With college football a little over two months away, Brady Hoke and the Michigan Wolverines will be looking to rebound from a disappointing year by Michigan standards, as the team’s 2013 campaign featured losses to Alabama, Notre Dame, South Carolina, Nebraska and, worst of all, Ohio State.
However, this is a very different Michigan team, as the Wolverines have gotten a lot younger. The loss of quarterback and captain Denard Robinson has taken away a lot of the offensive creativity that Michigan has possessed in recent seasons.
However, Michigan is moving on, fielding a team that is generally being looked at as young and inexperienced. A recent report shows that Michigan has returned only two-thirds of last season’s team, meaning this year’s squad has a lot of room for youthful injections.
While many would be nervous about fielding a team as inexperienced as the Wolverines, Hoke is looking forward to this season.
“We’re going to be a young football team in a lot of ways,” said Hoke on “The Huge Show”, “but that’s pretty good.”
With that said, Michigan will be looking to some freshman to make major contributions this season.
One player that is expected to come in and contribute immediately is highly touted running back Derrick Green. Green comes to Ann Arbor by way of Richmond, Va. where he was ranked 38th in ESPN’s top 150. Green is listed at 6', 220 pounds and possesses a combination of speed and power that makes for a lot of excitement for Michigan faithful.
ESPN RecruitingNation’s Tom Luginbill sees Derrick Green as someone who can step in immediately and help Michigan develop a strong running game.
“Simply put, Green is better than what Michigan has in the backfield right now and is a perfect fit for an offense that desperately wants to get back to power football and a heavy downhill run game,” said Luginbill in a recent article.
While Green should contribute, Hoke reiterated that there would be some learning curve when it comes to making the transition to big time college football.
“This isn’t high school football, as we all know, and there’s going to be an adjustment I’m sure,” said Hoke. “When you look at how you pass protect and the things that you do in that part of the offense and also the speed of the defenses that you’ll play. We think highly of him obviously or we wouldn’t have recruited him, but it’s going to be fun to watch him develop.”
Tight end Jake Butt is another freshman hoping to step in to make contributions to this Michigan team.
The freshman has excellent size for a tight end, coming in at 6’6” and 230 pounds with room to grow.
Butt can be expected to perform as a very reliable tight end, as he has the size and aggressiveness to be a good blocker, while he also possesses the ability to go out and catch the ball. According to Scout.com, Butt is being viewed as a good route runner with the athletic ability to make plays on offense.
Another major positive is that Butt took the opportunity to enroll at Michigan early in an effort to work his way towards 2013 playing time.
“As displayed, we’re playing a lot of young tight ends,” said Butt, “so I think that’s a good opportunity for me to graduate early and kind of develop physically to try to step into a role and get some playing time early in the season”.
While sophomore Devin Funchess is the odds-on favorite to get most of the reps this season, look for Butt to be used to create matchup problems with multiple tight end formations.