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 Signing Day Update. Certain recruits are added, NFL departures (or returns) are accounted for, and bowl performances are taken into account. Next update is after spring practice.
PACK YOUR BAGS
1. T Taylor Lewan, Sr* [Last time: NR]
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.
2. OLB Jake Ryan, Jr* [Last time: 1]
The Barbarian is Michigan's best defensive player and a lock for preseason first-team All Big Ten. Can change direction in a flash; consistently shocks opponents with his explosive acceleration.
3. T Michael Schofield, Sr* [Last time: 2]
Schofield came into his own midway through last year. Getting some NFL draft buzz now; shut down a talented SoCar bookend in the bowl. Could move to guard if necessary; idealls remains outside.
4. K Brendan Gibbons, Sr* [Last time: 4]
Groza semifinalist and hair enthusiast has turned his career around after early struggles. Hit 52-yarder last year en route to record accuracy for Michigan kicker. Likes brunettes and Keystone Light.
5. FLEX Devin Funchess, So [Last time: 5]
Should break out for real after a year to bulk up and work on his routes. Frequently targeted a year ago without effect, will need some outside threats to develop to truly annihilate defenses.
6. WR Jeremy Gallon, Sr* [Last time: 6]
Former Rodriguez slot-dot is Michigan's leading receiver and should be again. Still a somewhat awkward fit as an outside receiver; a threat on end-arounds and screens. Punt return job may be up for grabs.
7. QB Devin Gardner, Jr.* [Last time: 12]
Late-season rankings slide of Shane Morris and solid bowl performance move Gardner from very likely to be Michigan's starter to a holy lock. No true freshman is supplanting him.
8. S Thomas Gordon, Jr* [Last time: 7]
Safety attached to notorious six-pack has been a steady performer and a major contributor to Michigan's extreme lack of big plays allowed in the Mattison era.
9. NT Quinton Washington, Sr* [Last time: 8]
Season surprise emerged into upper-echelon Big Ten nose tackle out of nowhere. Has the physical ability to be an NFL player. Requires your head, sorry, nothing personal.
10. CB Raymon Taylor, Jr [Last time: 9]
Filled in admirably for Countess. Avery won't pass him, and it's doubtful any freshman will. Still needs to tighten up his zone coverage but has excellent size and athleticism for the position. Likely to move to boundary corner.
UNLESS SOMETHING STRANGE HAPPENS
11. G Kyle Kalis, Fr* [Last time: 10]
Most college-ready OL out of the Midwest in years probably could have—probably should have—started last year. If he does not ascend to starting job will have been beaten out by a classmate, freshman, or walk-on. Not happening; cue Imperial March.
12. SLOT Drew Dileo, Sr [Last time: 14]
Sticky-fingered Louisiana gnome proved is mettle in 2012. If a pass is physically reachable by him, will be brought in. Feet will motor afterwards. Lacks top gear.
13. TE AJ Williams, So [Last time: 15]
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.
14. NICKEL Courtney Avery, Sr. [Last time: 16]
Pressed into service as a started his freshman year before settling into perpetual third-best-corner-on-rosterdom. Will see half of the defensive snaps, covering slots and the like.
15. ILB Desmond Morgan, Jr [Last time: 4]
Major drop from last time out; was overranked to begin with since Bolden is pushing from behind. Excellent frosh play in bowl game puts job under a bit more threat. Realistically it'll be hard to move out of the MLB spot.
16. C Jack Miller, So* [Last time: 12]
Kugler buzz sees Miller slide a bit as his competition will come in far readier than most to start from day one. Still seems unlikely a guy with a labrum injury can find the strength as a freshman to displace him.
FAIRLY SAFE BET
17. CB Blake Countess, So* [Last time: 17]
With Courtney Avery seemingly comfortable in the slot, Countess is likely to reclaim the field corner job he locked down midway through his freshman season… as long as he isn't hampered by lingering effects of his injury.
18. S Jarrod Wilson, So [Last time: 18]
Early enrollee groomed as the Kovacs heir apparent as soon as he arrived, playing in certain nickel and dime packages as a freshman. Has not appeared on The Price Is Right, that's 'shopped, rookie. Marvin Robinson may challenge.
19. ILB James Ross, So [Last time: 19]
The only thing keeping Ross so low is classmate Joe Bolden; the two freshmen split snaps with veterans and played well. Ross seemed more instinctive and gets the nod here; had a great day against Northwestern and just needs 20 pounds to be a quality option.
IN A BATTLE
20. RB Derrick Green, Fr [Last time: NR]
Yep: making the switch here, as Fitzgerald Toussaint now has to deal with not only DeVeon Smith but a 220 pound slab of muscle coming in with as much hype as it is possible to garner. Tailback is an immediate-impact spot.
21. WDE Brennen Beyer, Jr. [Last time: 22]
Beyer has nosed ahead of Frank Clark and Mario Ojemudia since he's a better run defender. Recruiting sites liked him best, too. Likely to split time with the other two contenders here even if given the green light as a starter.
22. G Chris Bryant, So* [Last time: 23]
Mountain-sized guard missed 2012 with a broken leg; will return for spring practice. Has to fend off freshmen and walk-ons, mostly. The non-Kalis guard spot will see a lot of intrigue.
23. SDE Keith Heitzman, So* [Last time: 24]
Started to rack up meaningful snaps late in the year; will have to fend off challenges from Tom Strobel and possibly Chris Wormley and Jibreel Black, if he's not at three-tech. Injury-enforced retirement of Nate Brink means he's at least going to reprise his role this year.
24. DT Jibreel Black, Sr. [Last time: 25]
Nominally in line to replace Will Campbell at starting three-tech but will be pushed hard by trio of redshirt freshmen, and may move out to SDE. May not have the size to start at his current position.
25. WR Amarah Darboh, So. [Last time: 26]
Someone large and leapy will have to pick up where Gardner and Roundtree(?) left off. Darboh did nothing as a freshman but seems likely to move in front of Jerald Robinson and others to claim the other spot outside.
26. FB Joe Kerridge, So* [Last Time: NR]
Stephen Hopkins' departure makes Kerridge the leader at fullback when face-smashing is called for; the additions of Khalid Hill and Wyatt Shallman may move Kerridge to the bench for periods of time when Borges wants pass-catchers at the spot. Houma?
27. P Matt Wile, Jr [Last Time: NR]
Bowl suspension has Will Hagerup on thin ice, thin enough that it seems 50/50 he returns, at best. If Hagerup is out the door, Michigan won't miss much of a beat with Wile, who averaged 48 yards a kick in the bowl game. Picture may be slightly old.
PUSHING FROM BEHIND
QB Shane Morris—hopefully he redshirts.
RB Fitzgerald Toussaint—worst. year. ever.
RB DeVeon Smith—most likely to fit what coaches want at RB spot
RB Dennis Norfleet—MOVE HIM BACK MOVE HIM BACK
OL Erik Magnuson—third option at tackle.
OL Ben Braden—rumor is they may give him a shot at guard with Lewan back.
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.
DE Tom Strobel—oversized end coming off redshirt, should be quality run defender.
NT Ondre Pipkins—get thee to the technique hut, son.
DE/DT Chris Wormley—has the size, has the hype, has the ACL recovery process.
WDE Frank Clark—rotated with Beyer last year.
WDE Mario Ojemudia—seemingly the best bet for an impact pass rusher at the spot.
MLB Joe Bolden—needs weight, but coming off meaningful freshman PT.
SLB Cam Gordon—spots Ryan.
CB Terry Richardson—weight weight weight weight weight
CB Jourdan Lewis—will a Cass corner ever meet the hype?
S Marvin Robinson—not sure if he'll ever be reliable enough to play.
S Josh Furman—ditto