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Sports Illustrated names 6 Wolverines to 2018 top 100 college football players

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Who will be the best Wolverine in 2018? According to SI, it shouldn’t be a big surprise.

NCAA Football: Air Force at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

We are in the middle of a huge summer dead period.

No more recruiting visits for another whole month. Summer camps also don’t begin for another month. So we are stuck reading more predictions and lists news outlets put out to feed our college football craving until we get something a little more juicy in July.

One list we’ll talk about to give us our college football fix of the day is from Sports Illustrated, who recently put out its top 100 college football players heading into 2018.

Six Wolverines made the cut, and only one player on offense made it to the list. So naturally, that offensive player is the lowest of the bunch. SI kicks off their rankings of Wolverines with a guy recently added to the program:

No. 80 — QB Shea Patterson

“It wasn’t that long ago that Patterson felt like a long shot to gain immediate eligibility at Michigan. Now he’s being touted as the potential savior for a bumbling offense that finished 101st nationally in yards per play last season. As long as there are no lingering effects from the season-ending knee injury he suffered at Ole Miss last October, Patterson could provide the offensive spark the Wolverines need to rise to the top of a daunting Big Ten East division.”

Patterson is the clear favorite to win the starting quarterback job; he has the most experience of the bunch and is, at this moment in time, the most talented. You may think No. 80 is low for him given all he can do on the field, but he is still a first-year player at Michigan and we haven’t seen him suit up in the maize and blue just yet. I think No. 80 is a fair spot to put Patterson.

No. 78 — CB Lavert Hill

“An unspecified injury sidelined Hill for much of Michigan’s spring, but it’s not expected to set him back this season as he looks to build on a second-team All-Big Ten campaign. At full strength, Hill is an elite cover man capable of spooking opposing quarterbacks out of making contested throws in his vicinity. He and fellow junior David Long have a strong case as the conference’s premier cornerback duo.”

Meanwhile, SI clearly did not watch the cornerbacks at Michigan last season. Hill at No. 78? This one is a bit baffling to me. Hill did not give up a touchdown reception all season (neither did David Long, who didn’t even make this list at all...), and according to Pro Football Focus, he did this:

Just search “Lavert Hill PFF” in Twitter and you will see a ton more tweets about him and how good he was in 2017. Hill should be way higher, no question.

No. 68 — Viper Khaleke Hudson

“Ace defensive coordinator Don Brown has groomed Hudson, a former three-star safety/athlete recruit out of McKeesport Area (Pa.) High School, into a big-time playmaker at the Wolverines’ hybrid Viper position. On Nov. 4 Hudson set a single-game Big Ten record with eight tackles for loss in a 33–10 win over Minnesota, and the only player in the conference to beat Hudson’s 18 TFL last season was teammate Chase Winovich (18.5).”

Just 10 spots lower than Hill is Hudson, who had a breakout season in 2017.

Like SI said, Hudson was a beast at his first season of Viper, setting records and making big plays all at once. And we should expect the same out of him in 2018. He should continue to prosper at Viper and wreck havoc all over the field.

No. 56 — DE Chase Winovich

“It’s not a huge stretch to suggest the Wolverines could field the No. 1 defense in the country this season, and Winovich is a major reason why. He is a 6’3”, 253-pound wrecking ball off the edge who is poised to spend his fifth year in Ann Arbor tormenting Big Ten offenses while functioning as one half of a frightening defensive end duo that also includes projected first-round draft pick Rashan Gary.”

Another Wolverine I think should be higher on the list, Winovich is one of the hardest working guys on the team. His motor is endless and his determination is noticeable. His 79 tackles, 18 (!) tackles for loss and 8 sacks were a pleasant surprise last season as a first-year starter. It’s not out of the realm of possibilities for him to get to those numbers again.

No. 25 — LB Devin Bush

“This is the year Michigan’s defense has built toward in two seasons under revered coordinator Don Brown, with a starting lineup that returns nearly everyone from last year’s top-10 unit (as rated by Football Outsiders’ S&P+ metric and many others) and could be made up of entirely juniors and seniors. Bush led the Wolverines in total tackles in 2017, a product of his excellent instincts and speed in pursuit. It’s a critical year for Jim Harbaugh and Brown’s futures in Ann Arbor, and the play-making abilities of Bush within a front seven that also includes Rashan Gary, Chase Winovich and Khaleke Hudson could make the difference in the Big Ten East race.”

There’s no other way to put it. Bush was a baller in 2017.

Bush was a finalist for the Butkus Award as the nation’s top linebacker, losing out to the deserving Roquan Smith. Bush had 102 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, 8 pass breakups, 5 sacks and 1 interception during his sophomore season. The Wolverines are fortunate to have him back for at least one more season, and I really believe, much like Winovich, he can replicate the numbers he put up a season ago.

No. 9 — DE Rashan Gary

“The consensus No. 1 recruit three cycles ago would be even higher in these rankings if he wasn’t joined by a once-in-a-decade crop of defensive line talent set to dominate college football this year. (Just imagine if he had committed to Clemson, the other finalist in his recruitment, over the Wolverines.) The 6’5”, 281-pound rising junior has the quickness to finish plays that stretch near the numbers just as often as he wreaks havoc in the backfield, and the other studs within Michigan’s defense like linebacker Khaleke Hudson and end Chase Winovich benefit from the attention paid to him. Defensive coordinator Don Brown has to hope that Gary’s two sacks in the regular season finale against Ohio State (followed up by a sack in the Outback Bowl loss to South Carolina) are a sign of what’s to come as Michigan braces for a brutal schedule.”

Yeah, this is a no-brainer. Gary has to be included in the top 10, and being slotted at No. 9 is fine by me. He, along with Winovich, are going to be a fearsome duo once again. It seems unfair to have these guys for a second season, but hey, I am not complaining.

That’s all of them! Are there any Wolverines you think got snubbed from the list? Personally, I would’ve found a way to put in David Long (have you seen all the PFF tweets this summer about him?)

Fire away in the comments who you think got snubbed from the list.