Michigan Football: The Biggest Offseason Storylines for the Wolverines

David KenyonFeatured ColumnistJanuary 6, 2016

Michigan Football: The Biggest Offseason Storylines for the Wolverines

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    Tony Ding/Associated Press

    It's a sad time when the offseason arrives, but the news cycle will hardly slow down for the Michigan football program.

    Highlighted by an impending quarterback competition, a few storylines should command the Wolverines' headlines during the upcoming months.

    The list is situated in the most logical chronological order possible, starting with the final recruiting push leading up to national signing day 2016.

Do the Wolverines Land Rashan Gary, Finalize Top Class?

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    The consensus No. 1 overall prospect, defensive lineman Rashan Gary, is the ultimate prize for any 2016 recruiting haul. Adding him would only solidify Michigan's place in the top five of the 247Sports composite rankings.

    Gary isn't the only player remaining on the board, of course. The Wolverines are chasing 4-stars David Long, Dylan CrawfordLavert Hill, Jacob Mathis and Levi Onwuzurike, as well as 3-stars Jonathan Jones and Chase Allen, among others.

    Despite Michigan not being the leader, Georgia lean Isaac Nauta and Texas commit Jean Delance should remain top targets until pen meets paper on signing day.

    As the class stands, the Wolverines are in excellent shape. Picking up a few more pledges—especially Gary—will give Jim Harbaugh and Co. an outstanding group of freshmen.

Can Harbaugh Top Offseason No. 1?

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    Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

    No one enjoyed the 2015 college football offseason more than Harbaugh.

    He coached first base for the Oakland Athletics during spring training, said he's overpaid, attended an ultimate frisbee practice, went shirtless at a football camp and subsequently drew the ire of SEC coaches for those football camps.

    And then fall practice started.

    What kind of ruckus can Harbaugh cause throughout the spring and summer of 2016? We don't know, but we should be excited to find out.

Transition to and for Don Brown

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    Ex-defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin accepted a deserved job at the helm of Maryland. Harbaugh responded by snagging Don Brown, the leader of the nation's No. 1 defense in 2015 at Boston College.

    "Everything he has touched has turned to gold," Harbaugh said of Brown in a statement after the hiring.

    Per Michael Vega of the Boston Globe, Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson said, "I think Donnie Brown is one of the best defensive coordinators in the country."

    Wake Forest mustered only a field goal on Brown's defense in a 3-0 victory.

    Overall, the Wolverines have more talent than Boston College did. Brown's versatile coaching style—two-, three- and four-man fronts with exotic blitzes mixed in—should help hide Michigan's glaring weakness at linebacker.

    Should.

    At this point, fans and analysts alike know better than to doubt Harbaugh. Brown's transition to Michigan is still a major talking point.

Potential Shuffle on Offensive Line

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    Mason Cole
    Mason ColeJoe Robbins/Getty Images

    The best player on Michigan's offensive line is NFL-bound. Graham Glasgow, a three-year starter on the offensive line, leaves a significant void up front.

    Mason Cole served as the left tackle for each of the last two seasons, but he worked as a center during 2015 spring practice. The Wolverines could move Cole to the middle and adjust a veteran line.

    Erik Magnuson, Ben Braden and Kyle Kalis will all be seniors in 2016. David Dawson, Patrick Kugler and others will compete for a starting spot, while recruits like Ben Bredeson and Michael Onwenu could be factors, too.

    Cole and Magnuson should cling to starting roles, and Braden seems to have an advantage over Kalis, who will be fending off some decent competition. The Michigan offensive line might only have one or two new pieces, but three positions might have a different player.

Who's the Quarterback?

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    Wilton Speight
    Wilton SpeightJesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

    Jake Rudock's college football days are over, leaving a few quarterbacks with experience on the roster.

    Wilton Speight guided Michigan to a victory over Minnesota and handled garbage-time reps. John O'Korn, a transfer from Houston, started 16 games and threw 34 touchdowns compared to 18 interceptions in 2013 and 2014 combined.

    Shane Morris spent the last two seasons as a backup before taking a redshirt this year. Per MLive's Nick Baumgardner, Morris has no plans to transfer. Prized recruit Brandon Peters is set to enroll early, while Alex Malzone and Zach Gentry are still on the roster, too.

    Barring a graduate transfer, the quarterback competition is likely a four-man race between Speight, Morris, O'Korn and Peters. O'Korn seems to be the fan favorite, but right now, there's no leader.

    Slowly but surely, Harbaugh will find his quarterback. Like 2015, though, it might take the whole offseason to find the winner.


    All recruiting information per 247Sports. Stats from CFBStats.com or B/R research. Quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Follow Bleacher Report CFB writer David Kenyon on Twitter @Kenyon19_BR.