The success of the Michigan Wolverines offense in 2021 will rely on the play of a line that has a nice mixture of experience and talent. Fifth-year senior Andrew Stueber possesses both of those traits.
Entering his final year of eligibility, Stueber and his versatility should play a key role in the group in 2021. Let’s examine how we have gotten here with the veteran lineman and what is to come.
The story so far
Stueber came into Ann Arbor as a three-star recruit and the No. 365 prospect in the 2017 class. The 6-foot-7 tackle came in heavily recruited because not only was he talented on the field, but he was also a wiz in the classroom. He chose Michigan over the likes of Harvard, Yale, Duke, Penn State, Notre Dame and Tennessee.
He did not get much playing time in his first season at Michigan, but things started cooking for him in year two. As a sophomore, Stueber earned his first varsity letter after appearing in every game with the special teams unit. He also played 11 games at right tackle and left guard and made two starts for an offensive line that struggled to protect the quarterback.
Hopes were high as a redshirt sophomore for Stueber as he was battling with Jalen Mayfield for the starting right tackle gig. Unfortunately, he tore his ACL before the season started and was out for the remainder of the year. Mayfield won the job and eventually became the NFL talent that he is.
His quest for a starting role was finally met in 2020, but in a different capacity than he expected.
Jalen Mayfield had the right side of the line set and Ryan Hayes emerged as the favorite for the left tackle job. Ed Warinner decided to plug the redshirt junior in at right guard. The position was less natural for the 6-foot-7, 339 tackle but he would not stay there for long. After Mayfield went down with an injury in Week 2, Stueber was bumped back outside to the right tackle position. He started the remaining four games of the season on the outside and was an Academic Big Ten honoree in the process.
Outlook for 2021
The 2021 offensive line is starting to take shape, and Andrew Stueber seems to be a lock to be a starter somewhere on the line. Jim Harbaugh mentioned that he liked the versatility that the redshirt senior brings to the table with experience at both guard position and right tackle in an interview with Jon Jansen on the In The Trenches Podcast.
If it was up to Stueber, he’d be the starting right tackle, but as long as he has a role on the team, he is going to be happy:
“Tackle I’m most natural at. I came in as a tackle,” Stueber said in March. “But at the end of the day, if the coaches want to put me inside more, I’ll do whatever to help the team, the unit — whatever benefits the most.” - From story at MLive.com
With veteran transfer Willie Allen’s decision to leave Ann Arbor, it seems to me that he understood there would not have been a starting role for him here. In all likelihood, Stueber will be on the right side while Hayes starts on the left.
Could someone like Karsen Barnhart make a late push and have Stueber move to the interior? Sure. But, Stueber started at right tackle for all of the spring practices. The position will be his unless someone takes it from him. If that does happen, Stueber will have his coaches and the experience behind him in a move back to the interior.