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 POST-SEASON LOOKING FORWARD UPDATE. New team equals wholesale changes.
PACK YOUR BAGS
1. QB Devin Gardner, Sr.* [Last time: 7]
Has an offseason to heal after maniacal up and down first full year as a starter contained plenty of brilliant plays and plenty of awful ones. Upside vast; variance vast; someone get this man a flak jacket.
2. SAM Jake Ryan, Sr.* [Last time: NR due to ACL]
Was not quite the same sower of destruction after midseason return from ACL tear, but kept adding Jake Ryan-ness as year went along. Should go out with quite a bang as a chaos merchant and TFL provider. Gordon's departure leaves him without much of a backup. Has a porsche. DOES NOT HAVE A PORSCHE, OSU FANS.
3. WR Devin Funchess, Jr. [Last time: 5]
Blocking improved not one iota but when the man is 6'5" and jumping over cornerbacks and running past safeties it doesn't matter. Neared 750 yards, most of it after WR switch. Going to absorb a ton of Gallon's targets. This is a very good thing. Still wish he was wearing 19. No longer chasing Jim Mandich's record because cumong man. Do not put weight on this man.
4. CB Blake Countess, Jr* [Last time: 17]
Returned from ACL tear with spate of terrific interceptions; largely avoided despite Taylor playing pretty well on the other side. Slot tasking in nickel packages may go away with Peppers arriving and Thomas maturing; either way he's on the field for every snap he's healthy for.
5. ILB Desmond Morgan, Sr. [Last time: 14]
Michigan's QB on defense and most reliable tackler. Thumper somewhat lacking in athleticism but UConn interception begs to differ with you, last year's book on Desmond Morgan. Brings the wood when he tackles. Maybe not quite Chris Borland. Bolden, Gedeon will spot.
6. ILB James Ross, Jr. [Last time: 19]
Did not have the breakout season predicted as the defensive tackles had trouble keeping him clean. Still clearly outperformed his competitors and the promise of a Pipkins/Henry DT pairing next year would be the kind of outfit that could result in a huge year for Ross.
7. WDE Frank Clark, Sr. [Last time: 20]
Grady Brooks grumbles gave way at midseason as he rounded into a pretty good player. OSU stoned him; still well short of elite. That's probably not happening but his progression is encouraging; if continued he's a fringe all-conference sort. Wait, he's already second team ABT?
UNLESS SOMETHING STRANGE HAPPENS
8. S Jarrod Wilson, Jr. [Last time: 22]
Clearly Michigan's best option at safety with Gordon and Avery gone. Choosing to believe that all of the late safety shuffling was because he was privately injured, and then publicly when he played on special teams against OSU with a huge cast on his arm. Has upside; needs to be secondary QB.
9. SDE Brennen Beyer, Sr. [Last time: NR]
Beyer was playing too well to send to the bench when Ryan came back, and with Clark's rapid progression midseason the move for Beyer was to SDE, where he was kind of effective and kind of really small. M will try to get him up to 285, a la Craig Roh, and get Roh's B+ senior performance out of him.
10. FLEX Jake Butt, So. [Last time: NR]
Passed blocking-only AJ Williams in utility midway through last year en route to 17 catches. Bulked up significantly from spring to fall; if that continues should be an effective dual threat tight end the likes of which Michigan lost once Kevin Koger graduated. Will get playing time split out in shotgun sets. Twitter isn't over his name yet.
11. 3TECH Willie Henry, So.*
Enormous, powerful freshman alternated ragdolling OL and getting blown out of holes by them; sometimes combined those things on the same play. If technique takes a major step forward, look out. Heininger Certainty Principle, don't fail me now. May be used at NT if Pipkins is still damaged.
12. K Matt Wile, Sr. [Last Time: 15]
Gibbons graduates, leaving Wile the presumed starter at kicker. Has a bigger leg; does not have a track record of being automatic from within 42 yards give or take a shaky four-game sequence in his senior year. Will also handle kickoffs and at least pooch punting.
13. SLOT Dennis Norfleet, Jr. [Last Time: NR]
For the love of slippery Jesus cannah get this guy a hot tub? I mean playing time. Playing time where he does not get the ball every time he's on the field. Give this man the ball in space. I beg you. Things will HAPPEN, man. Fun-ass things. Also there are no other slot receivers on the roster yet.
FAIRLY SAFE BET
14. CB Raymon Taylor, Sr. [Last time: 7]
This low not because of what he did but because of one Jabrill Peppers. Could see his job reduced to nickel if Peppers meets the hype. Coming off quality, play-laden junior year; consistency and run support are issues.
15. NT Ondre Pipkins, Jr. [Last time: NR]
This low because his a very large man coming off a midseason ACL injury. Is otherwise the heir apparent at nose. Was making signs of progression before injury; this would be the year he blows up into a mighty thing. Stupid ligaments.
16. C Graham Glasgow, Jr* [Last time: 15]
The only interior lineman to not lose his job at some point during the year is likely to play somewhere. If Kugler is all that as a redshirt freshman, it'll be at guard. If he's not quite ready, as OL tend to be, it'll be at center. Technically a walk-on but probably time to get over that.
17. T Erik Magnuson, So.* [Last time: NR]
First he was preferred to Ben Braden for injury and 6 OL sets; then he was thrust into the lineup at RG; then he was flipped to LG so Michigan could pull someone else off the field. In the heaving mass of chaos of last year's OL that's a strong recommendation. Now please put on 30 pounds.
18. NICKEL Jabrill Peppers, Fr. [Last time: NR]
FR seems like closest thing to Woodson 2.0 imaginable. Unlikely to burst right into starting lineup with quality veterans returning, but demands immediate PT and can be boundary w/ Countess at nickel. Was that something about visits? LA LA LA CAN'T HEAR YOU.
19. TE AJ Williams, Jr. [Last time: 13]
Blocking tight end was unable to block. Slight issue. Technique bad; strength seemingly eh; only high up here because no one on roster duplicates hypothetical skill set save Paskorz. Wanted to noodle as recruit, that's why the picture.
IN A BATTLE
20. RB Derrick Green, So. [Last time: 27]
Freshman year mostly miserable due to things out of his control (OL) and in it (his weight). 82 carries is 60 more than De'Veon Smith, his nearest competitor, and while a platoon figures to be in the offing he should be the guy with the plurality of carries.
21. S Jeremy Clark, So.* [Last time: NR]
This is supposed to be Dymonte Thomas, but Clark has an experience edge on Thomas, who has still not actually played a deep safety in HS or college. Clark has, and at 6'4" has some nice upside. Hill may also factor in here. Easily the most uncertain spot on the defense.
22. WR Amarah Darboh, So.* [Last time: 25]
Still projecting Darboh to be the #2 receiver despite the year lost to injury as Chesson did not have the kind of impact that would clearly move him past a guy who was slated to start. Still Freetown's finest.
23. FB/HB Joe Kerridge, Jr.* [Last Time: 26]
Khalid Hill and Wyatt Shallman come off redshirts to provide heavy competition in the catchy/runny/blocky areas; Kerridge only does the latter. Still, who likes freshmen? That's nobody. Kerridge will still be the guy called on more often than other options here.
24. G Kyle Kalis, So.* [Last time: 11]
Part of the problem last year; yanked midseason so Michigan could insert Magnuson, a 285-pound tackle; reinserted after Bosch had an ugly game of his own against Northwestern; did participate in good game from line against OSU. Should develop; could easily be replaced.
25. G Kyle Bosch, So. [Last time: NR]
Started a few games as true FR, was good in a couple and bad in a couple. Rep as nasty mauler, of course; needs strength and technique; lost in pass pro, but was freshman. Major leap would be nice. There can only be one highlander.
26. T Ben Braden, So.* [Last time: NR]
Once the presumed starter at LG, Braden fell off the radar in fall camp because he is "just not a guard" and then did not re-emerge even amongst the chaos. Hopefully that is just a fit issue because there's not a whole lot of competition for him other than 6'4" Dawson.
27. P Will Hagerup, Sr.* [Last time: NR]
Has kept his nose clean so far through Stonum suspension and will be given opportunity to reclaim punting job. Was already wildly variable. How will he be after a year off? Best thing going for him is all the stuff on Wile's plate. Occasionally makes faces other than OH GOD BALL WHERE IS BALL OH GOD I'M GOING TO DIE.
PUSHING FROM BEHIND
QB Shane Morris—M should try to redshirt him with Bellomy back and Speight on campus. If Gardner gets hurt he'll have to play; hand garbage time and odd snaps where Gardner has to leave to Bellomy.
QB Russell Bellomy—Will be healthy. Arm strength unlikely to improve significantly.
RB DeVeon Smith—Came on late; should be #2 option in rotation.
RB Drake Johnson—Listed second on depth chart early in season before ACL tear. If he's the best blocker they've got there's a role. Probably their fastest guy, too.
RB Justice Hayes—Cameos as WR out of backfield; move to slot possible.
C Patrick Kugler—sure thing for an OL, which means not that much of a sure thing.
C Jack Miller—may have seen his last snap without injury but remains an option.
G Blake Bars—needs to come a long way to compete.
G Chris Bryant—maybe a healthy year gets him where he needs to go.
G Dan Samuelson—least touted of 2013 OL class still kind of touted.
T David Dawson—will compete at RT with Braden.
T Logan Tuley-Tillman—unlikely to be ready just yet.
T Chris Fox—ditto.
WR Jehu Chesson—likely a de facto third starter at WR. Still needs bulk.
WR DaMario Jones—could push for some PT in slot.
WR Drake Harris—injured as SR but does enroll early and should be healthy in the spring. Brings more upside than last year's recruits.
WR Freddy Canteen—route artisan may be best candidate for Dileo role even as FR.
SDE Keith Heitzman—strictly a plugger; should feature in the rotation.
SDE Tom Strobel—assume he plays SDE this year; buried as a 3T.
DT Maurice Hurst Jr.—Mike Martin-style penetrator should get rotation snaps at NT.
DT Richard Ash—could be in the rotation, maybe?
DT Henry Poggi—RVB-type balance maven also should push into rotation.
DE/DT Chris Wormley—Plenty of PT a year ago; needs more explosion.
WDE Mario Ojemudia—all right as sophomore. Weight seemed to strip some quickness.
WDE Taco Charlton—could blow up; could be meh.
SAM Mike McCray—technically not a SAM yet. Will be by end of spring. Book it.
MLB Joe Bolden—Played a lot, but how well was debatable.
WLB Ben Gedeon—Showed well in some playing time late. Freak athlete.
CB Channing Stribling—will be good if he just stops phasing out.
CB Jourdan Lewis—apologize to the gypsy, son.
CB Ross Douglas—Avery type probably has to cool his heels another year.
S Josh Furman—forced into lineup last year with poor results.
S Delano Hill—rep as a guy with advanced safety skills coming out of Cass, so make of that what you will.
S Dymonte Thomas—burned redshirt to block that one punt; still raw.