Michigan Football: First Impressions from 2016 Fall Camp

David KenyonFeatured ColumnistAugust 9, 2016

Nov 28, 2015; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines wide receiver Jehu Chesson (86) celebrates his touchdown in the first half against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Faux controversies and massive expectations surrounded Michigan throughout the summer months, but fall camp marks the return of actual football for the program.

The Wolverines have four weeks of workouts before the regular-season opener on Saturday, September 3. During that stretch, Jim Harbaugh and the coaching staff will work on refining a roster capable of matching the championship hype.

Health, impact freshmen and depth are three significant components of any successful team. Fortunately for Michigan, there's some good news regarding the first two categories.

The third is a work in progress for one positional unit, but fall camp provides an opportunity for the Wolverines to change that notion.


Michigan's Best Big-Play Threat Is Healthy

During the final six games of the 2015 campaign, Jehu Chesson amassed 33 receptions, 574 yards and nine touchdowns.

The speedy wideout capped his team-MVP season with a 118-yard, one-touchdown performance against Florida in the 2016 Citrus Bowl. However, Chesson exited the contest early due to an unspecified knee injury and missed all of spring practice.

Chesson's availability for fall camp was in question. And considering it took two-thirds of last season for him and Jake Rudock to connect on a long pass, a continued absence could be problematic.

But the worries are no longer necessary.

"I'm ready to go," Chesson said, according to Mark Snyder of the Detroit Free Press. Chesson added that the injury was a partial PCL tear.

Now comes the all-important time to build chemistry with Michigan's new quarterback—though he'll be working with both John O'Korn and Wilton Speight.


Rashan Gary Hype Train Rolls on

The No. 1 overall prospect in the nation could contribute at end or tackle, but the Wolverines will start Rashan Gary on the outside.

Why? To mess with opposing tight ends, apparently.

Nick Baumgardner @nickbaumgardner

Brown on Rashan Gary: 'We'd like to put him over tight ends and see how many want to block him.'

"He runs like a wide receiver," Michigan's own All-American tight end Jake Butt said, per Nick Baumgardner of MLive. "I've seen him running around a little bit. He's very, very athletic. ... I'm excited."

Gary has drawn the praise of coaches, too.

"Great kid. Hard worker. Has leadership qualities," defensive coordinator Don Brown said. "He's a big, good-looking, impressive guy who works extremely hard. There's nothing negative there."

The question isn't whether or not Gary—who is listed at 6'5" and 287 poundsearns immediate playing time, but rather how much.


Quality Starters in Secondary, but Depth Questions

ANN ARBOR, MI - SEPTEMBER 26: Jourdan Lewis #26 of the Michigan Wolverines in action against the BYU Cougars during a game at Michigan Stadium on September 26, 2015 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The Wolverines defeated the Cougars 31-0. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Ge
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Following Jabrill Peppers' switch to outside linebacker, the Wolverines have a clear lineup in the secondary.

Yes, there's a battle for the No. 2 corner between Channing Stribling and Jeremy Clark, but it's not a pressing issue, because Michigan will likely spend plenty of time in nickel personnel.

The loser of the competition will still receive regular snaps, and both will contribute along with star cornerback Jourdan Lewis. Dymonte Thomas and Delano Hill will occupy the safety spots.

But after those five, the Wolverines have questions.

According to Adam Schnepp of MGoBlog, secondary coach Michael Zordich is looking for improvement, especially from Keith Washington, Brandon Watson, David Long and Lavert Hill. The latter two were 4-star prospects in the 2016 cycle.

Tyree Kinnel is the primary backup at safety—though a serious injury could lead to Peppers filling a role larger than the occasional snaps he's expected to temporarily shift from linebacker.

Fall camp offers an excellent chance for a player to showcase his progression, and Michigan needs that development from at least a couple of reserves in the secondary.


All recruiting information via 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.