Michigan Football: The Latest Updates Swirling Around Wolverines' Offseason

Conor VolpeCorrespondent IJune 11, 2013

Michigan Football: The Latest Updates Swirling Around Wolverines' Offseason

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    Football is a team sport. Nevertheless, graduating Denard Robinson, one of the most beloved players in Michigan football history, deals a blow to Michigan’s psyche.

    Despite this loss and other offseason hurdles, Team 134’s outlook is far from bleak. Here are some updates on how this 2013 offseason is progressing for the Maize and Blue.

Quarterback Situation Post-Denard Robinson

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    The quarterback position will be in good hands for the next two years. The team announced via mgoblue.com that Devin Gardner (pictured above) was granted a medical redshirt for the 2010 season. Gardner played in three games that first year before succumbing to a season-ending back injury, and he therefore has two more years of eligibility.

    Behind Gardner will be incoming freshman Shane Morris. Morris battled mono his senior year, which caused him to miss time. He consequently was downgraded from a 5-star recruit to a 4-star recruit, as detailed by Mike Farrell of Rivals.

    Michigan fans shouldn’t worry too much about that, though. Gardner has the reins for the foreseeable future, and with time Morris should regain his 5-star form. He’s a pro-style QB who has elite arm strength, maybe the best in the class according to Mike Farrell’s report, and sneaky athleticism for a projected pocket passer.

    In other words, the position is in good hands for coach Brady Hoke and offensive coordinator Al Borges. 

Injuries

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    The spring football season was not kind to the Wolverines, as two key players suffered season-ending injuries.

    Missing from the previous QB conversation was redshirt sophomore Russell Bellomy, who went down with a torn ACL in April. Another marquee member of Team 134 will be rehabbing right alongside Bellomy; Jake Ryan (pictured above) tore his ACL at the Wolverines’ first padded practice in March.

    Bellomy was the backup to starting QB Devin Gardner, and his injury might force freshman Shane Morris into that spot.

    Ryan, on the other hand, was expected to be one of the leaders on the defense, and his absence will make Michigan test its depth at the linebacker position. It’s in these kinds of situations that Michigan is especially thankful to have a defensive coordinator of Greg Mattison’s caliber.

Recruiting

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    Just two short seasons ago, former head coach Rich Rodriguez was packing his bags, and Michigan’s 2011 recruiting class was lacking. In that transition year, Michigan signed exactly zero members of ESPN’s top 150 and only 21 recruits overall. The class was not ranked in ESPN’s 2011 Team Football Recruiting Rankings.

    But since then, Coach Hoke has been setting the recruiting trails on fire, bringing Ann Arbor two consecutive top-10 classes according to ESPN’s 2012 and 2013 rankings. Thanks to Coach Hoke and his staff, Michigan won’t have to worry about the cupboard being bare anytime soon.

    And though it’s early in the recruiting game, the class of 2014 looks stellar. ESPN has it ranked as the No. 1 class, and Rivals puts it at No. 5.

    The coup for the Wolverines in this class is 5-star recruit Jabrill Peppers, who is ranked by both Rivals and ESPN as the No. 1 overall cornerback.

    Peppers also made a splash when he rapped his commitment to Michigan on national TV. Just check out the video above; it won’t disappoint—although it’s safe to say Peppers might want to stick to shutting down wide receivers and save the studio for after his playing career.

Expectations Heading into 2013

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    The team with the most wins in college football and one of the most storied programs in college sports is on its way back to prominence.

    After winning the Sugar Bowl in 2011, things were really looking up for the Maize and Blue after Brady Hoke's first year at the helm. But an up-and-down 2012 season and a loss in the Outback Bowl to South Carolina tempered enthusiasm from the Michigan faithful.

    Heading into 2013, there will be quite a bit of turnover at key positions.

    Co-captains Jordan Kovacs and Denard Robinson, three members of the offensive line and two on the defensive line among have all graduated. But Gardner looked promising in his five starts to end the year, and the defense was sneakily strong. It ended up as the fifth-ranked passing defense and 20th-ranked scoring defense in the FBS, according to NCAA.com.

    Going to the Rose Bowl is always the standard that Michigan teams are measured by, and inside that Michigan locker room you can bet that’s what the team has its sights set on.

    Team 134 has a real shot to go back to Pasadena too, but there’s one rather large hurdle looming on November 30th. That’s when Urban Meyer, Braxton Miller and the Ohio State Buckeyes come to Ann Arbor.

    If Michigan can avoid any major bumps in the road before then, which won’t be easy either, that age-old rivalry game will decide a lot more than just bragging rights. I suggest tuning in.