Exactly one month ago I wrote a few words about left tackle Taylor Lewan. Now it's time to flip to the other side of the line. Michael Schofield, who, other than sharing the same name as the main dude from Prison Break, also plays on the offensive line for Michigan. With Mark Huyge's departure, Schofield's name is pretty much etched in stone at the right tackle spot. As a redshirt junior, Schofield, along with Lewan, should be the strongest links on an offensive line that is not without questions.
Schofield came in as a 4-star recruit to both Scout and Rivals. He was one of only three offensive line recruits in that class, the other two being Lewan and Quinton Washington, the latter whom now plays on the defensive side of the ball. Not to pile on poor 'ol RR, but maybe possibly thinking about switching out one of the legions of slot receivers for an extra lineman would have been a solid idea...but, as they say, hindsight is 20/20. When you're running plays at 347 miles per hour, who needs blocking anyway, right?
Regardless, Schofield's career trajectory thus far has been fairly ideal. He took a redshirt year in 2009, got on the field in various capacities in 2010, then logged 10 last season starts as a result of Ricky Barnum's early season injury/suspension/whatever that actually was that caused him to miss the opener. Even after Barnum returned for the final three games of the non-conference schedule, Schofield eventually won the job outright. From that point forward, there did not seem as if there was much of a dropoff, if any, when Schofield officially took over at LG.
Although Schofield slotted in at left guard last year, there's no question that tackle is his natural position (and, with the existence of Taylor Lewan, right tackle more specifically). Schofield came in at 6'6'' 270, which pretty much screams "I am a tackle", kind of how being a squat, fat-but-powerful guy generally indicates that that person is a nose tackle of some sort. Either that, or that person is just a regular old short and fat guy, which would not be completely out of the question.
A few years later, and Schofield has predictably upped his weight to a level that would generally meet the B1G eyeball test. He now sits at a hearty 302, a few points heavier than last season. Now that Schofield and the rest of the OL starters are 300+, that means we can run Vincent Smith on 3rd and 1, right? Probably not, but, either way, Schofield looks the part of a Big Ten right tackle.
In the last two games of last season against Nebraska and Ohio State, Schofield logged a +6 and a +5, respectively, in Brian's UFR posts. At the end of the OSU UFR post, where he parcels out terse bits of praise or criticism in the chart section, he wrote:
Fortunate to have a 6th OL as competent as this.
Pretty much this. Michigan was actually quite fortunate that Schofield turned out to not only not represent a big dropoff from starter's quality play (i.e. Barnum), he might have been even better than the guy he was replacing (a guy who had a year on him, might I add). With Omameh's somewhat inexplicable struggles while pulling, Schofield became a regular pulling guard, a role which he seemed to do pretty well at based on my increasingly vague memory of last season. He wasn't just your generic plug-and-play college guard either: his tackle-level athleticism showed in the finesse run game. Sure, Michigan still couldn't run power much even with a Rimington award winner and a talent like Lewan at LT, but that clearly, to a certain extent, goes beyond the personnel level and enters the realm of the philosophical.
Unless you're a coach, it's very difficult to speak to the nuances of line play with any sort of authority. However, I think it's safe to say that Schofield, after starting 10 of 13 games last season, should log 13/14 more this season. The move to RT from LG shouldn't be much of an issue, as he will be returning to his natural position.
After Lewan, Schofield is probably our second best lineman in 2012, a pretty big leap from the 6th man that he was to start last season. However, this will be his fourth year in Ann Arbor, and he logged considerable playing time last season. Experience is not an issue for Schofield.
Michigan has some questions on the offensive line that need answering--Barnum at center, who will play the LG spot, whether or not Omameh has already maxed out his potential and "is what he is--but Schofield is definitively not one of them.
Lewan and Schofield will make up arguably the best pair of bookends in the conference. Schofield's move outside should take some getting used to. Taking on Alabama's coterie of speedy defensive ends--Quinton Dial, Damion Square, Ed Stinson--and pass rushing "Jack" linebackers (e.g. Adrian Hubbard), should be quite the test of Schofield's overall athletic ability. Alabama will bring a multitude of b
Schofield's in for a solid year two out of what should be a 3-year starter's career. If everything goes well, he should be up for some form of post-season conference recognition.