|Ricky Barnum (#56)
Weight: 292 lbs.
High school: Lake Gibson High School in Lakeland, FL
Position: Offensive line
Class: Redshirt junior
Jersey number: #56
Last year: I ranked Barnum #48 and said he would be a backup offensive guard. He substituted at guard in 2 games and at tackle in 1 game.
Barnum was a highly touted recruit coming out of high school in 2008. His role in college so far has been somewhat limited, partly by injuries and partly by four-year starter Stephen Schilling, who has since moved on to the San Diego Chargers. Another issue has been size - in three seasons he hasn't been heavier than 282 lbs., which will change this year. Additionally, Barnum played offensive tackle in high school and has practiced at four different positions in college: both guard spots, left tackle, and center. Those are a lot of things to overcome, but now he's a redshirt junior and has been running with the first unit since the spring.
Barnum is a good pass blocker with excellent feet. He's lower to the ground than most defensive linemen, which allows him to keep leverage, but he's quite undersized for a Big Ten offensive guard. Head coach Brady Hoke would like to return to a power running game at Michigan, but that might be difficult with a front five that's somewhat lacking in size. Even the biggest of the bunch is barely over 300 lbs. Due to the lack of size up front and a quarterback who excelled in the spread offense last season, it seems that Michigan might be headed for more of a spread look than Hoke wants people to believe. If that's the case, then Barnum should be a decent fit at left guard. But if Hoke lines up and wants to play smash-mouth football game after game, the lack of size on the interior might prove quite daunting. The Wolverines can still run power like Hoke insists they'll do because he has two guards (the other being Patrick Omameh) who move extremely well, but expect to see more finesse than the road graders you've seen in Michigan's highlight films from the '90s and early '00s.
Prediction: Starting left guard