Michigan offensive line coach Ed Warriner has consistently done a magnificent job since taking over in Ann Arbor and has helmed one of the most improved position groups in America. The guys up front have flipped from one of the worst in the Big Ten to among the best in the conference in the last two years. Only one man from the 2019 season returns in left tackle Jalen Mayfield after his other four linemates were selected in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Mayfield is already being hyped as one of the best tackles in the Big Ten this season and has even earned some recognition by scouting services as a potential first-round pick in the 2021 class. Head coach Jim Harbaugh in a Zoom call with the local beat reporters on Wednesday said the outside media aren’t the only one’s expecting big things from him:
“Expectations are (really) high. He looks great. Since Jalen Mayfield has been here, every time I watch the film of practice, I like watching No. 73. That is a thing. I like the way he plays. I like watching him play football. I think, so far, the offseason indicates he’s going to be even better. Super excited for him and his opportunity this year... Jalen Mayfield looks phenomenal as a tackle, as a football player. He’s another example of somebody who’s done a great job this entire offseason.”
While Mayfield is going to be a sure thing at tackle this season, there are still four other vacancies to fill on the Michigan offensive line. The only other offensive lineman in the depth chart with in-game experience on the offensive line are Ryan Hayes, Andrew Vastardis, Chuck Filiaga, Karsen Barnhart, and Andrew Stueber. Harbaugh previewed them and others who could make a difference this season:
“Ryan Hayes is somebody that’s gained experience. Started at left tackle. Expect really good things from him. Center: Zach Carpenter, Andrew Vastardis. Anticipate those two guys battling it out there and do a great job. The guard position, there’s gonna be a few guys. Chuck Filiaga’s looking good, doing great. He’s developed. I think he’s ready to play. Karsen Barnhart would be another there at guard. Andrew Stueber will be back and is back from his ACL injury he had last year. He’s looking good. There are some really good guys in there and they’ll be battling for those positions. Overall, I would say it looks good, both from a strength standpoint, really good length there and the athleticism is really good in that group.”
For those who forgot, Stuebner was in a battle with Mayfield for the starting right tackle role before the start of the 2019 season. Had he not suffered that ACL injury, he may have earned the gig.
Although there is not a ton of experience remaining on the offensive line, there is still hope that they can compete well with the top defensive lineman in the country that comes out of the Big Ten, and Harbaugh trusts the guy who is in charge of making sure they will do just that, “Ed Warinner does a great job coaching them and we’ll know more as we start getting them together.”