How Michigan's Two Young O-Linemen Are Impressing Their Position Coach

james hudson michigan offensive tackle

How Michigan's Two Young O-Linemen Are Impressing Their Position Coach

Football

How Michigan's Two Young O-Linemen Are Impressing Their Position Coach

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Once upon a time — and this still might be the case today — the most popular man in Ann Arbor was the backup quarterback. But with former five-star signal caller Shea Patterson under center, the calls for Brandon Peters or (more so) Dylan McCaffrey have been at a minimum.

But Patterson might not even be the most popular man on campus at this juncture.

Hyperbolically speaking, there are two men that rival Patterson’s status as big man — two bigger men: redshirt freshman James Hudson and true freshman Jalen Mayfield.

Why are they so popular? Because they’re the backup right tackle and left tackle, respectively.

Michigan has famously struggled on the offensive line, particularly in pass protection. While there’s been a modicum of improvement so far this season, the ghosts of 2017 haunt fans of the maize and blue, causing even the smallest hiccup to ensure a battle cry from the fanbase to see other options at the tackle positions.

Both players are coming along nicely, their position coach Ed Warinner says, but both are still works in progress.

“Over the summer, they’ve come a long way,” Warinner said. “Wasn’t sure with Jalen how the summer would affect him, going through summer bridge and freshmen you never know. But he’s really come on. Works every day with the twos and gets some work with the ones every day, so his progress is great.

“James Hudson played in the game and played well in the game when he was in. He’s made a lot of progress, too. His transition from D-line to O-line has been good for him and like where he’s headed. Like the trajectory he’s on. Feel like we’re starting to develop some depth there that could roll into more and more playing time as they deserve it.”

Hudson is an interesting case study, as he was a four-star defensive end prospect from nearby Toledo (OH) Catholic Central.

Last season, he started making the switch over to the offensive side of the ball, and that transition become complete this offseason as tackle became his permanent position.

Warinner explained how that transition has gone for the second-year player, where his growing pains have been and how he’s progressed since he took over coaching the position this offseason.

“I think his growth over the summer and then this fall has been tremendous,” Warinner said. “Because he’s fully invested now as an offensive lineman. In the spring, I think he was putting his toe in the water to see what he thought. He gave us a good effort and he showed some talent. There were times though that it was frustrating for him, because it was so new. You go against our defensive ends every day, and it’s challenging. I think he’s way beyond that. I think he’s gaining a lot of confidence in himself. Confidence in his ability to do the job. Confidence in knowing what to do when he goes out there.”

Hudson — along with Mayfield — got in the game late in Michigan’s Week Two rout of Western Michigan, and he acquitted himself quite well, Warinner says. Considering that it was just his first college football game, it was quite impressive.

Should his week of practice go well, Warinner says he’d like to see him in the game even more this week as Michigan hosts SMU.

“When you talk about jogging out there to play against Notre Dame in the opening game, and you’ve never played a snap in a college football game at tackle in that environment, that’s just a bit overwhelming for anybody,” Warinner said. “But he didn’t really play in that game, but in the last game, he did play. And when he went in, he didn’t look like he was overwhelmed emotionally or mentally. He looked very comfortable. He looked like he knew what he was supposed to do, and did it well.

“So, we need to give him a bigger sample size this week, if we can, and get him in there. The more he earns that right in practice – because I base it on how you practice, not: ‘Okay, he played good against Western.’ If he practices poorly this week, he probably won’t play. If he practices well this week, he might play more. His practice yesterday was good!”

Mayfield is a different story, as he’s only been on campus since late June. He didn’t put pads on officially until August, yet he’s still getting playing time with both the ones and twos — spending 75% of his time with the latter, but also swinging in with the former, Warinner notes.

It’s not usual for a true freshman to be able to come in and have success on the offensive line, but Warinner — who recruited Mayfield when he was at Minnesota as well — has been impressed with how quickly and how far along Mayfield has come in his short tenure in Ann Arbor.

“Yes, I’d say he’s ahead of schedule,” Warinner said. “Physically, mentally – both, he’s ahead of what would be a normal trajectory for a freshman that starts in June. Really like where he’s coming.”

We’ll see if both get another opportunity to impress this Saturday, as No. 19 Michigan hosts unranked and winless SMU at The Big House with a 3:30PM kickoff.

Contact/Follow @WolverinesWire@isaiahhole

Latest

More WolverinesWire
Home