Michigan Football Spring Practice Preview: In the Trenches

Michigan Football will kick off their first Spring Practice of the Brady Hoke era on Saturday March 19th. This is the first in a 4 part series that will preview the team. This first edition will focus on the trenches because that is where football games are won and lost.

The Offensive Line

This will be a position of strength for the Wolverines in 2011. New OL Coach Darrell Funk inherits an experienced group that includes 4 returning starters and will be one of the Big Ten’s best offensive lines.

Projected Starters

LT: Taylor Lewan (RS So, 6-8, 294): He started 9 games last year and should have this position locked down for the next 3 years. Lewan has the potential to become one of the best linemen in school history. The only knock on him has been his relentless aggression on the field. He needs to be able to channel that passion and avoid getting flagged for late hits.

Taylor Lewan Michigan Wolverines

Taylor Lewan

LG: Ricky Barnum (RS Jr, 6-3, 286): He appeared in 3 games last year and played 3 different positions; LG, LT, and RG. He is a guard by trade and should settle in to the spot vacated by Stephen Schilling.

C: David Molk (Sr, 6-2, 288): Molk started all 13 games last year, earned First-Team All-Big Ten honors (coaches) and was a Rimington Trophy Finalist. He is a fierce competitor and a very intelligent football player.

RG: Patrick Omameh (RS Jr, 6-4, 299): He started all 13 games last year at right guard and played very well. Omameh has a very high ceiling and will be an All-Big Ten performer this year with All-American potential.

RT: Michael Schofield (RS So, 6-7, 293): He appeared in all 13 games last year mostly on special teams. I think he will hold off Mark Huyge and win this job in fall camp. Schofield and Lewan will be a very good pair of tackles to bookend the O-line for Michigan.

Key reserves

Mark Huyge (Sr, 6-6, 306): He is a versatile player who started 7 games last year at LT and RT. Huyge will push hard for the RT job.
Rocko Khoury (RS Jr, 6-4, 295): He appeared in 3 games last year, all at center. Khoury can also play guard.
Christian Pace (RS Fr, 6-2, 280): He redshirted last season, but earned good reviews from his teammates. He could factor into the rotation at guard and center.
Elliott Mealer (RS Jr, 6-5, 313): He has appeared in 24 games over the last two seasons, mostly on special teams. Mealer is a guard by trade.

Incoming Freshmen: Chris Bryant (6-5, 330, Chicago, Illinois), Jack Miller (6-4, 268, Perrysburg, Ohio), Tony Posada (6-6, 315, Tampa, Florida)

Defensive Line

New DL Coach Jerry Montgomery inherits a very talented and experienced group of starters, but the back ups are relatively unknown quantities.

DE: Ryan Van Bergen (SR, 6-6, 283): RVB has started 26 games during his career, including all 13 last season when he tallied 37 tackles and 8.5 TFLs. He is a very smart player who can breakdown schemes and game plans like a coach.

DT: Mike Martin (Sr, 6-2, 299): Martin will have a monstrous senior season under the tutelage of Hoke and Montgomery. He earned All-Big Ten Second Team honors last year as he notched 37 tackles, 6 TFLs, and 2.5 sacks.

DT: William Campbell (Jr, 6-5, 333): He will shift back to the defensive line and will start opposite Mike Martin. Campbell is loaded with potential and will finally make an impact in 2011.

DE: Craig Roh (Jr. 6-5, 250): After being moved around in the hybrid role for his first two seasons, it appears Roh will settle in at DE where most believe he can flourish. He started 8 games at LB and 5 at DE last year and totaled 43 tackles with 5.5 TFLs.

Key Reserves

Jibreel Black (So, 6-2, 258): He appeared in all 13 games last year as a true freshman and recorded 7 tackles. Black also showed flashes of pass rushing prowess that lead me to believe he will be outstanding under the new coaching staff.
Quinton Washington (RS So, 6-4, 315): When William Campbell was shifted from the DL to the OL last year, Washington moved from OL to DL. Unlike Campbell, it appears this move will stick. Watch for Q to push Big Will at DT. Either way, both Washington and Campbell should play a lot under the new regime.
Will Heininger (Sr, 6-6, 267): He was poised for a big role on the team last year before suffering a season ending injury.
Kenny Wilkins (RS Fr, 6-3, 262): Redshirted last year and will factor into the mix at DE.
Richard Ash (RS Fr, 6-3, 320) The stout Florida native redshirted last season and will battle for playing time at DT.
Terry Talbott (RS Fr, 6-3, 248) Another player who redshirted last year, is the brother of CB Terrence Talbott.

Incoming Freshmen: Brennen Beyer (6-4, 222, Canton, Michigan), Keith Heitzman (6-3, 237, Hilliard, Ohio), and Chris Rock (6-5, 250, Columbus, Ohio).

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