University of Michigan football head coach Brady Hoke recently unveiled the depth chart for the Wolverines' season opener against the Alabama Crimson Tide on Sept. 1 at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, TX.
There were not many surprises as to who would start the game for the Wolverines, but when Michigan fans scrolled through the two-deep, some eyebrows probably went up, as they saw redshirt junior Quinton Washington listed as the starting nose tackle instead of Jibreel Black or former 5-star prospect Will Campbell.
A former 4-star recruit in his own regard, Washington appeared in all 13 of Michigan's games in 2010 and played in 10 of 13 contests last season for the Wolverines.
Black, who moved over from defensive end and put on more weight in the spring in order to play along the interior of the defensive line in 2012, is listed as the starting rush end for the Wolverines, ahead of sophomores Frank Clark and Brennen Beyer.
According to Michigan's defensive coordinator Greg Mattison, starting Campbell at the one-technique defensive tackle position alongside Washington and shifting Black outside to rush end will give the Wolverines a stronger unit.
"We're trying to get the best four guys to be available to play inside," Mattison said in a report by John Borton of TheWolverine.com on Tuesday, "Q(uinton) has had a real good camp. Will has had a good camp. You kind of interchange those two, to see who makes that defense better.
In other words, one of them playing at a three [technique] and one of them at nose [tackle]."
Mattison went on to say Beyer will play "a lot" at rush end and praised the sophomore on how much he has progressed in the past couple of weeks.
The only other surprise on the Michigan depth chart is redshirt junior Fitzgerald Toussaint being labeled as the No. 1 running back despite his unknown status as a result of a drunken driving offense in late July.
Hoke insisted that Toussaint and Clark—who will appear in court to face a felony home invasion charge on Sept. 11—appearing on the two-deep does not mean they will play in Michigan's season opener and that he may not be comfortable sharing his decision with the media.
"They aren't done paying the consequences on our level," Hoke said Monday according to MLive.com. "I'm comfortable with what I want to do, very comfortable with that. Talking to all you (media) guys about it? No, that's not comfortable because it's talking two kids who are sons to us and made bad decisions."
From the sounds of things—and this is only a guess, not a rumor or established fact—Hoke does not want to make his punishments for Toussaint and Clark known publicly, even if it involves them missing games.
Let's be honest, everyone watching the Wolverines taking on the defending national champions on Saturday will know exactly why Toussaint and Clark do not see the field if Hoke decides the two have not yet payed the full price for their off-field missteps.
There really is no need for Hoke to announce his decision so that members of the media simply have another article to write and give Michigan fans something else to talk about for the rest of the week.
Back to the depth chart, rising junior Devin Gardner is listed as Michigan's No. 2 quarterback behind Denard Robinson and as the No. 3 wide receiver behind fifth-year senior Roy Roundtree and redshirt sophomore Jerald Robinson.
Gardner played "exclusively" at wide receiver in Michigan's scrimmages last Friday and Saturday according to Chris Balas of TheWolverine. The report also noted Gardner made "quite a few plays one of those days."
Michigan's lack of depth at tight end will force them to play more multiple wide receiver sets this season, so expect to see Gardner catching a healthy amount of passes in 2012.
Fifth-year senior Elliot Mealer is locked in for now, as Michigan's starting left guard and will be playing alongside left tackle Taylor Lewan, center Ricky Barnum, right guard Patrick Omameh and right tackle Michael Schofield.
Another position of concern entering the 2012 campaign for the Wolverines is at tight end. Fifth-year senior Brandon Moore will be the starter, with fellow fifth-year senior Mike Kwiatkowski and true freshmen A.J. Williams and Devin Funchess listed as backups.
Michigan has a total of 12 true freshmen on their current depth chart and four of them are the No. 2 players at their respective positions.
Joe Bolden will backup Kenny Demens at MIKE linebacker, James Ross is listed as Desmond Morgan's primary backup at WILL linebacker, Jarrod Wilson is nipping at the heels of redshirt junior Thomas Gordon for the starting free safety job and Erik Magnuson will fill in for Lewan at left tackle, if necessary.
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.
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