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-SPRING UPDATE: changes! More than I'd like, actually. We've shifted some positions around with the over move and tried to pick through spring hype versus spring hope. Also "he played for 'Bama" hype versus hope.
PACK YOUR BAGS
1. QB Devin Gardner, Sr.* [Last time: 1]
No. No, there is not a quarterback controversy or competition or anything of the sort. No, the spring game means nothing in this regard. For the love of pants, please stop talking about this.
2. MLB Jake Ryan, Sr.* [ Last time: 2]
Shift to over defense kind of makes Ryan a man without a country, so they're going to try to make his country MLB. Skepticism severe around these parts, but that doesn't mean he's going to drop out of the starting lineup. Worst case he ends up playing SAM or DE or something. He'll be on the field. Possibly wondering what he should be doing.
3. WR Devin Funchess, Jr. [Last time: 3]
Spring start was no surprise. Has been officially confirmed a wide receiver forever and ever amen. Matchup nightmare should be frequent motion guy to discombobulate defenses, leap over them to make catches, possibly wiggle a bit in endzone. Fade this man, please. I mean seriously throw him a fade like every sixth play.
One look at the depth chart is enough to tell you he was too low last time. Michigan's only experienced safety, only upperclass safety, only guy who stayed back for most of the spring game as others were tasked with SS duties. He's going to start.
Surprising second-team ABT selection last year did round into a pretty good player by year's end. Much better against the run and capable of providing some pass rush, which was more than anyone else could say. On the cusp of serious breakout.
6. WLB Desmond Morgan, Sr. [Last time: 5]
I'm sticking to my guns. Morgan is the QB of the defense, hits harder than any other LB, and saved M's ass with the athletic INT pictured against UConn. Easily capable of moving to the over's WLB slot, which features a lot of head-banging against Gs. Ignore spring depth. Morgan starts.
Slides to Stevie Brown-style space SAM that operates as quasi-nickel at times. May or may not be well-suited to that, but with line looking like penetrators instead of space eaters that move seems good for him. Gets swallowed by Gs; makes quick reads.
UNLESS SOMETHING STRANGE HAPPENS
8. SDE Brennen Beyer, Sr. [Last time: 9]
Where he needs to be technically, now needs weight. Won't star, but pressure from behind is not severe. M moved Taco Charlton to this spot, which is odd, and moved Keith Heitzman away from it. Hopes to end his career Craig Roh 2.0. Over SDE less of a DT than under, so that helps.
9. FLEX Jake Butt, So. [Last time: 10]
Tore ACL but word is that he's going to be back after a few games so we'll leave him here, and leave him high because no one else is going to be able to do the things he can. Capable receiver was also best inline blocker for M last year despite being 230 pound freshman; stardom beckons if the knee is all right.
10. NT Willie Henry, So.* [Last time: 11]
Pipkins injury forced move to nose tackle, where he languishes on fake spring depth chart. That gets five fakes out of five from this site. Hugely strong; get a sword of Pad Level +5 and he will star. Heavy rotation likely to feature Henry first off, move into Pipkins and Bryan Mone.
11. K Matt Wile, Sr. [Last Time: 12]
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.
You have one job, Doug Nussmeier. Okay you've got like 50, but one of those jobs is to get to ball to this dude in space and see what happens. Was targeted on wheel route in spring game, which is fine, but seriously just try to get some cheap yards here.
FAIRLY SAFE BET
13. CB Blake Countess, Jr* [Last time: 4]
Welcome to cornerback row. Generally the further down you get here the more nervous you are about the slot; in this situation it is the opposite: Michigan has so many good options that this space has bumped Jabrill Peppers in favor of…
…the sticky-fingered sophomore who started over Countess and picked off a couple passes in the spring game. Lewis was right there as a freshman and any increment was going to make him good; now suited to Michigan's press style he demands playing time, possibly from…
…a guy who has started for two years and turned in a number of big plays a year ago. Taylor seems most vulnerable because he has not played nickel; realistically everyone gets playing time. Oh, and Peppers. Can he play OL?
16. G Graham Glasgow, Jr* [Last time: 16]
Will miss opener after offseason driving incident. Was most recently playing RT(!), which says that Michigan is open to moving him around what with this Chad Lindsay fellow maybe arriving. Showed ability to play G last year; will be on field, but where is unknown.
17. T Erik Magnuson, So.* [Last time: 17]
Spring absence did nothing to upset presumed death lock on left tackle job since by the spring scrimmage his replacement was true freshman Mason Cole. Hopefully can get up to 300 or so pounds despite the injury; M needs more POWER anywhere they can get it.
Visited for spring, saw… that, has ton of experience with Nussmeier, started four games for 'Bama last year. Hard to say a fifth-year transfer is a lock, but… uh… he's not coming here to play cribbage. Unless he thinks that would help.
19. P Will Hagerup, Sr.* [Last time: 27]
Still on pace to return this fall so we're moving him up from the bottom. This is so the bottom can be, like, all offensive linemen. Because that is both objective and emotional reality. Anyway, Hagerup is once again booming punts off the Glick ceiling because he has a massive leg cannon. Consistency, as always, is the bugaboo.
IN A BATTLE
Avalanche of spring hype offset by fact he still has no idea what to do; EE helpful in that regard. Jungle beats. Quick feet, quick hands, quick person. Jungle beats. Manningham 2.0? Let's hope so. Passed Chesson to start spring but still has to hold both him and Amara Darboh off; blocking could be an issue for wisp-thin FR.
More prominent than Wormley/Strobel in spring, so let's give him the tentative nod in a platoon situation. Has been getting way more insider buzz than either competitor thanks to Mike Martin-esque first step; at three tech can go one on one more often.
Moved immediately after bowl game and had apparently passed AJ Williams by spring. If he can block adequately will be large upgrade on that position's production from last year. Probably not useful in the receiving game; Michigan doesn't need him to be.
Hayes leaps into this spot after taking the first and most effective snaps in the spring scrimmage. Sometimes running back is about more than who has the tree-trunkiest thighs. Ask Mike Hart. (Actually, don't. Thighs for days.) Catching out of backfield a strength Nussmeier might use.
24. S Jeremy Clark, So.* [Last time: 23]
Still giving Clark the spot here but by this point these are the spots on the depth chart at which the coaches could tell you honestly that they have no idea. Clark, Dymonte Thomas, and Hill are all in the mix, as they say, and no one has tried to climb out of the bowl yet.
At this point Kerridge is a placeholder for what will be a diverse array of FB/HB back types ranging from pure FB Kerridge to FB/RB Shallman to FB/TE Hill, and then there's Sione Houma, who's kind of all of that plus amazing hair.
26. T Ben Braden, So.* [Last time: 26]
Still the presumed starter at right tackle but presence of Glasgow outside hints that Michigan may be looking at other options. Was too slow-footed to play guard; can he hold up in pass protection well enough to play tackle? Enormousness makes you hope so. Road grader if he works out.
27. G Kyle Bosch, So. [Last time: 25]
Under assumption that Lindsay comes in, Glasgow displaces one of Braden/Bosch/Kalis. Random guess here is that it's Kalis because Bosch should improve more as younger guy but your guess is as good as mine. So is Hoke's.
PUSHING FROM BEHIND
QB Shane Morris—Hosing hoser has cannon, occasionally uses it to throw things directly to Jourdan Lewis.
QB Wilton Speight—Navarre type wobbly in spring.
RB DeVeon Smith—occasionally looks like a promising grinder.
RB Derrick Green—lost the weight; had a nice bounce in spring game.
RB Drake Johnson—still recovering from ACL tear.
C Jack Miller—veteran presence provides options.
C Patrick Kugler—still behind Miller in spring.
G Kyle Kalis—battle for starting job will go to opening day.
G David Dawson—practiced at both tackle spots since arrival, now at guard. Likely to be one of top options should Michigan turn to bench.
T Logan Tuley-Tillman—looks part; still needs time to act it.
T Mason Cole—good for Cole that he was so prominent in spring as FR; bad for Michigan.
WR Jehu Chesson—had some promise in freshman season; punishing blocker for size.
WR Amara Darboh—still recovering from foot issue.
WR DaMario Jones—could push for some PT in slot.
NT Ondre Pipkins—hyped recruit got ACL tear at worst possible time. Could push through Henry. NT is platoon city, so not a huge distinction.
NT Bryan Mone—I've been waiting for a large Tongan DL my whole life.
SDE Henry Poggi—SDE now, still needs some time.
SDE Taco Charlton—Still adapting to new spot.
3T Tom Strobel—assume he plays SDE this year; buried as a 3T.
3T Chris Wormley—will at least platoon.
WDE Mario Ojemudia—will spot Clark.
SAM Royce Jenkins-Stone—over move very good for him as it makes his size an asset.
SAM Allen Gant—ditto Gant.
WLB Joe Bolden—nominal starter next to Ryan in spring, but has to hit/cover someone to hold that distinction.
WLB Ben Gedeon—freak athlete had some playing time late in the season.
CB Jabrill Peppers—you may have heard of this dude.
CB Channing Stribling—will be good if he just stops phasing out.
S Delano Hill—strong safety type has hitter's reputation, may be good fit w/ Wilson.
S Dymonte Thomas—burned redshirt to block that one punt; still raw.