Who’s got the most to prove right now?
We’ve explored Michigan football position by position pretty exhaustively, which is a good way to look at the big-picture questions about 2017 and beyond.
But looking instead at the trickle of information coming out of Glick Fieldhouse and the fans’ expectations for some of the first-year starters, I figured it was worth it to look at spring ball a little bit differently. So, here are guys with the most on the line:
Wilton Speight: Like it or not, he’s got a lot to do this spring. As the de facto leader in the locker room, he’ll be responsible for the young receivers’ success while fending off Peters and O’Korn and keeping himself alive behind a sieve of an O-line.
The bar is higher for him than it is for Peters, who will get extra reps to improve his game regardless of if he struggles at first.
Grant Perry: While stuck on the outside looking in with an indefinite suspension, Grant Perry has a whole lot to prove and a narrow margin with which to work. But he’s out of choices, and there are still a number of things to figure out before he could potentially return.
Luckily for him, the departures of Kingston Davis and Devin Asiasi have opened up the possibility that there will be space for him to return. And for all the talent coming to Michigan at the wide receiver position, there’s still value in having a veteran slot receiver. If he clears his name in the courts, and works his tail off and is a model citizen, he could make it back.
Ty Isaac: Again, there’s talent galore at another skill position, but Isaac is running out of time to show what he can do. He’ll be headed for the NFL after this season no matter what, and the cards are stacked against him given the position he plays.
It would be good news for him if he could make a dent in his senior year and show that he’s a physical, every-down back who can catch the ball and pass protect. Which means he would have to show some of that during spring ball.
Juwann Bushell-Beatty: I’m more optimistic than most that JBB can turn in a good season. He’s got the frame, the potential, and the coaching to take a big leap, but for some reason fans have assumed that JBB (and Brandon Watson, for that matter) aren’t capable of improving past what they’ve shown so far. I disagree. He’ll certainly get his opportunities, one way or the other.
On defense: For some reason, I think the defense collectively is in a much better spot than the offense, and there are enough options available at each open position to feel like the pressure isn’t on any one guy to save the day.
Sure, there’s still pressure all around - can Bryan Mone and Devin Bush step up? what about that inexperienced secondary and the SAM linebacker? - but there are also a handful of names you can throw at every question mark ... and still plenty of youth to iron it all out.
Hitting the Links Sees Trees of Green ♫♪
Piecing together the OL’s ‘best five’ | Mason Cole willing to move anywhere
Let’s go back in time for a second, to appreciate yet another outside-the-box Harbaugh decision that’s set to work beautifully: after Ty Wheatley left town for a gig in the NFL, Harbaugh went with the best choice possible rather than finding the best running backs coach possible.
As a result, Greg Frey is now in the fold, and we can look forward to continued (even... accelerated?) success in building up the OL while Tim Drevno puts more of his energy into offensive coordinator duties. Win, and win.
Ken Griffey, Jr.: ‘Would have gone to Michigan’
This is an awesome story, and a testament to Michigan’s history and the ties that bring people to this university. But I’m glad he didn’t come to Michigan. Baseball was his career, and it looked effortless.
Auditioning to replace Jabrill Peppers: Everything will be considered
It’s so easy to forget yesteryear’s concerns, but Jabrill was in some ways a first-year starter at linebacker last year. Michigan doesn’t have a Jabrill-quality athlete to replace him, but the new guys aren’t chumps. And if somebody can bring something else to the table, this could turn out just fine.
Inside Michigan’s Push To Take Over Georgia
This was an interesting recruiting article by ESPN. Some quick hitters: Michigan is mentioned in a piece on teams with the most to gain from spring practice (no surprise there), and they’re also mentioned regularly in this look of lucky performances against the Irish.