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Expectations for the 2017 class: Defense

This defensive class has a chance to be very, very special.

NCAA Football: Michigan State at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan finished strong on the recruiting trail in 2016, finishing fifth in the nation and second in the Big Ten, according to 247Sports.

Michigan’s defensive class, will have a lot of unknowns but also tons of talent that could possibly contribute right away, whether it be on special teams or in the defensive unit.

After evaluating the offense in this year’s recruiting class, let’s get right into the defense.

Defensive Line: Michigan brings in an unreal seven defensive linemen in this class (and an eighth signee, Corey Malone-Hatcher, ended up being a medical disqualification). But Michigan still adds five-star DT Aubrey Solomon, who shot the Wolverines up in the rankings on National Signing Day.

You could see a variety of these guys playing early on the defensive line. There are a lot of toss ups with players who might play and who might redshirt.

The most likely to play according to reports are Solomon, James Hudson and Donovan Jeter. Hudson and Jeter played defensive end in high school, but it appears Jeter is trying to bulk up and move inside. Regardless of where they play, they both can be key contributors. Solomon plays the nose and could end up starting at some point. He is that good.

Linebackers: Michigan signed three linebackers in this class: Josh Ross, Drew Singleton, and Jordan Anthony. All three have a chance to excel at Michigan. I don’t expect all three to play their freshman year, but Anthony seems to be the most likely to step in and play right away. They all are freak athletes and could be great starting linebackers at Michigan.

Defensive Backs: This position group all around has the biggest question marks. All the starting spots are up in the air in the defensive backfield. Detroit’s own Ambry Thomas is probably the most likely to get a good amount of playing time. He seems to have matured well and should get some playing time at cornerback. Michigan also has Benjamin St-Juste at corner, but he seems like he will get redshirted.

Safeties Jaylen Kelly-Powell and J’Marick Woods may see some playing time, but expect them to be in the Josh Metellus role of last year — mainly play special teams but be ready when called upon. Three-star receiver Brad Hawkins, like Mason and possibly Jeter, is also changing positions and will be a safety.

This defensive group has tons of raw talent and a lot of questions that nobody will figure out until September 2 against Florida.