We all know about the Brandon's (Minor and Graham) potential for a big 2009. One mock draft has Graham as the No. 3 pick in the draft and many believe that Minor could have a Chris Perry-type of senior year. We also know about the returning offensive line, our All-American punter Zoltan Mesko, and our true freshman quarterback (and hopefully savior) Tate Forcier.
But this post is not about Michigan's 2009 star players it's about players that could have a big impact on the 2009 roster as a back up or future starter:
Michael Shaw: I expected Mike to have a big year in 2009. A track star in high school, I knew Shaw had the speed to get to the corner and break of some big runs. Shaw scored the first touchdown in the Rich Rod era but didn't do much after that. Shaw carried the ball 42 times for 215 yards as a freshman but was hampered late in the season with a groin injury. Shaw sat out spring ball after having surgery on his groin and I expect him to have an impact on the 2009 team by backing up Minor and Brown. Potential nickname: Michael Shaw (shank Redemption)
Justin Turner: Justin is a five-star freshman cornerback out of Ohio. Michigan seriously lacks depth in the defensive backfield and if Justin is as good as advertised he will get on the field early and often. I look for him to spell Boubacar Cissoko and Donovan Warren and also play some nickel. I know Boubacar is a talented, but Justin might be a better match-up against taller wide receivers. Look for JT to play a lot in 2009 if he picks up the defensive system. Potential nickname for picking off a pass or knocking it away at the right moment: Justin (time) Turner.
Kevin Koger: A tight end in RichRod's spread offense. OK, many of you are saying: a TE can't contribute in the spread? I disagree and think Kevin can cause serious match-up problems for the defense. Kevin got into a number of games last year and contributed as a freshmen. Calvin Magee and RR have had all summer on how to get the most of Kevin's talent. Look for him to be Tate's security blanket and get a lot of balls thrown his way this year. Bold Prediction: Kevin is an All-Big Ten tight end when the year is over. Potential nickname: he picked up one last year because he looks like former NBA draft choice Greg Oden. You could also work in the popular supermarket that is similar to his last name as well.
Roy Roundtree: This pick doesn't come as a surprise to anyone that watched the spring game. Roy "wild thing" Roundtree got contacts this winter and is now seeing the ball very well. He also seems to have a very good bond with Tate after catching those touchdown balls and spending time with Tate in San Diego this summer. Roy is a red-shirt freshman and understands the spread better after a year of practice. I expect Tate and Roy to hook up for a number of touchdowns this Fall. Potential nickname (curiosity of Mgoblog): "Wild Thing" from the movie Major League.
Junior Hemingway: Hemingway showed early in the year to be a down field threat catching some long touchdown passes in the Utah game. He then became a walking MASH unit with an ankle and shoulder injury then the knockout blow came when he got a case of Mono. Luckily, Junior was granted a medical red-shirt for his 2008 season (the NCAA did a good thing!) and will be back 100 percent and ready to stretch the field again if he can stay out of the trainers room. Potential Nickname: "the Author." Quick bit of knowledge: Ernest Hemingway as a child spent his summers outside of Petoskey, Mich. and also played football in high school.
Terrance Robinson and Jeremy Gallon: I know Martavious Odoms was Michigan's leading receiver in the slot last year. But my memories of him were catching those one-yard screens and dropping a ton of punts. Hopefully Odoms will improve as a sophomore because there are two slot guys nipping at his heels: true freshman Jeremy Gallon and redshirt freshman Terrance Robinson. Both Gallon and Robinson played quarterback in high school so being able to adjust to the slot position and being able to catch the ball will be a big factor in them getting playing time in 2009. Gallon did get a chance to play in the slot in the Army All-American game and did quite well. The hope is one of the three will become a game breaker and help Tate spread the field and open lanes for the running backs. Potential nicknames: TRob seems already set and Jeremy "$2 a" Gallon or Rocket Fuel.
Others to keep an eye one:
Vald Emilien, a true freshman at safety is one who could make noise. Troy Woolfolk, son for Michigan legend Butch, will get a shot at safety after moving over from corner. Brandon Smith, who came to Michigan has a highly rated safety last year might play more in the hybrid "spinner" or as I have heard it called the "Schembechler" role. Running back Vincent Smith was an early enrollee and made some news in spring ball. True freshman Je'Ron Stokes and Thomas Gordon both could provide height at the wide receiver position.