|Ben Braden (image via MWolverine.com)|
Weight: 322 lbs.
High school: Rockford (MI) Rockford
Position: Offensive tackle
Class: Redshirt sophomore
Jersey number: #71
Last year: I ranked Braden #23 and said he would start at left guard. He played in two games as a backup lineman.
Last year things were looking good for Braden coming out of the spring. He had every chance to play and spent the spring as the starting left guard. Then once the season started . . . nothing. I pegged him coming out of high school as too tall and stiff to be a guard, and maybe he was. That opened the door for Graham Glasgow (who eventually moved to center), Chris Bryant, Erik Magnuson, and Kyle Bosch to all start games at the left guard position. Even through that horrendous rotation, Braden remained on the sideline after the coaches appeared to realize that offensive guard just wasn't the right fit.
Michigan lost two offensive tackles (Taylor Lewan, Michael Schofield) to graduation, and fellow redshirt sophomore Erik Magnuson looks poised to take Lewan's spot at left tackle. That leaves a potential battle at right tackle, where Braden would seem to be the odds-on favorite. However, Glasgow spent some time at right tackle in the spring, and there's a chance that he could supplant Braden at tackle if Jack Miller or Patrick Kugler can provide consistency at center. Recent comments from last year's opponents and scuttlebutt from Schembechler Hall say that Glasgow is probably Michigan's best lineman, so it will be a priority to get him on the field once he returns from a one-game suspension. If Miller or Kugler is the starter at center in week two, then Braden will probably find himself on the sideline yet again. Regardless, Braden should be a valuable player as the #2 or #3 tackle; not only could an injury at tackle put him into the lineup, but an injury on the interior could cause a reshuffling that sends Glasgow back to the middle and Braden onto the field.
Prediction: Starting right tackle