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
1. T Taylor Lewan, Sr* [Last time: 1]
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. T Michael Schofield, Sr* [Last time: 3]
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.
3. WR Jeremy Gallon, Sr* [Last time: 5]
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.
5. S Thomas Gordon, Sr* [Last time: 6]
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.
6. NT Quinton Washington, Sr* [Last time: 9]
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.
7. CB Raymon Taylor, Jr [Last time: 10]
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.
8. K Brendan Gibbons, Sr* [Last time: 3]
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.
9. FLEX Devin Funchess, So [Last time: 5]
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
10. G Kyle Kalis, Fr* [Last time: 11]
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.
11. ILB James Ross, So [Last time: 19]
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.
12. SLOT Drew Dileo, Sr [Last time: 12]
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.
13. TE AJ Williams, So [Last time: 13]
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. ILB Desmond Morgan, Jr [Last time: 14]
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.
15. P Matt Wile, Jr [Last Time: 27]
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
16. C Jack Miller, So* [Last time: 15]
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.
17. CB Blake Countess, So* [Last time: 17]
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.
19. WR Amarah Darboh, So. [Last time: 25]
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.
22. S Jarrod Wilson, So [Last time: 18]
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
23. SDE Keith Heitzman, So* [Last time: 23]
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.
24. DT Jibreel Black, Sr. [Last time: 25]
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.
26. FB Joe Kerridge, So* [Last Time: 26]
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.
27. RB Derrick Green, Fr [Last time: 20]
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