Michigan Football recently wrapped up their spring practice session. The worst news to come out of the spring was the injury to the Michigan’s best defensive player, Jake Ryan. He is expected to be out until at least October. The good news is, that in year three of the Brady Hoke era, the defense is now loaded with talent at all three levels. I already took a post-spring look at the offense, now it’s time to zero in on the defense.
Rush End: Junior Frank Clark had a great spring and should wreak havoc against opposing offenses this year. He is backed up by Mario Ojemudia and freshman/early enrollee Taco Charlton. Charlton is going to be a star for the Wolverines.
Defensive tackle: 5th year senior Quinton Washington is better than he generally gets credit for and will man one of the starting spots along the interior of the line. He will be backed up by sophomore Ondre Pipkins, who is an impact player. Starting at the three-technique will be senior Jibreel Black. There are a talented pair of redshirt freshman vying for playing time behind Black, Chris Wormley and Willie Henry.
At strong-side defensive end there is an intense battle for playing time between Keith Heitzman (RS So), Matthew Godin (RS Fr) and Tom Strobel (RS Fr).
No matter how the battles for playing time shake out, this is going to be Michigan’s best defensive line in a long time. There are several future NFL players in this position group.
SAM: This was the position to be manned by Jake Ryan, who led Michigan in tackles (88), tackles for loss (16), sacks (4.5) and forced fumbles (4) last season. He is a guy that opposing offenses had to account for on every snap and it’s a big blow for Michigan to lose his services for an extended period of time. Brennen Beyer has moved from defensive end to linebacker and will challenge 5th year senior Cam Gordon for playing time in Ryan’s absence.
MIKE: After playing two seasons at outside linebacker, Desmond Morgan has moved back to his natural position, middle linebacker. He finished third on the team last year with 81 tackles and also notched 5.5 tackles for loss. Morgan will be pushed hard by sophomore Joe Bolden, who had 31 tackles and 4 TFLs last season.
WILL: James Ross III figures to have the inside track here. He is fast, instinctive and has a nose for the football. Royce Jenkins-Stone is talented young player who will see increased playing time in this, his sophomore season.
Cornerback: Blake Countess returns from his season-ending knee injury suffered against Alabama last year and should be fantastic. Senior Courtney Avery, junior Delonte Hollowell and freshman/early enrollee Dymonte Thomas will also see the field.
Corner: Raymon Taylor stepped up in Coutness’ absence last year and played well. Taylor was seventh on the team with 45 tackles and tied for the team-high with two interceptions. Freshman/early enrollee Ross Douglas had a strong spring.
Strong safety: 5th year senior Thomas Gordon was tied for third last year with 81 tackles and has playmaking ability. Gordon has started 26 games in his career and has recorded four fumble recoveries and three interceptions.
Free safety: Sophomore Jarrod Wilson is battling with senior Marvin Robinson for the starting job here.
If you would like to receive an email notification each time a Michigan Football and/or Basketball story is posted you can fill out the Email Notification Form.
You can follow me on twitter @isportsRob