Hello folks! We are officially one day out from National Signing Day 2014. Coach Hoke made some interesting announcements today that will certainly be touched on in this article, as well as a look ahead at what the offensive line might look like next season. So without further ado, let’s get to it!
Well, recruiting for the 2014 class is more or less a done deal, with one key exception. That is of course Mr. Malik McDowell. It is a true four team race for McDowell with Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, and Florida State all having a legit shot at getting the defensive lineman. It is a widely accepted belief that McDowell favors the Spartans considerably, but it has been well documented that his mother has absolutely put her foot down and doesn’t want him to go there.
So what will happen on Wednesday morning when McDowell decides? It’s hard to say. But regardless of the decision he makes, it would appear that recruiting for this class will be over for Michigan. If they don’t get McDowell that scholarship will just roll over to the next class.
News from Hoke
Coach Hoke spoke to a select few members of the media recently, and he offered up a few nuggets of interesting information. First of all, he put to bed any rumors about any more changes to the staff, unless someone were to seek a different job. He also revealed a list of players who will be missing spring ball with injuries. Erik Magnuson, Chris Bryant, and Joey Burzynski will all be missing spring practice completely. He said that Ondre Pipkins will be limited, which in my mind is actually pretty encouraging news about him. It will hurt having three offensive lineman miss spring ball, but more on that later.
Possibly the most criticized unit of the last two seasons for Michigan is the offensive line, and it’s not hard to figure out why. This unit has severely underperformed and has not lived up to the expectations most football fans around the country put on Michigan football. The worst part is that there is no guarantee that the offensive line will improve next year, with Team 134’s best two players graduating and heading to the draft: Taylor Lewan and Michael Schofield.
The good news is that there are multiple players who received playing time and gained experience on the interior last year, but the bad news is none of them played at such a level that they are a lock for a starting position in 2014. Graham Glasgow held relatively steady at center, and it would be a surprise to see him lose his starting job at this position. The one caveat to this however is a redshirt freshman by the name of Pat Kugler. Kugler was very highly ranked coming out of high school, and being the son of a former NFL and current college coach he is very fundamentally sound. I would be shocked if he doesn’t earn a starting spot on next year’s offensive line whether it be at center or guard.
The other players receiving playing time on the interior last year were true freshman Kyle Bosch, Joey Burzynski, Chris Bryant, Jack Miller and Kyle Kalis. Kalis started for the majority of the season, but all four saw time throughout the season. It seemed ike the coaches tried mixing and matching to find the best 5 offensive lineman, and this was due to the overall poor play of this unit.
The competition for the five starting spots should be pretty fierce across the board, so the fact that both Bryant and Burzynski are missing the spring is a huge blow to this unit.
It’ll be interesting to see what the competition on the outside looks like come next fall. Conventional wisdom is that redshirt sophomore Ben Braden is a favorite to lock down one of the starting tackle spots. Battling with him for his spot at tackle as well as the other spot at tackle will be David Dawson, Erik Magnuson, Logan Tuley-Tillman, and Dan Samuelson. It’s harder to predict who will emerge from this unit since we have barely seen most of these players. But with a handful of players vying for two spots, one would hope that the two players who emerge on top will be pretty good.
This is more or less a shot in the dark since spring practice hasn’t even started yet, but my predicted starting offensive line for 2014 is (from left to right): Ben Braden, Pat Kugler, Graham Glasgow, Kyle Kalis, and Erik Magnuson. Of course, we here at isportsweb will keep you posted on how the offensive line is shaping up over the course of the spring!