Michigan Football: Week 2 Spring Practice Stock Report
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Another week of spring practice is in the books for the Michigan football program, which means there are some Wolverines rising and falling in the second edition of the 2013 seasonal stock report.
Offensive guard and running back are two positions that look deeper than ever, so were there any victims of an increase in talent?
Heated position battles at linebacker and defensive end now have some early favorites, but there is still plenty of time before the regular season gets underway. This week's stock check contains four risers and two players trending downward.
See who they are by clicking ahead!
Note: All prospect ratings are courtesy of Rivals.com.
Stock Up: Amara Darboh, Wide Receiver
Amara Darboh could be Michigan's breakout wide receiver in 2013. Photo courtesy of Scout.com.
Although incumbent starting quarterback Devin Gardner is expected to be a much more efficient passer than former Michigan Wolverine Denard Robinson, his talents will not be maximized without a deep-threat. Enter sophomore wide receiver Amara Darboh.
The former 4-star prospect, along with fellow class of 2012 prospect Jehu Chesson, drew plenty of praise from offensive coordinator Al Borges earlier this week.
"Those two have demonstrated in the first few days that they have some big-play ability," Borges told John Borton of TheWolverine.com. "They've won a few jump balls, lost a few, but we haven't lost them all."
The strong week of practice from Darboh, who contributed on special teams last season, is a great sign for the Wolverines going forward.
Michigan's offense is in dire need of a tall, athletic wideout who can stretch the field and command extra attention from opposing defenses. All signs are pointing to Darboh being the missing link after the first two weeks of spring ball.
Stock Up: Jack Miller, Center
Jack Miller is quickly silencing his critics. Photo courtesy of ESPN.com.
Head coach Brady Hoke has wasted no time beefing up the Michigan Wolverines' offensive line through recruiting and savvy veterans, but there were some major concerns about whether or not redshirt sophomore Jack Miller would have success as a center.
Miller is quickly quieting the critics in large part because of his physicality, toughness and size.
"Miller is not small. Looking at him, he appears to be 290 pounds and he's got a nasty streak," Chris Balas posted in The Fort. "If there's a shoving match (or four) during a practice, we'd almost expect Miller to be in the middle of it. And that's not a bad thing. We expect him to fare extremely well in the one-on-one drills, perhaps among the best of the linemen at times, especially the interior group."
These observations should chip away at the notion Miller is not capable of helping the Wolverines be one of the best offensive lines in the Big Ten Conference this season.
Given the improvements Miller has made thus far in spring practices, Michigan fans should be as excited as ever to see this group battle in the trenches come Aug. 31.
Stock Down: Chris Bryant, Offensive Guard
Chris Bryant's chances of being a starter are fading rapidly. Photo courtesy of AnnArbor.com.
Although redshirt sophomore Chris Bryant was projected to be the starting right guard for the Michigan Wolverines season-opener, he is quickly becoming a non-factor at the position.
Things changed in a hurry for Michigan's offensive line when the coaching staff made the decision to shift redshirt freshman Ben Braden to left guard. Braden was expected to be a backup tackle for 2013, but the coaches felt he could help Michigan replace three starters.
Redshirt freshman Kyle Kalis and fourth-year junior Joey Burzynski are the two main contenders for the top spot at right guard. Even redshirt freshman Blake Bars may see some reps at right guard during the spring.
Bryant is still struggling to recover from a season-ending tibia fracture he suffered last summer, which is not helping matters.
Chris Balas of TheWolverine.com stated Bryant has "a lot of work to do on conditioning."
Unless Bryant can get his weight down and turn some heads in the fall, he will be nowhere to be found on the two-deep when Michigan opens the 2013 campaign against the Central Michigan Chippewas.
Stock Down: Thomas Rawls, Running Back
Thomas Rawls will struggle to see the field in 2013.
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Another returning player that will have a tough time getting on the field in 2013, and this came as quite a surprise, is junior running back Thomas Rawls.
Fifth-year senior Fitzgerald Toussaint will make a push for the starting job once he recovers from an ankle injury, while redshirt freshman tailback Drake Johnson is turning into the steal of the 2012 recruiting class.
Those two, plus the addition of 5-star prospect Derrick Green and redshirt sophomore Justice Hayes looking like the third-down back means Rawls' total touches could significantly diminish this year.
There is a long way to go before the start of the regular season, but Rawls is going to have an uphill battle when it comes to earning carries. It is safe to say Rawls' stock is trending downward this week given Michigan's depth at running back.
Stock Up: Royce Jenkins-Stone, WILL Linebacker
Royce Jenkins-Stone is climbing up the depth chart for the Wolverines. Photo courtesy of Flickr.com.
One of the beneficiaries of sophomore outside linebacker James Ross III's push for a starting spot this week has been sophomore Royce Jenkins-Stone.
With a need for depth and athleticism at middle linebacker, the Michigan Wolverines' coaches opted to move junior Desmond Morgan inside to compete with rising sophomore Joe Bolden. This move freed things up for Ross to assume to top spot on the depth chart, and his new backup will be Jenkins-Stone.
The former 4-star prospect should see an increase in reps at WILL linebacker with Morgan out of the mix.
Although the chances of Jenkins-Stone unseating Ross for a place in the starting lineup are extremely slim, more playing time in practice should help the former develop into a reliable backup for the 2013 season.
Even with Jake Ryan out indefinitely with a torn ACL, Michigan's linebacking corps still looks very strong, and Jenkins-Stone's rise only helps.
Stock Up: Chris Wormley, Defensive End
Chris Wormley could be starting at defensive end for Michigan this season. Photo courtesy of 247Sports.com.
With junior Brennen Beyer expected to move to outside linebacker, there is a wide open competition at strongside defensive end, and redshirt freshman Chris Wormley has impressed the coaches throughout the first two weeks of spring ball.
"A young guy we're really excited about who is getting closer is Chris Wormley," defensive coordinator Greg Mattison told Chris Balas of TheWolverine.com. "You can see talent, all the things—now it's about being comfortable being out there."
Mattison's comments are great news, especially considering the fact Wormley suffered a torn ACL last August.
There is plenty of competition behind Wormley, though, so this position will not be handed to him. Redshirt freshmen Tom Strobel and Matt Godin are going to be factors in this battle. Do not discount redshirt sophomore Keith Heitzman either.
The Michigan Wolverines will rotate plenty of defensive linemen in and out of the lineup, but Wormley has a shot to be the starter, which is a comeback story to celebrate this spring.