well that's just, like, your opinion, man
What is this? Folks who cover the USMNT drop lists like this projecting the 23 guys who end up on the next World Cup team. I have appropriated it. Regarding the number of tickets: 22 starters on offense and defense + 2 kickers + nickelback + FLEX TE + H-back.
PACK YOUR BAGS
1. LB/CB/S/KR/PR/WR/RB/NICKEL Jabrill Peppers, So.* [Last time: 1]
Now 70% linebacker, 70% CB, 70% RB, 70% WR. Don Brown will have to kill you if he tells you all the things Michigan will do with him this fall. Don Brown knows where the bodies are buried, because he buried them. Peppers will ford the river Styx, ye. Knoweth thy doom approacheth when #5 appears in your peripheral vision.
2. CB Jourdan Lewis, Sr. [Last time: 2]
Barely played in the spring game because it's not like anyone needs to know if Jourdan Lewis can play after single-season PBU-record year. Goals for this year: be exactly like you were last year with better interception luck. Should repeat as All-American, but vagaries of CB stats may intervene there. Doesn't matter: will play like one.
3. C Mason Cole, Jr. [Last time: 3]
Move to center appears to be sticking, which is a natural fit for a guy smart enough to start as a true freshman and maybe not longhuge enough to be an elite edge protector. Only reason he wouldn't start at C is if Newsome can't hack LT yet and Kugler pushes through. Chances Cole isn't starting somewhere holding steady at 0.0%.
4. FLEX Jake Butt, Sr. [Last time: 4]
Inexplicably not a Mackey finalist despite athleticism, catching radius, and absolutely fantastic hands. Blocking just okay but far from a liability. Seriously how did this guy not win the Mackey? What are you even doing, Mackey? Are you playing Fallout 4 and randomly selecting guys your slacker brother suggests? Drugs are bad, mmmkay?
5. 3TECH Chris Wormley, Sr* [Last time: 6]
Spent most of spring playing three tech after junior season spent wrecking every tight end opponents foolishly tasked to block him. Not an elite pass rusher but highly effective in Michigan's stunt-heavy rush game a year ago. Should be all-conference easy and a mid-round NFL draft pick.
6. WR Amara Darboh, Sr* [Last time: 8]
Absence of Chesson this spring allowed Darboh to ease past Chesson in the pecking order per Harbaugh, not that it matters since both will get a ton of time, and they're very different players anyway. Still, Darboh adding some deep stuff to his extant game would make him a very hard player to check.
7. WR Jehu Chesson, Sr.* [Last time: 7]
Open deep all year and finally got on the same page with Rudock late for season-ending surge. Fast. Murderous blocker. Jet sweep maestro. Fast. Polite. Fast. Went from Stonum-ish to Breaston-ish to Manningham-ish over course of season. Huge year beckons if QB situation right.
8. K Kenny Allen, Sr.* [Last time: 9]
Early-season kicker worries dissipated as Allen went 14/18 on the year with one miss due to a bad snap and a second that got blown across the face of the uprights by a sudden gust of wind. Didn't hit anything particularly long, but had a bunch of touchbacks when he wanted to have touchbacks. Another year of reliability beckons.
9. FS Dymonte Thomas, Sr. [Last time: 10]
Spectacular spring game interception on which he flew from midfield to the very corner of the endzone demonstrates his promise. He is capable of crazy ball-hawk things Jarrod Wilson never was. Played very well down the stretch last year. Consistency might be a bugaboo, but so far all the signs are good ones.
10. SS Delano Hill, Sr. [Last time: 11]
Though Tyree Kinnel played pretty well in various open practices, Harbaugh flat-out stated that nobody was anywhere near the two starting safeties so here's Hill. Severe case of Greg Oden disease means he will look exactly the same age—42—for the next 50 years.
UNLESS SOMETHING STRANGE HAPPENS
11. RB De'Veon Smith, Jr.* [Last time: 25]
Assumption in this space that Smith would get seriously challenged looks to be wrong, as Smith was shelved just like Lewis and Peppers types. He's the man, man. Consistent high-level praise for Ty Isaac, and Isaac's standout spring game, barely prevent Smith from moving to lock territory. But looks like we can ditch those fullback assertions for good.
12. ILB Ben Gedeon, Sr. [Last time: 12]
Harbaugh said all the right things about Gedeon this spring, invoking the word "stud"; Don Brown made him a Dude. Michigan's going to need that to be true since depth at linebacker is still alarming even after Mike McCray got off the cart. He's starting and probably not coming off the field, so here's to that being, like, good.
13. G Ben Braden, Sr.* [Last time: 14]
"Something strange" in the case of the 3 OL in a row here would be Kugler or Dawson or Ben Bredeson pushing through and Newsome being real good, thus moving Cole to one of these spots. That would be strange indeed, but it's not impossible. Braden's improvement track and general hugeness makes him the least likely to get yoinked.
14. T Erik Magnuson, Sr*. [Last time: 15]
Middling season as a tackle. Okay at run blocking but occasionally frustrating, especially on the second level. Pass protection generally good but, like Cole, struggled to cope with top-shelf rushers. Not going to be All Big Ten next year; difficult to see anyone supplanting him.
15. G Kyle Kalis, Sr* [Last time: 16]
Kalis has taken a ton of crap from insiders for inconsistency, to the point where Rivals repeatedly asserted Michigan would straight-up cut him(!!!) despite no football program in the history of the sport doing so with a returning starter at OL. He is highly variable, sure, but cumong man. Boom or bust, because if it clicks, it clicks.
16. SLOT Grant Perry, So. [Last time: 23]
Minus Darboh and Chesson in the spring game, Perry was clearly the most reliable and relied-upon wide receiver available to either team. Challenge could come from any number of freshmen, but they'll lose out for the same reason Perry was a nonentity until the bowl game. Receiver is not a freshman friendly spot.
Rashan Gary looms but Taco is going to start somewhere, whether that's SDE like he did this spring or WDE once Gary arrives and Glasgow returns and Don Brown just laughs and laughs and laughs. Charlton was too much for Grant Newsome to handle, and 5.5 sacks in under half of Michigan's snaps last year presages a big senior year. He's always had all the physical talent in the world and is thus one of the proverbial X-factors on this year's team.
FAIRLY SAFE BET
18. NT Ryan Glasgow, Sr.* [Last time: 5]
Massive drop due to resurgence of the Bryan Mone hypening. Glasgow hasn't taken snap one under Brown, whereas Mone impressed everyone, again. He'll have something to prove this fall. Still sticking with Glasgow because he was mini-Mike Martin last year, and if Mone beats that guy out I project Michigan's defense will end football as we know it. Because seriously this dude is a dude, dude. /donbrown'd
19. OT Grant Newsome, So. [Last time: 19]
Behold the rare OL redshirt burning that makes sense. Michigan is not wavering with its plan to insert Newsome at LT despite some struggles with Charlton and Winovich this spring. Michigan really needs him to come through because there's not much behind him, especially next year. Looks the part, at least.
With Michigan passing on a random Aussie (so far) it's Allen, not Peppers, who gets the first-ever dual nod on 27 Tickets. Allen was originally recruited as a punter and has displayed a booming leg on scattered opportunities so far. Won't be as precise as Blake O'Neill but should be able to flip the field on the regular like he did.
Burst out of injury purgatory in a major way in spring, emerging into clear top choice to start next to Gedeon. Big thumping dude with sufficient athleticism to replicate Desmond Morgan's decent coverage skills. Also the son of a former OSU captain, which says somethin' about somethin'.
Revelation of the spring and major reason Hill moved to fullback. Wheatley is enormous, shows great promise as a blocker, and had a one-handed stab that led to a 70-yard touchdown at the Ford Field practice. All talk of moving him to OT is dead and buried, because once you see Wheatley move that way at that size it's clear dude has got to run free.
IN A BATTLE
23. QB John O'Korn, Jr* [Last time: 18]
Sticking with O'Korn, but barely. Wilton Speight exits spring neck-and-neck with the Houston transfer, with his steadiness battling O'Korn's mobility and ability to flick 40-yard balls on the run. Speight might even be ahead by a nose right now, but O'Korn's upside and Harbaugh's ability to unlock QB upside suggests O'Korn will be in the passing lane by fall.
An "in stone" starter per Harbaugh after a breakout spring, but I just dunno man. Clark's junior year was highly promising and, like Glasgow, I have to see Stribling blow by in person before I believe it. If Stribling is significantly better than Clark was a year ago, Michigan's secondary is going to be absurd.
25. FB/H-back Khalid Hill, Jr.* [Last time: 24]
Hill gets the nod here over incumbent Henry Poggi but along with Bobby Henderson expect the three FB/HB types to split snaps extensively. Hill has the most upside as a receiver and has shown promise as a blocker; Poggi has more experience; Henderson is probably the best runner. Sometimes there's a man.
26. SAM Noah Furbush, So* [Last time: 27]
Furbush sticks since Peppers is the nickel even if he's a linebacker and Michigan will need a beefier guy for short yardage and the various manball teams on the schedule. Impressive work on STs caught Harbaugh's eye a year ago; Wangler and others will push. Expect a James Ross level of work here/
Winovich moved back to D from TE and started delivering on his Jake Ryan 2.0 hype. Now at 245, another 10 pounds by fall and he's a plausible option. Not as plausible an option as getting bumped down a notch on the two-deep by a DL depth chart that will veritably demand Charlton moves to WDE in fall, but until such time as that move happens Winovich holds on to the last spot.
TECHNICALLY NOT STARTERS BUT CLOSE
RB Drake Johnson—still Michigan's most explosive back.
RB Ty Isaac—spring revelation and Harbaugh praise after rough sophomore year; he'll factor in.
FB Henry Poggi—had some trouble IDing who he should block after move from DL. Should improve.
WR Moe Ways—Darboh analogue had a few catches, should be eased into more PT with an eye towards 2017.
TE Ian Bunting—Ol' Skillet Hands saw PT drop as season progressed, now breakout pick by many.
DE/DT Rashan Gary—heh
NT Bryan Mone—massive Tongan apparently third best player on last year's roster headed into the season? What?
3TECH Maurice Hurst—another reason to push Taco to WDE once the entire line is there in fall camp.
DE Matt Godin—if allowed to push out to SDE will be an effective backup for Wormley. If forced to play 3TECH, look out.
ILB Devin Bush Jr—early enrollee all but assured PT by depth chart.
CB Jeremy Clark—Richard Sherman size and solid junior year; will play a lot.
S Tyree Kinnel—showed promise in spring; M would like him to round into heir apparent.
PUSHING FROM BEHIND
QB Wilton Speight—[update: no, not transferring, in fact strong competition for the job]
RB Kareem Walker—okay he's not Fournette but let's not dismiss him out of hand because of a couple of recruiting ranking downgrades.
RB Karan Higdon—quick little guy had one nice carry and got swarmed a lot at LOS.
RB Kingston Davis—absolutely not a fullback
WR Drake Harris—still skinny as a rail.
WR Nate Johnson—mean-ass slot receiver, if that's a thing. Golden Tate is ceiling.
WR Kekoa Crawford—Hawaiian for smooth.
WR Eddie McDoom—MCDOOOOOOOOM
WR Ahmir Mitchell—early enrollee could move to S, needs work.
TE Devin Asiasi—plug-and-play inline TE has some depth chart hurdles to clear.
C Patrick Kugler—will be a redshirt junior; given performance this year could displace starter. Magnuson, Cole flexibility means that if he's best five he plays.
G David Dawson—stuck behind middling Gs a year ago, will get a shot.
ILB Elysee Mbem-Bosse—most field-ready of ILB freshmen outside of Bush.
CB David Long—program ambassador role starts now, CB starter in 2017?
CB LaVert Hill—Jourdan Lewis analogue in HS; will play with expectation of starting next year.
CB Brandon Watson—saw some nickel snaps when M was trying to save Peppers a bit.
WAITING THEIR TURN
QB Alex Malzone—not going to compete physically w/ O'Korn or Gentry but could develop into a Rudock type down the road.
QB Brandon Peters—true freshman impressed in spring.
QB Shane Morris—WR moonlighting in spring game not an outstanding sign.
FB Wyatt Shallman—now is the time to try his blocking out. Constantly hurt.
WR Brad Hawkins—another S candidate
TE Nick Eubanks—Funchess 2.0
TE Sean McKeon—Butt 2.0?
TE Zach Gentry—showed great promise after spring move to TE, but still too skinny to play now.
G Michael Onwenu—can play at incredible weight, but probably not 370.
T Ben Bredeson—Must pan out.
G Stephen Spanellis—road grader needs seasoning.
T Nolan Ulizio—late pickup last year hopes to build for 2017.
T Juwann Bushell-Beatty—late early for him
WDE Lawrence Marshall—ghost after enormous pile of spring hype.
WDE Ron Johnson—explosive edge rusher needs year of meat sauce
WDE Reuben Jones—needs weight.
SDE Shelton Johnson—probably has to cool his heels and put on more weight.
SDE Carlo Kemp—WEIGHT
NT Michael Dwumfour—Hurst-esque NT/3TECH needs polish, not so much weight.
CB Keith Washington—Breaston-esque HS QB competing at CB, coming off redshirt.
The departures are not over for the basketball team. Michigan assistant Lavall Jordan has taken the head coaching job at UW-Milwaukee:
Milwaukee has hired Michigan LaVall Jordan, sources told ESPN.
— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) April 7, 2016
Meanwhile, Bacari Alexander is being heavily rumored as the next coach at Detroit. A coaching shakeup seemed inevitable after the last couple years, and it's probably for the best. Michigan can reset, and now they've got one, maybe two, guys who would be obvious candidates for the head job when Beilein retires.
We'll see what direction Beilein goes in with the new assistant slots. If I was king of the universe I'd suggest he hires someone who's been around the Wisconsin or Virginia programs to be a de-facto "defensive coordinator" for one of the spots. The other one is like whatever man, but just get some dude who's helped some real good defensive teams and get out of his way.
Kam Chatman and DJ Wilson could play major roles in 2016-17. [Fuller]
With the news that Aubrey Dawkins will transfer to UCF, Michigan suddenly has an open scholarship spot and a few different options for what to do with it. Before I get into the different scenarios, here's my attempt at a depth chart for next season if the roster remains unchanged:
|Derrick Walton||M-A Abdur-Rahkman||Duncan Robinson||Zak Irvin||Moe Wagner|
|Xavier Simpson||(Walton)||(Chatman)||Kam Chatman||Mark Donnal|
|(MAAR)||Ibi Watson||(Wilson)||DJ Wilson|
There's not much depth on the wings at the moment, especially if three-star SG Ibi Watson isn't ready to jump into the rotation right away. While much of the offseason consternation has focused on point guard and center, Michigan's most pressing need is another contributor at SG/SF, and there are a few ways they can make that happen.
John Beilein mentioned in his press availability today that the team will look to use DJ Wilson more on the wing—for Wilson, that would mean backing up Zak Irvin at the four—which would allow Kam Chatman to be Duncan Robinson's primary backup at the three. While that would go a long way towards alleviating M's depth concerns, both Wilson and Chatman would have to show considerable improvement for that to be an ideal solution. Unless one of Austin Davis or Jon Teske is ready to play spot minutes at center, which seems unlikely, Wilson will be needed at the five, too.
Of course, Michigan has that open scholarship, and it'd be a huge surprise (and failure) if they don't use it. I see four scenarios potentially playing out for Michigan, which I'll list in order of likelihood as I see it.
1. Add A Grad Transfer Swingman
|Derrick Walton||M-A Abdur-Rahkman||Duncan Robinson||Zak Irvin||Moe Wagner|
|Xavier Simpson||(Transfer Swingman)||(Chatman)||Kam Chatman||Mark Donnal|
|(MAAR)||(Walton)||(Transfer Swingman)||(Wilson)||DJ Wilson|
|Ibi Watson||Austin Davis|
This seems to be John Beilein's first choice. Michigan has already reached out to Columbia grad transfer Grant Mullins, a 6'3" combo guard who functioned as a point guard this season but would likely be an off-the-bench shooter; he took just over half his shots from beyond the arc and made them at a 44% clip. Mullins would bolster Michigan's depth at three spots: he'd primarily play shooting guard, alleviate the need for Derrick Walton to slide over when MAAR needs a break—and he could play the point himself if something happens with Walton/Simpson—and give Beilein the flexibility to play some smaller lineups featuring MAAR at the three.
If Mullins doesn't end up here, Michigan would still benefit from going after a guy who could play the two and the three; I'd love to see Beilein go after a strong defender to fill that role.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the scenarios.]
no reason [Eric Upchurch]
Sam Webb reports that Michigan is going to take another very large class this year, with numbers I'm not sure are in fact possible: 28 on the low end and 32(!) on the high end. Michigan took 28 last year*, backdating seven. That should mean that they can only backdate four from this year's class, giving a hard LOI cap of 29. Schools are figuring out ways around that LOI cap—that's what "blueshirting" is—but those are inconvenient.
Meanwhile I'm not sure about getting to the larger number without cutting certain spots on the roster to the bone. Michigan has 18 slots open right now and it's not too hard to get to 23 via a combination of early NFL draft entry, unrenewed fifth years, and the injury situation with Freddy Canteen. Five more departures to hit 28 is not unreasonable, but the roster will skew very young next season so there are going to be fewer players who are ready to move on in search of playing time.
It'll be interesting. The takeaway is yes, expect another large class.
*[I'm not counting Dytarious Johnson for purposes of this conversation. If he does enroll that obviously occupies another scholarship slot.]
Michigan is probably done with #1 QB Dylan McCaffrey in the fold but they could take a second, especially if that second had upside at another position. GA QB Jelani Woods, a 6'7" dual threat guy, is the only name on the board that fits this description at this instant. 90% they are done.
With Kurt Taylor, AJ Dillon, and O'Maury Samuels committed Michigan is done unless a nationally elite name wants to join up. In that case they'd have to make a hard decision. Taylor does fit the profile of the guys that they more or less forcibly decommitted in the previous class, but dude is so enthusiastic about Michigan and the PR would be so bad that even if they wanted to—and I'm not saying they do—they would probably have to keep him.
FWIW, a strapping athlete like Dillon could easily be a Don Brown linebacker. The other two guys are locked in at tailback.
[After THE JUMP: positions that are not full.]
The band, it is no longer together:
Breaking: Red Berenson has told me Tyler Motte will forgo his senior season and sign with the Chicago Blackhawks
— Jason Rubinstein (@jrubinstein4) April 6, 2016
That's particularly bad since Motte was widely regarded as the least likely CCM line member to leave. Berenson did tell The Michigan Insider that he was "betting" on a Compher return, but Compher and Motte have been joined at the hip for years now—this news could impact his status.
Motte's lightning release and mind-meld with Compher led to a point explosion as a junior. Last year he recorded a 32-24-56 line in 38 games. He banged home the OT winner against Notre Dame in the tournament. He'll be acutely missed on next year's team.
Like it says on the tin:
— Michigan Basketball (@umichbball) April 6, 2016
Dawkins had a really promising freshman year that he did not follow up on. He's is an efficient low-volume shooter but he lost his starting job to Duncan Robinson once it became clear that Robinson had more offense and they were both equally bad on defense. Robinson edged towards okay at the tail end of the season; Dawkins not so much.
Michigan now has an open scholarship and can pursue a transfer or late-blooming recruit if they so choose. They've been asking after a couple guys. Our favorite dude on the market is Alec Peters of Valpo, a 6'9" dude who shot 85/55/44 last year with high usage and rebounded well, albeit in the Horizon. Michigan also inquired after Columbia combo guard Grant Mullins, who'd probably be just a shooter.