|Detroit, MI – 6'1", 190|
|Scout||4*, #21 S, #7 MI #270 overall|
|Rivals||4*, #23 S, #7 MI|
|ESPN||3*, #23 S, #11 MI|
|24/7||4*, #25 S, #4 MI|
|Other Suitors||Iowa, Pitt, Syracuse, Illinois, Cincinnati, ND (interest only)|
|YMRMFSPA||Poor man's Marlin Jackson|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post from Ace.|
|Notes||Cass Tech(like everybody man). Member of the Greg Oden club. I think it's the mustache.|
Hill doesn't have a full senior highlight reel. Maize and Blue News did get some film of him from a couple games:
And he's got the usual junior reel:
Did I say Michigan had recruited three oversized corners in this class? I may have meant four, as despite being a strapping 6'1", 190-and-counting pounds, Cass Tech safety Delano Hill also got the "we try you at corner first" spiel:
For Michigan a big factor was clearly the determination that the 6-1, 190-pounder can also play corner. According to Hill, it’s not a position that is as foreign to him as some might think.
“At Cass Tech we play a lot of man to man coverage, so our safeties have to cover,” he explained. “So (the safeties) cover the slot a lot. And I’ve played corner. I try to be versatile and play every position in the defensive backfield. (Michigan) said I can play both, but they are going to start me off at corner.”
"ND really likes Delano as a corner and he's starting to like them as well," Crowell said. "He's getting looks from everywhere all of a sudden. I'm pretty sure Arkansas is going to offer soon and Florida and Florida State are asking about him."
Whether that's at boundary or nickel I don't know, but a couple of recruiting analysts suggested it could be the former. It appears that everyone short of a 6'4" Jeremy Clark will be tried at corner first, with those who can't hack it moved to safety.
Somebody has to play there, though, and with Dymonte Thomas currently holding down the nickel spot the assumption here is that Hill's dalliance at corner is just that and by the second week of fall practice he's eyeing the two-deep at safety.
Michigan actually passed the first time around, only offering Hill a couple months after an eye-opening performance at the… er… Opening. By that time he had been committed to Iowa for months. He flipped in four days. Who is your daddy. Yes. Your daddy.
Anyway, Hill comes in with an enticing combination of size, speed and lick-depositing ability. He'd run respectable 40s at various camps in the 4.5-4.6 range; he laid down a 4.44 at The Opening, and backed that up with his play. A compilation of things said in the aftermath:
- Allen Trieu (Scout): "good sized safety who surprised by how he could move that frame … used that speed to make a number of big plays in 7 on 7s, including a pick six."
- Barton Simmons (247): "A safety with some size and physicality to him, no one expected Hill to be near the top of the list in the 40-yard dash. In fact, if we thought he had this kind of speed, his ranking would likely be a good bit higher."
- Keith Niebuhr (247): "always one of the better safeties in attendance [at camps]. With his performance this weekend he was once again one of the best safeties in attendance but among a much stronger field. … Iowa [erp!] is getting a star."
- A non-bylined 247 article talked up Hill's "movement efficiency," which Hill has "in spades." Sayeth 247, "He may not look like he is moving fast but he doesn’t take false steps and he gets where he’s going in an effortless manner."
The best 40 at the Opening was a just tenth faster than Hill's; combined with his size that's impressive.
That performance followed a series of other strong camp appearances. Hill won the Columbus NFTC DB MVP (hope you like acronyms!). ESPN picked an all-combine team that was Cam Burrows and three Michigan guys: Reon Dawson, Ross Douglas, and Hill:
DB: Delano Hill, 6-0, 194, Cass Tech (Detroit, Mich.)
Breakdown: Hill is the prototypical ball-hawking safety, impressing with his ability to up and get the ball over receivers. Easily made some of the days best plays and was awarded MVP of the group.
Yeah, Hill beat out the other two eventual M commits and OSU five-star-ish CB Burrows. Here's why($):
…made a lot of plays in one-on-one and 7-on-7 play. He sees the field extremely well from his safety position, and closes passing lanes quickly. In each of the events we have covered Hill at in recent months he has come down with a number of interceptions, and that was the case again on Saturday. Usually cornerbacks take home MVP awards from the defensive back group because a lot of the work is in man coverage. Hill's win as a safety attests to his abilities in pass coverage.
Scout mentioned that he is "not a corner, but can cover man to man" before going with "solid, dependable, and always seems to be making plays." At the Only Incompetent Germans invitational($), Hill played corner, showed himself "extremely fluid for a safety when he flips his hips to run with receivers" and displayed "outstanding field vision."
Meanwhile, that tackling stuff bit is also reputed a strength. ESPN's eval($) echoes the above assessment of his good-for-a-safety man coverage skills; they get a little gushy about the other important bit of being a safety:
Hill is an aggressive run defender with good zone coverage skills; also displays the athletic skills needed to cover inside receivers. … a tough customer who demonstrates the open field tackling skills which not only limits yards after contact but should prove beneficial as a special teams coverage defender. We see the flexibility, agility and balance needed to play in space; does a good job coming out of his pedal and flipping the hips when covering inside receivers. … His run support is outstanding; will come up and force off the edge while demonstrating quickness filling the ally; is a very aggressive downhill run defender with the ability to move through traffic; displays very good long pursuit ability.
This is another eval that doesn't match up with an ESPN ranking. They place Hill a three star outside of the top ten kids in Michigan and this evaluation finishes by saying "he may not be an immediate starter" but it'll be tough to keep him off the field early in his career. Go figure.
In any case, Scout's Allen Trieu also notes that he is a "very sure tackler"
Tackling: One of his strengths is that he is a very sure tackler. He plays under control, has good technique, and I've rarely seen him miss tackles or take bad angles.
Bottom Line: Good size, good speed, and a good skill set. Hill is a great pickup for Michigan, as he brings a little size into this secondary class. He should be a great special teamer as well.
Trieu reiterates that on Hill's scout profile, listing instincts and tackling as assets:
A good sized safety and a sure tackler in the open field. Does a good job of diagnosing plays, finding the football and coming in under control when attacking ball carriers. In coverage, he can play over the tight end and slot and cover man to man or in zone.
And since he is a Cass Tech safety he of course must be ripped. Rivals:
Several of the players on this list are well-traveled on the off-season camp circuit, and that includes Hill. The frequent competition has helped Hill's progression but does not appear to have kept him out of the weight room. The 6-foot-1, 190-pounder gets thicker and more ripped every time we see him, yet he still is out there moving well and showing plenty of range from his safety position.
So this all sounds fantastic. Hill has speed, acquits himself decently enough in man coverage to get looks at corner from ND and Michigan, and brings excellent tackling ability to the table.
He's a fringe four star on three of the four sites, but it seems like there must be a catch, right? The scouting above is that of a consensus top 100 player, as it describes a reliable, heavy-tackling safety who can cover. The offer list is pretty meh though. Michigan took their sweet-ass time getting around to their offer. Maybe that was because they had an inkling he'd flip to them whenever they did, but, like, where's the Michigan State offer, let alone PSU/OSU/ND?
I don't know, man. That's the only red flag in a recruiting profile that otherwise indicates stardom beckons.
“Delano runs 4.4 and at worst a 4.49. He runs between 21-something and a 22 flat in the 200. He has good recovery speed and good footwork. Great feet. He can play anything. He is tall, he is strong, and he is physical. He is going to be able to go out there and lock up people (at corner) or he can drop back and play safety. He has got it going on.”
Why a poor man's Marlin Jackson? At just over 6-foot-even and around 200 pounds, Jackson was a kick-ass run defender as a boundary corner, probably the best I've seen at Michigan. He was also a corner-safety tweener both at Michigan, which moved him to safety his junior year and back as a senior, and in the NFL.
He was also a near five-star recruit, which Hill isn't. Okay, so Hill's not likely to live on a five-star receiver's hip as a true sophomore. If he is really a boundary corner/safety tweener with "outstanding" run support, he may not be far behind. At the very least his cover skills can be an asset underneath and against tight ends.
Guru Reliability: Exacting. Hill hit a ton of camps, has electronic 40s, plays at Cass Tech, and the rankings above are an eerie consensus: #21 S, #23 S, #23 S, #25 S. I don't see why he doesn't rank higher—basically no one has a negative for him—but he's thoroughly scouted even if the rankings don't necessarily match the scouting.
Variance: Low. Already at pretty much college size, playing the position he projects to in college, a lot of experience, all the camps. Seems to have a good grasp of safety nuances already. High floor kid.
Ceiling: High. 200 pound safety running a 4.4 who has good hips for his position.
General Excitement Level: High? I guess so. I am usually skeptical about Cass Tech recruits because they just don't work out all that often (Joe Barksdale and Thomas Gordon are the only ones I can recall from probably about a dozen), but Hill is appropriately sized for his position and gets universal praise for safety skills… all of them.
The downside is offers. Hill did not pick up another elite offer other than the Michigan one, and while being committed usually slows down that sort of thing, Michigan had to be convinced late. What is the disconnect between the scouting reports, which sound great, and the offer list?
Projection: With Dymonte Thomas competing at nickel and Marvin Robinson gone, Hill has a clear path to early playing time on special teams with an eye to replacing his Cass Tech counterpart in year two. He'll have to wrest the job away from Jeremy Clark and possibly Thomas; I think he will.
Lawrence Marshall, Troll of the Year Candidate
Michigan's latest commit, Southfield DE Lawrence Marshall, was presumably headed to East Lansing before pledging to Michigan last weekend, according to virtually everyone who followed his recruitment. Another example of Brady Hoke's remarkable ability to change recruits' minds during their visits, right? Oh, no, it's much better than that, per Sam Webb ($) [emphasis mine]:
“I was thinking about committing (to Michigan) for like a month now, so I knew where I was about to go for a whole month,” Marshall said sheepishly. “I just didn’t want nobody to know where I wanted to go. I went up (to Ann Arbor today for a visit) and it was the perfect timing to commit. I think I caught them by surprise. I don’t think they really knew that I was going to commit there today.”
Wait for it...
Now twist the knife ($):
One phrase Marshall has already been saying is that the "best players in Michigan go to Michigan". With that, attention now turns towards his strong-side counterpart and Detroit native Malik McDowell.
"I'd say Malik is that last part of the puzzle," he said. "Michigan is where the best players in the state want to play and he's the last one left. We'll be turning our attention on him and will try to get him to come on board with us because we're building something special here."
According to 247's composite rankings, Michigan has two of the top four in-state players in Marshall and (oh, hey) Drake Harris, with their sights firmly set on top-ranked Malik McDowell. The Wolverines also have the #9 player in Moe Ways. Michigan State has just the #6 and #7 players (Deon Drake and Byron Bullough) and no other commits among the state's top 25 prospects.
For comparison, Western Michigan now has the #5 and #8 prospects (Chase Stewart and Chukwuma Okorafor), along with 13th-ranked Jordan Van Dort. Only two uncommitted prospects remain among the state's top 13 players—McDowell and his high school teammate, OL Ka'John Armstrong, who's visited MSU several times but has yet to receive an FBS offer.
Where's the threat?
[Do I have to keep writing? I mean, that's the perfect place to stop. Okay, if you insist, hit THE JUMP for Chase Winovich's visit reaction, Jabrill Peppers running pretty fast, a look at the enormous foreign exchange student offered by Michigan, and more.]
abs, special teams: out
They're dropping like not-particularly-likley-to-see-the-field flies up in here. Over the last 12 hours, Scout's Andre Barthwell and Sam Webb broke the news that Michigan has lost Marvin Robinson and Mike Jones from the roster.
As departure impacts go, these are near the bottom of the scale. Both were going to be seniors (Jones was a fifth year) and neither was likely to see much playing time outside of special teams. These exits don't affect the two deep or the projected numbers for the 2014 class.
Robinson and his heralded abs never got a foothold on playing time, probably because he never shook the sort of bad habits that made him the primary culprit on that long run a couple of spring games ago where Robinson never figured out the WR he was trying to check was blocking him. He'll have to sit out a year and then he'll have one to play if he doesn't go I-AA. He probably should have moved to WLB immediately upon his arrival at M.
Jones meanwhile was not a touted recruit and never saw the field even when Michigan was scrambling at the WLB spot in 2011. His main on-field contribution was to pick up a dumb personal foul against OSU last year. (Off the field, he provided many opportunities for people to say WHO? because of a rapper who is now ironically forgotten, or at least would be if his song wasn't about his name.)
The main downside is if their absence forces Michigan to play a couple kids who otherwise would have redshirted on coverage teams and the like. If Ben Gedeon plays despite not projecting to the two deep at MLB either this year or next, I'll be a little cheesed off.
Michigan now has a slot for a hypothetical fifth-year QB transfer, say Arkansas transfer Brandon Mitchell. Mitchell who is reported to be considering Michigan along with NC State and three smaller schools. As per usual these guys are leaving to play, though, so unless Michigan can sell Mitchell on a slash role a la Gardner he'll probably head to a place he can at least compete for the starting QB job.
Southfield (MI) DE/LB Lawrence Marshall, a former Ohio State commit and presumed Michigan State lock, has committed to... Michigan, of course, per fellow commit Michael Ferns and confirmed by the various recruiting outlets. Marshall was on campus today with Ferns and receiver commit Moe Ways, a long-time AAU teammate of Marshall's who's been recruiting him hard lately.
Marshall was expected to make a decision soon, but the choice wasn't supposed to be Michigan—according to 247, he's visited East Lansing eight (eight!) times since the beginning on February, and all six of the 247 experts to weigh in predicted he'd choose Michigan State.
Where's the threat? Oh, it's right here, and it's devouring us alive.
4*, #12 DE,
|3*, #19 WDE||
4*, 83, #12 DE,
4*, 91, #12 WDE,
As you'll see in the scouting section, Marshall is a relatively raw prospect with plenty of upside, so it's not surprising to see a major outlier in his rankings prior to his senior season; while the other three services have Marshall safely within their top lists, Rivals pegs him as a three-star ranked three spots below the last WDE four-star (Gelen Robinson, incidentally). His listed measurables range from 6'3", 215 lbs. to 6'4", 230—based on recent camp reports, the latter figure is probably more accurate.
With the rankings for Marshall largely based on his potential, his senior season and future camp performances could spur plenty of movement in either direction.
Allen Trieu's free report on Marshall's Scout profile is a good place to start—his listed strengths are athleticism, backside pursuit, and lateral range, with "techniques and moves" as his area for improvement:
Very long frame. Has great athleticism, change of direction and speed in pursuit. Has all of the tools to be an elite pass rusher, just needs continued work on his technique. Plays with hand down in high school, but may be a stand-up rusher in college. Has not been asked to drop into coverage much, but that's something he may be asked to do at the next level. Has to add some weight, but all of the raw tools are there. - Allen Trieu
I believe Marshall is more likely to end up at weakside DE—playing with his hand down—than standing up at outside linebacker, so this note from Trieu after an Adidas camp in March brings up an important point ($):
He's very long and athletic. He needs to still get stronger. Big, physical offensive linemen had success when they got their hands on him, but his feet and quickness are very impressive.
Until Marshall adds the requisite size and technique, he'll have a tough go against big offensive linemen. In college, that's every offensive lineman.
His athleticism, however, makes him a tantalizing prospect as an edge rusher. Steve Lorenz named him one of the top performers at the first HYPE Showcase in Canton, citing his size/speed combo as the primary reason, a couple weeks ago:
DE Lawrence Marshall (Southfield, MI/Southfield): Marshall was the headliner and for the most part performed as such. He continues to build himself up and has become a potentially lethal combination of size and speed. He still can occasionally struggle against bigger defenders a bit, but still usually gets to the tackling dummy without much of an issue.
And at the aforementioned Adidas camp Marshall even took a couple reps on offense... at wide receiver:
Southfield (Mich.) High Top247 defensive end Lawrence Marshall took a few reps at defensive end before moving over and showing his athleticism at receiver. The 6-foot-3, 225-pound Marshall was rocked up and continues to add size each time we see him.
The fact that Marshall is consistently adding size is, of course, also a major positive at this point. In fact, according to a report from Rivals' Josh Helmholdt during Marshall's junior season, while Marshall needs to add size his strength may actually be a positive ($) [emphasis mine]:
DE Lawrence Marshall, Southfield, Mich. (2014):: The last few weeks have been especially fruitful for Marshall. Although his team made a second-round exit from the Michigan high school state playoffs, a wave of new scholarship offers has helped assuage the agony of defeat. Among the most recent to offer are Big Ten programs Indiana and Michigan State, and the appeal of Marshall is evident on junior film. At 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds, Marshall still has a lean frame, but he does not have issues with strength at the point of attack. He does a great job creating upfield momentum, which all starts with his explosive first step. Marshall comes off the line hard and low, and puts an exclamation point on his sacks by being a heavy hitter.
That was five months and 20-or-so pounds ago. If Marshall continues to get bigger, as is expected, I don't think there will be much question about him playing on the line when he gets to campus. His athletic ability gives him much more potential if he's playing defensive end—where it's harder to find such an athlete that can also hold the point of attack—than if he's thrown into Michigan's deep pool of linebackers.
Marshall also held offers from Michigan State, Mississippi State, Nebraska, Ohio State, Ole Miss, Oklahoma, Pitt, Syracuse, and Tennessee, among several others.
Southfield High School (Class A, Division 2) has been an above-average program for the last several years but hasn't had a lot of success in the state playoffs—last year, they fell to Oak Park in the second round. Marshall is the highest-ranked prospect the school has produced in the Rivals era—and that's going by his three-star Rivals ranking. Other notable prospects include 2012 TE Ron Thompson, who chose Syracuse over Michigan, and 2012 Cincinnati cornerback signee LEVITICUS PAYNE.
According to 247, Marshall recorded 79 tackles, 15 sacks, and four interceptions during his junior season.
FAKE 40 TIME
None of the sites list a FAKE (or real) 40 time.
Marshall's tape very much falls in line with the scouting reports. He's got a great burst off the line and gets to the football in a hurry; he's also hardly touched on a good number of these plays and needs work on technique—when he gets to Michigan, he won't be able to simply run right past offensive linemen.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
In case it hasn't been made abundantly clear, Marshall is a high-ceiling, boom-or-bust recruit. The potential is there for him to be a highly impactful edge rusher, but first he must add weight and refine his technique. [Insert praise of Michigan's D-line coaching here.]
It's possible that Marshall ends up at strongside linebacker, though I like him a lot more as a weakside end. Still, he has some positional flexibility and at the very least should turn himself into a situational pass-rusher. This comparison has been made elsewhere, but his size/speed combo and raw potential are very reminiscent of Frank Clark, this year's presumed starter at weakside end. Unlike Clark, Marshall should have a couple years of seasoning before he needs to see the field with Mario Ojemudia and Taco Charlton in the two classes ahead of him. From there, it's all about maintaining his athleticism while adding bulk and refining his technique—if he can do that, he's got double-digit sack potential.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
I covered Michigan's defensive line situation in great detail yesterday; the short version is they'll happily take Marshall, Malik McDowell, and Da'Shawn Hand should the latter two also decide on the Wolverines. That would give Michigan one complete line in the 2014 class with Marshall (WDE), McDowell (3-tech/SDE), Bryan Mone (NT/3-tech), and Hand (SDE/WDE). This is by no means guaranteed to happen, but at this point it's difficult to not at least consider it a definite—and pretty damn awesome—possibility. Even if Michigan misses out on Hand, that's a heck of a D-line haul if they can keep McDowell in-state, which at this point is the expectation.
As for the class as a whole, Michigan now has nine commits (not including grayshirt Brady Pallante) in the 2014 class, which currently has room for 14 players but should end up closer to 20 when all is said and done. We know the Wolverines will take one more linebacker—probably either Chase Winovich or Kyron Watson—and probably a third offensive lineman, and spots will be held open for McDowell and Hand. Other priorities include a third receiver and, say, an elite defensive back (ahem).
STAT OF THE DAY
Percentage of ESPN 150 commits to total commits: Michigan: 88%, LSU: 50%, Florida: 44%, FSU: 44%, TAM: 30%, Tenn: 16%, Texas: 14%
— Tom VanHaaren (@TomVH) May 11, 2013
Most of the recent recruiting content has centered on the nation's #2 overall prospect, Jabrill Peppers. Today's mailbag, in contrast, focuses on the nation's #1 overall prospect, Da'Shawn Hand.
Michigan football recruiting: not doing too bad these days. On to your questions...
My question concerns "saving spots" for higher ranked prospects. We've seen with other (less ethical) coaches, that they will take a commitment from a lower ranked prospect and then abruptly take that scholarship promise away to give to a higher ranked prospect before signing day. Since our coaching staff seems unwilling to do that (thankfully), how do we see this staff balancing between saving room for the higher ranked prospects while also not leaving themselves in a position to be completely hosed on signing day if a bunch of those prospects choose to go another way? This question occurred to me in relation to Marshall's visit this weekend, and how a commitment from him might prevent one (or both) from McDowell or Hand further down the road.
Thanks for your articles on MGoBlog!
I'll address the "saving spots" issue here, and move on to Michigan's 2014 D-line situation below (as you'll see, this is a pressing question for those following recruiting). Last year's recruiting class gave a lot of insight into how the coaches handle a potential numbers crunch at a position. For the 2013 class, the coaches stopped recruiting two position groups with highly interested four-stars after filling up early: offensive line and linebacker. In both cases, they approached the number they wanted early on in the process, informed the remaining recruits in each group that they'd have to commit soon or potentially lose their spot in the class, and filled the final spot quickly.
Ben Gedeon's commitment effectively ended the recruitments of Dorian O'Daniel and E.J. Levenberry at linebacker. Patrick Kugler's commitment did the same on the offensive line until David Dawson briefly looked around; Michigan stopped targeting Ethan Pocic (eventual LSU commit), and by the time the coaches realized they could take a sixth lineman, he was off the board. In both of those cases, however, the current commits in the class—and the recruits that took the final spots—were of comparable talent to the available uncommitted prospects.*
The situation with this year's defensive line is a bit different, and apparently of some concern to you guys...
[Hit THE JUMP for my attempt to sort out the D-line situation and answers to a couple questions about quarterback recruiting.]
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 + fullback.
THIS IS THE Spring update. Major moves: Jake Ryan goes off the board despite his potential mid-season return, Dymonte Thomas, Cam Gordon, Frank Clark, and Graham Glasgow debut, James Ross shoots up, Brendan Gibbons dips in case there's a Samson effect going on, tailback is declared the ultimate mess.
PACK YOUR BAGS
Jake Long wannabe took second-to-last step to full clone by forgoing sure first-round status in this year's draft to return for senior year. Upside: shut off Clowney in bowl game, gives Michigan second returning starter, was All-American last year. Downside: has reportedly sold his twosie.
Obvious now he will remain outside, and has no real threat with Ben Braden mostly competing at guard. Should be high quality after shutting off South Carolina's very good non-Clowney ends in the bowl game.
Gallon's production hit ludicrous speed with Gardner's stunning entry into the starting lineup. Project those five games over thirteen and you get Braylon numbers: 81 catches, 1330 yards. Cut his hair. : /
4. QB Devin Gardner, Jr.* [Last time: 7]
Actually played well in spring for once, threw eyes-closed out to Gallon, has no backup, hanging out with pro quarterback coaches in limited windows between sessions with Gallon, gonna be pretty good you guys.
Will be asked to replace Kovacs as the all-knowing, all-tackling security blanket in the secondary. Seems rather qualified given the lack of big plays the last couple years, but it's acid test time.
The one truly locked-down spot on the line is nose tackle, where Washington emerged into a quality big ten player out of nowhere and now embarks on a let's-get-drafted campaign that should end with some level of All Big Ten recognition.
Sure to move to boundary corner with Floyd's departure and Countess's return, Taylor should be more comfortable in the more limited space provided. Has more size than anyone else who's not a true freshman.
Disaster! Gibbons cut his hair. Will it have a Samson-like effect on his kicking? Let's hope not. Probably still likes Keystone Light and brunettes; if kicking ability is not in fact dependent on hair length M will be good here.
Called himself a "pretty boy" this spring and vowed to bring more dawg to his game; should have an explosion in production if he can block a little and Michigan gets an interior ground game going.
UNLESS SOMETHING STRANGE HAPPENS
Momentary panic about Joey Burzynski not immediately giving way to Kalis subsided as Kalis smoothly accelerated past his walk-on competitor and into the starting lineup for the spring game. You know Hoke wants to deploy mean tanks everywhere. Kalis is one of those, and how.
Desmond Morgan's move to MLB actually provides the veteran with more competition than Ross, now backed by Royce Jenkins-Stone. A "most improved" award over the spring does nothing to slow a hype train this site is doing its damndest to support.
Sticky-fingered Louisiana gnome proved his mettle in 2012. If a pass is physically reachable by him, will be brought in. Feet will motor afterwards. Lacks top gear.
Converted OL Michigan's best bet at inline blocking TE sort; needs to work on his technique in a serious way. Could near 300 pounds after an offseason in the weight room. Fears no fish.
Seemed to make a smooth transition to the middle, a more comfortable spot for him. Last year it was Demens carrying TEs down the seam, and this year it'll be Ross. Morgan will thump people to the ground.
Picture still slightly old. Hagerup's confirmed suspension moves Wile into the full time punter job, though freshman Kenny Allen will challenge. When not tasked with pooch punting, Wile comfortably clears 42 yards a kick. M will be fine.
FAIRLY SAFE BET
Miller fended off challenges from Burzynski and Graham Glasgow, and now it seems like the most heated competition on the line is at left guard. Kugler still lurks, though, and there were a couple of busted blocking assignments reminiscent of last year. Moving him down a category, barely.
Still not back on the field fully, but expected to reclaim his form and his starting job. Emergence of Dymonte Thomas and Delonte Hollowell does put his job under a little bit more threat, but let's be serious here: if Countess is fully recovered he's starting.
18. NICKEL Dymonte Thomas, Fr. [Last time: NR]
Started the spring game; what's more largely pushed competitors at nickel out to the outside, heavily implying that was no drill. Big, agile, mean athlete snatched out of Ohio; Bucks are still waiting for him to decommit. Will bring more of a blitz/physical edge to the nickel.
Moving Darboh up a slot after he met expectations in spring and took the lead in the other outside WR race. Kicked spring game off with impressive over-the-shoulder fade reception. Hard to see much competition behind him save Jehu Chesson, who's probably still a year away.
20. WDE Frank Clark, Jr. [Last time: NR]
Added a ton of weight and spent spring getting hyped up as the next Brandon Graham (except fast!). Rumors of heated practice battles with Taylor Lewan reached my ears before Lewan told the papers about them; please, please, please be true yo.
21. OLB Cam Gordon, Sr* [Last time: NR]
Jake Ryan's ACL tear thrusts Gordon into the spotlight. He was getting coach hype even before the injury, played decently last year, and looked pretty good in spring. He won't be Ryan; he should at least be okay. Ghost Of Bo is to blame for the picture.
Still presumed leader in the race to replace Kovacs, has some heat from Jeremy Clark and veterans Marvin Robinson and Josh Furman. He got more playing time than any of those guys last year, though, and was well ahead of even the corners when Floyd went out for the bowl.
IN A BATTLE
Spring provided no clarity here. Heitzman is your nominal starter but Matt Godin and Tom Strobel are about as large, have better recruiting profiles, and are just a year younger. This might end up a season-long platoon where the starter doesn't even get a majority of snaps.
Started and did well in the spring game but even though Chris Wormley played he was still far off his true form just seven months after knee surgery. Willie Henry might also press here if Michigan decides they're good at NT.
25. G Graham Glasgow, So* [Last time: NR]
Michigan flipped Glasgow from OSU, and despite his walk-on status that's looking like a slick move. Glasgow played all three interior line slots in the spring game, starting over Ben Braden at left guard, and acquitted himself well. Unlike Burzynski, he's got the size at 6'6" to be a long-term factor.
Fullback will probably see lots of rotation as Michigan tries to balance blocking (advantage Kerridge) with receiving (freshman Khalid Hill) and maybe even some running (presumably Sione Houma and Wyatt Shallman). Kerridge keeps dreaming about buying $3000 of golf balls, so he's in the lead.
Sticking with the hyped freshman over Toussaint but moving this position to the very end of the list because the uncertainty here is rampant. None of the competitors did enough to separate themselves from Toussaint despite Toussaint's injury; this will probably be a platoon.
PUSHING FROM BEHIND
QB Shane Morris—hopefully he redshirts, probably can't with Bellomy injury.
RB Fitzgerald Toussaint—worst. year. ever. Coaches said he was presumed starter in spring. We'll see about that.
RB DeVeon Smith—I'd be inclined to redshirt him what with a lot of options at the position and a Green/Toussaint combo looking fine.
RB Dennis Norfleet—moved back, looked okay in spring, probably still stuck on return duty.
RB Justice Hayes—nominal top option in spring.
OL Erik Magnuson—third option at tackle.
OL Ben Braden—serious contender at guard.
C Blake Bars—if Miller is just too too small.
C Patrick Kugler—the chosen center, but labrum injury hampers.
WR Jehu Chesson—should be ready to go after redshirt in search of bulk. Still needs more of it, but he'll play.
DE Tom Strobel—oversized end coming off redshirt, should be quality run defender.
DE Matt Godin—blue-collar guy may see time.
NT Ondre Pipkins—dropped a lot of weight, but will be pressed by…
NT Willie Henry—got ton of player hype, actually added weight, which means he's headed in the right direction.
DE/DT Chris Wormley—has the size, has the hype, has the ACL recovery process.
WDE Mario Ojemudia—put on a lot of weight, should be better-prepared in year two.
WDE Taco Charlton—looks like Tarzan. Plays like freshman, probably, but at 6'6" 265 is much more likely to make an impact in year one than Ojemudia was last year, or Clark before him.
MLB Joe Bolden—needs weight, but coming off meaningful freshman PT.
SAM Brennen Beyer—rotated with Clark last year.
SAM Jake Ryan—supposedly returning by mid-October. Please, please, please let me get what I want this time.
CB Terry Richardson—weight weight weight weight weight
CB Jourdan Lewis—will a Cass corner ever meet the hype?
CB Delonte Holowell—and will it actually be Holowell, who played pretty well in spring?
S Marvin Robinson—not sure if he'll ever be reliable enough to play.
S Josh Furman—ditto