|Allen Gant looked a bit like a linebacker in high school|
Starter Jake Ryan was lost for at least half the season with an ACL injury he suffered in the spring. Michigan has already moved junior defensive end Brennen Beyer, who played SAM as a freshman in 2011, back to the position. Beyer started at the "new" position in the spring game over fifth year senior Cam Gordon. The only freshman slated to possibly play the SAM position is Mike McCray II, who may be a little small, too.
I have always thought Gant was a little too stiff to be a long-term answer at safety, so the move to linebacker makes a little bit of sense. However, he's currently listed at 6'2" and 203 lbs., so even if he adds 5-10 lbs. this summer, he'll still be too light to be a viable option to replace Ryan anytime this year. Steve Brown held down a SAM-like position in 2009 at about 208 lbs., but Brown was a better athlete and playing in a different scheme.
For reasons unbeknownst to me, Beyer looks like the interim starter with Gordon a close second. Here's how things appear to shape up until Jake Ryan returns:
SAM: Brennen Beyer (Jr.), Cameron Gordon (5th), Allen Gant (RS Fr.), Mike McCray II (Fr.), Mark Lawson (RS Fr.)
As for what this move does to the safety position, I don't think it changes much. Fifth year senior Thomas Gordon is the likely starter at strong safety this year, and the heir apparent at the position is freshman Dymonte Thomas, who will quite possibly start at slot corner this fall. I also thought that Gant's classmate Jeremy Clark looked like a better safety option, so Clark may be the next man in at SS this fall. Redshirt junior Josh Furman also may be a backup option there, and incoming freshman Delano Hill will likely end up as a safety before all is said and done (Hill was told he would get a shot to play corner first). Here's what the strong safety position looks like, more or less:
SS: Thomas Gordon (5th), Jeremy Clark (RS Fr.), Josh Furman (RS Jr.), Delano Hill (Fr.)