Michigan Football: Key Position Battles Entering the Upcoming Season

Nate Levinson@@NateLevinsonCorrespondent IAugust 14, 2013

RB Fitzgerald Toussaint
RB Fitzgerald ToussaintGregory Shamus/Getty Images

The Michigan football team had its first fall practice last week, and its season opener against Central Michigan is just over two weeks away.

According to ESPN's Big 10 Blog, Michigan will return only 12 starters (six on both offense and defense) from last year's team.

This means that there will be many new faces at key starting spots for Michigan.

After a disappointing 8-5 season last year, the Wolverines will need some of their new starters to step up in a big way if they're going to contend in the always-competitive Big 10. 

Competition for those starting nods will rage throughout fall camp.

Here's a look at three position battles that will have a huge impact on Michigan's upcoming season.

Running Back

The competition to be the starting running back for the Wolverines is between senior Fitzgerald Toussaint and freshman Derrick Green.

Toussaint looks like the frontrunner thus far, even though he is recovering from a broken leg suffered at the end of last season.

Michigan's running backs coach even told Mark Snyder of the Detroit Free Press that he thinks Toussaint "will be better" coming off the injury.

Green has been limited in practice thus far, but he undoubtedly has the ability to challenge for the starting job.

He was ESPN's fifth ranked running back recruit last year, and they noted that he is "ready to make the college jump."

If he gets healthy soon, Green could give Toussaint a run for the starting RB gig.

It should be noted that Angelique Chengelis of the Detroit News reported that head coach Brady Hoke has praised other running backs Thomas Rawls, Drake Johnson and Justice Hayes for their production in practice.

Still, these backs look like complimentary types rather than lead runners.

How this competition shakes out in the coming weeks will have a huge impact on the Wolverines' season.


Elliott Mealer was last year's starter at center, but he has since moved on to the NFL.

This year, competition to start at the position will come between sophomores Jack Miller and Graham Glasgow.

Nick Baumgardner of MLive.com called Miller the favorite early in camp, but Hoke has since said that Glasgow is right there with him.

With no clear favorite, center may have less clarity than any other position for this team.

Miller started the spring game in April and appeared in six games as a reserve last season, while Glasgow is a walk-on, so Miller certainly has the advantage there.

That limited experience may be enough for Hoke to make Miller the starter for the season opener, but there's no doubt that the player who performs best in practice will win the spot.


Sophomore Blake Countess has one starting cornerback spot locked up as he returns from a torn ACL suffered against Alabama last season (ESPN.com).

There is competition to start opposite Countess as Delonte Hollowell is looking to unseat last season's starter, Raymon Taylor.

It was Taylor that assumed Countess' starting role last season, but the junior Hollowell looks to have bridged the gap in the competition for that same spot this year.

Baumgardner of MLive.com reported that staff and players have "raved about Hollowell's speed and progression" in practices.

Hollowell got the starting nod in the spring game, though it's possible Hoke did this just to show Taylor that there would be competition at the spot.

After starting 11 games last year, Taylor has to be given the edge in the competition, but it's clear he'll have to work hard to keep that spot over Hollowell.


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