Aubrey Solomon’s sudden transfer, reported Monday afternoon, leaves the defensive tackle with long-term questions to answer.
In the short-term for the Peach Bowl, Michigan has options inside in seniors Bryan Mone and Lawrence Marshall, as well as Carlo Kemp. Michael Dwumfour can be used for passing situations against the Gators next week in Atlanta.
In the long-term, here are the top candidates to slide into the nose tackle spot:
(1) Donovan Jeter, redshirt sophomore in 2019, 6-foot-3, 308
Jeter took things slowly this fall, as he recovered from a season-ending surgery in 2017.
He saw action in five games, making an assisted tackle against Maryland and a solo stop in the rout over Penn State.
He arrived in Ann Arbor as a consensus four-star out of Beaver Falls, Pa. He possesses the requisite stoutness and weight to anchor the middle. Whereas Solomon was a quick-twitch athlete for the position, Jeter has been lauded for his strength by Greg Mattison.
(2) Carlo Kemp, senior in 2019, 6-foot-3, 280
Yes, you read that right. Kemp is already entering his final season in Ann Arbor next fall.
Before then, he needs to pack on about 10 to 15 pounds to survive in the thick of the trenches. The weight gain would hopefully not diminish his disruptiveness, as he possesses an explosive first step that can beat doubles.
As a backup to Rashan Gary at strong side end, he’s chipped in 20 tackles, four TFLs and a sack this season.
This looks to be an emergency option, but Solomon’s transfer may have forced the staff’s hand.
(3) Mazi Smith, incoming freshman, 6-foot-3, 290
Smith is the only true nose tackle in the 2019 class.
He actually appears more tackle-ready than Solomon did as a freshman. The latter mustered 16 tackles with two TFLs in 2017.
There doesn’t appear to be a lot of baby fat on him, either. Scouts have raved about his explosiveness off the snap, but not at the expense of his elite strength.
He is a four-star out of East Kentwood, Mich, ranking as the No. 137 prospect nationally per 247 Sports.
He is set to enroll in January, giving him a leg up under Ben Herbert’s tutelage. Entering next fall at 300 pounds is a reasonable possibility.
Dwumfour was not considered, as he’s a 3-tech in the mold of Maurice Hurst, Jr. Neither was incoming four-star Chris Hinton, who seems locked in at strong side end.
That means Greg Mattison has Jeter, a converted defensive end and a true freshman as his nose tackle options next year.
You can throw walk-ons in Carl Myers and Joey George into the mix, as well. They haven’t shown themselves to be Ryan Glasgows, or even Will Heiningers, at this point to be seriously considered.
Mattison and Herbert have their hands full. They need to get things in order at the position before the opener on Aug. 31 against Middle Tennessee State...and then a week later against Army’s triple option attack.