How David Long's Departure Affects Michigan

How David Long's Departure Affects Michigan

Football

How David Long's Departure Affects Michigan

With the news that cornerback David Long is declaring for the NFL Draft, that means Michigan will return exactly half of its starting secondary from last season in 2019. Along with Long, safety Tyree Kinnel is departing, as he’s exhausted his intercollegiate eligibility. However, both star cornerback Lavert Hill and solid safety Josh Metellus have announced they will return to Ann Arbor next season.

But, Michigan should be in good hands in the secondary moving forward, still.

I wouldn’t have felt that way, necessarily, if the Wolverines had lost both Hill and Long, but with Hill coming back, there’s still a shutdown option. I’ve continued to hear about Ambry Thomas, and am still a bit surprised that he hasn’t gotten as much run.

Based off everything I’ve heard in the past several months though, I would expect it to be Hill and Thomas at the corner spots, with redshirt freshman Vincent Gray — who we’ve written a lot about during bowl prep — to get the third spot. That is, as things stand today. There’s a lot of time between now, spring practice, summer conditioning and fall camp.

At the safety position, I spoke to a source close to a high-ranking Michigan official, who is excited about Daxton Hill coming to town (that’s more than an obvious). Obviously, there’s an expectation that he will make an early impact. But, as Don Brown said on Thursday — and we also reported — redshirt freshman Sammy Faustin has made a jump to go along with J’Marick Woods and Brad Hawkins.

“On the back end, this Vincent Gray is really impressing me. Obviously, Ambry Thomas kinda gets left out there. I think he’s playing really, really well. I have no fear about what his ceiling is or how good a player he is or all those things. I think he’s gonna be a really good player. Sammy Faustin has gotten a little bit of run, but J’Marick Woods has been (upward motion) – this bowl period has been really good for him. Brad Hawkins – really good for him. With Metellus, J’Marick, Hawkins – with our incoming recruits, I feel really good about the back end.”

Not mentioned, although not surprisingly, is Jaylen Kelly-Powell, who was severely limited with injury all season long.

Additionally, as reported by our own Evan Petzold, cornerback Benjamin St-Juste is finally healthy after spending more than a year undressed due to his hamstring injury sustained late season in 2017. Should he return to form, I would think he would be right behind Ambry Thomas.

All that said, Michigan should be in good hands in the secondary, despite the loss of Long, who, in my opinion, was the Wolverines best in the back four the past two years. Where I have more questions is in the front seven, especially with Devin Bush Jr. moving on — and we saw what his absence to this team means in the Florida game. The same source I spoke to said that there is an overall concern about the defense given the last two games, and that Michigan does, indeed, find what happened unacceptable. I expect the issues otherwise will be addressed, but if there’s one unit I feel confident in moving forward, it’s at defensive back.

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