Jim Harbaugh has never been shy about a baptism by fire for his freshmen football players with the Michigan Wolverines and this year appears to be no exception, either. Some of the stars and leaders on the team were guys that Harbaugh made an effort to get on the field early in their careers, so you’ll see the leaders and stars of tomorrow in game action as soon as this weekend when the season opens against Middle Tennessee.
As far as who those guys will be, there have been no shortage of freshmen standouts that figure to work into prominent roles early in their careers in Ann Arbor.
“There’s been a lot,” Harbaugh said. “Dax Hill (safety) is everything as advertised. He’s done a great job. He’s gonna play a lot on special teams. He’s gonna play and work into that safety position. But he’s really done extremely well.
“Mazi Smith (defensive line) came in as a midyear – he’s been here for quite awhile now. A full nine months. He’s been really good. Also Chris Hinton (defensive line) – you look at him, and you say that’s somebody who’s gonna be playing this year quite a bit. DJ Turner (cornerback) has been really good. Playing on special teams, kinda like Dax – he’ll play special teams and probably starting on a few right now and will work in on that corner position, but he looks ready to play as well.
“Offensively, Zach Charbonnet (running back) has stood out and done extremely well. Erick All (tight end/wide receiver) is gonna play quite a bit. Receivers... Cornelius Johnson, Giles Jackson, playing both special teams and then working their way into the receiver position. Feeling really good about the offensive linemen. All of them have done a good job. I don’t know how many will play this season – combination of games or throughout the season. Been really pleased with that group.
“David Ojabo (defensive line) is coming on very, very strong. He keeps having his best practice, it seems, every time we go out there. Other guys: there’s quite a few. (Preferred walk-on and Michigan legacy) Caden Kolesar (athlete), contributing on special teams. I think we can say that. He’s gonna be very good and playing. Mike Sainristil – I know we talked about Mike a lot, but he’s gonna be playing a lot at the receiver position and doing some in the return battle right now. Could be a punt returner and kick returner.
“There’s quite a few. Six or so on defense, six or so on offense.”
Yeah, it is quite a few.
In terms of starters, there may not be any guys immediately on the list, but Hill, Charbonnet and Sainristil are the three that probably have had the most buzz through fall camp and project to the most playing time early on. Assuming the Wolverines take care of business this weekend and potentially next weekend against Army, we will be seeing quite a bit of the guys named above and then some, not even counting second year players that we have not seen a whole lot of yet.
The Wolverines may have the most talent in the conference at established positions, but in a lot of ways, the future is now. We will have to wait and see who emerges, but the list of names is already quite lengthy from Michigan’s 2019 recruiting class.