There are all kinds of things to be excited about for Pipkins. To start, he's a great kid who has been known to joke about all things related to the program. Along with that, he's a pretty good football player too. His major asset is his impressive size, coming in at 6'3 and 340 lbs according to the athletic site. For a true freshman, that's pretty big. So big that he has actually had to undergo a weight loss program during the summer. He should be trimmed down a bit before kickoff, but getting rid of his "bad" weight will be important for his career as we saw with the whole Will Campbell situation. Pipkins also has the ability to shed blocks at will with the great use of his hands and ability to shed double teams. What is even more impressive is his ability to run down plays. If you watched the All-American game, you can watch Pipkins seemingly chase down plays similar to Mike Martin did last year at Michigan. With these skills he has the ability to be a factor in multiple parts of the game.
Here are the basic stats on Pipkins:
Taking a quick gander at the rankings yields some pretty exciting results. Rivals is the only site that has him ranked as a 5* recruit, but there's little doubt that ESPN is off on this one. There's no way he's as low as #158 in the country and #16 at defensive tackle. There is the potential that Rivals has him a little too high on this list, but that doesn't mean he isn't 5* caliber, since he's almost there on Scout and 247. He is on the edge of 5* status though. Regardless, he has solid size and is one of the best recruits in the country, whether he's a 5* or a 4* and whether he's in the Top 20 recruits or in the Top 70. He's a good player and should be able to do some big things at Michigan in the coming years.
Now we turn to this year. There's little doubt that Pipkins will be getting some serious time in 2012, assuming his injury is nothing serious (we all hope and pray for that to be true). Michigan's defensive line depth is pretty thin. There simply is no way around it. I broke down Michigan's 2012 defensive line here, but the bottom line is that although there is probably 1 or 2 capable guys per position, the talent and experience aren't always impressive. Michigan will have 3 main players at the nose tackle spot in 2012; Will Campbell, Richard Ash, and Ondre Pipkins.
With this scenario, it already puts Pipkins at least at 3rd string. When you add in the fact that Ash has just about as much experience as Pipkins, it seems pretty probable that Pipkins will be 2nd string because of his weight and talent advantage over Ash. With Mattison's practice of rotating the defensive line on a regular basis, this means that Pipkins will be getting some serious time on the field. Can Pipkins push to be the starter? If Campbell struggles and Pipkins has a big fall and first few games, I think he could begin to pressure Campbell for that starting role. However, I don't expect this unless something big happens to Campbell. People like to rip on Will Campbell, but he was a decent contributor last year and should be improved for this season. Even a 5* talent like Pipkins probably can't overtake him as a true freshman, especially with Hoke's reverence towards seniors.
Pipkins should make some pretty big contributions in 2012, but it will be interesting to see how quickly he can adapt to the college game. For the most part, he had a pretty significant physical advantage in high school. If he can continue to absorb double teams in college and use his hands to get around them, he should do some big things. The big question mark will be about whether his technique and strength are solid enough to get past great linemen at the college level. EIther way, expect big things from Ondre Pipkins in year one.