Michigan Football: David Dawson Could Be Final Link to O-Line's Bright Future

Joel GreerCorrespondent IDecember 17, 2012

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 03:  Offensive center David Molk #50 of the Michigan Wolverines readies for the snap at the line of scrimmage against the Virginia Tech Hokies defense during the Allstate Sugar Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 3, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Offensive lineman David Dawson verbally committed to the Michigan football team for the second time Saturday.  

That's right, Dawson already made a nonbinding commitment back in February, but he decided in October to visit other schools. While some coaches allow committed players to shop their services, Michigan's Brady Hoke doesn't.

Therefore, Dawson might have lost his opportunity to play for the Wolverines.

But Hoke and the Wolverines saw that Dawson's potential was worth a second look, so Michigan welcomed Dawson back over the weekend.


Cass Tech's Pipeline

Of course, Dawson being from Detroit Cass Tech helped keep the door open. Cass has long been a fertile pipeline between Detroit and Ann Arbor. Technicians coach Thomas Wilcher, who was a Michigan running back in the 1980s, has five players on the current roster, including starters Thomas Gordon and Will Campbell.

Dawson, who is Scout.com's No. 8-rated guard, will most likely show his versatility by starting off at right tackle. "I'd come in playing there, try it there, and if they like me there, then they would keep me there," Dawson told Scout.com. "If not, I'd move to guard, which I have no problem doing."

With Michigan shifting from the read-option attack to the tailback-oriented pro-set offense, it's obvious the Wolverines need help along the offensive line. In the new offense, Michigan will often run between the tackles, something it has failed to do well for quite some time.

It's simply a matter of controlling the line of scrimmage.

To do so, Michigan must retool the offensive line, using new vocabulary along with bigger, stronger players. The terms "road-grader" and "pancake block" will be reintroduced.

Not to worry, Hoke and his staff have recruited 10 superior linemen between the 2012 and 2013 classes and might have room for a couple more. The competition along the offensive line will be intense at spring practice.


Lewan to the NFL? 

Replacing center Elliott Mealer, left guard Ricky Barnum and right guard Patrick Omameh might sound difficult, but Michigan could also lose All-American left tackle Taylor Lewan, who may enter the NFL draft.

It's rare for freshmen linemen to jump into the starting lineup, so expect the Wolverines go with experience in March.

The fun begins at center, where Jack Miller will enter his redshirt sophomore season. Miller was penciled in as the starter this fall, but experience won out.

This will be Miller's third year in the program, but don't expect Patrick Kugler to back down from the challenge. Kugler, who's rated as the nation's No. 1 guard, will be moving to center, which is the most difficult of the offensive line positions to learn. He does have a slight advantage since his dad is the offensive line coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers.


Goodbye Columbus

Redshirt freshman Kyle Kalis, who decommitted from Ohio State to join the Wolverines, should take over at left guard in the spring. Both Kugler and Kalis were Scout.com 5-star recruits, so we're off to a good start.  

Should Lewan turn pro, redshirt freshman Erik Magnuson should take over at left tackle. With a solid performance in last year's U.S. Army All-American Game, Magnuson certainly has the ability to win the job.

Redshirt freshman Ben Braden is most likely next in line, while incoming freshmen Kyle Bosch and Logan Tuley-Tillman will be waiting their turn.

Should Chris Bryant recover from the fractured tibia that sidelined him all of 2012, he could easily win the right guard position.

At 6'4", 318 lbs, Bryant has benched 395 lbs and squatted 420. An excellent athlete for his size, Bryant could also work out at center. Looking over his shoulder, though, is incoming freshman Christopher Fox, the nation's No. 4-rated offensive guard.

Right tackle is Mike Schofield's if he can survive the challenge by Erik Gunderson, who's been a reserve in nine games over the past two seasons. There's no reason a powerful athlete like Dawson couldn't earn some significant playing time next fall and then actually start by 2014. 

It's not out of the question to expect a line of Magnuson, Kalis, Kugler, Fox and Dawson to be in place by the spring of 2014. Sure, there will be a few changes here and there, but Michigan should have its best line in years—maybe as early as mid-2013.


Derrick Green?

It sure would be nice if running backs like Fitzgerald Toussaint, Thomas Rawls, Justice Hayes, Drake Johnson, Deveon Smith and Derrick Green could show their stuff. 

Yes, Green.

The super-back from Richmond, Va., has been speaking often with Dawson about the probability of enrolling at Michigan, according to Mike Farrell of Rivals.com.

With this group of running backs, a future 5-star quarterback in Shane Morris and a first-class offensive line, Michigan's offense could be on a par with the defense sooner than we think.