Michigan Football Preview 2015

2015 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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120 ■ THE WOLVERINE 2015 FOOTBALL PREVIEW SPECIAL TEAMS "It was Jabrill and about eight other guys," he said. "There's no doubt Ja- brill is a good student, athletic, and a passionate football player who wants to do as much for himself and this team as possible, but you'll never see me talk about one player in a team game because it may end up being him and it may not. Somebody might get tired, hurt or something so it might be some- body else. "[Redshirt junior receiver] Jehu Chesson has been fabulous. [Junior cornerback] Jourdan Lewis has done a good job, and [junior cornerback] Channing Stribling has been good. [Freshman receiver] Brian Cole, [junior safety] Delano Hill, [sophomore receiver] Freddy Canteen — those guys all did something good with the ball." Redshirt sophomore Scott Sypniewski (6-1, 224) is the scholarship long snap- per. He earned a varsity letter and ap- peared in 12 games last year, handling the duty nearly flawlessly. Redshirt freshman Andrew Robinson (6-0, 209) will push him, though, and others be- sides Allen will get a chance to hold. At the end of the day, Baxter figures to enjoy the same success at Michigan he has everywhere else. "It's in our best interest to have depth at every position," Baxter said. "We've got to go out every day and coach every kid to be their best version of themselves. The stats will measure their perfor- mance." ❑ Former Michigan kicker Brandon Kornblue has become one of the experts in his craft, recruits from across the na- tion having flocked to his Kornblue Kicking School over the years to learn from him. He's gotten up close looks at three of the contenders for U-M's kicking and punting positions and is as qualified as anyone to offer his opinion on each. That said, even he couldn't predict how the Wolverines' kicking game will shake out this fall. He's tutored both redshirt freshman walk-on Kyle Seychel and true freshman Andrew David, and has seen significant progress from each of them. David might be considered the frontrunner for the start- ing placekicker position, but there are many things to take into account before anointing him. "Strength was the question mark I had before I worked with him," Kornblue said. "He's not a big kid [5-9], so it's not like he has an NFL upside. He doesn't hit an explosive ball, but he's solid and technically very sound. It's about the consistency with him. "I compare him probably to [former Michigan four-year starter] Garrett Rivas in that category. He has the ability to hit a longer ball, but he's not like [former U-M kickers] Jay Feely or Hayden Epstein with the longer leg, so I don't know if he'd do kickoffs or not. But I think he would be the frontrunner for the field goal job." Kornblue hadn't seen David when he first pledged to former head coach Brady Hoke in June 2013, so he wasn't sure what to expect. What he's witnessed since is a kicker who is polished for his age. "When I have worked with him, there's not been a lot I had to critique or correct with him," Kornblue said. "He's very fundamentally and technically sound. I think he's got a shot to come in and do the job. "The thing is, you've got to be confident. That's tough. There are very few guys that come in right away as a kicker — just like a quarterback — and are able to handle that. It's possible. There are guys who have done it, but there are going to be some growing pains. "Hopefully they can let him get used to the crowd and all that goes into it and get him comfortable. That's the mental makeup that separates the good ones from the great ones." He's never had to rebound with a big kick after missing one, Kornblue continued, or been in pressure situations where the game is on the line in front of 110,000 fans. But neither has Seychel, a later arrival to the kicking game. The 6-2, 171-pounder lettered for two years at Hart- land (Mich.) High, but the former soccer player didn't start taking kicking seriously until his senior year. "He didn't go to any college camps, so nobody saw him," Kornblue said. "He was under the radar, came to one of our camps in the fall of his senior year and I said, 'My goodness, this kid's got so much potential.' It was just a matter of get- ting him to the right spot and working. "He's got a big leg. At the end of fall last year they put him in during practice, and he started hitting some big kicks. He started smashing some pressure kicks, some long ones, and he started climbing the charts. He could be in the mix there, as well." When a kicker has the leg, Kornblue said, it's the small things technically that can make a difference. Consistent dedication will be the difference between who wins the job and who is watching from the sidelines when the season starts. "He's got the tools," Kornblue said of Seychel. "I think Kyle has a chance, but he's a redshirt freshman, so it's not like he's been there a lot longer than Andrew. All things being equal, Kyle has much more strength and potential that way. But you have to be able to do it on a consistent basis — not just one time or a couple times, but kick after kick. That's the part I don't know. That's what we'll see." Of the punters, Kornblue hasn't seen incoming grad transfer Blake O'Neill (Weber State), but he has worked with 6-3, 220-pound redshirt junior Kenny Allen. Allen has made strides in each of his three years at Michigan and isn't disheartened by O'Neill's addition, Kornblue reported. "I talk to him a lot. He's maintained a really good, positive attitude," he said. "I've been impressed. It was going to be his job, but then they brought in O'Neill. He's still working hard, and he's one of the hardest working kids out there. He's also very talented — now it's about being consistent." Allen has a great chance to be the holder on field goals and could put himself in the mix at kicker, he added. Ko- rnblue believes Seychel will be the frontrunner to handle kickoffs, however. "Kenny is dealing with so many things that are punting- focused, along with holding and field goals, and he can't do everything," he said. "If you try, one of the three will suffer, and you've seen that with even the most talented kickers. "I think that's where Kyle Seychel could come out of nowhere and be the dark horse to be the kickoff guy, but they'll sort that out in camp. That's all to be determined." — Chris Balas Former Wolverine Brandon Kornblue Evaluates Potential Kickers "It's in our best interest to have depth at every position. We've got to go out every day and coach every kid to be their best version of themselves. The stats will measure their performance." SPECIAL TEAMS COACH JOHN BAXTER First-year special teams coach John Baxter will name a new starting punter and placekicker for the Wolverines this fall. PHOTO COURTESY MICHIGAN ATHLETIC MEDIA REALTIONS

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