This week, Maize n Brew staff members were asked about players on this year’s football team that are dark horses on each side of the ball. Here’s what a sampling of our contributors had to say about their picks as fall camp wraps up.
Who is your dark horse player on the offensive side of the ball and why?
Von Lozon: AJ Henning. Not much has been talking about him compared to other receivers, but he has an opportunity to really shine this year with the transfer of Giles Jackson. He could also be a dynamic return man, so keep an eye on him this year.
Andrew Bailey: Senior transfer wide receiver Daylen Baldwin. This guy exploded in the spring under the guidance of head coach Deion Sanders at Jackson State. I expect the transfer to be a starter before the year is over with his combination of size, speed, and nose for the end zone.
Matt Eifert: Erick All. All was the focal point of many fans’ angst last year due to some untimely drops. However, the raw talent is there and waiting to be unleashed. With another year of development under his belt and some more consistency, I think All could have a breakout year at tight end.
Scotty White: Watch for Mike Sainristil to have a nice year. He showed bursts last year and I think his speed is going to give the offense a needed spark.
Anthony Broome: Roman Wilson might have the purest home-run hitting ability in the wide receiver room and is a track star. If he can develop a little bit more and get some more looks his way, I still think he has the highest upside of any of the wideouts in that room. This offense needs an infusion of explosion down the field and he could provide that.
Who is your dark horse player on the defensive side of the ball and why?
Von Lozon: RJ Moten. Unlike my selection for offense, Moten has received plenty of hype this offseason but isn’t in line for a starting job at safety. I expect him to be one of the first off the bench and make the most of his playing time.
Andrew Bailey: Defensive end Braiden McGregor. The highly touted four-star recruit enters his second season at Michigan (finally) 100% healthy. McGregor has a meanness about him on the defensive side of the ball and every snap sees him set out with bad intentions. This isn’t a tickling competition. I expect him to become a third-down, ‘NASCAR’ speed rushing package specialist this season.
Matt Eifert: Nikhai Hill-Green. He was a bit of a forgotten man in his recruiting class but rumors out of Ann Arbor are that he’s pushing Michael Barrett for a starting linebacker spot. Hill-Green is a thumping linebacker who fits well in Mike Macdonald’s new system and has drawn praise from the coaching staff this offseason.
Scotty White: Mazi Smith should have a big year. Coaches are high on him and I think he can dominate the line with his size
Anthony Broome: It has long been assumed that Mike Barrett would get the starting gig next to Josh Ross in the middle of the defense. But Nikhai Hill-Green has had an outstanding camp and is coming on quickly. We should start to get used to hearing his name.