Blake Countess sure is an intriguing player on this Michigan defense. After a phenomenal freshman season, fans can't wait to see what he will do as a sophomore.
Will he turn into the shutdown corner every team needs, like so many people are expecting him to be? Or will he suffer through a sophomore slump?
Here's a look at the talented young cornerback for the Maize and Blue.
Blake Countess played high school football at Our Lady of Good Counsel, a school that is known for being loaded with football talent seemingly every year.
He actually committed to play for Rich Rodriguez, as he pledged to Michigan in December of 2010.
Rated the 10th best corner in the country by Rivals.com, Countess was one of the better defensive players that Rodriguez reeled in.
He committed at a time when Michigan's secondary was an absolute mess, and he may have seen early playing time as a big factor.
The fact that Troy Woolfolk, a fifth year senior, was basically benched early last season in favor of Countess, a true freshman, sure says a lot about the young cornerback.
Yes, Woolfolk's injury issues had a lot to do with it, but I think Countess also proved that he was the better player.
He had his coming out party in the San Diego State game and never looked back.
Again, even though he was a true freshman, he held onto the starting job and wound up starting the rest of the year.
Let's face it: Michigan's secondary looked very bad in the team's final two games against Ohio State and Virginia Tech.
They inexcusably allowed Braxton Miller to throw for 235 yards against them, even though the Bucs literally had one of the worst passing offenses in the country.
It could've been much worse, though, as Miller missed plenty of wide open receivers. That was the main problem: The fact that Ohio's receivers were open the majority of the game. A lot of that has to be blamed on Countess.
The effort was definitely better in the bowl game against Virginia Tech, but it still wasn't good enough. Logan Thomas threw for 214 yards, and Danny Coale had well over 100 receiving yards.
Countess, and the rest of the secondary for that matter, definitely need to rebound from those final two games.
Whether you love him or hate him, there is no denying that J.T. Floyd receives tons of praise from the coaching staff.
Even though his starting job may have looked iffy in the spring (probably just to motivate him), it was basically resolidified when Terrence Talbott left the team.
I don't think there's any question that both Floyd and Countess will be the starting corners, but the competition behind those two is excellent.
When you have a guy like Courtney Avery coming off the bench, you know your secondary is in good shape.
Michigan's pass defense ranked 16th nationally last season, and the progression that both Floyd and Countess showed was a big reason why.
The pass defense should at least be as good as last year and probably even a little better.
Is it asking too much of Countess to become a shutdown corner...as only a true sophomore?
Even though we saw flashes of brilliance from him last season, there were growing pains as well.
I expect the first half of the season to still be somewhat of a learning process for Countess and then for him to really take off in the second half.
As was the case with this defense a year ago, they hit their stride around the midway point and played like a whole new unit the rest of the way.
I expect a similar situation with Countess; during the second half of the season, he will look like one of the best cornerbacks in the Big Ten, and then the preseason nomination awards will start rolling in as he heads into his junior year.