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Published: Thursday, 3/24/2011

Vinopal latest defensive player to leave Wolverines


Vinopal Vinopal
ANN ARBOR -- Add Ray Vinopal's name to the long list of University of Michigan defensive backs who have departed the program in recent years.

Vinopal, a starting safety by the end of last season, is no longer a Wolverine, coach Brady Hoke said Wednesday during a news conference at the university. Vinopal's exit is based on a family issue and is permanent, Hoke said.

A member of Youngstown Cardinal Mooney's state championship team in 2009, Vinopal took advantage of a thin Wolverine secondary as a true freshman, starting the final six games and appearing in all 13 games. He recorded 33 tackles and one interception.

"Ray decided to go back to Youngstown," Hoke said. "That issue is more of a family issue."

Vinopal did not reply to several messages left by The Blade seeking comment.

Just three practices into the spring, with only one which was conducted in full pads, it is unclear how Vinopal figured into the plans of Hoke and defensive coordinator Greg Mattison. At the very least, he was a candidate to earn playing time among a group that is deep in numbers but short on experience. Hoke said Wednesday the team's deepest positions are receiver and safety.

Figured to be in the mix at safety are: Marvin Robinson, Josh Furman, Brandin Hawthorne, Carvin Johnson, Thomas Gordon, Floyd Simmons, Jared Van Slyke, and two-year starter Jordan Kovacs. Van Slyke is the only senior of the bunch.

In 2010 Michigan was 112 of 120 Bowl Subdivision teams defending the pass, but that ranking probably isn't as bad if not for the injuries to starting cornerbacks Troy Woolfolk, who missed all of the season, and J.T. Floyd, who was out the final five games.

Michigan's secondary has been crushed by attrition in recent years. In the four recruiting classes from 2007-10, the following defensive backs left the program early for various reasons: Demar Dorsey, Vladimir Emilien, Justin Turner, Adrian Witty, Boubacar Cissoko, Donovan Warren, Mike Williams, and now, Ray Vinopal.

Last month, Hoke signed four defensive backs but it is unknown whether Greg Brown, Tamani Carter, Blake Countess, and Delonte Hollowell will play safety or cornerback. Brown, already enrolled at the school, is listed as a cornerback on the official roster.

INJURY REPORT: Hoke revealed centers David Molk (hamstring) and Christian Pace (undisclosed injury) have been limited in practice. Of the cornerbacks, Woolfolk is doing "a little group work" and Floyd is working out "but not nearly as much as Troy is."

Running back Michael Shaw (broken hand) should be able to do more next week with the assistance of a cast.

PRAISE: Assessing his young defensive linemen, Hoke said sophomore Quinton Washington "shows up" and freshman Richard Ash "has made some progress." Hoke's praise for junior Will Campbell wasn't as strong.

"Will had some real good plays the other day, and he has to have more of those than bad plays," Hoke said.

WAYS TO GO: Hoke was asked whether a gap exists between what he and his staff expect from their players during practice, and what the players are currently able to do.

"That's a huge gap," Hoke said. "I don't know, Grand Canyon-size. That's nothing that's shocking right now to us.

"They're hungry. They want to be coached. They want to do it the right way."

Hoke says because players are being required to learn new terminology, plays, and schemes, there has been some "paralysis by analysis."

Contact Ryan Autullo at: rautullo@theblade.com or 419-724-6160.

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