Michigan Defensive Coordinator Don Brown Has 16 or 17 Players Ready, Wants More

Michigan football-Don Brown-Jim Harbaugh-defensive coordinator-defense-Wolverines-football Isaiah Hole / WolverinesWire

Michigan Defensive Coordinator Don Brown Has 16 or 17 Players Ready, Wants More

Football

Michigan Defensive Coordinator Don Brown Has 16 or 17 Players Ready, Wants More

Michigan defensive coordinator Don Brown wants more.

The defense of the Wolverines is noted as one of the best in the nation, but the team is looking to trust new players on the field.

“We’ve got about 16 or 17 guys that if the ball got snapped tomorrow, we’d put them on the field, be able to function on the field,” Brown told Jon Jansen on his ‘In The Trenches’ podcast. “They’d be able to grasp concepts. We’re big believers of more is more. They can line up, communicate with each other and play at a high level.

“What we’re trying to do during this preseason period is get more guys into that core, and then get as many guys into that core that you trust on the field.”

Prior to the 2017 season, Brown was focused on replacing nine of 11 starters on his defense. Through the rotation of players, it was not too much of a problem. Many of Michigan’s projected 2018 defensive options already have significant on-field experience.

Brown said junior Michael Dwumfour and sophomore Aubrey Solomon are the two players who will fill the inside defensive line position after the departure of Maurice Hurst to the NFL.

“Mo Hurst was a tremendous player and leader,” Brown added. “Those guys were able to learn from him. We play so many different packages during the course of a game that even if Dwumfour and Solomon don’t know the entire defense, it allows them to gain confidence.”

The three standing out in the secondary are junior LaVert Hill, junior David Long and fifth-year Brandon Watson. Other players fighting for playing time include senior Tyree Kinnel, junior Josh Metellus, sophomore Ambry Thomas and sophomore Jaylen Kelly-Powell.

“We are really happy with the upper-level corners. They are playing really well. They have technique, fundamentals and trust their tool box,” Brown said. “Tyree Kinnel has had a great start, Josh Metellus is in the same boat. Ambry Thomas has jumped into the mix at corner and this young Jaylen Kelly-Powell has some talent and it’s showing through. He is playing fast due to concept recognition and being comfortable in his own skin.”

At the linebacker position, Devin Bush Jr. has emerged. Junior Devin Gil and sophomore Josh Ross are fighting for the weakside inside position, and redshirt freshmen Jordan Anthony and Drew Singleton are options as well.

“Devin Gill and Josh Ross are in a cage match fight right now,” Brown said. “I’m looking to see if one with run away from the other. If that occurs, than so be it. Drew Singleton is starting to figure it out as well. Those three guys are vying for Will linebacker time.”

Anthony recently made a “Devin Bush like play in practice” while learning from the star linebacker.

Junior Khaleke Hudson is the leader at the viper position. He is followed by Josh Uche, a dominant pass rusher, fifth-year senior Noah Furbush and former walk-on Jordan Glasgow.

“The viper has to be a safety by nature unless he was just an outside linebacker in a high school scheme that played in space all the time,” Brown explained. “He’s a safety by nature as Jabrill was, has coverage skills. Jabrill used to play on slot receivers and so forth. We’ve narrowed it down so Khaleke covers the tight ends, can play in the box some as a linebacker.

“He’s up to 220, but man can this guy pressure the quarterback. He has an uncanny ability to be able to move and groove and get where he’s got to go. He had a couple pressures I can think of from spring going into fall, just the other day … ‘wow, how’d he sort that out?’ It’s just nice to watch his development, where he’s come from and where he is today.”

Brown said true freshman Cam McGrone “will have a ways to go.” He was a five-star prospect ranked No. 24 in the nation out of Lawrence Central High School in the 2018 class, according to 247Sports.

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