The defending Big Ten champs, the Michigan Wolverines, finally return tomorrow to host the Colorado State Rams. As they embark on their journey to defend their title, they’ll spend the first few weeks working through different lineups and schemes to find out what will lead them back to Indianapolis and the College Football Playoff.
This week, we’ll discuss which young players you’d like to see have some substantial playing time these first three games before the Wolverines enter their conference schedule.
After some crucial pieces moved on from last year’s squad, many discussions have centered around how the Wolverines can replace them. You can’t truly replace guys like Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo, but the Maize and Blue are fully capable of having others make the leap this season.
Though the assumption this could land on the upperclassmen is valid, we want to steer clear of that. The purpose of this discussion is to focus on the up-and-coming younger guys. Who can contend and compete among the starters early on? Who can show out during these non-conference games? Can they impress enough to play more this season?
Here’s what I think — one position that intrigues me the most is the wide receivers group. The room seems especially stacked this year. Michigan has a lot of variety and the starters seem locked up by those that have been around for some time. However, the first player I’d like to see a decent amount is true freshman Darrius Clemons.
Clemons has the potential to stand out in a crowded space. With good height and speed, he already drew attention from Michigan fans during the spring game this past April. While he caught three passes for 52 yards, the head turner came due to his 35-yard touchdown.
Expect Darrius Clemons to make some plays for Michigan as a freshman this season— Sidelines - Michigan 〽️ (@SSN_Michigan) May 7, 2022
6’3 frame with great speed, he has potential to be a DB killer pic.twitter.com/SB9TLCBixI
The other two players I want to see with extended time appear on defense, and next up is true freshman cornerback Will Johnson. This feels slightly like a cop out, as Johnson was a five-star out of high school and already is higher up on the depth chart, but we need all we can to ensure Michigan’s defense is as fiery as it was last year.
Johnson was the No. 15 overall recruit last cycle and ranked third among cornerbacks. Head coach Jim Harbaugh was quoted saying Johnson came to Michigan playing as “good as advertised.” He will compete with DJ Turner, Gemon Green and Mike Sainristil for playing time, but Johnson seems like the real deal.
Last but not least is true freshman edge Derrick Moore. With a position that has the biggest shoes to fill, Moore could see himself in a position to make a major impact these first few weeks. While competition will be fierce with guys like Mike Morris, Taylor Upshaw and Braiden McGregor, I’d like to see what the high sung praise is all about.
Much like the others on this list, Moore has caught the attention of the coaching staff in such a meaningful way that I trust to see a decent amount of him these first few games. Moore was a former top-50 recruit out of high school and has impressed many in Ann Arbor during fall camp.
We’ve gone in depth to provide insight into all the potential starters, but now we want to hear from you — who would you like to see play some decent minutes through these first three games? Maybe it’s an incoming freshman who’s resume looks like it could translate to playing time right away, or perhaps they are a rising sophomore or redshirted player who made an impression this offseason.
Share your thoughts and opinions with us in the comments below!