Things are going to be a lot different for Michigan football after the Citrus Bowl against Alabama on New Year’s Day. (At least) three starting offensive linemen will be gone, as well as quarterback Shea Patterson, tight end Sean McKeon, possibly a couple wide receivers, VIPER Khaleke Hudson, cornerback Lavert Hill, defensive linemen Mike Danna and Josh Uche, possibly defensive lineman Carlo Kemp, linebacker Jordan Glasgow and safety Josh Metellus.
And that’s without knowing who all is sitting out of the Citrus Bowl, so we may have possibly seen the last of several of those guys in a Michigan uniform.
That said, I always tend to look toward the future, especially this time of year. We’ve seen all we can from the older guys, and there are some younger guys who could make an impact next year that I’d like to see get some playing time in the Citrus Bowl.
Mazi Smith, DT
If you’re a Michigan fan who wasn’t receptive to Michigan’s interior defensive line this season, this is the article for you!
We absolutely need to see more of Smith in this bowl game. He has only played in one game this year, which is disappointing considering how highly-touted he was coming out of high school. Fortunately, true freshman Chris Hinton was prepared to take on the playing time, but for whatever reason, Smith fell behind and was only able to participate in the Maryland game.
Kemp may not be back next season, but even if he does return for a fifth year, Smith is going to need to be a focal point of the defensive line moving forward. There just wasn’t enough beef up front to take on the better offensive lines in the Big Ten, so it will be vital for Don Brown and Shaun Nua to continue to work with Smith to get him ready for 2020.
And it all could start now with bowl prep.
Anthony Solomon, LB/VIPER
I think Solomon is going to play a big role in 2020, whether it is taking over for Hudson at VIPER or Glasgow at linebacker.
The true freshman played in 11 games this season, and you probably never recognized it because he was only on special teams. He collected just one tackle on special teams, but if he played in all but one game this year, there’s a reason they elected to burn his redshirt. The fastest way to future playing time is by going through special teams first, and Solomon has done just that.
Michigan was able to flip Solomon’s commitment from Miami (FL) three days before the December signing period last year. That move could end up paying huge dividends for the future of Michigan’s defense. I would love to see Solomon get some run on the defense against Alabama. And it could provide a clearer picture regarding what position he may play moving forward.
Erick All, TE
The true freshman played in 10 games this season, but only had 1 catch for 10 yards. While not playing much of a factor in the passing game, he did, however, play a bigger role in the ground game.
Touchdown Charbonnet— Due# (@JDue51) September 8, 2019
Same play as the last TD and same great block by Erick All
8 rush / 4 pass pic.twitter.com/aqEnHOFTFq
That is just one example of how willing of a blocker All is. He isn’t afraid to give or receive a hit to make a big play.
With the Citrus Bowl being McKeon’s last game, I would like to see All get more action against a high-caliber opponent like Alabama. All will likely be a much bigger factor at tight end next season for Michigan, and this is the perfect opportunity to get him acquainted to top level competition.
Do you agree with my selections? And who would you like to see receive more playing time in the Citrus Bowl? Comment down below and let’s talk about it!