Michigan Football: Projecting the Wolverines 2013 2-Deep Depth Chart

Joel GreerCorrespondent IJanuary 16, 2013

Michigan Football: Projecting the Wolverines 2013 2-Deep Depth Chart

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    With outstanding recruiting classes in both 2012 and now 2013, the Michigan football team is finally taking on the personality of head coach Brady Hoke.

    Recent recruits will compete for several positions when spring practice gets underway in mid-March.

    Hoke will unveil his power-I, ball-control offense with quarterback Devin Gardner leading the way. A true freshman may start at running back, while underclassmen will fill slots in the receiver corps and along the offensive line. 

    On defense, Michigan has shown considerable improvement since Hoke arrived in January, 2011. But with youth at both cornerback and along the defensive front, the 2013 defense will be far from a veteran group.

    Michigan has employed a 4-3 base the last two seasons, occasionally switching to the 3-4 which defensive coordinator Greg Mattison featured when he was with the NFL Baltimore Ravens.

    Just imagine what surprises Mattison might cook up during spring practice.    

    Regardless of the offensive and defensive schemes, Michigan will still be fighting for a Big Ten championship with a bunch of youngsters.

    Let's take a look at how Michigan's depth chart will appear when spring practice begins: 

     

     

     

     

Defensive Line

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    Nose Tackle

    Starter: Ondre Pipkins

    Backups: Maurice Hurst

    (3-tec) Defensive Tackle

    Starter: Quinton Washington

    Backups: Willie Henry, Henry Poggi

    Strong-side Defensive End

    Starter: Jibreel Black

    Backups: Keith Heitzman, Chris Wormley, Matt Godin

    Weak-side Defensive End

    Starter: Brennen Beyer

    Backups: Frank Clark, Mario Ojemudia, Tom Strobel, Taco Charlton*

    *early enrollee

    Coach Brady Hoke and defensive coordinator Greg Mattison have yet to get decent production from the defensive front. Any pressure on the quarterback comes from blitzes by either linebackers or safeties, thus leaving the secondary vulnerable to the deep pass (see Outback Bowl).

    The revamped defensive line should feature Ondre "Peewee" Pipkins (6'3", 330 lbs) at the nose with Quinton Washington moving over to tackle.  Incoming freshman Maurice Hurst (6'2", 300 lbs)  and redshirt freshman Willie Henry (6'2", 314 lbs) both have the quickness and size to compete.

    Jibreel Black, who played tackle last season at an undersized 279 pounds, will get reps this spring at strong-side end due to the graduation of Craig Roh. 

    Five candidates will battle for the weak-side end position since neither Brennen Beyer, Frank Clark or Mario Ojemudia distinguished themselves. Look for redshirt freshman Tom Strobel and early enrollee Taco Charlton to make things interesting. 

Linebackers

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    SAM Linebacker

    Starter: Jake Ryan

    Backups: Cam Gordon, Ben Gedeon

    MIKE Linebacker

    Starter: Joe Bolden

    Backups: Mike Jones, Kaleb Ringer, Michael McCray 

    WILL Linebacker

    Starter: Desmond Morgan

    Backups: James Ross III, Royce Jenkins-Stone

    With Jake Ryan already a star, and Joe Bolden headed that way, Michigan's linebacking corps should again be very strong.

    Ryan, a second-team All-Big Ten selection as a redshirt sophomore, led Michigan with 88 tackles including 16 for loss.

    Bolden, who pressured senior starter Kenny Demens for playing throughout 2012, was awarded a spot on ESPN's All-Big Ten freshman team  

    Desmond Morgan, who registered a dependable 81 tackles last season, will most likely win the starting WILL linebacker spot, but sophomore James Ross III will see plenty of playing time, especially in passing situations.  

Cornerbacks

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    Wideside Cornerback 

    Starter: Blake Countess

    Backups: Terry Richardson, Ross Douglas*, Channing Stribling, Reon Dawson

    Shortside Cornerback 

    Starter: Ramon Taylor

    Backups: Delonte Hollowell, Dennis Norfleet, Jourdan Lewis, Delano Hill

    Nickel Back

    Starter: Courtney Avery

    *early enrollee

    South Carolina's 341-yard, four-touchdown passing performance in the Outback Bowl illustrated Michigan's lack of depth in the secondary. The Wolverines simply couldn't survive the loss of cornerbacks Blake Countess (out since the Alabama opener) and J.T. Floyd (suspended for the final game).

    Although Floyd graduates, Countess will return next season alongside Ramon Taylor.

    Countess proved to be more than adequate during his freshman season in 2011, while Taylor was given quite an education by South Carolina's Ace Sanders in the Outback Bowl.

    Granted, some of the blame goes to poor safety coverage, while you can also look to faulty quarterback pressure.

    The injury to Countess and the suspension of Floyd helped the depth situation for next season. Courtney Avery, who normally plays in only nickel situations, was forced to start at cornerback against the Gamecocks.

    Delonte Hollowell and Terry Richardson, a pair of prep teammates at Detroit Cass Tech, secured some playing time and should be in next season's rotation.  Early enrollee Ross Douglas will get a hard look at spring practice.

    Kick returner and running back Dennis Norfleet switched to cornerback during the Outback Bowl practices, but at 5'7" has limitations.

    With taller receivers becoming the norm, Michigan has reacted by bringing in a trio of taller recruits. Channing Stribling (6'2"), Reon Dawson (6'2") and Delano Hill (6'1") will get plenty of attention next fall.

Safeties

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    Strong Safety

    Starter: Jarrod Wilson

    Backups: Dymonte Thomas*, Marvin Robinson, Allen Gant

    Free Safety

    Starter: Thomas Gordon

    Backups: Josh Furman, Jeremy Clark

    *early enrollee

    Probably the best chance for a true freshman to start on defense will be at safety.

    Dymonte Thomas, the nation's No. 4-rated safety, will definitely get a shot at substantial playing time. Thomas, who made 56 tackles as a prep senior and runs the 40 in 4.53, was a solid contributor at the recent U.S. Army All-American Bowl. 

    Since he's an early enrollee, Thomas will be at spring practice to compete with 2012 backup Jarrod Wilson for the strong safety spot vacated by Jordan Kovacs.

    Thomas Gordon, who had a breakout season with 81 tackles and two interceptions, will keep the free safety spot, with reserves Josh Furman and Jeremy Clark adding speed to the position. 

Offensive Line

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    Left Tackle

    Starter: Taylor Lewan 

    Backups: Erik Gunderson, Logan Tuley-Tillman*, Kristian Mateus

    Left Guard 

    Starter: Joey Burzynski

    Backups: Kyle Kalis, Blake Bars

    Center

    Starter: Jack Miller

    Backups: Graham Glasgow, Patrick Kugler

    Right Guard

    Starter: Chris Bryant

    Backups: Chris Fox, Kyle Bosch

    Right Tackle

    Starter: Mike Schofield

    Backups: Eric Magnuson, David Dawson, Ben Braden, Dan Samuelson

    *early enrollee

    Michigan fans breathed a sigh of relief when offensive tackle Taylor Lewan decided to return for his redshirt senior season.

    Lewan's decision means that Michigan will have three inexperienced starters on the offensive line—if that's not enough.  

    With left guard Ricky Barnum, center Elliott Mealer and right guard Patrick Omameh graduating, one wonders how that run-oriented power-I offense will get off the ground.  

    Fortunately, Michigan did a superb job of recruiting offensive linemen during the last two seasons. Hoke signed five linemen to the 2012 class and added six more to the current one. 

    The first of this group to get playing time will either be Kyle Kalis or Eric Magnuson, both of whom entered with last year's group. 

    Kalis, who de-committed from Ohio State to join the Wolverines, has a good shot of winning the competition at left guard. A Scout.com 5-star recruit, Kalis will battle Joey Burzynski, who played in 11 games over the past two seasons. 

    Magnuson, a Scout.com 4-star recruit from San Diego, could challenge redshirt senior Michael Schofield for the starting job at right tackle. 

    Redshirt sophomore Jack Miller is penciled into the center slot, but incoming freshman Patrick Kugler could compete if he recovers from an off-season shoulder surgery.

    Chris Bryant, a 6'4", 318-pound redshirt sophomore who is recovering from a fractured tibia, will inherit the right guard slot.  

Receivers

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    Split End

    Starter: Drew Dileo

    Backups: Jeremy Jackson, Jehu Chesson, Da'Mario Jones

    Flanker

    Starter: Jeremy Gallon

    Backups: Amara Darboh, Joe Reynolds, Jaron Dukes, Csont'e York

    Tight End

    Starter: Devin Funchess

    Backups: A.J. Williams, Jake Butt, Khalid Hill

    If Michigan goes to a three-wide set, the receivers could be 5'10" (Jeremy Gallon), 5'8" (Drew Dileo) and 5'7" (Dennis Norfleet).

    That's hardly what Michigan has in mind for the future.

    Already, Michigan's tight ends are 6'5" (Devin Funchess) and 6'6" (A.J. Williams), and there are three wide receivers on hand at least 6'2".

    Incoming freshmen Da'Mario Jones (6'2"), Csont'e York (6'2") and Jaron Dukes (6'4") will at least resemble some of Michigan's all-time greats, if not play like them. Braylon Edwards and Adrian Arrington were 6'3", and David Terrell was 6'2".

    Regardless of their size, Michigan's receivers will be in the forefront now that the Wolverines are running the pro-style offense. 

    As was evident in the final few games of 2012, you'll see plenty of drop-back and play-action passing, along with more screens and rollouts. The tight ends and running backs will play a larger role in the passing game.

    Jeremy Gallon came into his own last season with 40 catches and should be the go-to receiver in 2013. Drew Dileo, who is the perfect example of a possession receiver, should win the other wide receiver position.    

    The Wolverines will be strongest at tight end as true freshman Devin Funchess (6'5", 229 lbs) emerged as a formidable target. Versatile enough to play h-back, the slot or even wide receiver, Funchess was able to turn five of his 14 receptions into touchdowns.  

Running Backs

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    Tailback

    Starter: Fitz Toussaint

    Backups: DeVeon Smith, Justice Hayes, Thomas Rawls, Drake Johnson, Dennis Norfleet

    Fullback

    Starter: Joe Kerridge

    Backups: Wyatt Shallman, Sione Houma

    Michigan fans have 4 p.m., January 26th securely marked on their calendar.

    That’s the precise time when Derrick Green, Scout.com's No. 1 running back prospect chooses between Michigan, Auburn and Tennessee.

    There couldn't be a better moment to land a running back with Green's ability. A legitimate power back at 6'0", 215 lbs, he could conceivably start for Michigan as a freshman.

    With Fitzgerald Toussaint a question mark due to his late-season leg injury, and Thomas Rawls being left out of the Outback Bowl, Green could certainly start in the Wolverines' new power-I attack.  

    Even if Green does choose Michigan, he'll get a serious battle from incoming freshman DeVeon Smith, a 5'11", 210-pound power runner from Warren (Ohio) Howland HS.

    Let's not forget Ann Arbor's Drake Johnson, Grand Blanc's Justice Hayes and Detroit's Dennis Norfleet, three kids who can fly.  

    At fullback, Joe Kerridge should keep his starting role but watch out for incoming freshman Wyatt Shallman from Detroit Catholic Central. At 6’3”, 245 lbs, Shallman could play either fullback or tailback. Because of a hamstring injury, he spent most of last season at defensive end. 

Quarterback

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    Starter: Devin Gardner

    Backups: Brian Cleary, Russell Bellomy, Shane Morris

    After Denard Robinson injured his throwing arm, quarterback-turned-receiver Devin Gardner received what amounted to an audition at quarterback.

    Gardner, who was recruited as a 5-star quarterback from Inkster, passed with flying colors.   

    The 6'4", 203-pounder led Michigan to three victories in four games, completing 57 of 90 passes for eight touchdowns and four interceptions.

    Gardner cemented his status as 2013’s starter during the New Year’s Day loss to South Carolina, where he completed 18 of 36 passes for 214 yards and three touchdowns. 

    He is also awaiting word from the Big Ten on whether he’ll get a medical redshirt for the 2010 season, since he played only three games. Head coach Brady Hoke expects the request to go through, so Gardner could be Michigan’s starting signal caller through 2014.