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Brady Hoke Breaks the Silence, Dishes on Position Changes

With spring practice in full effect, Michigan head coach Brady Hoke breaks the silence on position changes.

Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan's first spring practice started on Tuesday with a new face at offensive coordinator and a complete defensive coaching switch.

It didn't stop there.

Michigan coach Brady Hoke broke the silence and confirmed three major position changes amongst other smaller moves during a spring practice press conference. Redshirt freshman defensive back Ross Douglas to running back, junior defensive end Keith Heitzman to tight end and junior linebacker James Ross III will take over the strong-side linebacker duties.

Citing depth, Hoke believes that Douglas could be a potential fit with the running backs.

"We thought we could get a little more depth," Hoke said. "He was a 2,000 yard rusher in high school and so he showed us some things in the fall and thought we'd do that."

On top of being a decorated defensive back before coming to U-M, Douglas also rushed for 33 touchdowns and over 2,000 yards during his final two seasons at Avon High School in Ohio.

Douglas will be adding depth to a running back position that saw a less-than-stellar season a year ago. With the losses of Fitzgerald Toussaint to graduation and Thomas Rawls to transfer coupled with no incoming freshman running back, depth was a necessity.

Heitzman, a former tight end in high school, has value as a tight end according to Hoke.

"Keith was a tight end in high school as well as a defensive lineman," Hoke said. "He was all for it. I think just what we've seen today, I think he'll have really a good role for us. He's a pretty physical, tough guy so it's good to have him there."

Hetizman's switch to tight end comes on the heels of sophomore Jake Butt being out indefinitely with a torn ACL. According to Hoke, Butt's surgery will happen sometime this week. With junior Devin Funchess looking to be more of a wide receiver this season, Hoke expects Jordan Paskorz, A.J. Williams and Khalid Hill to have a more expanded role at the tight end position.

With senior linebacker Jake Ryan switching to the middle of the field, Ross is expected to take over the strong-side duties from Ryan. Senior Desmond Morgan will transition to the weak-side where Ross has played during his career at U-M.

Hoke does not see the position changes as punishment for a poor season, but a positive for all parties involved.

"All of those moves are a plus for the kids and us as a team," Hoke said.

The Wolverines will continue to practice leading up to their spring game scheduled for Saturday, April 5.