Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE
MnB continues its way too early preview of the 2013 Michigan football roster by taking a look at the offensive guards and centers. How long will it be until the staff's success recruiting maulers actually shows on the field?
Take a quick glance at Michigan's last two classes: it won't take long to notice the amount of offensive lineman who held offers from the likes of Alabama, Ohio State and Southern California. Brady Hoke swore to bring power football back to the University of Michigan when he took over, and his staff's recruiting efforts in the trenches reflect his determination to create a dominating ground game. It has been years since the massive crowds in Michigan Stadium witnessed an offensive line capable of controlling a game, and it will be at least one more year before the next dominating unit comes along.
Joey Burzynski (RS junior; 6'1", 295)
Burzynski took the limelight away from Elliot Mealer for a bit during the spring of 2012, but he eventually lost the battle and played a reserve role in seven games. He didn't have the height or strength in high school to be a true division one recruit, so he walked on and earned a scholarship through solid play in practice. He'll give Miller and Kugler a run for their money, but his lack of physical tools will probably lead to him remaining a scholarship backup. I still like the staff's decision to reward a walk on who helped others improve by challenging them.
Jack Miller (RS sophomore; 6'4", 288)
Miller redshirted his freshman year and appeared in six games as a backup center in last year's campaign. He's definitely the favorite to start at center, and some of his teammates think he's a future star: he had a nasty mean streak and solid strength in high school, but he lacked the technical skills and agility of an elite center prospect. He doesn't have the length, athleticism or mean streak that Kugler has, so I don't see him keeping the job for more than two years.
Patrick Kugler (Freshman; 6'5", 280)
Kugler is the son of Sean Kugler, who is the current head coach at the University of Texas El Paso; it's no surprise that he's more advanced technically than most incoming freshman on the offensive line. He has long arms and great strength for a center prospect, and his mean streak might be the nastiest of any player Michigan has recruited in recent years: that's impressive considering Taylor Lewan, Kyle Kalis and David Dawson are all on the roster as well. It isn't totally unlikely for him to start at some point during the year, but the best case for Michigan is for Kugler to redshirt while Jack Miller mans the position for a year. After that it's all Kugler, who is one of the surest bets you'll see on the offensive line.
Chris Bryant (RS sophomore; 6'4", 318)
Let's assume that Kyle Kalis has one of the two guard spots locked down heading into 2013, leaving the other spot vacant. Byrant is the favorite to win that spot, thanks to his combination of quick feet and strength. He redshirted his freshman year and broke his leg just before the start of the 2012 season, but he should still be ready to flank Jack MIller in the trenches.
Kyle Kalis (RS freshman; 6'5", 294)
Kalis was a five-star prospect coming out of high school, flipping his commitment from Ohio State to Michigan when the Buckeyes were caught for handing out cars and tattoos. Some projected him to right tackle, but he lacks ideal arm length for pass blocking, and his mean streak and run blocking are a perfect fit for the inside. He redshirted this past year and will most likely take one of the two starting spots at guard. He'll push for All-Big Ten and possibly even All-American honors before he graduates.
Blake Bars (RS freshman; 6'5", 291)
Bars and Graham Glasgow are the only two players with a realistic shot at unseating one of Kalis or Bryant. This doesn't look likely, as Bryant is the most experienced and easily the strongest, and Kalis was rated as a five-star prospect for a reason. Still, Bars was rated as a four-star player by many scouting services and put in his share of time in the weight and film rooms over the course of the last year. He too had a mean streak in high school, although his strength wasn't on par with that of Kalis.
David Dawson (Freshman; 6'4", 282)
Dawson was one of my favorite commitments in the class of 2013 until he started drama over Brady Hoke's no-visit policy, even saying that he hoped Gareon Conley wasn't receiving the same treatment that he got (Conley later switched to Ohio State). David decommitted and flirted with the other Midwestern powers before having a "heart-to-heart" with Brady Hoke, recommitting to Michigan then and there. This excited Michigan fans for many reasons: Dawson has an extremely impressive power base, plays with better technique than most high school prospects, carries mostly clean football weight for a guard prospect, and was as dominant in high school as one can be. He will likely redshirt, but he'll impress when his time comes in Ann Arbor.
Kyle Bosch (Freshman; 6'5", 311)
Bosch is one of six players already on Michigan's campus, giving him a chance to familiarize himself with the weight room and joke freshman classes in Angel Hall. He was a consensus four-star because of his size, nastiness and flexibility, but he has work to do on his technique. He will most likely redshirt along with the other two guards in this class, but expect him to compete with or start next to David Dawson somewhere down the line.
Dan Samuelson (Freshman; 6'5", 275)
Samuelson was one of the later additions to the class of 2013, switching his commitment from Nebraska to Michigan when the Wolverines offered and applied some heat. He was a high three-star or low four-star to different services, possessing decent length and drive but not enough girth and strength to be considered an immediate contributor. He's a lock to redshirt and should spend the next two years of his life lifting heavy objects and working on his technique.
Graham Glasgow (RS sophomore; 6'6", 305)
Glasgow was a preferred walk-on prospect, turning down a chance to walk on at Ohio State to come to Michigan instead. He has the size and length to play in the Big Ten, but his athleticism isn't elite. He redshirted in 2011 and made an appearance as a backup guard against UMASS this past season. I don't see him playing major minutes this year unless injuries ravage the interior line, and even then freshman like Dawson and Bosch could give him a run for his money.
No one is certain as to how good this unit can be. The options at center include a former walk on, a former three-star guard prospect and a five-star freshman: whoever wins this battle isn't going to be David Molk. Miller should come out of the spring with the job locked up, leaving Kugler and Burzynski to battle it out in the fall for a backup role. Kugler should redshirt, but there's a chance that he boots Miller out for good by the end of the year.
The story at guard is a bit different. Kalis and Bryant are both primed to take starting positions, but Bryant is coming off of a major injury and Kalis has only one year of college coaching and weight training under his belt. I think Bryant comes out playing well and Kalis slowly shows us why he was rated so highly as a prospect, leaving us with a solid starting core in 2014. Pass protection could get a bit dicey inside because both players are inexperienced, but these two have the potential to be much better run blockers than their predecessors ever were.
Forgive me if the analysis of the offensive guards and centers seems a bit dry; my knowledge of the different football positions increases with their starting position from the ball. Still, I'm very intrigued by blocking technique and am going to make an effort to learn more about scouting offensive lineman this off-season.