March 10, 2008
Spring preview: Chambers charging forward
Michigan sophomore safety Artis Chambers had a unique freshman campaign. After playing in the first four games, he was sidelined the remainder of the regular season due to an academic entanglement. Chambers returned to the field for U-M's bowl game and is a top competitor to win a starting role this year
Chambers recorded seven tackles in the Wolverines' first four contests but learned he had been competing illegally after failing to earn the academic standing he needed entering the fall. Michigan was not forced to forfeit any games, but Chambers was forced to forfeit the rest of his rookie season, with no hope of redshirting.
"He handled the whole situation very well, probably better than you'd expect out of an 18-year-old kid," high school coach Russ Isaacs said. "It was one of those things where after everything settled down, he was really mad at himself for not getting eligible. There was some positive to the year, though. He made it into a few games and played well, and then returned for the bowl game and played well."
Chambers was a star at Snider High School in Fort Wayne, Ind., earning all-state honors in his senior season. In his career, he recorded 142 tackles and picked off 12 passes - all in his first two seasons, forcing opponents to avoid him entirely in his final two. Chambers was given only three stars by Rivals.com but he showed great potential and, thanks to an early enrollment, impressed his Michigan coaches quickly.
"We knew he was a talent, but when you're sending a kid off to a college like Michigan you're not certain how he'll do because there are other kids just as talented as he is," Isaacs said. "I think he was a very pleasant surprise. He was happy with what he did last year, and is excited about this spring, summer and fall.
"Artis' No. 1 goal is to help Michigan win the Big Ten title and the national title and if that means he starts for them, awesome. If it means he backs up or plays special teams, he'll do whatever it takes. But yes, he knows there are two openings and he's going to work as hard as he can to earn a spot at one of them. That's his goal."
With the departure of seniors Jamar Adams and Brandent Englemon, Chambers is one of the Wolverines' most experienced safeties, even though he has just five games to his name. Junior Steve Brown has started a single game at safety while fifth-year senior Charles Stewart's only start came at cornerback. Redshirt freshman Michael Williams and true freshman Brandon Smith have no experience.
Isaacs believes Chambers possesses the physical tools to shine at Michigan, noting his greatest assets are his intelligence and toughness - both prerequisites to perform at a high level.
"Based on how he hits and tackles, he's a natural at strong safety, but that also depends on the other personal available," Isaacs said. "Artis has very good football instincts and he loves to hit. He wants to be the guy in the secondary that every offensive player is aware of. I think that attitude and his desire to make a difference will help him this spring."
When Isaacs spoke to Chambers about Michigan's new coaching staff he said the sophomore was both "excited and apprehensive, like any young man would be." However, since that initial conversation, Isaacs has heard nothing but good things about both parties.
"Artis will fit well into any system because he's just a real sound football player," Isaacs said. "I can't believe any coach would come in and not fall in love with the kind of kid and worker the is. I haven't met their coaches yet, but I know they want to run an aggressive style defensively and that's perfect for him because he's at his best when he's attacking.
"We're going to come up to see a spring practice and I just can't wait to see Artis in action. I think he's going to be great."
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