Michigan finished the 2012 season with a disappointing loss in the Outback Bowl against South Carolina. The Wolverines were a Top 10 team to start the year, but finished as one of the biggest disappointments of the college football season.
This fall, the Wolverines are attempting a return to the top of the Big Ten and there will be a handful of underrated players that make their way onto the field to help Michigan return to the national discussion.
Key losses come at receiver for this team next season and the running back position has a ton of questions as the offseason unfolds. This is a look at the three players that will step up their games this fall and help Michigan move back into the winner's circle.
Dennis Norfleet, Running Back
Dennis Norfleet has had a journeyman’s ride since arriving in Ann Arbor. He started as a running back, but was moved to corner after his arrival on campus.
After arriving back at running back in 2012, Norfleet played in two games and earned two carries for 13 yards. He also served as the punt and kick returner for the Wolverines a year ago.
This season, the Wolverines have a lot of issues facing the running back position. The year ended with an injury to starter Fitz Toussaint and saw highly regarded recruits Thomas Rawls and Justice Hayes underperform with every opportunity.
Heading into the new year, incoming freshman Derrick Green is expected to be a star for Michigan as a freshman, but a true freshman is not a player that a coaching staff wants to rely on.
Norfleet will step in and be a solid speed back option for the Wolverines as they look for production out of the backfield.
Brennen Beyer, Defensive End
Defense has been the focus of the Wolverines program under the Brady Hoke regime, and heading into the new year, Brennen Beyer will become a leader along the line.
Beyer was a starter to begin the year in 2012, but a sprained knee (via mlive.com) nagged him all season and kept him to limited production.
He only totaled 19 tackles in 2012 (via CFBStats.com).
The defense returns a lot of talent on the line, but Beyer will return to the starting lineup by kickoff this fall as a leader from the end position.
This is a player that was lost in the injury shuffle last fall that is set to jump into the spotlight by August.