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2012 Michigan Season Preview: The Players

Quite the pose. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Quite the pose. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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Who is Michigan's MVP in 2012?

(In which we all have an excuse to fawn over Denard Robinson)

Shash - Is this really a question? I'd love to say someone like Rawls or Kovacs or a linebacker (LB MVPs mean championships) but it's Denard. He's the most valuable player no matter what. As goes Denard, so goes Michigan. I can't really think of anything new to say on this one, but he's the best player on a very good team that will be expected to bring it each and every snap. If he cuts down on turnovers and inches his completion rate north of 62%, M wins 11 games.

Anthony - Denard Robinson. Michigan's offense doesn't offer any other skill players worth mentioning in the same sentence and the defense doesn't have any one dominating force. The only other player who had remote chance of dethroning the king made a poor life choice, taking himself out of consideration before the seas even began.

Sarah - Michigan's 2012 MVP? None other than Heisman candidate and senior quarterback Denard Robinson, of course.

Alex - Michigan's best player will be future first round draft pick Taylor Lewan, and since there's very little depth behind him on the offensive line, he's also the most valuable player on the team. Lewan has all of the tools--size, strength, athleticism, etc.--to be an elite tackle at the next level, and he has the type of All-American potential that not many other Michigan players have.

HoldtheRope - His name rhymes with Canard Blobinson. The defense will eventually approach last year's level of performance probably sometime near the end of October. Until then, I think Michigan's D will be doing a lot of not very flashy bend-but-don't-break stuff. So, I look to the offense, and there's really no other person to tap for this prediction than #16. This is the offseason of "lasts" re: Denard. This is the last time that we'll be able to predict that Denard will be Michigan's MVP. Sad face goes here. In all seriousness, it's Denard, no question Jim.

MaizeinSpartyland - I'll go with Jordan Kovacs. The trendy pick is Denard, but its going to have to be the defense that carries Michigan this year. Teams now have at least some expectation for a Al Borges run offense, but Mattison still shows the ability to make crucial halftime adjustments. Its been awhile since Michigan has had a really solid secondary, and Kovacs is its star.

Zach - As has been the case through his career, this team rises and falls with the play of Denard Robinson. When he is on there isn't a more dangerous player in the nation. When he is off, it is maddeningly and hilariously so. We're talking Yakety-Sax-esque interceptions. However, given the circumstances, the rest of the offense, and the solid defense on the other side, this should be Denard's year to finally put together a full season. Not a strong start that falls apart or a turnover filled first half that evens out. I'm talking wall to wall good to great games. Is it enough for a Heisman? Depends on how great those great games are -- and more importantly, who they are against.

Who is Michigan's breakout player in 2012?

Shash- Offensively, I like Thomas Rawls. I've heard that he runs angry so many times I'm scared to watch that first hit. I love watching guys that run to contact. Adrian Peterson said that in an interview yesterday - something about how the great backs don't just avoid contact, they dominate it. I want to see the little cannonball unleashed upon the B1G. Defensively, I'm going to go with Will Campbell, but that's more hope than anything - I expect big things from Ondre Pipkins as well.

Anthony - Devin Gardner at receiver. Michigan's receiver situation seems to get scarier by the week; the staff isn't giving him reps outside for nothing. He's the tallest, most athletic and quite possible the fastest straight-line player outside already.

Sarah - I'm very hopeful about this and I believe Michigan's breakout player in 2012 will be CB Blake Countess. It's about time our defensive backs step up.

Alex - Michigan's "breakout player" (i.e. player who hasn't done much as of yet, but has a good season) is going to be Will Campbell, just because he has to at this point, right?

HoldtheRope - This is an easy answer that could at the same time end up being spectacularly wrong, but it has to be Will Campbell. There really is no player--unless you want to go with a freshman like Kalis or something--that is more breakout-able than BWC. It's been three years of him being intermittently out of shape (which is strange to me, as a guy who has played pick up basketball with him once or twice at the IM Building...the guy is nimble for his size), but that seems to be a concern no longer. It's now or never, and I'm going with now. With Quinton Washington playing the nose and Campbell at 3-tech, it will be interesting to see how he responds against an interior OL as strong as Alabama's. Whether it's Jones, Warmack, or Steen, Campbell will need to be ready for a big, physical lineman bearing down on him. Even a merely "competent" performance would suggest that a big year is in the cards for BWC.

MaizeinSpartyland - I'm going to stick with the secondary and go with Blake Countess. He's easily the least experienced of the secondary, but will likely be a veteran next year, as Kovacs and Floyd will be gone. Two other names to watch out for are Jack Miller, currently slated to back up Ricky Barnum, and Jibreel Black. Miller should see significant playing time in a couple of the non-conference games and will be ready to step in should Barnum struggle or get injured. Pass rushers are key in Mattison's defense, so expect to see Black and his counterpart, Craig Roh, dial up the pressure.

Zach - Jake Ryan. I would like to say Will Campbell, but I don't think break out is the right word there. You don't break out and have a solid but unspectacular season. Will's chance to break out is already past. He could have a good season, but it would have to be one helluva uptick in production to qualify as a breakout year. Ryan is the logical choice. He is the most disruptive player on a roster badly in need of someone to pressure the quarterback and make plays in the backfield. I think Ryan has a big year this year, leads Michigan in both sacks and TFLs, and is in the top ten in both categories overall in the Big Ten.