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Michigan Football Player Power Rankings: First Quarter of the Season Edition

Zach DirlamSenior Analyst IISeptember 25, 2012

Michigan Football Player Power Rankings: First Quarter of the Season Edition

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    The Michigan Wolverines have been unimpressive to say the least against the only two ranked opponents they have faced this season, but blew out the UMass Minutemen and eked out a victory over the Air Force Falcons to finish non-conference play with a 2-2 record.

    Michigan is idle this Saturday and will have an extra week to prepare for their Big Ten Conference opener against the Purdue Boilermakers, which will be played at Ross-Ade Stadium on Oct. 6th.

    Who have been the top Michigan players through the Wolverines' first four games? Click next in order to find out who the Top 15 Wolverines are from the first third of the regular season.

No. 15: Will Hagerup and Brendan Gibbons, Punter/Kicker

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    Junior specialists Will Hagerup and Brendan Gibbons have been near perfect so far this season for the Michigan Wolverines.

    Hagerup has 10 punts on the season and is averaging 49 yards per boot, which is well above his freshman year average of 43.6 yards. Hagerup's longest punt of the season is a 62-yarder he nailed against the Alabama Crimson Tide and bombed a 60-yarder in Michigan's victory over the Air Force Falcons.

    Gibbons is following up last year's comeback season with a strong start to the Wolverines' 2012 campaign. The West Palm Beach, Fla. product, is 14-for-14 on extra point attempts and is 3-of-3 on field goal attempts between 30 and 39 yards.

    The only blemish on Gibbons' stat sheet this year is a miss from 43 yards out against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

No. 14: J.T. Floyd, Cornerback

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    When sophomore cornerback Blake Countess tore his ACL in the Michigan Wolverines' season-opener against the Alabama Crimson Tide, the pressure for fifth-year senior defensive back J.T. Floyd to lock-down opposing receivers increased significantly.

    Floyd has yet to record a pass breakup, mainly because opponents have been testing Michigan's younger cornerback, but the Greenville, S.C., native has racked up 16 total tackles through the Wolverines' first four games.

    The only thing missing from Floyd's stat sheet so far is an interception, which I fully expect him to get in one of Michigan's next two games against either the Purdue Boilermakers or the Illinois Fighting Illini.

No. 13: Desmond Morgan, Outside Linebacker

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    Sophomore linebacker Desmond Morgan's performance through three games this season left a lot to be desired, and true freshman James Ross III looked as though he had the ability to seize the starting job if the Holland, Mich. native continued to struggle.

    Morgan entered the Michigan Wolverines' most recent game against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish battling for his job with Ross III, and did enough to keep his backup at bay for the time being.

    Morgan racked up seven tackles, one of which was for a loss, and is currently the Wolverines' fourth-best tackler statistically.

No. 12: Fitzgerald Toussaint, Running Back

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    Since returning from his one-game suspension at the beginning of the 2012 season, redshirt junior running back Fitzgerald Toussaint has yet to get things going like he did at the end of the Michigan Wolverines' 2011 campaign.

    Michigan's offensive line struggled to open holes for Toussaint in Michigan's 31-26 victory over the Air Force Falcons, and the Ohio native only managed to rush for 58 yards on 13 carries against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

    Toussaint did turn in an impressive 15 carries, 85 yards and one touchdown against the UMass Minutemen in Week 3 though.

    Look for Toussaint's numbers to pick up after Michigan's game against the Purdue Boilermakers on Oct. 6th. 

No. 11: Taylor Lewan, Left Tackle

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    Junior left tackle Taylor Lewan has been the anchor throughout the Michigan Wolverines' offensive line struggles through the first four games this season.

    Lewan has flashed his All-Big Ten talent throughout the first third of Michigan's season and things took an optimistic turn for the Wolverines offensive linemen in the second half of their loss to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish over the weekend.

    Michigan's offensive line began opening up holes for Fitzgerald Toussaint to run through, which helped the Wolverines establish enough of a ground game to keep Notre Dame's defense honest and gave senior quarterback Denard Robinson chances to make plays down the field.

    Lewan and the Michigan linemen will have to continue to improve though, if the Wolverines hope to be playing for the Big Ten Conference title come December. 

No. 10: Dennis Norfleet, Kick Returner/Running Back

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    True freshman running back Dennis Norfleet went from being a signing day flip from the Cincinnati Bearcats, to starting for the Michigan Wolverines at kick returner in a span of a little more than six months.

    The former Detroit, Martin Luther King High School, standout does not exactly blow anyone away with his size at just 5'7" and 161 pounds, but Norfleet has used his speed and elusiveness to rack up 385 yards on 16 kickoff returns.

    Expect Michigan's coaching staff to get Norfleet involved in the running game with some sweeps and end arounds throughout Big Ten Conference play.

No. 9: Frank Clark, Defensive End

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    Despite the fact sophomore defensive end Frank Clark missed the Michigan Wolverines season-opener against the Alabama Crimson Tide due to suspension, the former Cleveland, Glenville High School, star has put up some impressive numbers.

    Clark made his first career start against the UMass Minutemen and recorded three tackles, one of which was for a loss, in addition to two pass breakups. Clark finished with two tackles for loss in the Wolverines win over the Air Force Falcons as well.

    Expect Clark to become one of Michigan's top pass rushers for the remainder of the season and be a focal point on the Wolverines' improving defensive front.

No. 8: Joe Bolden, Middle Linebacker

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    The Michigan Wolverines expected big things for true freshman linebacker Joe Bolden after an impressive performance in the spring and fall. 

    Needless to say, Bolden has lived up to his billing as the Cincinnati, Colerain High School, product has managed to rack up 12 tackles, one tackle for loss and one sack. 

    Bolden is pushing senior linebacker Kenny Demens and may earn the starting job before the end of the 2012 campaign.

No. 7: Jeremy Gallon, Wide Receiver

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    Junior wide receiver Jeremy Gallon was one of the lone bright spots in the Michigan Wolverines' season-opening loss against the Alabama Crimson Tide and has been one of Denard Robinson's favorite targets through the first four games of the 2012 season.

    Gallon hauled in four passes for 107 yards against the Crimson Tide and has 11 receptions for 179 yards through the first third of the year.

    Unfortunately, Gallon has yet to find the end zone this season, which is why the Apopka, Fla., native only comes in at No. 7 on this list.

No. 6: Thomas Gordon, Strong Safety

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    Much like outside linebacker Desmond Morgan, strong safety Thomas Gordon entered the Michigan Wolverines' latest game against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish with plenty to prove if the Detroit, Cass Tech, alum hoped to keep his starting job.

    Gordon has one of Michigan's two interceptions through the first four games of the 2012 season and is the Wolverines second best tackler with 28 tackles.

    In addition, Gordon has recorded one tackle for loss and a forced fumble in the first third of Michigan's schedule.

    True freshman Jarrod Wilson will continue to push Gordon for the starting job for the remainder of the year and will have to keep playing well in order to remain at No. 1 on the depth chart.

No. 5: Denard Robinson, Quarterback

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    Senior quarterback Denard Robinson has looked very unimpressive in the Michigan Wolverines' only two games against ranked opponents, however the All-Big Ten signal-caller has still put up very impressive numbers for the first third of the 2012 season.

    Robinson has 1,278 total yards and 10 total touchdowns through four games and accounted for 101 percent of Michigan's offense in their victory over the Air Force Falcons.

    Robinson's accuracy has been sporadic to say the least, but even if he is one of the worst pocket passers in college football his game-changing ability to run the football has helped the Wolverines get to 2-2.

    The Deerfield Beach, Fla., native will have to take care of the football better if he hopes to lead the Wolverines to a Big Ten Conference crown. 

No. 4: Devin Funchess, Tight End

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    There were not too many people expecting a whole lot out of true freshman tight end Devin Funchess, but the Farmington Hills, Harrison High School, product has eight catches for 151 yards and two touchdowns through the Michigan Wolverines first four games.

    Funchess will struggle against some of Michigan's tougher opponents this season in Big Ten play much like he did against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, however the 6'5", 229-pounder will be a match up problem for numerous teams once he gains more experience and adds some more weight to his frame.

    Watch out for Funchess whenever the Wolverines get inside the red zone this year. 

No. 3: Devin Gardner, Wide Receiver

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    The Michigan Wolverines coaching staff decided junior quarterback Devin Gardner is too talented to keep on the bench and moved him out to wide receiver before the start of the 2012 campaign, which up to this point has been one the coaching staff's best decisions.

    Gardner is Michigan's leading receiver through four games with 11 receptions for 195 yards and three touchdowns. The Wolverines should continue to put up big numbers as he develops a connection with senior quarterback Denard Robinson.

    Gardner has been one of the most pleasant surprises for the Wolverines so far this year.

No. 2: Jordan Kovacs, Free Safety

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    Former walk-on free safety Jordan Kovacs has been as impressive as ever and is the Michigan Wolverines' leading tackler through four games.

    Kovacs has 30 tackles through four games and has notched two tackles for loss, which is all the Wolverines can really ask for from the fifth-year senior.

    Expect Kovacs to continue to lead the team in tackles if Michigan's front seven struggles like it did at times during the first three games of the 2012 season.

No. 1: Jake Ryan, Outside Linebacker

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    Sophomore linebacker Jake Ryan has been the Michigan Wolverines most consistent defender through their first four games.

    The Ohio native has recorded 25 tackles, two tackles for loss, broken up three passes and hurried an opposing quarterback twice. 

    Ryan has been wearing No. 47 this season in honor of former Michigan great Bennie Oosterbaan and has certainly lived up to the expectations that come with donning a Michigan Legend's jersey.

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