With four out of the five starters gone from last year’s offensive line, Ed Warinner has his work cut out for him this season.
There is a lot of talent waiting their turn, and for some of them it will be their turn this year. With the way Warinner has recruited the position the last couple years, things are looking pretty good, but we just haven’t seen any of them muster up much playing time. There are some questions here, but the potential is also there.
Here is my full two-deep depth chart prediction.
LT — Ryan Hayes, RS SO
The Traverse City native has waited patiently for his shot at the starting gig. Before this, he had to massively bulk up his 252-pound body he had when he got to Michigan. Now weighing 302 pounds, and getting snaps in 12 games last season, Hayes is ready to take on the Big Ten’s best defensive linemen.
With Jon Runyan off to the NFL, the time has come for Hayes to be the starting left tackle at the University of Michigan.
Backup LT — Jeffrey Persi, FR
The lone true freshman on this list, Persi is a true left tackle all the way. At 6-foot-7 and 302 pounds, per U-M’s website, he already has the frame and weight to play the position. With Hayes in front of him, he likely won’t have many, if any, opportunities at playing time in 2020. But if Hayes has a monster season and decides to go pro, Persi would likely be the next man up at left tackle.
LG — Chuck Filiaga, RS JR
The 6-foot-6, 345-pound Texas native has mostly played at left guard in college, and that is exactly where he continues to work at, at least according to Hayes when speaking with reporters in September. He is competing for the starting job with redshirt freshman Trevor Keegan, another highly-touted lineman coming out of high school.
Filiaga is one of the veteran presences on the offensive line, so if this year isn’t his year to earn consistent starting time, it is fair to question if that time will ever come. I will pencil him in for now, but wouldn’t be surprised to see Keegan win the job.
Backup LG — Trevor Keegan, RS FR
Keegan was the sixth and final addition to Michigan’s 2019 offensive line class. The 6-foot-6, 327-pounder was a consensus four-star player and the No. 1 ranked player in the state of Illinois in his class.
He did not see any action on the field last year, but not many freshmen offensive linemen did. If he does not win the starting job this year, I would expect him to get a few games in here and there and then have a better shot at the starting job in 2021.
C — Andrew Vastardis, RS SR
In four seasons, Vastardis has appeared in 13 games, mostly as a reserve offensive lineman. He has played at center and right guard, so he has some versatility. He began his career at U-M as a walk-on and earned a scholarship last season.
Earlier this year, I thought Zach Carpenter would have been named the starter, but it is Vastardis who has taken advantage of the opportunity. It sounds like Carpenter has been dealing with something this offseason, so until more is said about this position battle, I will give the starting nod to Vastardis.
Backup C — Zach Carpenter, RS FR
Carpenter is another big, athletic offensive lineman at 6-foot-5 and 329 pounds. He was named Michigan’s Offensive Scout Player of the Year as a true freshman, was the first junior captain in his high school’s history and just the third player to start on varsity all four years at Archbishop Moeller High School in Cincinnati.
If he was healthy enough to play, I believe Carpenter would be the starter. Perhaps Carpenter can continue to compete for the job when he gets fully healthy, but until then, I have him penciled in as the backup.
RG — Andrew Stueber, RS JR
Stueber was competing for the right tackle job last year up until he tore his ACL, knocking him out for the entire 2019 season. Luckily for the Wolverines, they had another guy by the name of Jalen Mayfield who played pretty well.
Stueber has a real shot here. He competed heavily for that right tackle job with Mayfield a season ago. Had it not been for that injury, he very well may have won it. He is a highly competitive guy who Warinner has a lot of faith in. It would be awesome to see Stueber come back from a torn ACL and pick up where he left off.
Backup RG — Nolan Rumler, RS FR
Rumler was one of Michigan’s first commits of the 2019 class, and he stayed true to that commitment through the entire cycle.
The Akron, Ohio native is a big boy — 6-foot-3 and 328 pounds. He also did not see the field last year, but is another talented young guy who could see his first collegiate snaps in 2020.
RT — Jalen Mayfield, JR
Nuff said. Moving on.
Backup RT — Karsen Barnhart, RS FR
Barnhart has been talked about more than any of the others in the 2019 offensive line class since they first stepped on campus. The Paw Paw, Michigan native got some run on the line last season, playing two games at left tackle.
At 6-foot-4 and 301 pounds, Barnhart is definitely athletic enough to play left tackle. But because Hayes is the starter right now, it would be wise to put Barnhart somewhere else if he is truly one of the five best guys on the line right now. Hayes mentioned Barnhart getting run at right tackle, so it seems he is destined for that this season.