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Carlo Kemp was a much-needed returner on the defensive line

The fifth-year senior is the only defensive tackle with any track record.

Michigan v Maryland Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

There are many uncertainties surrounding college football right now. The 2020 season is still in jeopardy, and even if a season does occur it will do so in empty stadiums with a conference-only schedule. Still, it is never too early to take a look at the Michigan depth chart and the players slated to contribute whenever football does resume. Join us as we comb through the roster and answer key questions heading into this fall.

Carlo Kemp, RS SR

247 Composite Ranking: 4 stars (SDE 15, Overall 310)
2019 Stats: 40 tackles, 4.5 TFL, 2.0 sack, 1 FR

There have been some impressive defensive tackles at Michigan over the past few years, but the 2020 season could be an interesting one at the position. There is not a whole lot of experience among the group, and while the Wolverines can often get by with just having one at the field at a time, the position’s importance should not be overlooked.

Thankfully, the well is not completely dry. Carlo Kemp is returning for his fifth season with multiple years of starting experience under his belt. There is definitely a dropoff behind him, and he is not the perfect nose tackle, but getting a defensive captain back at a position with few knowns is a huge boost heading into this fall.

Does getting Kemp back cover up enough of the gap at defensive tackle?

Kemp started out as an edge, but bulked up and made the switch to tackle two years ago. He has been a consistent starter since then and is perhaps one of the more modest staples of the defense since then. Nose tackles are not often the focal point of highlights, and admittedly he is not the most talented or flashiest player on the defense. However, his role is vitally important to the unit.

Ever since enrolling, Kemp has shown year-over-year improvement. Getting him back to start for a third consecutive season should not be overlooked. The 3-3-5 defense plays with just one tackle in the base set by definition, and this puts a ton of responsibility on the tackle to support both the defensive ends and the linebackers behind him. Having a veteran that knows this scheme is invaluable.

The coaches have always talked up Kemp, and he teammates appear to value him too, as he was voted captain last season. His greatest skill may be his football IQ and understanding of how to play within his size and ability. He is the definition of reliable, which is necessary given the lack of other tackles with much experience, and he will not weigh down players like Aidan Hutchinson and Kwity Paye, who will be lining up on either side of him.

Kemp is a good player who does his job every week, but he is not a superstar. The hope is that he can continue his progression and bring another layer out of his game, even in his fifth year, but his ceiling is not as high as some of his teammates’. Still, Michigan is fortunate that he retained his eligibility, and he offers a stability at tackle that is unlikely to be found elsewhere on the roster.