27 Tickets To Team 137: Pre-Spring Edition

Submitted by Brian on February 8th, 2016 at 12:05 PM

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  + H-back.

PREVIOUSLY: Pre-Bowl. There aren't a whole lot of changes for this one, which is good.


jabrill-peppers_original1. CB/S/KR/PR/WR/RB/NICKEL Jabrill Peppers, So.* [Last time: 1]

Began the year as a one-man screen destroyer and ended it as the top option at a half-dozen spots. M may work him in as a RB more; still assume his primary duties will be on defense, where a little bit of development in coverage will make him a scary all-purpose demon. Adding a half dozen touchdowns of all varieties could propel him to NYC.

22076478270_6a4f551efb_z2. CB Jourdan Lewis, Sr. [Last time: 2]

All-American set the single-season Michigan PBU record because opponents kept targeting him despite that being a very, very bad idea. Titanic matchup against future NFLers Cook and Burbridge will be remembered by both sides for a long time. Headed for first round of draft but not for another year.

15721141259_945e5b11d6_z3. LT Mason Cole, Jr. [Last time: 3]

Developed into an A- run blocker and B pass blocker in year two as Michigan's left tackle. Some deficiencies against the top tier pass rushers and will never by NFL prototype. Could move to C if Grant Newsome is as quick a learner as Cole was; 0.0% chance anything save injury pushes him from lineup.

21102392796_dc743b4245_z4. FLEX Jake Butt, Sr. [Last time: 4]

Inexplicably not a Mackey finalist despite athleticism, catching radius, and absolutely fantastic hands. Blocking just okay but far from a liability. Seriously how did this guy not win the Mackey? What are you even doing, Mackey? Are you playing Fallout 4 and randomly selecting guys your slacker brother suggests? Drugs are bad, mmmkay?

10771042363_ffc5f6e5b3_z5. NT Ryan Glasgow, Sr.* [Last time: 5]

Won Order Of St. Kovacs as a sophomore and then turned into a slightly poor man's Mike Martin as a junior before he was hewn down by a shoulder injury. Violent player who added serious pass rush, linchpin of Michigan's rush defense for much of the year, great endurance, if you call him a "former walk-on" he will and should rip your head off.

22243491362_e471dcdd8b_z6. SDE Chris Wormley, Sr* [Last time: 6]

Mega-jumbo defensive end wreckt all tight ends who tried to block him. A key part of Michigan's stunt game and reasonably capable of getting to the QB himself, Wormley matured into an all-around force. Can also play three-tech. As a senior you'd like to see him bring a little bit more organic pass rush to his game but other than that holes are hard to find.

image7. WR Jehu Chesson, Sr.* [Last time: 8]

Open deep all year and finally got on the same page with Rudock late for season-ending surge. Fast. Murderous blocker. Jet sweep maestro. Fast. Polite. Fast. Went from Stonum-ish to Breaston-ish to Manningham-ish over course of season. Huge year beckons if QB situation right.

amara-darboh8. WR Amara Darboh, Sr* [Last time: 9]

Nearly lived up to Avant-esque reputation with series of bonkers catches and chain-moving underneath YAC. Hands maybe a tiny bit iffy. Like Chesson, a quality blocker and a WR screen target thanks to his burly tackle-breaking ability. Got more separation than previous years but not really a burner. Very solid option nonetheless.

21461076504_2ed068da00_z9. K Kenny Allen, Sr.* [Last time: 10]

Early-season kicker worries dissipated as Allen went 14/18 on the year with one miss due to a bad snap and a second that got blown across the face of the uprights by a sudden gust of wind. Didn't hit anything particularly long, but had a bunch of touchbacks when he wanted to have touchbacks. Another year of reliability beckons.

9492930637_b21ba3277f_z10. FS Dymonte Thomas, Sr. [Last time: 13]

The unfortunate departure of Brian Cole bumps the safeties up into total lock category. Thomas is a lightning bolt who finally figured out the direction he should be zipping halfway through the season, displacing Hill after some bumps. Encouraging play after ascension to starter status relieves post-Wilson worries.

14703806397_2eda27a3c1_b[1]11. SS Delano Hill,  Sr. [Last time: 14]

Started season as starter before aforementioned hiccups. Still saw plenty of PT after nominal benching and did better. Severe case of Greg Oden disease means he will look exactly the same age—42—for the next 50 years. Must tackle people when behind them, that's a protip.


21366899530_17a7ec64a1_z12. ILB Ben Gedeon, Sr. [Last time: 12]

The only returning LB with non-garbage time defensive snaps to his name and starting MLB by default. "Default" is never a good thing to hear in a depth chart discussion but Gedeon has been serviceable to date and should at least continue producing at that level. Inability to wrest more PT from Bolden does worry.

21728973600_e81a8c548a_z13. CB Jeremy Clark, Sr* [Last time: 20]

Moving on up only because I think I was excessively cautious about Channing Stribling taking his job. That's not likely to happen; Stribling will play but Michigan has something Richard Sherman-shaped in Clark, and his 2015 was a star-crossed on during which excellent coverage turned into compost because of bloody fate.

21952729355_e7989803cd_z14. G Ben Braden, Sr.* [Last time: 15]

People were leery when the tackle-shaped Braden was tried at guard again, and then downright alarmed after Utah's DL put him in the backfield for 60 minutes. Soon after Braden settled down and became M's most consistent lineman behind the two lock starters. Lunging massively reduced. Seemed to know what to do more than others.

385446_3012007678845_1455385026_n1_thumb[1]15. T Erik Magnuson, Sr*. [Last time: 16]

Middling season as a tackle. Okay at run blocking but occasionally frustrating, especially on the second level. Pass protection generally good but, like Cole, struggled to cope with top-shelf rushers. Not going to be All Big Ten next year; difficult to see anyone supplanting him.

20325263056_c05a6e2bee_z16. G Kyle Kalis, Sr* [Last time: 17]

Sounds like Klingon, plays like…  uh… a notoriously confused Star Trek race. Maybe those Darmok guys? Physically powerful and prone to mistakes, Kalis was up and down and up and down. IDed what he was supposed to do too late too often. Probably destined to frustrating what-if player. But if it all comes together clicky clicky etc.

Athletics, David Ablauf17. FB/H-back Henry Poggi, Jr* [Last time: 18]

2015 headshot of the year winner. Lebowski fan. Frequently retweets people saying he looks like an anthropomorphic thumb. Had slightly confused transition to FB/H-back but demonstrated ability to move people as year went on. Not much of a runner yet and will cede snaps to someone (Shallman?) who is. Sometimes there's a man.


John-OKornEdited-featured18. QB John O'Korn, Jr* [Last time: 17]

Houston transfer was platonic opposite of Jake Rudock: huge arm, aggressive, kinda nuts. 3000 yard freshman year devolved into Hackenberg-like frustration and benching. Touted as superior to Rudock in workouts, and for half of 2015 that was very plausible. Competitors are all freshmen or Borges recruits. In Harbaugh We Trust.

21329877114_0c444963b7_z19. OT Grant Newsome, So. [Last time: 22]

Burned redshirt after LTT's dismissal and looked the part of a sun-eclipsing, rush-obliterating NFL left tackle in the mold of Long or Lewan. Even wore 77 to speed those comparisons. Long way from looking like it to being it. Major X-factor for season as sudden emergence into good LT frees up Cole to put out most pressing fire elsewhere.

10225985685_399670efaf_z20. P Kenny Allen, Sr* [Last time: NR at Punter]

With Michigan passing on a random Aussie (so far) it's Allen, not Peppers, who gets the first-ever dual nod on 27 Tickets. Allen was originally recruited as a punter and has displayed a booming leg on scattered opportunities so far. Won't be as precise as Blake O'Neill but should be able to flip the field on the regular like he did.


CadjKpjWEAEtWrB21. WDE Taco Charlton, Sr. [Last time: 11]

Sometimes you move down because something good happened, and Rashan Gary happened for Michigan. While Gary's long-term position is not WDE, he could slot in there as a freshman. Pushing senior Taco out of the lineup after a 5.5 sack year as a backup is probably a hill too far; uncertainty just went up. Taco's cannibalism compounded by the fact he appears to be eating his namesake from the top?

23157549996_62d539cea2_z22. 3TECH Maurice Hurst Jr, Jr.* [Last time: NR]

Like Charlton, Hurst would slot in much higher without Gary but makes the list despite him.  Hurst was mostly great a year ago as a nose, a disruptive penetrator with a spectaucular first step. Did struggle against extended doubles and especially zone stretches late in the year. Performance still enticing for sophomore. All Big Ten performance relatively likely.

21136779871_e4f783832e_z23. SLOT Grant Perry, So. [Last time: 23]

Freshman thrust into the fray in opener, whereupon he was responsible for two INTs and relegated to spot duty for the rest of the season. Role naturally limited in Harbauffense; did get a bunch of snaps late as M abandoned running the ball. Solid blocker on screens and promises to be a consistent underneath option once he learns what he's doing.

68224. TE Khalid Hill, Jr.* [Last time: 21]

Position was already up in the air somewhat but with Devin Asiasi coming in at 260 or 270, Hill will have stiff competition for AJ Williams's snaps from the drop. Hill's a smooth receiver who has a squat, blocking-friendly build and should hold off Asiasi and TJ Wheatley, for a given definition of "hold off" that includes a ton of rotation.

21547425519_ed299d318a_z25. RB De'Veon Smith, Jr.* [Last time: 25]

Run at left emblematic of season, as he missed his hole but ran over half of BYU to score anyway. Erratic vision, slow, impossible to tackle, fantastic blocker—Smith is a guy who helps you win football games but maybe not as a feature back. Walker, Peppers, Johnson, and others will push for, and acquire, significant carries.

bfa398d4-755d-e511-bef0-a0369f3c1b4c_original26. ILB Devin Bush Jr, Fr [Last time: NR]

Early-enrolling freshman was clear top option on M's board throughout recruitment and serendipitously fits Don Brown's desire for fast, instinctive LBs even if they're a bit small. Relatively well prepared to contribute and start early w/ dad a former NFL LB. Furbush, McCray (if healthy) will push for time.

21764560810_234ff6a712_z27. SAM Noah Furbush, So* [Last time: 26]

Furbush bumps Wangler from the projected SAM spot since the coverage SS/LB type guy is Peppers, more or less, and the SAM is going to be put over a tight end against manball outfits. Furbush, a special teams force a year ago, is your wild-ass guess as to who might get those snaps.



RB Drake Johnson—if he can stay healthy.
RB Kareem Walker—okay he's not Fournette but let's not dismiss him out of hand because of a couple of recruiting ranking downgrades.

TE TJ Wheatley—not moving to OL, should get in on some jumbo-jumbo TE packages.

DE/DT Rashan Gary—heh
NT Bryan Mone—massive Tongan was reputed to be better than Glasgow before last season. This was not true,  but Mone was badly missed after Glasgow went out.
DE Matt Godin—if allowed to push out to SDE will be an effective backup for Wormley. If forced to play 3TECH, look out.


QB Zach Gentry—rumors of move to TE way overblown. M will take extended look.
QB Wilton Speight—threw winning TD against Minnesota but didn't look like a guy who had a shot at displacing O'Korn. Could transfer.

RB Ty Isaac—doghouse for fumbling and then doghouse for extracurriculars.
RB Karan Higdon—quick little guy had one nice carry and got swarmed a lot at LOS.
RB Kingston Davis—absolutely not a fullback

WR Moe Ways—Darboh analogue had a few catches, should be eased into more PT with an eye towards 2017.
WR Drake Harris—temporarily healthy, did little, still really skinny, got hurt again.
WR Nate Johnson—mean-ass slot receiver, if that's a thing. Golden Tate is ceiling.
WR Kekoa Crawford—Hawaiian for smooth.
WR Ahmir Mitchell—early enrollee could move to S

TE Ian Bunting—Ol' Skillet Hands saw PT drop as season progressed, but just one year removed from being HS WR so not a surprise.
TE Devin Asiasi—plug-and-play inline TE has some depth chart hurdles to clear.

C Patrick Kugler—will be a redshirt junior; given performance this year could displace starter. Magnuson, Cole flexibility means that if he's best five he plays.
G David Dawson—stuck behind middling Gs a year ago, will get a shot.

WLB Mike McCray—health issue was a labrum that required a second surgery, reportedly full go by late last year. 
ILB Chase Winovich—returned to LB after lost year as TE.
ILB Reuben Jones—move to ILB a stop-gap, I think.
ILB Elysee Mbem-Bosse—most field-ready of ILB freshmen outside of Bush.

CB David Long—program ambassador role starts now, CB starter in 2017?
CB LaVert Hill—Jourdan Lewis analogue in HS; will play with expectation of starting next year.
CB Channing Stribling—maybe 30% of the snaps last year; middling performance.
CB Brandon Watson—saw some nickel snaps when M was trying to save Peppers a bit.
S Tyree Kinnel—burned redshirt indicates he'll compete for the job.


QB Alex Malzone—not going to compete physically w/ O'Korn or Gentry but could develop into a Rudock type down the road.
QB Brandon Peters—true freshman will enter with a boatload of hype
QB Shane Morris—will he be on the roster?

FB Wyatt Shallman—now is the time to try his blocking out. Constantly hurt.

WR DaMario Jones—scattered snaps a year ago, got passed by guys younger than him.
WR Brad Hawkins—another S candidate

TE Nick Eubanks—Funchess 2.0
TE Sean McKeon—Butt 2.0?

G Michael Onwenu—can play at incredible weight, but probably not 370.
T Ben Bredeson—Must pan out.
G Stephen Spanellis—road grader needs seasoning.
T Nolan Ulizio—late pickup last year hopes to build for 2017.
T Juwann Bushell-Beatty—late early for him

WDE Lawrence Marshall—ghost after enormous pile of spring hype.
WDE Ron Johnson—explosive edge rusher needs year of meat sauce
SDE Shelton Johnson—probably has to cool his heels and put on more weight.
NT Michael Dwumfour—Hurst-esque NT/3TECH needs polish

CB Keith Washington—Breaston-esque HS QB competing at CB, coming off redshirt.
CB Freddy Canteen—moved from WR. It could happen?


kevin holt

February 8th, 2016 at 12:33 PM ^

I appreciate tempering expectations and being realistic and all that but I predict many people see this list and go OK NOW DO THE GARY LIST

Maybe add a couple DL spots since DL "starter" is kind of a misnomer and because I want moar GARY


February 8th, 2016 at 2:26 PM ^

This is what I called for at times last season - 5-1-5 where the one could have been Morgan or Ross or Bolden (or Gedeon) based on down and distance, opp. personnel, etc.

This would be weird but make perfect sense for this team, with the way it has its talent distributed:

Death DL, Death DBs, meh LB (not including Bush, because I'm sure he's going to get the most snaps of any LB - but we haven't seen him yet, so...)

I know some very knowledgable football minds on here will explain why you need 3 (or at least 2) LB to avoid getting gashed in the run game. But I say if Peppers and Hudson can both be on the field with Lewis, Clark & Dymonte, you have enough speed and power to chop down any runner that gets past the 5 DL & 1 LB (again I say Bush).

It's not traditional, but it best utilizes our best talent, gets Gary on the field often, finds a way to have both Jabrill & Khaleke on the field together.

Something to think about - I hope an aggressive DC like Brown at least tries it out in practice.

And with all the DE/LB tweeners we're recruiting it seems like a good way to build for the future...


February 8th, 2016 at 12:59 PM ^

The Giants and Lions used to roll their linemen all game long so they'd be fresh in the fourth quarter.  I'm sure other teams do it, but those are the most recent examples I could think of.  I love the idea of Gary, Wormley and Co. being fresh and knowing all they have to worry about is rushing the passer with a 4th quarter lead.  


February 8th, 2016 at 1:23 PM ^

A guy with obscene measurables is moving up a level... There is a ton of outstanding depth in front of him on the DL... The offensive coach is a hardass who wants to find a way to use his new toy... we're looking for FB snaps...

I give you - Rashan Gary - FRIDGE-Back

(Why yes, I watched the 30-for-30 on the 85 Bears recently...)

Victor Valiant

February 8th, 2016 at 3:04 PM ^

I was thinking the same thing but for different reasons and did in fact watch the 1985 Bears 30 for 30 as well. Nkemidiche played some fridge back at Ole Miss and he's the closest thing we have to a player that Gary can be compared to. I actually think Gary is more talented but that is an argument for a different day.


February 8th, 2016 at 4:53 PM ^

pretty sure he also sustained a concussion while at RB and it limited his snaps over seasons second half.  just saying.  

peppers is 1 thing, hes a threat to score from anywhere with the ball (and it really messes with opposing D's and DC's) but gary doesnt offer the same.  

im sure gary could help the team in short yardage situations but its likely not worth it (especially this year), just focus his efforts and crazy talents on D to start 


February 8th, 2016 at 12:34 PM ^

I really think Rashan Gary is going to start over Hurst at the 3-tech week 1. They'll obviously rotate heavily, but Rashan's measurables are just too strong to not have out there on the majority of downs. His Nike SPARQ scores already outpace most NFL combine D-linemen and the coaches know that we're only going to have him for three years. No use wasting time getting him acclimated, he's ready to go.


February 8th, 2016 at 1:06 PM ^

Have a feeling Mone and Glasgow will rotate at the nose with Glasgow getting the majority. 1) we saw how brutal it was with them both hurt last year so we don't really want to risk that, and 2) the quickness off the ball that Gary/Hurst possess at the 3-tech is enormously helpful in passing downs. Then you'll have Wormley at SDE with Gary+Godin also possessing the ability to bump out there for select snaps, and Taco/Marshall/Shelton Johnson all getting snaps at the WDE spot.


February 8th, 2016 at 6:26 PM ^

There's still technique involved in playing DL, it's a lot more than SPARQ scores. Hurst has had success on the field already and has much more advanced technique than Gary has.

Gary will get plenty of PT, but you can't say he should start simply because he's the better athlete.


February 8th, 2016 at 12:35 PM ^

Anyone else think Keith Washington could see some meaningful snaps over either freshman corner (Long, Hill)? Harbaugh seemed really high on him before the season started despite how raw of a prospect he was coming out of high school.


February 8th, 2016 at 12:39 PM ^

Not sure I'd say it's getting late early for JBB, he's a RS Soph and was always suppossed to be a project.  Considering the line was pretty well set all year and Newsome appears to be a big-time talent, I don't know that now is the time to start unwrapping the JBB panic button.  


February 8th, 2016 at 12:42 PM ^

Just repeating a few points:

All-American set the single-season Michigan PBU record because opponents kept targeting him despite that being a very, very bad idea.

It wasn't a very bad idea because Jourdan Lewis was a PBU machine and therefore not a pick machine.  CBs tend to phase out of reality if they're on the edge of making a play and don't make the play; Lewis knows this better than anyone and learned to play it safe.  But as long as the worst case (usually) in throwing at Jourdan Lewis is a PBU, not a turnover, QBs will keep throwing at him.  It's inefficient, but he's usually covering the #1 guy and it's not like Clark was giving QBs a much better look.

Also, I will continue to petition to have O'Korn's picture properly updated:


February 8th, 2016 at 1:55 PM ^

I disagree.  The constant targeting of him despite the low likelihood of actually getting a completion put their offenses behind the sticks.  OC's hate to be behind the sticks.  I think it was a case of looking at the run defense, noping out of that, seeing the high safety, figuring that the only way to make hay was to "break" Lewis.  I think OC's continually challenged their guys, saying the only way they could win was to beat Lewis.  Didn't work.  Not much did unless you had a spread like Indiana or OSU, sure.  But throwing at Lewis most often meant 2nd & 10 went to 3rd &10 or 3rd & 10 went to punt.  Go at the other corner with your second best receiver, or try the LB's with a TE.  Lewis passed all the tests, he should have been avoided. 


February 8th, 2016 at 2:44 PM ^

It's easy to say he should've been avoided, but what else were they gonna do?  Save the last two regular season games, run D was solid.  Screen game was shut down by Peppers.  Clark was holding his own and we regularly deployed a deep safety.  Throwing at Lewis usually means an incomplete pass, but 2nd and 10 as a downside is better than 2nd and 13 as an expected result, so teams kept looking at their #1 vs. Lewis and going, "ugh, well, let's try that".  It's a decision made in futility, not idiocy.

It's not like opposing offenses threw at Lewis all day because they were trying to pick on the best cover corner in college football like he's a walk-on.  Whenever they had anything else to go on, they went with that.

Der Alte

February 8th, 2016 at 12:41 PM ^

A shout out for Dymonte Thomas. Started as a special-teams guy then worked his way into the safety rotation and as a senior will be the man at FS, all while earning BIG academic honors along the way. Whether or not his football continues to the NFL, Dymonte will leave with a Michigan degree and we hope, a successful life before him. Go Blue!


February 8th, 2016 at 3:42 PM ^

I've heard that before with Peppers, Kalis, and Thomas amongst others. Was Charles Woodson NOT a physical specimen?

I have no interest in knocking Gary, and DL is a more freshman-friendly position than most, but the reality is that expecting freshman to start -- especially where there are a bunch of proven upperclassmen returning seems dubious to me.  IF it does happen - that will mean he earned it, which is great for Michigan.

Most players improve a lot from freshman to sophomore year. Even Mike Martin - who was about as physically ready as possible at DL -  took a year to really emerge into a starting caliber player.  Brandon Graham was buried for a year.  5-star guys like Watson and Campbell took even longer.

Michigan's never had a guy like Gary and excitement is warranted.  But so is patience, as we see with Thomas and many many other freshman.

Victor Valiant

February 8th, 2016 at 3:13 PM ^

Your insinuation is not obvious enough to be honest. I can think of a number of this years recruits that I think are being overhyped as instant contributors, Bush being the most obvious. If youre referring to Gary you're insane. He's orders of magnitude more college ready than Dymonte Thomas was at the same point. It's not close.


February 8th, 2016 at 6:12 PM ^

Agree. The hypocrisy on these boards over burned redshirts is ridiculous. Thomas played in first game of freshman year as he was expected to contribute alot. He actually started the bowl game against Kansas St. Yet there is constant whining about this burned redshirt despite him playng from the first game on and starting a game.

How does that compare with Kinnel's or Newsome's redshirt? Not playing until midseason and then playing a little on special teams or a couple of packages with an extra OL.

I dont have a problem with any of these redshirts as the coaches play them as they feel they can help the team win. But lets be real - Harbaugh is willing to burn redshirts for alot less than what Hoke was and yet we still hear the constant co plaining about Hoke's handling of redshirts.

Sent from MGoBlog HD for iPhone & iPad


February 8th, 2016 at 6:34 PM ^

I think people are way off on this board in terms of red shirting. I think a redshirt should be used for "dude is not ready" and only that. Most guys don't stay 5 years and of the ones who do, some of them took a RS mid-career for an injury. You want your guys experienced when they're called on to contribute and you don't want to keep them on the bench just to preserve a RS.

Redshirt a guy who needs to add weight, who needs lots of technique work or who is just burried on the depth chart. Don't redshirt a guy for the hopes of getting a better year from him 4 years from now.


February 8th, 2016 at 6:51 PM ^

That said, whispers on THomas were "Great athlete, terrible in coverage."  Sorry, but that screams "Needs extra practice time and should redshirt."  There may be some hindsight 20/20 going on with the red-shirting fist-shaking but Thomas seems to be a situation that was screaming trouble and to burn it for(an admittedly cool) blocked punt seems short-sighted.

I somewhat buy the get his athleticism on special teams argument, but don't remember much of an impact there throughout the year and find it difficult to believe there wasn't a one for one replacement in that area showing up at practice.