Michigan Football: Players Who Will Rise Up the Depth Chart in Spring Practice
The Michigan Wolverines have a lot of things to address once spring practice begins on March 16th. A new style of offense will take place, playmakers on that side of the ball need to be discovered and there are depth concerns when it comes to the defense.
For teams that are going through a transition, such as Michigan, it opens the doors for guys to climb up the depth chart. Players you may have never heard of may in fact be the biggest stars of spring practice and could soon crack the two-deep. Young recruits that are fresh out of high school or are just removing their redshirts could soon be the next big thing in Ann Arbor.
Spring practice is the time of year for those players nobody talks about to make a name for themselves.
With that said, here are a handful of players who should make their presence felt on the depth chart with a solid spring practice performance.
Jehu Chesson, WR
Wide receiver is a position for Michigan that has a lot of potential, but there aren't many guys that have proven themselves yet. So with the lack of production at the position, there are several players who could emerge from the pack and separate themselves this spring.
One of the names that Wolverines fans should get comfortable hearing is Jehu Chesson.
A track star back in high school, this kid can absolutely fly and get down the field in a hurry. Along with his speed, Chesson also has great size at 6'3" and he can really go up and get the football with above-average leaping ability.
Chesson came to Michigan as a lengthy receiver that needed to bulk up a bit before being thrown onto the field as a significant contributor. With a year as a redshirt and spending important time in the weight room, this is a receiver that could turn some heads this spring, and become that deep threat for an offense that is desperate for playmakers.
Mario Ojemudia, DE
Simply put: Michigan needs guys who can get after the opposing quarterback. Tied for eighth in the Big Ten last season with only 22 sacks, this is a defense that should be able to hit elite status once a consistent pass rush is generated.
One of the players who can make an impact on the defensive line is Mario Ojemudia. Spending his freshman season as a reserve, Ojemudia saw playing time in nine games and finished the year with 11 tackles and one sack. He is known for his quick jump off the line and his ability to make plays in the backfield.
Ojemudia isn't going to be terrific against the run, as he is still on the small side at 6'3", 231 pounds. However, Michigan can't be picky at this point and must give the players who can get after it in the pass rush department more reps.
The recruit that a lot of folks liked coming out of the 2012 class will be given plenty of chances to shine.
Drake Johnson, RB
Running back is a position that has question marks heading into the spring. Sure, Fitzgerald Toussaint says that he will participate in spring drills, but this is the same team that could end up starting true freshman Derrick Green when the season opener arrives.
But before we get ahead of ourselves and start thinking too far down the road, Drake Johnson has a chance to sneak in the back door. One of the more underrated recruits from the 2012 class, Johnson took a redshirt last season. He has the size at 6'0", 200-plus pounds to shoulder the load and also has deceptive speed for somebody as big as he is.
One of the key things that standout with Johnson is his ability to catch the football. The kid has incredible hands and could even line up at wide receiver if the coaching staff wanted to get creative with him.
Johnson brings a lot to the table. For an offense that is going through a transition, he should end up seeing the field quite often in his first real year of eligibility.
Dymonte Thomas, S
You can never have enough depth in the secondary and Dymonte Thomas gives the Michigan Wolverines another terrific player that will add to an already incredible defensive backfield.
Thomas is arguably the most talented player of the Michigan 2013 recruiting class. He enrolled early so he could get a head start on the rest of his competition.
Capable of playing running back as well, Thomas will likely play safety for Michigan. However, the skills that made him effective on offense help translate to his defensive game, as he pursues the ball carrier with relentless pursuit and plays the game with aggression once he gets his hands on his opponent.
He also changes direction nicely and has solid ball skills for a defensive player.
We haven't seen many true freshmen have an immediate impact under head coach Brady Hoke, but Thomas is so talented he can't be kept off the field for long.
Jake Butt, TE
With wide receiver already being a position where guys need to step up, 2013 recruit Jake Butt could help take some of the pressure off of the position. Because of his last name and the position he plays, this is a recruit that Michigan fans should already be familiar with.
If you were one of the few who hasn't been let in on the joke, or have been sleeping under a rock, Butt is a massive target at 6'6". He isn't somebody who is capable of helping out in the passing game once in a while; this is a recruit that the defense must respect as a legitimate pass catcher at all times.
He moves well for his size, does a good job of tracking the football and he will be a matchup nightmare for most opposing Big Ten linebackers.
Michigan saw true freshman Devin Funchess be very productive last season at tight end and there is little reason to believe Butt can't do the same with his skill set.