August 1, 2007

High praise early for Ryan Mallett

There are advantages and disadvantages to graduating early from high school and enrolling in time for spring ball. For a quarterback in training, the head start can prove invaluable in terms of learning the playbook and adapting to new surroundings. After an early bout of homesickness, freshman Ryan Mallett has used the last several months to impress teammates.

It wasn't long ago that senior Chad Henne was a wide-eyed freshman, thrust under center when an injury kept Matt Gutierrez from starting. Now Henne's in the mentor role, and he likes what he's seen early from his protégé Mallett.

"Ryan has so much potential. If he develops the right way in the next four years, he'll be the best ever to have come through Michigan," Henne praised. "It was great for him to come in the winter time and get a semester under his belt, feel what the campus is about, what practice is about, how we go about things. It was good for him to learn and get a semester following me, for me to try to be his mentor on the field."

Mallett came in [as many freshmen do] with high expectations and a world of confidence [some might have called it cockiness]. Since, however, he's become more coachable, Henne insisted.

"He's toned it down," Henne said. "We've tried to get him off that high, but that's how every player is. They come in and they're All-American this, All-American that, then they find out everyone is an All-American. I think he finally realized that and stepped back.

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