Michigan Football: 9 Biggest Roster Holes the Wolverines Must Fill for 2013
Once the sun and fun of the upcoming Outback Bowl is behind them, the Michigan coaching staff will begin the assembly of next fall's football team.
The bad news is that at least nine new faces will man the 22 starting positions. The good news is the success of the last two recruiting classes will make the job somewhat easier.
The Wolverines' 2012 class was rated No. 4 in the nation by Scout.com. and the 2013 class is rated No. 1, just ahead of Texas A&M and Georgia.
Six early enrollees from the latest class will join the current roster when spring practice gets underway in March.
Let's check out the positions to be filled as Michigan prepares for next season.
Defensive Tackle (3-Tech)
Jibreel Black, who started three games at defensive tackle this season, replaces Will Campbell, who graduates.
In all fairness, Black played as an undersized tackle in hopes of adding quickness to the position. Recruited in 2010 at 260 lbs, Black is now up to 279. He'll need a few more pounds, plus his experience, to keep current freshman Willie Henry from taking over.
Henry, at 6'4", 314 lbs, played his high school football for Ted Ginn, Sr. at Cleveland (Glenville). Ginn is the father of Ted Ginn, Jr., who gave Michigan fits as a punt returner and wide receiver from 2004-06.
Frank Clark, who's expected to start at weakside defensive end, also prepped at Glenville.
Another incoming freshman defensive end to watch out for is Maurice Hurst, Jr., a 4-star recruit from Westwood, Mass.
Strongside Defensive End
Keith Heitzman, who will be a redshirt sophomore next fall, is the leading candidate to replace Craig Roh. Heitzman's seven tackles, however, shouldn't give him much of an advantage over a trio of youngsters.
All 4-star recruits, Tom Strobel, Chris Wormley and Taco Charlton will be competing for the starting job this spring.
Charlton, who was recruited at 235 lbs, will report in early January ready for action.
“I’m up to 260-plus,” Charlton told Scout.com. “(The Michigan coaches) said I’m good now weight wise. Basically when I get there they’ll add weight on me by eating three good meals a day and getting with the nutritionist and all that. They said I should put on 15 more pounds easy.”
Roh played the position around 280 this season, so Charlton is at a good place to start.
MIKE (Middle) Linebacker
Freshman Joe Bolden spelled senior starter Kenny Demens often during the season. Bolden, who has 28 tackles including three for loss, was recently named to ESPN's All-Big Ten team.
So Bolden should be a cinch to take over the MIKE linebacker spot in 2013.
But at 225 pounds, Bolden is still somewhat undersized for the position. There's been some thought of moving Desmond Morgan from his WILL position to MIKE and having James Ross III share the WILL position with Bolden.
Another possibility would be for Michigan to play more 3-4. That would place Quinton Washington, Keith Heitzman and Frank Clark on the line with Jake Ryan, Ross III, Morgan and Bolden at linebacker.
Michigan is sure to miss the solid play of strong safety Jordan Kovacs.
But without any fanfare, freshman Jarrod Wilson was able to sneak in some playing time, thus getting the experience need to take over in 2013.
Wilson, Scout.com's 19th-rated safety, will be competing with freshman Allen Gant for Kovacs' strong safety job.
Gant, whose father Tony played safety for Michigan from 1982-86, was a three-sport star at Southview HS in nearby Sylvania, Ohio. In addition to safety, Gant was also a pass receiver and running back for the football team. He also lettered in basketball, ran the 4x100-meter relay in track and competed in the shot put and discuss.
With the graduation of Roy Roundtree, the departure of Jerald Robinson and the return to quarterback of Devin Gardner, Jeremy Gallon, Drew Dileo and Jeremy Jackson are all who return with any appreciable experience. Gallon, who led the team with 40 receptions, is also Michigan's primary punt returner.
Dileo could be described as a "possession" receiver, one who lives in the short zone and is not necessarily a deep threat. Neither is Jackson, who at 6'3", 204 lbs, can be an effective target on fade routes and passes across the middle.
Look for Amara Darboh, Joe Reynolds and Jehu Chesson to get some attention this spring, while at least three commits will arrive this fall.
Michigan will have plenty of depth at wide receiver, but game-breaking speed appears to be missing.
With the graduation of Elliott Mealer, Jack Miller should move into this slot, but it won't be without a fight.
Don't be surprised is true freshman Patrick Kugler gives Miller all he can handle.
Kugler, who was the nation's No.1 offensive guard, is expected to move over to center when he arrives at Michigan. Kuglar should have little trouble making the transition since his dad is the offensive line coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Miller, who will be a redshirt sophomore in the fall, has been biding his time. Size has been the issue, but the Perrysburg, Ohio native is now up to 6'4", 288 pounds.
Graham Glasgow, who played sparingly this fall, is also getting a look at center while Michigan is preparing for South Carolina.
Miles was forced to play freshmen Vadal Alexander and Trai Turner in LSU's 23-21 win over South Carolina. The Tigers ran for 253 yards, much of it to the right.
The LSU situation was caused mainly by injuries. Michigan's will be caused by design.
Redshirt junior Joey Burzynski should take over Ricky Barnum's left guard spot, but freshman Kyle Kalis could win the job this coming spring.
Kalis is already known around Ann Arbor for decommitting from Ohio State to join the Wolverines. A 5-star recruit from Lakewood, Ohio, Kalis switched over to Michigan during the Buckeye's NCAA problems a year ago.
It's not official, but left tackle Taylor Lewan is expected to skip his senior season and enter the NFL draft. If that's the case, expect redshirt freshmen Erik Magnuson to have the best shot at the position when spring practice arrives.
Magnuson, a U.S. Army All-American, was Scout.com's No. 15 rated offensive tackle. At 6'6", 285 pounds, the San Diego product could easily play in the neighborhood of 310 pounds.
Early enrollee Logan Tuley-Tillman might provide Magnuson with the toughest competition, since candidates Kristian Mateus and Erik Gunderson have little experience. Redshirt freshman Ben Braden may move over from right to left tackle to provide needed depth.
With All-Big Ten Patrick Omameh graduating, the starter at right guard will be talented but, unfortunately, inexperienced.
Chris Bryant entered Michigan as Scout.com's No. 21 offensive guard. He redshirted his first season, then missed all of this one with a fractured tibia. If he's recovered by spring practice, his presence alone over the past two seasons would be a plus.
By arriving early, Kyle Bosch could be first in line for the backup spot.
Chris Fox, Scout.com's No. 4 rated guard, may have the upper hand, but Kyle Bosch will get a head start by arriving early. David Dawson, who is actually slated to begin his Michigan career at tackle, may get shifted to guard.
In fact, Bosch, Fox and Dawson could play either position.