Friday, May 6, 2011

Meet Your Walk-ons: OT Erik Gunderson

Already met:  Tony Anderson

Erik Gunderson (#69) signs a helmet for
a fan searching for Michael Shaw.

First Impressions:

Pretending Not to Be Enormous:

Erik Gunderson
RS Sophomore
High School:
Milan High School, Milan  MI
6'8'', 298 lbs
Offensive tackle
If He Were an Animal:
Rhodesian Giraffe

Forward Progress:

Erik Gunderson may not boast the most remarkable development path, but he earns this site's second walk-on profile for two reasons:  (1) at six foot eight inches, he has the distinction of being the tallest player on the roster; and (2) he had to be profiled before he returns to his longship to plunder a mead hall in the heart of Nibelheim.

Gunderson graduated from Milan high school in 2009 where he received academic recognition as an Honor Roll student, further perpetuating the stereotype that offensive tackles tend to be the most intelligent player on the field.  Before you mutter something about "quarterbacks," take a look through Paul Zimmerman's The New Thinking Man's Guide to Pro Football.  It may be long and outdated, but not light on research.

In addition to playing football, Gunderson proved himself a diversified athlete by competing for Milan's swim team.  When you've finished contemplating a three hundred pound offensive lineman swimming competitively, you'll correctly conclude that the guy's a tremendous athlete.

Gunderson has yet to see the field during his brief career at Michigan.  Given that even high-recruited tackles struggle to see playing time during a red-shirt freshman year, his lack of production at the position means precisely nothing.

Outlook for 2011:

Although most red-shirt sophomore walk-on tackles should temper their expectations for playing time to the same degree that Michigan State alumni temper expectations for success, the Wolverines happen to be uncharacteristically thin on the offensive line in 2011.

For this reason, I have Gunderson penciled in as the third-string right tackle behind Mark Huyge and Michael Schofield for the upcoming season.  Gunderson had the opportunity to play right tackle on the second team offense during the Spring game, which can be attributed to missing 40% of the starting offensive line to injury.  As we all know from the frailty of David Molk's left foot and right ACL in 2009, injuries do happen during the season and Gunderson may see more playing time than he otherwise would (none) if Michigan had its traditional depth.

During the Spring game, Gunderson held down the right side of the line extremely well.  On the play that was perhaps the offensive highlight of the day, Gunderson helped erase Ken Wilkins to set up a 68 yard touchdown for Michael Cox.

Final prediction:  Gunderson sees his first career playing time during the third game of the season against Eastern Michigan.  After 2011, he should find himself in competition with Tony Posada to back up the heir apparent right tackle, Mike Schofield.

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