Michigan football returns one of its most talented rosters in recent memory this upcoming season, but a pair of true freshman could find their way on the field early on in 2016.
Defensive lineman Rashan Gary, the nation’s top recruit in the 2016 class, is expected by many to be a key contributor this season and it appears he has backed up the hype through just over a week and a half of camp so far.
“I’ve gone against him a lot, playing end obviously,” offensive tackle Erik Magnuson said after Wednesday’s practice. “He’s pretty incredible. There’s not many guys that come out of high school and have that talent and able to play at this level. It’s impressive.
“He has raw talent. He’s a big kid – I don’t know how much he weighs – but he’s fast, he’s really fast for how big he is… He moves like he’s a lot lighter. Everything is advanced. Besides Jabrill (Peppers), I haven’t seen a freshman like that.”
Players like Gary are expected to come in and make an instant impact, but running back Chris Evans is a player that has also turned heads in camp so far. The Wolverines are deep at running back, but he brings athleticism and a home-run threat that could make him valuable in a specialized role.
"He's mad athletic," senior running back Drake Johnson said. "You just see some people and think 'yeah, he's an athlete.' He's an athlete, he just does stuff. He's smooth, he's real smooth. He's like butter smooth, we're just like 'ooh, wow.' He's like *sound effects* someone flips to the side, like he had no chance. Like, I'm sorry you could've tried but it sucks to suck. He just makes it look easy.
"If I had to say what he really does, he makes it look easy. He just makes it look smooth and easy. He looks effortless when he does stuff, 'yeah, that was nice.'"
De’Veon Smith will likely be Michigan’s lead back this season, provided he stays healthy, but he also feels that Evans could be useful to the team right away this season.
"Chris Evans is an impressive athlete," Smith said. "I haven't seen anybody like him in a while. I'm going to be excited to see what he does this season."
Will the coaching staff move him around? Smith believes it is a possibility.
"I don't see why not, he's that good of an athlete."
Michigan will open its 2016 season on Sep. 3 at home against Hawaii.