We’re are cruising through the linebackers this week at Maize n Brew, but the new 2022 roster on the Michigan Wolverines website saw some new positionsaw some players get a new position listing.
Tyler McLaurin, the redshirt freshman from Bollingbrook, Illinois, is now listed as an edge over the linebacker spot we saw him take a few snaps at last season. Let’s dig into his journey to Ann Arbor and some expectations for the 2022 season.
The story so far
McLaurin was a three-star prospect, and scouts loved his measurables. He was a big 6-foot-2 and was imposing on the high school football field because of it. Coaches have also raved of his IQ and instincts on the field. The biggest knock on him was he wasn’t the fastest.
McLaurin’s first season with the program was like most true freshmen — he was redshirted and saw just one game of action in the blowout of Northern Illinois early in the season. But he still impressed in practices earning him the Scout Team Defensive Player of the Week honor twice during the season.
Outlook for 2022
Usually guys will swap positions on defense for two reasons. First is just a natural fit in another spot. Second is there is heat underneath them for their current position on the depth chart, and somewhere else might be a little lighter.
In McLaurin’s case, I would take the former. Depth at MIKE and WILL linebacker is lacking behind Junior Colson and Nikhai Hill-Green and veteran Mike Barrett, especially since Kalel Mullings is being tested at running back along with linebacker. Leaving him there would have been more beneficial depth-wise for the Wolverines.
Now at SAM/edge/whatever you want to call it, McLaurin is in a VERY deep room. Mike Morris, Taylor Upshaw, Jaylen Harrell, Braiden McGregor, T.J. Guy and Julius Welschof are all probably in front of him. However, since McLaurin is up to a few notches over 230 pounds and is listed at 6-foot-3, he could continue to put on muscle and be an impressive player on the strong side down the road.
I expect McLaurin to get some playing time this season, more than likely a few more snaps than last year, and likely have all those snaps in situations where the game has been decided. If he impresses and continues to put in the work in practice, perhaps he can continue to earn more opportunities come 2023.