Hi folks! This is the second installment of Michigan football weekly. In this issue I’ll be tackling the next position group projection, some additional rumors surrounding the football team, as well as looking ahead to what the offseason might look like for the Wolverines. First, let’s start with a recruiting update.
2014 recruiting update
Sam Webb said on his radio show recently that the Wolverines are no longer pursuing a tailback in this recruiting class. If this is true, I think it means a couple of things. First, I think it indicates that the coaches feel pretty good about the situation with Damien Harris [Editor's note: Damien Harris decommitted from Michigan on Tuesday]. Second, they must also feel good about their chances of snagging another talented back in the 2015 class. Third, they must not be expecting much attrition from the current guys at running back.
We’ve all heard the rumors about who is going to be leaving the program, and I’ve personally heard the name of every running back on the roster as a possible transfer at one time or another. It looks like the coaches, the people who would actually know, don’t see too many departures coming.
While a lot of fans consider the offseason to be the most boring part of the year, that does not diminish its importance. This is when new players step up, get better, and take on leadership roles. This is when the foundation of next year’s team begins! So how does the offseason work exactly?
Well, for starters, nobody other than the strength and conditioning staff can work with the players during the offseason. However, the coaches have conducted meetings with each player on an individual basis. During this meeting the coaches will lay out certain goals for the player to achieve in the offseason, such as losing or gaining X amount of weight for example. At that point, it is up to the player to attend the workouts with strength and conditioning coach Aaron Wellman to meet these goals.
Traditionally seniors and other leaders on the team are the ones who get players to attend these “optional” workouts. So who are these leaders going to be? Well it would be hard not to see guys like Jake Ryan, Devin Gardner, Frank Clark and Desmond Morgan leading the team next season. The lack of veteran leadership on the offensive side on the ball is going to put that much more pressure on Devin Gardner to really take the reins of team 135.
Team 135-Running backs
So if the Wolverines do not add a running back to the 2014 recruiting class, we will have a pretty decent idea of what this unit will look like next year (for the purposes of this section, I will not speculate about anyone transferring). With their first full offseason to get ready for next year, history would say that both Derrick Green and De’Veon Smith will both make significant strides as far as strength and build go. This will automatically make them both better, but knowing how Green infamously came into fall camp overweight last year, one would have to think that he will be helped out the most by this. Both of these backs showed flashes of potential last year, and they could provide a lethal one-two punch next season for the Wolverines that will make team 135 look like the Michigan football of old.
Justice Hayes and Thomas Rawls will be the returning veterans of the group. While Rawls has not seen much playing time in his career, Hayes on the other hand saw some time towards the end of the last season. While it takes years for the light to turn on for some players, I don’t think it’s fair to expect a whole lot out of either of these players.
The forgotten man at this position might be Drake Johnson. If you’ll remember, Johnson had performed well enough in fall camp to earn himself a spot in the rotation, but he unfortunately tore his ACL in the first game of the season against CMU. With a major knee injury like the one he suffered it will be hard to project what kind of impact he will make next season. If he can come back as good as ever however, he will be able to add some key depth at this position.
Sione Houma and Joe Kerridge will be returning to man the fullback position. I feel like both of these players do a pretty solid job and with another year of experience should only get better at clearing the way for the guys that line up behind them. The wildcard in all of this is redshirt freshman Wyatt Shallman. I’m not exactly sure where he fits in at in this offense, but he could do some damage as an athletic fullback. Overall I feel that both running back and fullback are pretty deep positions, and with an offense lacking experience these two units will be key.