With nearly two weeks of spring practice under their belts, the Michigan football team continues to build towards their April 14th spring game. Thanks to a number of high school coaches who have attended some of the practices, we've got some news and notes for you to enjoy while we wait until the spring game.
Denard - Denard is, well, Denard. This spring is all about consistency and challenging Denard. His grasp of the offense has definitely improved, but with no Junior Hemingway around it is important that Robinson builds strong chemistry with his receivers.
RB- At running back, the coaches are giving quite a few players looks in practice. Some questioned whether Rs-Freshman Justice Hayes would eventually make the move to slot or even corner. At this point though, Hayes is at running back and has performed well there. He has the speed to take runs outside the tackles for big gains.
WR - This spring is all about finding a replacement for Junior Hemingway. Roy Roundtree has been very solid in practice and will be Denard's #1 target in the fall. The two need to work through some chemistry issues that plagued them last season. Jeremy Gallon has also been sharp, and as we've seen is a great playmaker in space. After those two though, you will likely see a mixture of different players.
Drew Dileo is a tough player that can make a lot of catches, but he is on the short side like Gallon, as we all know. Jeremy Jackson, on the other hand, has good size, but lacks the speed to stretch the field. Jerald Robinson is the true wildcard at this point, coaches say, as he possesses a mixture of abilities that the other receivers don't have.
Some people have compared Robinson to Hemingway, but at this point that's not a fair comparison. We do know that Robinson will contribute. If he shows the same ability in games that he shows on the practice field, J-Rob could be a difference maker this fall.
TE - The coaches have been trying to address this spot heavily in recruiting and it's easy to see why. Senior Brandon Moore is a big-bodied player who understands the offense, but isn't a huge receiving threat. Ricardo Miller, on the other hand, has been catching the ball well in practice, but he doesn't block as well as Moore.
It would not be surprising to see AJ Williams or even Devin Funchess see playing time due to the lack of numbers and consistency at TE. This is a major question mark moving forward.
OL - Michigan replaces two starters on the offensive line, including All-American/All-Everything C David Molk. Ricky Barnum has gotten the first crack there and has performed fairly well, though the coaches rotate him and Jack Miller frequently as well.
At tackle, Taylor Lewan and Michael Schofield should have their positions on lock, and as onlookers have said they just look the part of a pair of great bookend tackles. Unfortunately, there is little depth behind them, putting more importance on the incoming freshmen.
Inside, a pair of seniors in Elliot Mealer and Patrick Omameh anchor the guard spots, with Chris Bryant getting work at both places. Some have wanted Bryant to be the starter, but at this point he is a better run blocker than pass blocker. Mealer has performed well and you can't help but be happy for him after all he has been through.
The guards and center will be the keys to Michigan's offensive success this fall, and at this point they remain a major work in progress.
Stay tuned for part 2: the defense, soon!
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