Fifth-year senior guard Elliott Mealer has emerged as the favorite to start at left guard for the Michigan Wolverines' season opener on Sept. 1 against No. 2 Alabama, according to a report by Kyle Meinke of AnnArbor.com.
Head coach Brady Hoke, who is entering his second season at the helm of the Michigan football program, hoped to have one of the Wolverines' last position battles settled by this Wednesday and likes what he is seeing from Mealer right now.
"Elliot Mealer has really done a nice job," Hoke said during a Tuesday press conference. "If we were playing tomorrow, he'd be the guy."
Hoke went on to say that Mealer, a former standout at Wauseon (Ohio) High School, has made great strides in his progression because he has become more confident that he has the necessary tools to be a solid starter for the Wolverines in 2012.
"He's playing faster," Hoke said. "I think he's playing with better technique. When you look at pad level and those things, he's finishing things better. I really believe it's more confidence. His confidence is at a high level."
If Mealer holds on to his lead in the left guard battle, the 6'5", 308-pounder will start on a Michigan offensive line that will feature All-Big Ten performer Taylor Lewan at left tackle, Patrick Omameh at right guard, Ricky Barnum making the move to center to fill the void left by former All-American David Molk and Michael Schofield at right tackle.
Hoke said that true freshman Kyle Kalis is "not well back," which is a good sign for Michigan's depth along the offensive line.
In other Michigan camp news, true freshman linebacker Kaleb Ringer and redshirt freshman offensive guard Chris Bryant will both be out for the entire 2012 campaign after suffering injuries Thursday morning, according to TheWolverine.com.
Ringer, who sustained an undisclosed injury to his knee, was expected to add depth to Michigan's linebacking corps after enrolling early last winter, but they are more than okay at the position with sophomore Desmond Morgan, fifth-year senior Kenny Demens and redshirt sophomore Jake Ryan all locked in as starters.
Bryant suffered a fractured tibia and was expected to back up Omameh at right guard. This may open things up for Kalis to slide over and be the backup at right guard if redshirt sophomore Joey Burzynski continues to perform well in practice behind Mealer on the left side of the line.
Zach Dirlam is the former Lead Editor of the College Basketball section as well as Big Ten columnist for the FOX Sports/MSN/YardBarker affiliate website Sports at Work. Check out his blog, Dirlam’s Dirty Dugout Sports Blog, which features this story, along with other articles and video reports on major sports.
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