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We Hardly Knew Ye: Michigan's Passing Game; James Davis

The first thing I couldn’t believe about Mario Manningham is that an American with the name ‘Manningham’ – a distinctly British moniker, as in an area of Bradford, West Yorkshire, or an Australian suburb just east of Melbourne, or The Hon. Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller, director general of the British internal national security agency under Tony Blair – wasn’t a lily white heir to the Manningham Refrigeration and Appliance fortune or something in Middlesex, Connecticut, with at least some passing familiarity at being refered to by the help as "Lord." The second thing I couldn’t believe is how short he was – after years of succession through lanky, NFL-style leapers Amani Toomer, Tai Streets, David Terrell, Marquise Walker, Braylon Edwards and Jason Avant, the assumption that any Wolverine receiver as fluid and obviously destined for "next big thing" status as Manningham must be in the same 6-2, 210-pound mold, at least. But Manningham barely stood six feet, if that, and unlike his predecessors was a much greater threat to get past receivers with sheer speed that to go up over them for catches in traffic (Edwards’ specialty).


Manningham and Arrington: Gone and gone.
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He was good enough at this to still project as a first round pick despite his height, a status he and bigger, less touted receiving mate Adrian Arrington will be taking advantage of directly, according to their new coach, and not necessarily under the most amicable circumstances:
Newly hired Michigan football coach Rich Rodriguez confirmed Tuesday night that receivers Mario Manningham and Adrian Arrington and quarterback Ryan Mallett are no longer with the team.

Rodriguez confirmed the news in an impromptu briefing with the media at halftime of the men's basketball game against Indiana. Rodriguez also said his staff is nearly complete, but he needs to add a defensive coordinator and give some assistants specific roles with the team by this weekend.

In regard to Manningham and Arrington, Rodriguez said both players didn't attend a team meeting Monday, so he expects both to test the NFL waters. Mallett also didn't attend the meeting.

Rodriguez said Arrington text-messaged him Tuesday about his plans to pursue the professional draft. Rodriguez said he hasn't spoken to Manningham since the Wolverines' Capital One Bowl victory over Florida.

"Obviously, with Mario and Adrian, they made a decision they thought would help them professionally and decided to come out early," Rodriguez said. "We wish them well and that's all I have to say about that."

As for Mallett, Rodriguez declined to give many details. But when pressed on the freshman's status, he replied: "I don't care. He's not playing for Michigan. I'm concerned with who's playing for Michigan."
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Text messaging critical life decisions, a coach claiming, "I don’t care" about the status of a blue chip quarterback who a month ago still held the immediate future of the Wolverine offense in his oversized hands...it’s not the smoothest transition to the Rodriguez Era.
Mario Manningham, This is Your College Career
Rec. Yds. Yds./Rec. TD
2005 27 433 16.0 6
2006 38 703 18.5 9
2007 72 1,174 16.3 12
Career 137 2,310 16.9 27

Adrian Arrington, This is Your College Career
Rec. Yds. Yds./Rec. TD
2004 2 12 6.0 0
2006 40 544 13.6 8
2007 67 882 13.2 8
Career 109 1,438 13.2 16
It would be difficult to classify either receiver’s career in Ann Arbor as a disappointment, though entering this season there was still the sense that Manningham had only scratched the surface of his talent during an injury-filled sophomore season and the sudden explosion of the Wolverine offense in the Citrus Capital One Bowl – in which Arrington delivered the best performance of his career – was the first sense of promise and/or redemption since the toxic season-opening losses to Appalachian State and Oregon. Now, with Mallett’s eminent departure, Rodriguez will at least have a relatively fresh set of putty with which to mold the Wolverine offense in his own image: every skill position starter for Michigan in 2008 will be new, as will three-fifths of the offensive line. Assuming he won’t be relying heavily on the talents of returning fullback Mark Mondrous, the show will be fully Rodriguez’s from Day One.

Mallett, for the record, said he "felt forced out" by Rodriguez's option offense, having signed on to be a dropback passer. His old quarterback coach/recruiter, Scott Loeffler, is interviewing with Texas A&M, UCLA and Tennessee (he reportedly had his second interview with the Vols today) and Mallett's dad said Tennessee could be the place, especially if it hired Loeffler and ousted Wolverine offensive coordinator Mike DeBord. Howler quote for Wolverine partisans:

"If they're hired, that would be a real good possibility," Jim Mallett said. "Ryan really clicked with both coach DeBord and coach Loeffler during the last couple months of the season and during bowl practices. I've never seen Ryan throw the ball or read defenses as well as he did."
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[emphasis added]
Having watched the ugly disaster that was Mallett's performance at Wisconsin, if what Mallett Sr. says is true, I think I speak for all Michigan fans when I say my already-tenuous faith in recruiting rankings needs to be seriously re-evaluated.

Elsewhere, countering the good news that receiver Aaron Kelly will be staying in school, Clemson’s James Davis has to decided to break up one of the country’s most simultaneously dangerous and disappointing tailback duos by taking his jersey-stretching talents to the draft, leaving hearstopping but inconsistent C.J. Spiller to carry the rushing load of next year’s potentially sensational Tiger offense.

James Davis, This is Your College Career
Att. Yards Yds./Att. TD Rec. Yds./Rec. TD
2005 165 879 5.3 9 19 8 0
2006 203 1187 5.8 17 6 19.2 0
2007 214 1064 5 10 12 4.3 2
Career 582 3130 5.4 36 37 8.6 2

Sometimes, even James Davis’ shirt could only hope to contain him. But only sometimes.
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Davis could dominate a game or quickly disappear from it, which he frequently did in big games – he had back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons despite sharing time with Spiller, but last year had only twelve carries in the loss to Georgia Tech, six in the loss to Virginia Tech and twelve in the division-deciding loss to Boston College. He’s projected as a third rounder, which seems good enough given the likelihood of more split carries with Spiller and Davis’ new status as a father – he has a one-year-old daughter, according to the Charleston Post and Courier. Look out for number one, son. Clemson also stands a very good chance of losing defensive end Philip Merling to the draft, according to Merling’s grandfather, but the Tigers’ sack leader hasn’t made any official decision.

Also Declaring Early: All-SEC linebacker Jerod Mayo of Tennessee, a likely first day pick; Linebacker Geno Hayes of Florida State, excellent in pursuit and standing shirtless, screaming profanities and waving his arms wildly outside a bar before being tasered by police but undersized at just 220 pounds; and all-ACC safety DaJuan Morgan of N.C. State, whose excellent tackle total is mitigated to a great degree by the fact that he played safety for N.C. State and had plenty of opportunities.