It’s never too early to look ahead to next season, especially towards the end of the year that has been fun at times, but frustrating in others. Jim Harbaugh and the Michigan Wolverines will complete their fifth season together without a Big Ten Championship, adding a little more pressure to the 2020 season and what’s to come.
The good news for Michigan is that it seems like almost all of this team could be back for next year except for a few guys in a handful of key spots. With that in mind, here’s a projected look at how Michigan may line up to start next season.
I had previously done this a few weeks back just looking at the offense, but here’s the lineup from both sides of the ball.
Quarterback: Dylan McCaffrey (RS Jr.)
Running Back: Zach Charbonnet (So.)
Wide Receivers: Donovan Peoples-Jones (Sr.), Tarik Black (RS Jr.), Ronnie Bell (Jr.)
Tight End: Erick All (So.)
Left Tackle: Ryan Hayes (RS So.)
Left Guard: Chuck Filiaga (RS Jr.)
Center: Cesar Ruiz (Sr.)
Right Guard: Nolan Rumler (RS Fr.)
Right Tackle: Jalen Mayfield (RS So.)
Defensive End: Kwity Paye (Sr.)
Defensive Tackle: Chris Hinton (So.)
Defensive Tackle: Mazi Smith (RS Fr.)
Defensive End: Aidan Hutchinson (Jr.)
Weak-side Linebacker: Jordan Anthony (RS Jr.)
Middle Linebacker: Cam McGrone (RS So.)
Strong-side Linebacker: Joshua Ross (RS Jr.)
Viper: Mike Barrett (RS So.)
Nickel: Jaylen Kelly-Powell (Sr.)
Cornerback: Ambry Thomas (Sr.)
Free Safety: Daxton Hill (So.)
Strong Safety: Brad Hawkins (Sr.)
Cornerback: Vincent Gray (RS So.)
Now, for some thoughts:
- I’m not as sold as a lot of Michigan fans seem to be on McCaffrey. He’s got a chance to be really good, but Joe Milton’s development as a passer throughout the rest of this year and throughout the offseason is going to make this the best and most legitimate quarterback battle the Wolverines have had under Harbaugh, assuming everyone stays and no other factors are added in.
- Even if all three of the star wideouts leave (Nico Collins, DPJ, Black), you’d still have to feel decent about what they have there. Bell, Mike Sainristil, Giles Jackson, Cornelius Johnson and true freshman A.J. Henning would still be a solid receiving corps, especially for a team that continues to morph into a spread attack.
- My gut says that there’s a chance Michigan loses two of its “big three” wide receivers this offseason, but for now, let’s project one. When teams put on the film, they’ll see at the very least a day two draft pick in Nico Collins. With what this offense looks like it wants to be, it’s going to be impossible for all of those guys to showcase their talents all at once. Collins is the most ready for the NFL now.
- The offensive line will be extremely fluid this offseason with three All-Big Ten performers graduating. The good news is that we know who is going to fill out the tackle spots, and then there’s Andrew Stueber returning from injury. The question becomes who the best five will end up being. Part of me wonders if Mayfield may be able to kick inside to guard if you’re trying to get your top five lineman out there. This will be the biggest non-quarterback storyline of the offseason.
- Truth be told, the picks at defensive tackle and linebacker outside of McGrone are a total shot in the dark. They are preserving a redshirt for Ross, but we’ll see what happens with him moving forward.
- Viper is also currently a shot in the dark, but Barrett’s name has been thrown around in the past and there’s some intrigue there.
Again, this is just a fun hypothetical for now. This still looks like a group that can be a factor in the Big Ten race, though.
- Mark Dantonio remains confident that he will be Michigan State’s head coach for the 2020 season and beyond. If he’s done there, it certainly will not be his decision based on the comments that he made on Tuesday.
- 2020 four-star defensive line commit Aaron Lewis appears to be set to sign with the Michigan Wolverines in December and plans to enroll early, according to 247Sports.
- Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford says that he received death threats after his team’s loss at Minnesota a few weeks back.
- The NFL is discussing non-traditional sites to host games moving forward and a few college destinations have been kicked around, including Notre Dame and Alabama.