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10 Freshman and Unknowns to be Excited About for the 2009 Michigan Football Season: Part 1

There is nothing of note going on right now besides the occassional injury on the practice field, so I'll give you the camp injury wrap up courtesy of the Free Press

OL Ricky Barnum (ankle), S Thomas Gordon (ankle), FB Mark Moundros (foot), CB Donovan Warren (knee sprain) and Zach Johnson (hit in throat) are banged up. Freshman RB Fitzgerald Toussaint will miss a few weeks with a shoulder fracture and, considering the depth at tailback and the time he’ll miss, he might be a redshirt candidate now.

My understanding from the reports is the only guy who will miss more than a day or two is Toussaint who was a good bet to redshirt anyway. Now on to more fluff-like matters....

Sure there are just 17 days left till the 2009 Michigan Football Season kicks off, but that doesn't mean these 17 days won't be the most agonizing 17 days of your life. You see we're in the danger zone of the college football season. As such, the following music is appropriate.

Yeah, baby. If Kenny Loggins doesn't get your heart pumping for football then you're probably dead. And if so, you should probably see a doctor about that.

Here's the thing. This next week and a half will suck. And suck hard. We're so close to the season that it has a palpable effect on our moods. You start watching College Football Live on ESPNU just because you're crossing your fingers you'll get a glimpse of your team, even though the only they can legally report on is injuries and USC. You're watching game after game on the Big Ten Network's greatest games just for your fix. Hell, you watched Indiana's practice on the BTN's college road show. INDIANA! You're jones'n. And let's face it, real life assessments of your team aren't going to cut it. Everyone knows 3-9 teams in major conferences don't just pick themselves up off the mat and win ten games. That just doesn't happen. Ever. It takes time.

But the season hasn't started yet. We could be that team. F you Andre Ware, we're winning the Big Ten Outright! Wooooo! Reality has no bearing on my Universe! Tell me what I want to hear! Woooooooooooooooo!

Like I said, danger zone.

F that noise son. I feel the need for speed. Pull that throttle back and engage, because we're going to give you 10 Freshmen and relative unknowns that you should get pumped about for this season.

Sure you've heard of some of them. Sure they're not all quarterbacks and running backs. But they'll all play a crucial role in this season whether they're ready for it or not. You're welcome to add your favorites in the comments section and give me some reasons as to why I should've included them. I left out Forcier and Robinson, because, well, they're kinda known at this point. I wanted to include David Molk in this list, mostly because he's just a bad ass, but when you start 12 games the "unknown" tag doesn't fit. So, here is the first batch of 5 Michigan Players out of the ten I've selected you should start getting excited about. Part II will be up shortly.

The Countdown, Links, YouTubes, and other Fun Stuff after the Jump.....

10. Quinton Washington - Freshman - OL - Homeboy is large. During Media Days and since fall practice began Washington's name keeps poping up. And for all the right reasons. Steve Schilling singled him out as one of the more impressive freshman. He was described as "huge" and players and coaches alike told stories of the freshman locking d-linemen up and standing his ground without having any time in the S&C program. Washington came in to Michigan as the 8th rated guard in the 2009 class, a 4 star recruit, and garnered a lot of ESPN love.  When you're 6-3, 325 and have great footwork, you're on line to see some playing time in this offense. 

9. Brandon Herron - Redshirt Freshman - Quick/Deathbacker - A three star "tweener" DE/LB/S recruit out of Sugarland, TX, Herron redshirted to put on some weight. Honestly, no one really knew what to do with a linebacker who played DE, but was the size of a safety (6'2 198). Finally over the 200lb threshold, Herron is the presumed starter at the Quick/Deathbacker hybrid position (Stevie Brown is a Linebacker in total now). Herron's biggest assest at this position is quickness. He sheds blocks exceedingly well according to his high school scouting, possesses good lateral speed, and has good closing speed on the ball carrier. Another bonus? He's a very disciplined player. No jumping into someone else's assignment or missing his own lane. He's going to be a pain in the ass for opposing offenses all year.

8. Vladimir Emilien - Freshman - Safety - Face it folks. We're starting a freshman at safety. Again. Yes, last time it happened it was Stevie Brown and things didn't go so well. Want to ask me about the past?

So there, Congressman. Suck it. With my fingers stuck firmly in my ears and singing "Lalalalalalalala" as you try to talk about Michigan's history with young safeties, I'm excited about this kid. He aparently actually knows how to play safety! He's not going to move to linebacker. Weeee! Emilien seems to have locked down the strong safety responsibilities based on his speed, ability to actually cover deep, and inability to trip over his own two feet. His ESPN write up says a lot of the things you want to hear about a coverage safety

As a strong safety, demonstrates good collision techniques by re-routing the slot receiver. Shows ability to play curl/flat with little problem. Pass coverage is solid from both three deep and halves coverage. Makes a good break on the pass and times the interception well even though leaping ability is questionable. Physical when separating the receiver from the football. Emilien is a very good athlete that is a real competitor and gives super effort every play. Needs to keep working on strength and tackling techniques. He is a better strong safety candidate than free.

Yeah, there are some questions there, but the bottom line is the kid can play deep, and that's what we need.

7. Kelvin Grady - Redshirt Sophomore - Slot Receiver - It's odd to think of Kelvin making more of an impact on Michigan Football than his brother Kevin, but that may well be the case. At 5'11, Grady is immediately one of the tallest Slot Receivers on Michigan's roster. But after two years of Basketball, Grady is still one of the quickest little buggers you're going to see in pads. Despite only being on the Gridiron for maybe 30 days of practice, Grady has already made his presence felt with a couple of circus catches and some lightning quick moves. He stood out among the receivers to the point that he was mentioned as one fo the "unknowns" by the Big Ten Network's Howard Griffith that will impact Michigan this season. We all know just how fast he is on the court. We all know he's got great hands. Now, we'll get to see Grady the younger do this for Michigan on the football field:

6. Kevin Koger - Sophomore - Tight End - Nothing like a consensus four star TE with wheels and hands. Koger had a shining moment or two during last season's dismal finish, but got lost in Michigan's inability to throw the ball with any consistency. This year, Koger figures to be Forcier or Robinson's safety valve. The lanky 6'4" TE is a nightmare in coverage for any Linebacker and seems to have all of Carson Butler's speed without the penchant for beating the hell out of people. Koger's biggest challenge will be improving his blocking, but in the open field or in the flats he could be a deadly weapon for the Wolverines this season. Ask Wisconsin about that (at 1:32).

Numbers 5 thru 1 in Part II up shortly....