This week, the Maize n Brew staff was asked which position group they were most looking forward to seeing play football when the Michigan Wolverines open their season on Oct. 24 at Minnesota.
Here’s what a panel of our contributors had to say on the subject:
Running back. Zach Charbonnet and Hassan Haskins were a great 1A and 1B last year. Will they take that next step together and form the best duo in the conference? Senior Chris Evans also returns after having to overcome some academic hurdles. He adds another dimension to the running game, and can be a big threat in the passing game. Then there’s true freshman Blake Corum, a heavily-recruited four-star prospect that is a lot smaller than the other guys mentioned here, but is just as fast, if not faster, than all those guys. I am excited to see how Josh Gattis utilizes him in the offense this season as well. All in all, this is a position group I am very high on, and I’m interested to see how this all plays out for them in 2020.
Linebacker. The potential trio of Cameron McGrone, Josh Ross, and Michael Barrett have the chance to be Michigan’s most balanced linebacking corps of speed & size in recent memory. The combination of McGrone and Ross allows Michigan to have two field generals diagnosing schemes and concerts instead of one. Moreover, the linebackers will call upon heavily against teams like Ohio State and Penn State and their play could be the difference between first and third in the Big Ten East.
Definitely receiver. The loss of Nico Collins is going to leave a huge void as now Michigan will not have their 2nd, 3rd, and 4th leading receivers from a year ago. This offense will return Ronnie Bell and no other receiver that caught at least 10 passes. But we saw glimpses last year from some of the young guys like Mike Sainristil and Giles Jackson. And they seem to be the type of receivers Josh Gattis likes to utilize, a little undersized but incredibly quick and fast. This group will have to mature quickly, but we could truly see what “speed in space” means with this group.
Wide receiver. While I’m also really interested in the running back room, I think there’ll be a ton of young talent on display at the wideout position. One of the freshman duo of Roman Wilson and AJ Henning could blow up, mainly due to the speed they bring to the position, and Cornelius Johnson should have a breakout year despite getting little attention.
Despite having the bigger names last year with the Donovan Peoples-Jones/Tarik Black/Nico Collins trio, Ronnie Bell stood out in that group and should continue that success this year. Add in Sainristil, Jackson, and Chris Evans as a receiving back and you have a pretty solid group that should offer plenty of options for the quarterback
With Nico Collins now pursuing an NFL career I’m highly interested in Michigan’s young receiving group. Ronnie Bell is now the seasoned vet, Giles Jackson may be ready for a breakout season, the same can be said for Cornelius Johnson. Don’t count out Mike Sainristil to be a major contributor as well. Losing Collins is a blow to the depth of the unit, but it still has talent. It’ll be interesting to see the rapport the wideouts develop with Milton or McNamara.
The offensive line is a group that I am really looking forward to watching this year. It might be daunting on paper to have to replace four of five starters — all are in the NFL now — from last season. However, this is as good as Michigan has felt about its offensive line depth since Jim Harbaugh has been the head coach and they are helmed by one of the best position coaches in the country in Ed Warriner. I think that people will be pleasantly surprised by how well this group comes together compared to some of the other positions on the roster filling the void with youth and inexperience.
Which group are the fans and readers most looking forward to? Sound off and keep the conversation going in the comments below.