Every Thursday, Tom, Mike and Chantel will discuss three issues in and around Michigan sports. This week, they consider a Heisman run for a certain quarterback and the potential of some 2013 commits.
1. Quarterback Denard Robinson seems to be on pretty much every preseason award list, but most pale in comparison to the talk of whether Robinson can win the Heisman. Do you think he wins it this season? If not, will he be a finalist?
Michael Rothstein: No and no. Nothing against Robinson, but there are a multitude of reasons he won't be holding the trophy he was captured emulating during a play against Notre Dame two seasons ago. Part of it has to do with what he has already accomplished. Heisman voters -- and I used to be one -- are an interesting bunch, and Robinson would likely have to top his accomplishments of the last two seasons to win the award. Plus, the Heisman often goes to a player -- Robert Griffin III was an exception -- on a team at least in a BCS bowl if not the national championship game. In other words, his team needs to win. Big. And I don't know if Michigan does that this season. It's not impossible for him to become a finalist or even win the Heisman, but he'd likely have to break Pat White's rushing record and lead Michigan to at least 10 wins and a Big Ten championship game appearance for him to reach New York.
Chantel Jennings: I think Robinson could be a finalist if he plays up to his potential. Even if that happens, I don’t think he'll win. I think the frontrunner in the Big Ten conference is Wisconsin running back Montee Ball. Even with what happened in Madison, I think Ball has a strong chance to have a great season if he's 100 percent by the beginning of the season. And at the end of the day, I don't think any of that will matter because my way, way too early prediction for the Heisman Trophy winner is USC quarterback Matt Barkley or Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones.
Tom Van Haaren: I don't think Denard wins the Heisman Trophy this year. The odds are against him with the schedule and with the other guys in the conversation. Opening with Alabama and its defense is a really tough way to start a Heisman campaign and follow that with Michigan's away schedule and it just doesn't seem likely. Barkley seems as though he's primed to make a run at the trophy, but I do think Denard has a shot at being a finalist. It's his second season in Al Borges' offense, so I do believe he will be more comfortable in the offense and will have a good year. I think a lot of it will depend on the receiving corps, though, and how much they help out.
2. The high school football season starts this weekend in Michigan and with 23 commits in the 2013 class, there's a lot of future Michigan football players who will be taking the field every weekend across the country. All of the commits in the 2013 class are talented players, but which commit do you think will improve the most this season?
CJ: I think we'll see a lot of improvement from every player. Because the 2013 class already has so many commits, and they've all been committed for quite a while, these guys aren't focusing on personal stats or highlight reels -- for the most part, they really just want to do whatever they need for their team to win championships. And I think when you take that recruitment pressure off and football is football, we'll see players really come into their own. That being said, I'm going to pick cornerback Jourdan Lewis (Detroit/Cass Tech). We've seen flashes of what he can do here and there, but I think he'll dominate Cass Tech's secondary this season. I think as state playoffs near, teams will stop throwing the ball long against Cass Tech because of his presence.
TV: I'm going to say Shane Morris. When I read "improve," I see stats, and I think Shane's stats will improve this season. He didn't get much help from his receivers or tight ends last season, which was a big reason for his completion percentage and overall numbers being on the low end. This season, however, he has his brother Brent, who is a 2014 wide receiver, and transfers Jack Wangler and Jared Wangler. Jack Wangler is a solid receiver who will likely be a main target for Morris throughout the season and should help improve his numbers alone. There were countless times last season when Morris had the ball right in the hands of his receiver and the ball was just dropped, and I don't think that will happen as much this season.
MR: Part of me wants to say Khalid Hill, although that would completely depend on how his high school uses tight ends. But I'm going to go with the probable obvious answer here in Morris. He was seemingly a fixture at every camp this summer and it'll be interesting to see if what he learned from Trent Dilfer at Elite 11 and other coaches at various NFTCs and The Opening and Gridiron Kings will translate to anything more than 7-on-7s. If it does, Morris could be much better than he was a season ago.