan recruited just one defensive back for the 2014 class, but he’s a good one. From Southfield High, Lawrence Marshall (6-3, 240) de-committed from Ohio State last February and became a Wolverine in May.
U-M figures to have 10-11 spots remaining for the 2015 class since five have already committed. Two of the spots may go to defensive ends, keeping in mind Tyrone Wheatley, Jr. could play on either side of the line.
|Mario Ojemudia||Taco Charlton|
|Henry Poggi* |
*Also plays defensive tackle
(Prospect) Tyrone Wheatley, Jr. 6-6, 260 DE/TE , Buffalo Canisius HS, New York:
A legacy recruit since his dad won the Big Ten offensive player of the year as a Michigan running back in the early nineties. Like current Michigan rusher Drake Johnson, Wheatley, Sr. was also an All-American prep school hurdler.
The elder Wheatley is fifth on Michigan’s all time rushing list with 4,178 yards, and still holds the season yards-per-carry record of 7.34.
“(On the field) I got a lot faster,” Wheatley, Jr. said, “a lot stronger, a lot more confident in everything I’m doing… like making a move of getting off. Just beating people one on one.
“As far as visits I made it to Pitt, Tennessee, Alabama, and Michigan. Those are the four main schools.” Soon he’ll add UCLA, USC and possibly Florida to his visit list. Don’t look for a commitment anytime soon. With 16 offers already in his back pocket, Wheatley, Jr. sees no reason the speed up the process.
What the experts say: Both an accomplished tight end and defensive end ,”(Tyrone) looks more comfortable and natural on defense. He gets off the ball quickly, but sometimes gets upright too quickly. Wheatley has the size to overpower an offensive tackle, and also can use his speed to get around the edge.”—Brian Done, scout.com.
(Prospect) Jashon Cornell, 6-4, 270, DE, St. Paul Cretin Durham Hall, Minnesota
Cornell is a highly-talented prospect at the end position to say the least. He just happens to be ESPN’s top recruit in the nation. With a reputation like that, you’d expect him to contribute right away. Before that, Cornell must survive the hectic recruiting process.
No doubt a future prime-time performer, Cornell visited Michigan for Under the Lights II, the Wolverines’ 41-30 win over Notre Dame. “I thought the atmosphere was crazy,” he said. “115,000 people, the largest amount of people at one game. They have a crazy fan base and it was a great overall atmosphere.
“It showed me what Michigan had to offer, academics and football too.”
“They all said, we really want you here, we really want you here. We really want a weakside defensive end and that’s you.”
Cornell would join several top-rated recruits like CB/S/WR Jabrill Peppers, RB Derrick Green and C/G Patrick Kugler.
What the experts say: Possesses nice blend of size, strength and athleticism for the position. Adequate height with good bulk at this stage and demonstrates explosive playing strength. Flashes excellent first step quickness. Cornell is a highly-talented prospect at the end position with complementary effort and a finisher’s attitude. Skill level falls in line with some of our recent top-rated defensive ends. A likely early contributor at the BCS level while still having room to grow and develop.—espn.com.
(Prospect) Keisean Lucier-South, 6-5, 215, WDE, Orange County Lutheran, California
It never hurts recruiting a prospect who’s worn Michigan gear since he was a kid.
“When I was a kid, me and my dad would watch Michigan football games every Saturday,” recalled Lucier-South. We even had a sign outside of our house that said Wolverine Fans Only.”
Watching the players on TV they are all having a lot of fun. I really enjoyed the night games, those are really nice. The academics are some of the top in the country. I like that a lot about Michigan. I really would like to visit and see the Big House—and that might happen in the spring. My parents and I are looking into that.”
I was in shock about the Michigan offer,” Keisean Lucier-South told GoBlueWolverine. “My coaches and teammates knew how much I wanted that Michigan offer. When I posted on twitter that I received the offer my account blew up with Michigan fans.”
What the experts say: Long leaner prospect with wiry strength. He will need to work to pack on more good mass to a narrower frame, but room to add some needed size with further physical development. Displays good first step quickness : Lucier-South needs to add bulk and strength to his lengthy frame but we like his ceiling for development. Displays good athleticism and tools that should develop over time into a well-rounded college DE.—espn.com.
(Prospect) Clelin Ferrell, 6-5, 225, WDE, Richmond Benedictine, Virginia
Starting more than 15 years ago, Richmond, Virginia has become a real haven for Michigan recruiting. It began with All-American WR David Terrell venturing to Ann Arbor in 1998. Since then, RB Brandon Minor (2006), LB Marell Evans (2009), RB Derrick Green (2013) and QB Wilton Speight (2014) have worn the winged helmet.
Michigan already has St. Christopher CB Garrett Taylor committed to the 2015 class and is in pursuit of Benedictine DE Clelin Farrell (2015) and teammate Scott Bracey, who could be part of U-M’s 2016 class.
Ferrell, Taylor and, of course, Bracey play in the same conference which sent Speight to Ann Arbor.
Greg Lilly, Benedictine’s head football coach, told scout.com that Farrell is definitely interested in a school like Michigan.
I can’t remember if it was in January or December, whatever that recruiting period was, but Coach Hoke did come in and stopped by and let us know how interested they were in both kids, Lilly said. ” I think both the guys, Clelin and Scott were impressed by that and honored by that. We’re a small private school, 275 boys. It is a military school, a catholic school. There is obviously an emphasis put on their education and them wanting to go to good academic schools and be good student-athletes and obviously Michigan offers that opportunity.”
What the experts say: This year we have played him on the strong side and kind of made him like the six technique, sort of an anchor end is what we call it. He has typically played the weak side, five technique, sort of the rush guy off the edge for us. We had some injuries and needed to move him over there and he was physical enough on this level to do that.—Greg Lilly
Player Hgt/Wgt Star Rating Nat'l Pos. Rank State Rank Tyrone Wheatley (DE/TE) 6-6, 260 4 (SDE), 4 TE 15 (SDE), 7 (TE) 1 Jashon Cornell 6-4, 270 5 (WDE) 3 (WDE) 1 Keisean Lucier-South 6-5, 215 4 (WDE) 5(WDE) 6 Cleland Ferrell 6-5, 225 5 (WDE) 2 (WDE) 2
*Composite rankings via 247sports.
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Written by GBMWolverine Staff — Joel Greer