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Daily Brews: Preseason Big Ten Awards and lofty expectations are piling up for Michigan

Athlon Sports released two sets of favorable predictions for the Wolverines in 2022.

NCAA Football: Orange Bowl-Georgia at Michigan Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

The college football offseason provides a glimpse of what outsiders and insiders think about select programs and then place expectations upon them for the upcoming year.

Is it silly and unnecessary?

Yes. As we learned last season when the Michigan Wolverines began the year unranked in the AP Poll and subsequently won the Big Ten Championship and reached the College Football Playoff (the first team to ever to achieve this), nothing matters until the games are played.

Is it fun to debate, discuss and argue over arbitrary lists with rivals and friends alike? Hell yes!

Hypothetical and stake-less sports arguments are the lifeblood of sports. Now let’s see what some are saying and expecting from the Wolverines in 2022.

Athlon Sports Projected Final Rankings

*Athlon is projecting where teams will finish in 2022; this is NOT a preseason prediction*

No. 6 Michigan

Coming off a breakthrough year that resulted in a win over Ohio State, the program’s first Big Ten title since 2004, and a trip to the CFB Playoff, Michigan has a few major question marks to address - but also plenty of returning pieces to suggest another run at the top four is within reach. The personnel turnover is greater on defense with the departure of ends Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo, linebacker Josh Ross and defensive backs Dax Hill, Brad Hawkins and Vincent Gray. Also, coordinator Mike Macdonald returned to the NFL, prompting coach Jim Harbaugh to hire Jesse Minter - also a former Baltimore assistant similar to Macdonald - as the team’s new signal-caller. With the defense under renovation, Michigan’s offense is the strength of the ‘22 squad. However, there is a big change on the staff, as Josh Gattis left for Miami, with Matt Weiss and Sherrone Moore taking over the play-calling and co-coordinator duties. J.J. McCarthy and Cade McNamara give the offense two very capable quarterbacks, and Donovan Edwards and Blake Corum should rank among the nation’s best running back duos. The Wolverines have plenty of capable receivers, including Ronnie Bell returning from injury, Cornelius Johnson, Andrel Anthony, Roman Wilson and tight end Erick All. Two starters depart a standout offensive line, but the arrival of Oluwatimi (from Virginia) at center should ensure the drop-off is minimal. The Big Ten East is likely to be decided in The Game versus Ohio State. However, even if Michigan falls short in that matchup, 11-1 might be good enough for this team to make the playoff again.”

Rest of the Big Ten: No. 2 Ohio State, No. 14 Michigan State, No. 19 Wisconsin, No. 25 Penn State

Athlon Sports Projected Big Ten All-Conference Players

*Michigan leads all Big Ten teams with 17 selections

First-Team Wolverines:

All-Purpose Back: Blake Corum

Left Tackle: Ryan Hayes

Defensive Tackle: Mazi Smith

Kicker: Jake Moody

Second-Team Wolverines:

All-Purpose Back: Donovan Edwards

Center: Olusegun Oluwatimi

Right Guard: Zak Zinter

Third-Team Wolverines:

Wide Receiver: Ronnie Bell

Tight End: Erick All

Left Guard: Trevor Keegan

Linebacker: Junior Colson

Cornerback: DJ Turner

Punt Returner: AJ Henning

Fourth-Team Wolverines:

Wide Receiver: Cornelius Johnson

Defensive Tackle: Kris Jenkins

Punter: Brad Robbins

Kick Returner: Blake Courm

Ambry Thomas is JACKED!

Former Wolverine and current San Francisco 49ers cornerback Ambry Thomas really hit the weight room this offseason.

The second-year player became a starter late in the season as a rookie and played his best football when it mattered the most.

With a playoff spot hanging in the balance, Thomas provided the game-sealing — and his first career — interception to beat the Los Angeles Rams.

When the 49ers faced the Rams again in the NFC Championship, Thomas lead the team with a career high 10-tackle performance, albeit in a loss.

The 49ers have title aspirations again in 2022 and Thomas will be a critical role in their success.