Mailbag: WolverinesWire Answers Your Michigan Football Questions

Mailbag: WolverinesWire Answers Your Michigan Football Questions

Football

Mailbag: WolverinesWire Answers Your Michigan Football Questions


You have Michigan football questions, WolverinesWire Mailbag has Michigan football answers.


Mailbag: WolverinesWire Answers Your Michigan Football Questions

We’re back with an all new Mailbag.

We’re only days away from Big Ten Media Days, so it’s naturally one of the quietest periods of the year.

But you still have questions, and we still have answers.

Enough talking about it — let’s do it!

Why hello, Brandon.

I, too, saw Spath’s tweet, and I have no reason to believe he’s being led astray by his sources. But, I do think it’s too early to tell. Those games haven’t been announced yet, and I’m sure they’re all being eyed as night games.

We already saw last year that the networks are keen on putting Michigan at prime time, as they flexed MSU and Minnesota both to night games. It wouldn’t surprise me if all of the above end up being night games, but, as teams on either side of the ball could end up being mediocre, I think they’ll wait to make those decisions until closer to.

Hey Derek! Looking forward to reading your book. (For those not in the know, Derek wrote a Michigan football book that will be out later this year. We’ll have a full review when it’s made available)

Not really sure, and that’s not something they talk about openly with the public. It is indeed the same day, and I would anticipate that they don’t need to have it at the stadium, despite the name. With the soccer game, I could see them moving it to Schembechler, but that’s purely speculative on my part.

That is 100% what I was told by a source close to the program. They did exactly the same thing with Sean McKeon.

That’s the nuance that comes with recruiting. When you’re Michigan and you offer, it catches the notice of every other college football program. You see the guy early and offer him early, there’s bound to be copycats. If you pay attention and they don’t get offers early, you can wait a bit and hope they aren’t dead set on another school and make your move. From what I was told, that’s precisely what Michigan did with Haskins.

The dude rushed for over 1,500 yards and 19 touchdowns. So they waited, and made their move and it worked out well.

Haven’t gotten much of a chance to see any of it aside from pictures. It’s clearly much bigger, and the big perk they have is a half-court basketball court upstairs.

The players seem to absolutely love it, and it’s so much more spacious and modernized compared to its old counterpart.

I think they, Chuck Filiaga and Juwann Bushell-Beatty will all be in the mix.

It’s way too early at this point to speculate who will actually win or would be the frontrunner with fall camp having not started yet, but all four have their pluses and minuses.

One caveat: Grant Newsome, if healthy and cleared to play could throw a wrench into the whole thing. Hopefully we’ll learn more about his status at Big Ten Media Days.

That’s difficult to speculate on, honestly.

I could see a number of guys who have significant interest choosing for Michigan — all of which I’ve written about. Mike Sainristil, Dax Hill. Not saying Michigan is the choice, because I’m not sure they know at this juncture.

I’ve never really done the best guess type deal, but I think they’re in good standing with the above as well as Zach Harrison, Josh Sanguinetti (pending his visit), Giles Jackson, Wandale Robinson, Lewis Cine, Cornelius Johnson, Kyle Ford, Tyrece Woods, Aeneas DiCosmo, and others I’m sure I’m missing.

Because he has two surefire guys ahead of him in Chris Evans and Karan Higdon, Kareem Walker (whether he’s with the program or not) and Harbaugh insisted that Tru Wilson has made his way up to third on the depth chart.

Samuels is only going into his second year, so I wouldn’t write him off. No one was talking about Higdon going into his second year, and there was limited enthusiasm as to his role at this time last year. It takes guys time to find their role and their niche.

I have no idea about his hands, but I think Mason will get the ball at least as much as Khalid Hill did in 2016.

Harbaugh obviously loves him, and that’s why he got so much play late in the season last year.

I’ll go ahead and say Mike Hart. I think he was nearly as good as Fitz Toussaint was in his prime, and I could certainly see Higdon — now that we know he’s the feature back — get a lot more run than he did last year.

Michigan will certainly run by committee — and that’s by design. But early in the season last year, they aptly rode with Ty Isaac until he fumbled against Michigan State, and Higdon just started coming on at that point. He seems to have figured it out and is reportedly faster, along with my report that he’s bigger — up to 203.

I think it will be a big year for both he and Chris Evans.

To add, I know Michigan is super excited about Christian Turner, and I already mentioned how they viewed Haskins. I think Turner will get more run in the early going, personally.

Barrett is an interesting case altogether, as he’s just an athlete. It’s very similar to Chris Evans when he arrived on campus, in that he didn’t have a set position. He could be used in a variety of ways, like an H-back.

I’d say this: players like Eddie McDoom and Oliver Martin better be ready to battle, because I could see Barrett getting play in the slot and at jet sweep if he comes in and acclimates quickly. He’s a dangerous player with the ball in his hands, especially if he’s lined up to a guy who’s mobile like Shea Patterson.

I think that notion is somewhat overblown.

They didn’t get the guys they wanted last year, assuredly, and didn’t ultimately get Isaiah Wilson, Alex Leatherwood or Jedrick Wills the year before. But they did still get Chuck Filiaga, a highly-rated four-star, and identified Andrew Stueber after he camped. They got the nation’s top-rated center in Cesar Ruiz.

The year before, they got former five-star Ben Bredeson and high four-star Michael Onwenu.

This past year, yeah, they missed on some guys, but Jalen Mayfield and Ryan Hayes aren’t slouches. They were such heavy Michigan leans as four-stars, I think fans just didn’t have the enthusiasm they would have if there were battles with other programs.

We’ll see what happens going forward. Nolan Rumler is an absolute stud. Trente Jones and Karsen Barnhart are four-stars. They’re still in it for Trevor Keegan. They’re probably the favorite to land Myles Hinton — Chris Hinton’s brother.

Just like any position, you win some and you lose some. I’d call their recruiting at OL about even.

I think Black is your number one target, but it’s 1A and 1B with him and Peoples. Perry will also get some play, because that’s the point of the slot in many ways, having that outlet when the X and Z receivers are getting the most attention.

For your latter question, I’m going with Winovich, who I have rated as my top player overall for the Wolverines in 2018. He’ll likely get more attention than he did last year, because of how much he showed out, but it’s also by design. Rashan gets double-teamed constantly, being on the strong-side. The weak-side is just likely to get more opportunities, and Winovich is good enough to take advantage of them.

Ceiling/floor for Higdon: I’ll go 1,500 yards/700 yards; for Evans: 1,200/500. It all depends on the line, their health and how well the line blocks for them. I think they both have much better years than they had last year, if not by default, being a formidable one-two punch.

With Evans, I think it would be difficult to get that high into the draft, considering he’s not currently the feature back. For Higdon, I don’t think the first round would be where he goes, because he just doesn’t have that kind of size, and running backs in the first round aren’t nearly the commodity they were once upon a time. If all goes to plan though, could see him playing his way into the second round.

Absolutely, and it has the possibility of being even better. Now, that would take a lot of things going right, of course, but I’d argue that this team has more offensive talent top to bottom than the 2016 team — and that’s absolutely no knock on that squad.

Let’s look at each position:

2016 Players 2018 Players Verdict
QB: Wilton Speight QB: Shea Patterson or Brandon Peters I’m the biggest Wilton Speight defender there is, but Patterson is considered a Heisman contender, and Peters was a highly-rated recruit. I’m going 2018.
WR: Jehu Chesson and Amara Darboh WR: Tarik Black and Donovan Peoples-Jones Both options are solid, as the 2016 guys are in the NFL now. But, once their careers are said and done, I could see both Black and DPJ being first-round NFL Draft pick worthy. Edge: 2018.
TE: Jake Butt TE: Zach Gentry and Sean McKeon This one’s difficult, because Butt is the greatest TE in Michigan history, but Gentry, particularly, is such a mismatch, and has good hands, he could be your Gronk/Jimmy Graham type if he gets more aggressive. Even.
OT: Grant Newsome, Erik Magnuson and Ben Braden OT: ? Until we see it, 2016.
Interior OL: Ben Bredeson, Ben Braden, Mason Cole, Kyle Kalis I-OL: Ben Bredeson, Michael Onwenu, Cesar Ruiz Bredeson is older and likely better than Braden when he was a senior starter at left guard. Cesar Ruiz has big shoes to fill compared to Mason Cole, and I think he’ll get there eventually, but maybe not this year. Michael Onwenu is an upgrade on Kyle Kalis. Push.
FB: Khalid Hill FB: Ben Mason Ben Mason will probably have a better career once it’s said and done, but The Hammerin’ Panda led the team in TDs. 2016

Again, if all goes to plan, this group could be slightly better. But the 2016 team was full of veterans, whereas most of these guys are in the second or third years. But, there’s more talent overall.

We’ll see how that works out.

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