As we torturously wait for the next couple weeks to disappear, finally revealing the beginning of the season that we've waited so long for, I'll be running five opinion pieces on 10 players- 5 RS Freshmen, 5 True Freshmen- that I expect to contribute this fall. I'll be ranking them based on how much I expect them to contribute, then pair them off with their RS/Non-RS equivalent. Today we begin the mini-series with number 5, beginning our way towards number 1 (most likely).
THE REDSHIRT FRESHMAN
Chris Wormley- Defensive Lineman; 6'4, 290
When Wormley's HS Sophomore film came out, people were drooling over his potential. At some point in his recruitment, I recall comparing him to then-recent 5 star Texas signee Jackson Jeffcoat, and it truly seemed that the sky was the limit for him.
However, as his high school career wore on, Wormley's hype took a few steps back. His mediocre Junior and Senior seasons, as well as the ACL tear he suffered during last year's training camp, have tempered the expectations of many, myself included. His potential at the college level, however, remains palpable. At 290 pounds, his frame and lack of elite explosion reminds me of former Wolverine Ryan Van Bergen. If Wormley can provide the same steady presence on the line that Van Bergen did, as well as perhaps a bit more of a pass rush, it would be hard to be disappointed with his career.
As far as where he'll contribute this fall, well that's also a bit hazy. Most expect Jibreel Black to be the starter at the 3-technique, with Keith Heitzman occupying the starting role at the 5-tech. If the BTN guys are to be believed, the coaches are at least giving Wormley and fellow '12 DE Tom Strobel a shot at displacing those two from their place atop the depth chart. Still, one practice shouldn't drastically alter expectations for the season. Right now, I'd guess Wormley will spell Heitzman and Black, especially on nickel and other sub-packages. A starting role by the end of the season isn't out of the question, but is far from a given.
THE TRUE FRESHMAN
Taco Charlton- Weakside Defensive End; 6'6, 270
Last year, it became glaringly obvious that Michigan's defense lacked a bona fide pass rush. Mattison relied on a bevy of blitz packages, a telling sign of his faith (or lack thereof) in his players to get to the QB in mano e mano situations. If that were the whole story, Charlton might be on the top of this here list. HOWEVER...
.. Few (if any) Michigan players have gotten more offseason hype than presumed WDE starter Frank Clark. An athletic freak at 270 pounds, most expect (re: Hope) Clark to blow up in a big way this season. Behind him, Mario Ojemudia quietly bulked up to 250 pounds in the offseason. Ojemudia showed flashes last year, but his lack of size hurt him in many a pass rush situation. With those two in front of him, it's hard to imagine Taco making a big splash.
Some semblance of a splash is still expected, though. Mattison has shown that he likes a steady rotation at the rush end spot, and since he enrolled early, Taco's not exactly the greenest fellow out there. Being up to 270 pounds also means he isn't likely to get tossed around like Ojemudia was at times last year. Add in a bit of hype of his own, and Taco will be the perfect man to keep Ojemudia and Clark on their toes.