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Published: Wednesday, 8/13/2008

Shaw, McGuffie Michigan gems; freshmen fit well in spread-option

BY JOE VARDON
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

ANN ARBOR - Michael Shaw shot through the line and trucked over a defensive back.

A play or two later, Sam McGuffie darted untouched past several defenders.

No wonder Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez can't hold a press conference these days without mentioning both true freshmen.

Shaw, a slotback from Trotwood, Ohio, and McGuffie, a running back from Cypress, Texas, have impressed Rodriguez and his coaching staff enough during fall camp to prompt Rodriguez to say yesterday that neither one will redshirt this year.

Rodriguez listed a host of players just out of high school who could play for the Wolverines this season, but Shaw and McGuffie have apparently stood out.

During the portion of yesterday's second practice session that was open to the media, the two showed why. They both received reps with the first and second teams - but were behind Carlos Brown - and made inspiring plays when given the chance.

"I haven't anointed anybody a starter, but they've done enough to convince us that they can contribute as freshmen," Rodriguez said.

McGuffie, a 5-11, 185-pound YouTube.com phenom, was ranked the nation's No. 10 all-purpose back by Rivals.com and the No. 7 running back by Scout.com.

Shaw, a 6-foot, 185-pounder who signed with UM after verbally committing to Penn State, played running back at Trotwood-Madison High, where he was considered the No. 7 back in the country by Rivals.com. He is listed as a receiver in UM's media guide, but in Rodriguez's spread-option offense he could have opportunities to handle the ball in many different ways.

Rodriguez said both players - because of their speed - fit in well with his offensive scheme.

"They're both fast, explosive players," Rodriguez said. "As much as anything I like the way they practice. They're practicing like they've been here longer than a couple weeks."

The other freshmen who could contribute immediately this year include receivers Darryl Stonum and Martavious Odoms, cornerback Boubacar Cissoko, defensive lineman Mike Martin, safety Brandon Smith, cornerback J.T. Floyd, linebacker J.B. Fitzgerald, offensive linemen Ricky Barnum and Rocko Khoury, and Whitmer graduate Kevin Koger.

Of Koger, who's competing at tight end, Rodriguez said: "He's athletic. He's a tough guy, good feet." Rodriguez said the tight end position was an open battle between senior Mike Massey, junior Carson Butler (last year's starter), sophomore Martell Webb, and Koger.

As for highly touted freshman quarterback Justin Feagin, Rodriguez said he's been battling a sore shoulder and "looked OK" yesterday, but "has a long way to go, especially mentally."

Rodriguez said it is common to rely on this many freshmen when a coach is in his first season with a new team, but, "If we're going to have success, we're still going to rely on the veterans - the guys who have been in the battles."

GOIN' CAMPIN': How serious is Rodriguez about using two quarterbacks, and one of them being sophomore Nick Sheridan? Not only did Sheridan go first among quarterbacks in every drill reporters saw, but Rodriguez also announced he was placed on scholarship for the start of fall camp. Sheridan and Adrian graduate Steven Threet are clearly UM's top two options at quarterback right now. Rodriguez said his staff should have its depth chart formulated by a week from today. Fullback Mark Moundros, one of UM's few returning starters on offense, is out with a sprained ankle. Junior defensive end Andre Criswell's left arm was in a sling, and junior running back Brandon Minor practiced with limited contact for unspecified reasons. The Wolverines' likely starter at right guard, Cory Zirbel, is experiencing knee problems and will be out for about a week, according to Rodriguez. The Wolverines will hold controlled scrimmages today and Saturday. Rodriguez said Saturday's scrimmage will be more game-like with live special teams. And speaking of special teams, Rodriguez said he will use a mix of starters and younger players/walk-ons in that area. He also said he aspires to make UM's walk-on program the best in the country.

Contact Joe Vardon at:

jvardon@theblade.com

or 419-410-5055.



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