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Published: Friday, 8/13/2010

Moundros in linebacker mix

BY RYAN AUTULLO
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

ANN ARBOR - Earlier this week, while addressing Mark Moundros' position shift this spring from fullback to linebacker, University of Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Robinson puffed his chest out a bit.

"I just have always felt I've been a good recruiter," Robinson said.

Silence ensued.

"That's speaking with humor for those that didn't get that," Robinson said.

To some, it might look funny, a career fullback not only changing positions before his senior year, but relocating to the other side of the ball. By all accounts, though, Moundros is very much in the mix at middle linebacker. This is no experiment, says

Robinson and head coach Rich Rodriguez. In fact, if Robinson had it his way, Moundros may not have played fullback a year ago, his second as a starter.

"When I first got here [after the 2008 season] I was not certain who all of our linebackers were," Robinson said. "I thought, this guy might be a linebacker. You can see he has linebacker skills."

Fans may eventually see it on Saturdays, but first Moundros has some progress to make on the depth chart. As of now, he is behind Obi Ezeh at middle linebacker, and may or may not be trailing Kenny Demens as well.

Moundros (6-foot-1, 223) came to UM as a walk-on out of Farmington Hills, Mich. and ultimately earned a scholarship. His biggest honor, though, came Monday when, following UM's first practice of the season, he and senior guard Stephen Schilling were named team captains.

Although Moundros started his freshman and sophomore years --- he technically did not start last year because UM never began a game with a fullback on the field --- he is rendered mostly useless in Rodriguez's one-back spread offense.

Moundros said Thursday he doesn't regret making the switch to defense earlier in his career. It sounds, though, the thought may have crossed his mind.

"I think I've always had a defensive mindset," he said.

A faction of UM employees, headed in significance by Rodriguez, will fly to Seattle following this morning's practice to meet with the NCAA committee on infractions. UM disputes the NCAA's ruling that Rodriguez failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance stemming from the Wolverines conducting mandatory football-related activities beyond what is deemed acceptable by the NCAA. UM admits rules were broken but believes it was a product of miscommunication and not utter disregard for the rules.

Within the next two months, the NCAA will determine whether it wants to penalize UM beyond the program's self-imposed sanctions.

"I think we're all anxious, the school administration, the coaches, the players, we're all looking forward to having this next process completed," Rodriguez said.

Friday's practice will be UM's first of the season in full pads. The team will not practice Saturday and instead players will eat dinner at the homes of their respective position coaches. Sunday is the first of two-a-day practices.

Redshirt freshman cornerback J.T. Turner will not return to the program after requesting a transfer this week, Rodriguez said. Turner was granted a release from his scholarship, but some Internet speculation suggested he may have been reconsidering his decision. It appears he won't be welcomed back.

"I wish him well," Rodriguez said. "I hope he gets everything in order and has a successful career, but I'm focused on the guys that play for Michigan."

Turner was considered the top recruit in Ohio two years ago but never played a snap for the Wolverines. Rodriguez said Teric Jones has begun working at corner in addition to his previous role at safety to compensate for the loss of Turner.

True freshman offensive lineman Christian Pace, who enrolled in January, will undergo knee surgery and redshirt this season, Rodriguez said. … Running back Mike Shaw is practicing but still may need to gain eligibility because of an academic issue. … Rodriguez said snaps at quarterback are being divided evenly between Denard Robinson, Tate Forcier and Devin Gardner. … Rodriguez will select a punt returner from a group consisting of Martavious Odoms, Jeremy Gallon, Terrence Robinson and Drew Dileo. ... Rodriguez doesn't plan to release a depth chart to the public until Connecticut week.

Contact Ryan Autullo at:

rautullo@theblade.com

or 419-724-6160.



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