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.
Donovan Jeter, redshirt JR
247 Composite Ranking: 4 stars (SDE 12, Overall 289)
2019 Stats: 10 games played
Every class there are players who feel like they have been around Ann Arbor for ages but have yet to really make an impact. Donovan Jeter is certainly one of these names, a solid recruit who just has not been able to produce at Michigan. After a few appearances as a redshirt freshman and sophomore, the time has come for him to really step up.
The depth chart at defensive tackle remains open, but it might be now or never for Jeter. Highly touted second-year players Chris Hinton and Mazi Smith are still developing but will only grow in their roles going forward. If Jeter wants to have a role on this defense, he will need to show some big improvements in 2020.
What can Jeter bring to the defensive tackle rotation?
It seemed like Jeter was a good candidate to be a part of the tackle rotation last year, but he never was able to see consistent playing time. He is one of the players who coaches spoke highly of in the offseason, but this did not translate to the field. Part of it could be due to the limited usage of defensive tackles in favor of an additional linebacker or edge, but if he was up to the task the playing time would have followed.
Jeter looks like someone who should be a capable tackle, showing great quickness and shiftiness at the line. With his motor and footwork, the redshirt junior looks the part of someone that can effectively rush the passer from the defensive tackle position while still being a factor in the run game. This has yet to play itself out on the field, but from a physical standpoint it seems possible.
Though he has some seniority, Jeter will likely start the year on the depth chart behind both Hinton and Smith. There will definitely be some rotation which should open up the possibility for some snaps, but the onus will be on him to really make an impact when he is able to get on the field. Michigan would be wise to prioritize the potential of the exciting second years, so all else equal, Jeter may not be the favored option.
Just because he has not been successful to date does not preclude Jeter from having a quality 2020. Again, coaches and teammates have talked positively about him in the past, and he should get the opportunities to produce this fall. However, even though the position group is unproven, he will have to earn any extended look, as there is not much from his first three seasons that stands out right now.