Saturday, July 20, 2024

2024 Season Countdown: #84 Joel Metzger

 

Joel Metzger (image via Umich CSE)

Name: Joel Metzger
Height: 
6’1"
Weight: 
226 lbs.
High school:
 Battle Creek (MI) Lakeview
Position: 
Linebacker
Class: 
Redshirt sophomore
Jersey number: 
#54
Last year:
 I ranked Metzger #114 and said he would be a backup linebacker (LINK). He played in two games on special teams.
TTB Rating:
 N/A

Metzger redshirted in 2022 but had a pretty decent couple years for a redshirt freshman walk-on. Not only did he play in two games last year, but he was named Special Teams Scout Team Player of the Year in 2022. That seems to be a good upward trajectory for a young player, going from scout team player of the year to getting in two games. One would expect him to play even more in 2024. I still don't think he'll be a factor in the linebacker rotation, but he seems to be developing into a solid player. We'll see if new special teams coach J.B. Brown thinks of him in the same way as the departed Jay Harbaugh.

Prediction: Backup linebacker, special teamer

Friday, July 19, 2024

2024 Season Countdown: #85 Cole Sullivan

 

Cole Sullivan

Name: Cole Sullivan
Height: 
6’3"
Weight: 
215 lbs.
High school:
Pittsburgh (PA) Central Catholic
Position: 
Linebacker
Class: 
Freshman
Jersey number: 
#18
Last year:
 Sullivan was a senior in high school (LINK). He made 105 tackles, 7 tackles for loss, 4 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 3 fumble recoveries, and 3 blocked punts; he also caught 36 passes for 450 yards and 9 touchdowns.
TTB Rating:
 87

Linebacker might not be the sexiest position, but Sullivan might be the most tantalizing prospect in the class of 2024. Lots of comparisons have been made between Sullivan and former Michigan linebacker/tight end/defensive end Chase Winovich, who made 44.5 tackles for loss and 18 sacks during his time in Ann Arbor before becoming a 3rd round pick of the New England Patriots. Winovich started as a linebacker, bounced to tight end, and then finally settled in at defensive end, where his non-stop motor helped him terrorize opposing quarterbacks. Sullivan is the same height (6'3") but a little bit lighter.

That's not to say that Sullivan will be a defensive end, though I think he could be an outside linebacker in Michigan's defensive system. I think Sullivan is a little better of an athlete than Winovich. Whether he has the same tenacity remains to be seen. Regardless, 215 pounds is pretty light for most positions on defense. He's probably a year away from seeing the field much because of that lack of bulk, but Michigan could potentially use his athleticism on special teams. If preserving eligibility isn't a concern, I would love to use someone like Sullivan on kickoff or punt coverage units. Much like Jimmy Rolder last year, I would expect to see Sullivan play in up to four games while still keeping his redshirt.

Prediction: Redshirt

Thursday, July 18, 2024

2024 Season Countdown: #86 Dale Chesson

 

Dale Chesson

Name: Dale Chesson
Height: 
6’0"
Weight: 
190 lbs.
High school: 
St. Louis (MO) Ladue Horton Watkins
Position: 
Wide receiver
Class: 
Sixth year senior
Jersey number: 
#84
Last year:
I did not rank Chesson. He did not play.
TTB Rating:
 N/A

Chesson is one of the oddest roster additions in recent years, making an under-the-radar appearance over the summer in 2023. The younger brother of former Michigan - and NFL - receiver Jehu Chesson, I was aware of when he was coming out of high school several years ago. But his size and athleticism weren't on the same level as Jehu's, so Dale went to a school without much of an academic reputation called . . . Dartmouth. He had an impressive showing as a junior in 2021 with 21 catches for 259 yards and 2 touchdowns in just four games, but he barely played in 2022 and then just happened to appear on Michigan's roster in 2023.

He didn't get on the field during the 2023 season, but he did get a ring, so that's nice.

Michigan needs help at receiver in 2024, but I'm not sure it will come from Chesson. For being a sixth year senior, he really doesn't have a ton of production to his name (29 catches, 341 yards, 2 touchdowns) and he also doesn't add much size to a receiving crew that is lacking most in the size department. The Wolverines had a bunch of small receivers, and their lone answer for adding size was a skinny, 6'3" Amorion Walker. Chesson doesn't really answer any questions that Michigan had going into the off-season. But he could potentially step in on some special teams units or perhaps take a few snaps that could help a freshman or two preserve a redshirt.

Prediction: Backup wide receiver

2024 Season Countdown: #87 Jacob Oden

 

Jacob Oden (image via Twitter)

Name: Jacob Oden
Height: 
6’1″
Weight: 
206 lbs.
High school: 
Harper Woods (MI) Harper Woods
Position: 
Safety
Class: 
Freshman
Jersey number: 
#5
Last year: 
Oden was a senior in high school (LINK). He made 56 tackles, 4 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries, and 14 pass breakups while scoring 2 defensive touchdowns.
TTB Rating:
 80

Oden is the son of a former walk-on fullback at Michigan, so the recruitment did not seem to be a difficult one. He was an ardent member of the 2024 class even when Jim Harbaugh was headed to the NFL. But Oden wasn't just a legacy recruit. He finished as a 247 Composite 4-star, the #27 safety, and #293 overall while also fielding offers from Auburn, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and others.

Oden enrolled early and could be on track to play some this season. In fact, he might have been one of the top few safeties if not for some late developments, such as landing Wesley Walker (Tennessee) and Jaden Mangham (Michigan State), while also securing the return of Quinten Johnson. That affords Oden a little more time to develop. He seems to have put on some good weight since his junior year, and Michigan now lists him at 206 pounds, which is good bulk for someone who's 6'1". Michigan now has the numbers to let Oden redshirt, but considering that he might be in line to start in 2025 (Makari Paige, Rod Moore, Johnson, and Walker could all move on), the coaching staff may want to get him some on-field experience.

Prediction: Backup safety

Wednesday, July 17, 2024

2024 Season Countdown: #88 Alessandro Lorenzetti

 

Alessandro Lorenzetti

Name: Alessandro Lorenzetti
Height: 
6’5″
Weight: 
301 lbs.
High school: 
Windsor (CT) Loomis Chaffee
Position: 
Defensive tackle
Class: 
Redshirt sophomore
Jersey number: 
#89
Last year: 
I ranked Lorenzetti #110 and said he would be a backup defensive tackle (LINK). He did not play.
TTB Rating:
 85

So far in his career, Alessandro Lorenzetti has helped me look a little silly for giving him a TTB Rating of 85 as an offensive lineman. I loved the quickness and consistency of his feet as an offensive lineman, even if he was coming from Canada and Connecticut, where the competition isn't necessarily great. By his second year on campus, he was moved to defensive tackle and has been far enough down the depth chart that he hasn't seen the field on either side of the ball.

Now going into year three, there's still no buzz about Lorenzetti. Michigan does need some rotational pieces after Kris Jenkins and Cam Goode both moved on, and the Wolverines tried to find defensive tackle depth in the transfer portal. Behind Kenneth Grant and Mason Graham, the depth chart gets a little fuzzy, especially if Rayshaun Benny isn't fully recovered from his broken ankle. It would be very surprising to see Lorenzetti jump up into the second-team realm, but there's a chance he could see some mop-up duty. On the plus side, he's up from 289 pounds to 301, so if a lack of bulk was holding him back, perhaps he's one step closer to getting on the field. Hopefully he can at least be helpful on the practice field, and perhaps his outlook will improve if Graham and Grant move on to the NFL after this season.

Prediction: Backup defensive tackle

2024 Season Countdown: #89 Owen Wafle

 

Owen Wafle

Name: Owen Wafle
Height: 
6’2″
Weight: 
280 lbs.
High school: 
Princeton (NJ) The Hun School
Position: 
Defensive tackle
Class: 
Freshman
Jersey number: 
N/A
Last year: 
Wafle was a senior in high school (LINK). He made 16 tackles and 10 tackles for loss.
TTB Rating:
 73

Wafle was a flip from Notre Dame and is known for his quickness and versatility. He could play defensive tackle or perhaps defensive end, and I even threw out the idea that he could end up as a fullback. He has a younger brother, Luke, who is a top-200 player being recruited by Michigan as an edge player and a tight end end by various schools for 2026. Versatility is the name of the game in the Wafle household.

Owen Wafle is one of those guys who I could see working his way into playing time as a freshman. If Greg Mattison were still the defensive line coach, I would think Wafle would play early. I'm largely unfamiliar with how new defensive line coach Lou Esposito will rotate and reward his guys, so that's a question mark. It would be a huge surprise for Wafle to make a big impact in 2024, but he could get a little bit of playing time to prepare him for 2025, when there's a good chance that both Mason Graham and Kenneth Grant will be in the NFL.

Prediction: Redshirt

2024 Season Countdown: #90 I'Marion Stewart

 

I'Marion Stewart (image via 247 Sports)

Name: I'Marion Stewart
Height: 
5'11"
Weight: 
180 lbs.
High school: 
Chicago (IL) Kenwood
Position: 
Wide receiver
Class: 
Freshman
Jersey number: 
N/A
Last year: 
Stewart was a senior in high school (LINK). He caught 38 passes for 909 yards and 9 touchdowns, and he ran 14 times for 128 yards and 3 touchdowns.
TTB Rating: 
80

Stewart is a diminutive wide receiver prospect who shows impressive speed on his high school film. He's listed at 5'10" and 180 pounds, which is approximately the same size as 2023 freshman contributor Semaj Morgan (5'10", 176). The new NCAA '25 video game (BUY IT HERE) gives Stewart a speed rating of 92, which is tied for fourth on the team. That speed shows through with numerous big plays and an average of 23.9 yards per catch. Stewart was ranked as a 4-star, the #50 wide receiver, and #309 overall in the 247 Composite.

Freshman wide receivers are perfectly capable of making an impact on the field, but the Wolverines brought in transfer portal options in the form of C.J. Charleston (Youngstown State) and Amorion Walker (Ole Miss) while also having young up-and-comers like Tyler Morris, Frederick Moore, and the aforementioned Morgan. Stewart could potentially factor in as a receiver or returner, but I'm guessing he will be similar to Karmello English, who caught 1 pass and had 1 punt return while playing in six games in 2023.

Prediction: Backup wide receiver

Tuesday, July 16, 2024

2024 Season Countdown: #91 Blake Frazier

 

Blake Frazier

Name: Blake Frazier
Height: 
6'6"
Weight: 
275 lbs.
High school: 
Austin (TX) Vandegrift
Position: 
Offensive tackle
Class: 
Freshman
Jersey number: 
#77
Last year: 
Frazier was a senior in high school (LINK).
TTB Rating: 
89

Blake Frazier is another legacy player at Michigan, and being a Michigan legacy means you're going to be awesome, just like Will Johnson and Aidan Hutchinson. There are absolutely no exceptions to that rule. The son of former center Steve Frazier, Blake committed in April of 2023 and remained solid through the coaching transition. Frazier ended the cycle as a 4-star, the #14 offensive tackle, and #169 overall in the 247 Composite rankings.

While he has length and athleticism, the spring game was a little bit rough. He had some flat-out whiffs and just kind of froze a couple times. I believe the recognition and reaction will speed up, but in April he was supposed to be worried about prom, not about 250 lb. 21-year-old men trying to beat him to the quarterback. This will probably be a redshirt year for Frazier. But there will be some openings along the offensive line in 2025 after Myles Hinton and Jeffrey Persi move on.

Prediction: Redshirt

Sunday, July 14, 2024

2024 Season Countdown: #92 Ben Roebuck

 

Ben Roebuck

Name: Ben Roebuck
Height: 
6'7"
Weight: 
330 lbs.
High school: 
Lakewood (OH) St. Edward's
Position: 
Offensive guard
Class: 
Freshman
Jersey number: 
N/A
Last year: 
Roebuck was a senior in high school (LINK).
TTB Rating: 
64

Roebuck is a mammoth offensive lineman who committed to the Wolverines in March of 2023. He and fellow Ohioan offensive lineman Luke Hamilton had some fun exchanges about Ohio State on Twitter, ingratiating them with Michigan fans. Players from Ohio who don't get recruited by OSU have a chip on their shoulders when it comes to the Buckeyes, which may help down the road.

Anyway, Roebuck finished the cycle as a 247 Composite 3-star, the #41 offensive tackle, and #539 overall player. I pointed out some issues in his original commitment post, and those issues still existed in his senior highlights: he's a huge player who doesn't really finish blocks with a lot of ferocity, and he's limited athletically (doesn't show a lot of foot quickness, doesn't bend particularly well, etc.).

After having played tackle in high school, I think Roebuck will have to move inside to guard. That should help mitigate some of the above issues. I had some of the same concerns about Michael Onwenu, and Onwenu played as a freshman, so perhaps Roebuck's size will be too overwhelming to keep off the field. Maybe he'll get a few snaps late in games. Ultimately, I'll think he'll play in four games or fewer and keep his redshirt.

Prediction: Redshirt

Thursday, July 11, 2024

Ivan Taylor, Wolverine

 

Winter Garden (FL) West Orange safety Ivan Taylor (image via Orange Observer)

Winter Garden (FL) West Orange safety Ivan Taylor flipped from Notre Dame to Michigan.

Taylor is listed at 6'0" and 174 pounds. As a junior in 2023, he made 45 tackles, 6 tackles for loss, 1 interception, 4 forced fumbles, and 1 pass breakup.

RANKINGS
ESPN: 4-star, 85 grade, #5 S, #41 overall
On3: 4-star, 92 grade, #14 S, #132 overall
Rivals: 4-star, 5.9 grade, #11 S, #102 overall
247 Sports: 4-star, 94 grade, #2 S, #41 overall

Hit the jump for more.

Wednesday, July 10, 2024

2024 Season Countdown: #93 Lugard Edokpayi

 

Lugard Edokpayi (image via SI)

Name: Lugard Edokpayi
Height: 
6'6"
Weight: 
225 lbs.
High school: 
Bowie (MD) Bishop McNamara
Position: 
Defensive end
Class: 
Freshman
Jersey number: 
N/A
Last year: 
Edokpayi was a senior in high school. He made 22 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, 5 sacks, and 5 pass breakups.
TTB Rating: 
84

Maybe it's just my perception, but Edokpayi is one of the most overlooked members of the 2024 class, especially because he's #152 overall in the 247 Composite. Michigan got a highly ranked edge rusher, and nobody seems to talk about him. And that includes me, because I never wrote a commitment post for him.

Edokpayi is a 6'6", 225 lb. athlete who made a somewhat obvious choice to pick Michigan; other suitors included Florida State, Minnesota, Rutgers, and Tennessee, so it wasn't exactly a who's-who of colleges, especially for a top-200 player. He only played in six games as a senior due to injury, so his numbers don't exactly jump out, either. Bishop McNamara also used him as a wide receiver, and while he shows decent speed, there's not a lot of smoothness to his ability to catch the football. I don't think he's in danger of being moved to tight end.

But Edokpayi does have a nice, natural stance and a good get-off. His first step is very good, and he shows some nice lateral quickness to keep offensive tackles guessing. 247 mentions him having an 84" wingspan, and when you combine that with his ability to dip his inside shoulder and use his quickness, I think Michigan has a very good prospect here. It will take some time for his strength to catch up to the rest of his attributes, so we're probably looking at a redshirt season. But if he's added some strength, he could be a dark horse to be one of those freshmen who makes 1 or 2 sacks and shows a glimpse of what's to come in the future.

Prediction: Redshirt

Tuesday, July 9, 2024

2024 Season Countdown: #94 Micah Ka'apana

 

Micah Ka'apana

Name: Micah Ka'apana
Height: 
5'11″
Weight: 
190 lbs.
High school: 
Las Vegas (NV) Bishop Gorman
Position: 
Running back
Class: 
Freshman
Jersey number: 
N/A
Last year: 
Ka'apana was a senior in high school (LINK). He ran for 732 yards and 9 touchdowns.
TTB Rating: 
66

One player with a tantalizing high school highlights reel is running back Micah Ka'apana. A product of Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas, he plays with a lot of other star players, so it's tough to gauge how well a player like him would produce on a more ho-hum team. But his junior highlights consist of a ton of long runs through huge holes. He averaged over 12 yards per carry that season and scored a total of 19 touchdowns on just 81 targets, which means he scored on almost 25% of his carries.

Michigan has usually been able to give at least three running backs a pretty good number of carries. With Donovan Edwards and Kalel Mullings likely to take a huge chunk of the touches, the real question is about who emerges as that third back. Some people are penciling in fellow freshman Jordan Marshall, while second-year player Ben Hall is also an intriguing option. Ka'apana is a speedy player with big-play potential, and he can catch the ball out of the backfield. Altogether, Michigan has a good mix of speedy players (Edwards, Ka'apana, Cole Cabana) and pound-the-rock types (Mullings, Hall, Marshall) to be able to do a variety of things with play calling and personnel. I think Ka'apana will probably get a few carries in mop-up duty if possible, but he's likely to play in four games or fewer so he can keep his redshirt.

Prediction: Redshirt

Sunday, July 7, 2024

2025 Recruiting Update: July 7, 2024

 

Kainoa Winston and Sherrone Moore

COMMITMENTS

I recently put up commitment posts for the following players:

  • RB Donovan Johnson (LINK)
  • RB Jasper Parker (LINK)
  • WR Jacob Washington (LINK)
  • OL Kaden Strayhorn (LINK)
  • DE Julius Holly (LINK)
  • LB Chase Taylor (LINK)
  • S Kainoa Winston (LINK)

OFF THE BOARD

Las Vegas (NV) Bishop Gorman offensive guard Seuseu Alofaituli (4-star, #3 IOL, #70 overall) committed to Miami. He had visited Michigan officially at the beginning of June and was a teammate of incoming freshman running back Micah Ka'apana.

Princeton (NJ) Hun School linebacker Kamar Archie (4-star, #32 LB, #286 overall) committed to Rutgers. He had visited Michigan several times and took an official to Ann Arbor in late June. There were rumors long ago that Michigan might be "too big of a stage" for his liking, so perhaps that was an important factor in his decision.

Hit the jump for more.

2024 Season Countdown: #95 Chibi Anwunah

 

Chibi Anwunah (image via ESPN)

Name: Chibi Anwunah
Height: 
6’5″
Weight: 
268 lbs.
High school: 
Canton (MI) Plymouth Christian
Position: 
Edge
Class: 
Redshirt sophomore
Jersey number: 
#95 #97
Last year: 
I ranked Anwunah #121 and said he would be a backup defensive end (LINK). He did not play.
TTB Rating: 
N/A

Anwunah has had a little bit of a ride during his college career so far, bouncing back and forth between the tight end and edge positions. Last year he was listed at 6'5" and 242 pounds, so he has put on 26 pounds since the previous weight update. That's a significant change and may indicate a little more readiness to play. At his height, it might be kind of difficult to see the field at 242, but 268 is a much more playable size.

The edge positions appear to be pretty set for this fall with Derrick Moore and Josaiah Stewart looking like the starters, and with people like Enow Etta, T.J. Guy, Cameron Brandt, and Kechaun Bennett all vying for playing time. Anwunah is unlikely to beat out many - if any - of those guys, but it's possible that he could get a few snaps if there are some blowout opportunities.

Prediction: Backup defensive end

Saturday, July 6, 2024

2024 Season Countdown: #96 Joshua Nichols

 

Joshua Nichols (image via Instagram)

Name: Joshua Nichols
Height: 
5’10”
Weight: 
196 lbs.
High school: 
Detroit (MI) Loyola
Position: 
Safety
Class: 
Redshirt sophomore
Jersey number: 
#29
Last year: 
I ranked Nichols #102 and said he would be a backup safety and special teamer (LINK). He did not play.
TTB Rating:
 N/A

Nichols came in as a decently talented safety, but he has yet to see the field at Michigan. Over two seasons on campus, he has been unable to crack the rotation or even end up on special teams, the latter of which I thought was pretty likely in 2023. This spring he got a bit of a bad rap when he was beaten for a long touchdown by redshirt freshman wide receiver Kendrick Bell, but that was a case where Nichols was forced into action at cornerback due to the split squad setup of the spring game.

Michigan has faced some departures at safety this off-season with guys like Keon Sabb transferring to Alabama and Rod Moore heading off to ACL rehab land. But they brought in reinforcements like Wesley Walker and Jaden Mangham, so Nichols isn't any further up the depth chart. His best bet is still getting on the field as a special teams guy. We'll see if year three pays off for him.

Prediction: Backup safety and special teamer

2024 Season Countdown: #97 Jadyn Davis

 

Jadyn Davis

Name: Jadyn Davis
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 203 lbs.
High school: Charlotte (NC) Providence Day
Position: Quarterback
Class: Freshman
Jersey number: #2
Last year: Davis was a senior in high school (LINK). He completed 204/288 (70.8%) of his passes for 3,370 yards, 43 touchdowns, and 9 interceptions, while also rushing for 3 touchdowns.
TTB Rating: 68

Davis was one of the highest profile commitments in Michigan's 2024 class. He finished the cycle ranked as a 4-star, the #9 quarterback, and #112 overall in the 247 Composite. Throwing the ball to Michigan commit and legacy Channing Goodwin - along with other elite players - Davis led his high school team to a state championship and put up great numbers, especially with completing 70.8% of his throws, which is superb for a high schooler.

Davis joins a team that is unlikely to use him this season. He enrolled early, but at a listed 6'1" and 203 pounds, he has some physical limitations. After considering what else Michigan has in the pipeline, I dropped his TTB Rating pretty precipitously from an 87 to a 68; with the transfer portal the way it is, I'm not sure Davis will hang around long enough to be a starter. Furthermore, Michigan has very little history of playing quarterbacks who are so slight but somewhat lacking in mobility; Denard Robinson was 6'1" but super fast and Shea Patterson (6'2", 202) was known for making plays with his legs. I see Davis as a 6'1" (but probably shorter) pocket quarterback, and that's just a tough thing to do at a place like Michigan with a bunch of 6'6" linemen.

Additionally, Michigan seems to have a three-way battle for the starting quarterback position, including Alex Orji, Jack Tuttle, and Davis Warren. Jadyn Davis would be a great scout team quarterback during the week, but if he gets on the field, it will likely only be in mop-up duty during a blowout or two. And considering that Orji and Warren both have eligibility into 2025 and beyond, Davis would likely have to bide his time for two or three years before having a legitimate shot to play.

Prediction: Redshirt

Thursday, July 4, 2024

Kainoa Winston, Wolverine

 

Kainoa Winston and Sherrone Moore (image via Rivals)

Washington (DC) Gonzaga safety Kainoa Winston committed to Michigan on June 14, 2024. He picked the Wolverines over offers from Florida, Georgia, LSU, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oregon, and Penn State, among others.

Winston is listed at 5'10" and 185 pounds. He reportedly holds the 200 meter dash record at Gonzaga with a time of 21.58.

RANKINGS
ESPN: 4-star, 84 grade, #4 S, #42 overall
On3: 4-star, 92 grade, #11 S, #103 overall
Rivals: 3-star, 5.7 grade, #36 S
247 Sports: 4-star, 94 grade, #3 S, #43 overall

Hit the jump for more.

Monday, July 1, 2024

Julius Holly, Wolverine

 

Alpharetta (GA) Alpharetta defensive end Julius Holly (image via Rivals)

Alpharetta (GA) Alpharetta defensive end Julius Holly committed to Michigan. He picked the Wolverines over offers from Georgia, Oklahoma, Ole Miss, and Texas A&M, among others.

Holly is listed at 6'3" and 230 pounds. As a junior in 2023, he made 57 tackles, 8 sacks, 3 pass breakups, and 1 forced fumble. He claims a 4.8 forty, a 4.63 shuttle, an 8'10" broad jump, and a 79.6" broad jump.

RANKINGS
ESPN:
4-star, 80 grade, #34 DE
On3: 4-star, 90 grade, #25 DE, #236 overall
Rivals: 4-star, 5.8 grade, #22 WDE
247 Sports: 3-star, 89 grade, #31 EDGE

Hit the jump for more.

Thursday, June 27, 2024

Jasper Parker, Wolverine

 

Jasper Parker and Sherrone Moore (image via Rivals)

Marrero (LA) Archbishop Shaw running back Jasper Parker committed to Michigan on June 15, 2024. He picked the Wolverines over offers from Alabama, Florida State, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Penn State, Tennessee, and USC, among others.

Parker is 6'0" and 189 lbs.

RANKINGS
ESPN: 3-star, 78 grade, #42 RB
On3: 3-star, 89 grade, #31 RB
Rivals: 4-star, 5.8 grade, #17 RB
247 Sports: 3-star, 87 grade, #54 RB

Hit the jump for more.

Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Chase Taylor, Wolverine

 

Chase Taylor (image via On3)

Stockbridge (GA) Stockbridge linebacker Chase Taylor committed to Michigan on Monday. He picked the Wolverines over offers from Clemson, Florida State, LSU, Tennessee, and USC, among others.

Taylor is listed at 6'3" and 201 lbs. As a junior in 2023, he made 73 tackles, 6 sacks, and 3 forced fumbles.

RANKINGS
ESPN:
3-star, 78 grade, #19 LB
On3:
3-star, 88 grade, #98 LB
Rivals:
3-star, 5.7 grade
247 Sports:
3-star, 86 grade, #105 LB

Hit the jump for more.

Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Kaden Strayhorn, Wolverine

 

Bradenton (FL) IMG Academy C Kaden Strayhorn (image via 247 Sports)

Bradenton (FL) IMG Academy offensive lineman Kaden Strayhorn committed to Michigan. He picked the Wolverines over offers from Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Miami, Ohio State, Tennessee, and USC, among others.

Strayhorn is listed at 6'4" and 295 pounds.

RANKINGS
ESPN: 4-star, 80 grade, #8 IOL
On3: 3-star, 87 grade, #70 IOL
Rivals: 4-star, 5.8 grade, #17 OG
247 Sports: 3-star, 88 grade, #33 IOL

Hit the jump for more.

Jacob Washington, Wolverine

 

Marrero (LA) Archbishop Shaw WR Jacob Washington (image via Crescent City Sports)

Marrero (LA) Archbishop Shaw wide receiver Jacob Washington committed to Michigan on Monday. He picked the Wolverines over offers from Baylor, Georgia Tech, Miami, Missouri, Ole Miss, and Penn State, among others.

Washington is listed at 6'3", 180 pounds. He claims an 11.53 in the 100 meters, a 23.44 in the 200 meters, and an 18.75' long jump.

RANKINGS
ESPN:
4-star, 81 grade, #24 WR, #203 overall
On3:
3-star, 89 grade, #54 WR
Rivals:
4-star, 5.8 grade, #68 WR
247 Sports:
3-star, 89 grade, #57 WR

Hit the jump for more on Washington's commitment.

Monday, June 24, 2024

Donovan Johnson, Wolverine

 

Bradenton (FL) IMG Academy RB Donovan Johnson (image via 247 Sports)

Bradenton (FL) IMG Academy running back Donovan Johnson committed to Michigan on Sunday. He picked the Wolverines over reported offers from Alabama, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Ohio State, Oklahoma, and USC, among others.

Johnson is listed at 6'0" and 205 lbs. on 247 Sports, though his school's Hudl page lists him at 6'1", 215. He ran a 22.47 in the 200 meters and a 51.58 in the 400 meters.

RANKINGS
ESPN:
4-star, 82 grade, #8 RB, #123 overall
On3:
4-star, 90 grade, #19 RB, #242 overall
Rivals:
4-star, 5.8 grade, #19 RB
247 Sports:
3-star, 88 grade, #30 RB

Hit the jump for more.

Friday, June 21, 2024

2024 Season Countdown: #98 Micah Davis

 

Micah Davis (image via Hudl)

Name: Micah Davis
Height:
6'1"
Weight:
199 lbs.
High school:
Dexter (MI) Dexter
Position:
Safety
Class:
Redshirt freshman
Jersey number:
#37
Last year:
I did not rank Davis. He redshirted.
TTB Rating:
N/A

Davis was a high school teammate of running back Cole Cabana and had quite a standout high school career. Some Michigan fans may not have heard of him, but over his final two seasons at Dexter, he made 200 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, 12 interceptions, 16 pass breakups, and 5 forced fumbles. He was named all-state as a senior and was ranked as a 2-star prospect by 247 Sports. Upon joining the program in 2023, he was named Scout Team Defensive Player of the Week three times and earned the same honor for special teams once. For a walk-on freshman, that's a pretty solid start.

When I originally did this ranking, Michigan had lost Keon Sabb to the transfer portal and had not yet landed Wesley Walker and Jaden Mangham to replace Sabb and the injured Rod Moore, so I had bumped up Davis. Considering the transfer portal replacements, maybe Davis shouldn't be in the top-100 just yet, but oh well. I think he does have a chance to be a solid special teams player and perhaps play a role in the defensive rotation sometime down the road.

Prediction: Backup safety, special teamer

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Brady Hart, Wolverine

 

Cocoa (FL) Cocoa quarterback Brady Hart (image via 247 Sports)

Cocoa (FL) Coca quarterback Brady Hart, a 2026 prospect, committed to Michigan on Tuesday. He picked the Wolverines over offers from Clemson, Florida, Florida State, LSU, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn State, and lots of others.

Hart is listed at 6'4" and 180 lbs. after his sophomore year. As a sophomore in 2023, he completed 288/437 passes (65.9%) for 41 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

RANKINGS
ESPN: 4-star, 82 grade, #8 QB, #120 overall
On3: 4-star, 90 grade, #10 QB, #170 overall
Rivals: 4-star, 5.9 grade, #3 pro-style QB, #42 overall
247 Sports: 4-star, 90 grade, #9 QB, #144 overall

Hit the jump for more.

2024 Season Countdown: #99 Max Reyes

 

Max Reyes (#31, image via MLive)

Name: Max Reyes
Height:
5'11"
Weight:
206 lbs.
High school:
Southlake (TX) Carroll
Position:
Safety
Class:
Redshirt sophomore
Jersey number:
#31
Last year:
Reyes was not on the football team.
TTB Rating:
N/A

There's not a lot of information out there about Max Reyes, who was a pleasant surprise in the spring game, leading the team with 6 tackles. Due to some injuries and departures, Reyes actually started for one of the teams at safety. But as far as I can tell, Reyes has not played college football until the spring of 2024 despite being an academic junior. He wasn't on the roster in 2022 or 2023, and I can't find evidence of his having transferred from another program. It does appear that he was a decent baseball player and may have been pursuing baseball opportunities, and he has put on about 30-35 pounds in the past couple years, so perhaps he's just kind of a late bloomer physically who has recently changed his sports focus.

I did go back and watch his high school Hudl highlights, where he played cornerback in a primarily cover 2 system. He was also listed as a quarterback, but his time coincided with current Texas quarterback Quinn Ewers (who quarterbacked the team when Reyes was a junior); in fact, Southlake Carroll has also produced the likes of former Alabama/NFL quarterback Greg McElroy and former Missouri/NFL quarterback Chase Daniel. But the fact that he was a quarterback - even as a backup - might hint at some quality football knowledge and processing ability.

Michigan did get reinforcements through the transfer portal in the form of Jaden Mangham and Wesley Walker, so we can be pretty sure that Reyes won't be a primary factor in the safety rotation this fall. But if he started for one team and led all players in tackles, that might be an indication that he could be in line for some backup snaps or special teams time.

Prediction: Backup safety, special teamer

Sunday, June 16, 2024

2024 Season Countdown: #100 Nico Andrighetto

 

Nico Andrighetto (image via Twitter)

Name: Nico Andrighetto
Height: 
5’9″
Weight: 
190 lbs.
High school: 
Mountain View (CA) St. Francis
Position: 
Safety
Class: 
Redshirt sophomore
Jersey number: 
#31
Last year: 
I ranked Andrighetto #136 and said he would be a backup defensive back (LINK). He played in one game on special teams.
TTB Rating:
 N/A

Andrighetto entered his third season on campus having played in two career contests, one in each previous season. He has been named Scout Team Special Teams Player of the Week four times over his two seasons, including three weeks in 2023. That would seem to bode well for him getting a chance to play a little bit on special teams as his career progresses. At 5'9" and 190 pounds, he's unlikely to ever be a serious option on defense, but special teams could be a different story.

With the likes of Caden Kolesar and other walk-ons moving past their football careers, there may be room for Andrighetto to play a little more in 2024. Punt and kickoff coverage units can be good spots to get your scholarship guys a break and let some fresh bodies sprint downfield at full speed.

Prediction: Backup safety and special teamer

2024 Season Countdown: #101 Daniel Taraboi

 

Daniel Taraboi (#66)

Name: Daniel Taraboi
Height:
6'7"
Weight:
326 lbs.
High school:
Cedarburg (WI) Cedarburg
Position:
Offensive tackle
Class:
Redshirt sophomore
Jersey number:
#66
Last year:
I ranked Taraboi #138 and said he would be a backup offensive tackle (LINK). He did not play.
TTB Rating:
N/A

Taraboi is a ginormous human being who has played in one game through two seasons on campus. That one game was the blowout of UConn in 2022 when Jack Harbaugh and Tom Brady's youngest son both got a few snaps. Michigan's veteran offensive line leadership got thinned out by the 2024 NFL Draft, but Taraboi still isn't in danger of playing much. He may slip into a few games late after outcomes are decided, and he could perhaps even work his way onto the extra point/field goal protection unit if he can maintain his leverage. At 6'7" it might be easy for opponents to get under him, but it still might be hard to push past a 326-pounder.

Prediction: Backup offensive tackle

Friday, June 14, 2024

Visitors: June 14-16, 2024

 

Blue Valley Northwest OT Andrew Babalola (image via Twitter)

2025

Andrew Babalola - OT - Overland Park (KS) Blue Valley Northwest: Babalola is a 6'6", 280 lb. prospect with officials to Stanford, Missouri, Auburn, Oklahoma, and this one to Michigan. He's a 5-star, the #4 offensive tackle, and #25 overall.

JaDon Blair - S - Winston Salem (NC) Mount Tabor: Blair is a 6'4", 190-pounder with offers from Florida State, Louisville, Michigan, Notre Dame, and Penn State, among others; he also has official visits to all five of the aforementioned schools. Blair is a 4-star, the #13 safety, and #158 overall. He plans to announce his decision on July 5, 2024, but no crystal ball predictions have been logged yet.

Shamari Earls - S - Chester (VA) Thomas Dale: Earls is a 6'2", 180 lb. corner who has been committed to South Carolina since April; he's taking an unofficial visit to Ann Arbor this weekend and also has offers from Alabama, Georgia, Penn State, USC, and others. Earls is a 4-star, the #11 cornerback, and #102 overall.

Hit the jump for more.

Sunday, June 9, 2024

2024 Season Countdown: #102 Jake Guarnera

 

Jake Guarnera (image via 247 Sports)

Name: Jake Guarnera
Height:
6'4"
Weight:
308 lbs.
High school:
Ponte Vedra Beach (FL) Ponte Vedra
Position:
Center
Class:
Freshman
Jersey number:
#53
Last year:
Guarnera was a senior in high school (LINK).
TTB Rating:
80

Guarnera was a somewhat anonymous recruit when he committed to the Wolverines. His father Jim played defensive line at Rutgers, but Jake wasn't getting a ton of recruiting attention. He committed to Michigan in April of 2023 with the belief that he was headed for center after playing offensive tackle, and his high school coaching staff transitioned him to center to help him get a jump start on his college career. I think that was a positive thing for Guarnera to get used to snapping the ball, as he now has almost a full season of playing in the middle (he still played some occasional tackle as a senior when the team needed him there).

Guarnera enrolled early and is up to 308 pounds, which is 20+ pounds heavier than he was as a recruit. There are still a lot of things to work on as a center, such as speeding up his initial step and being quicker with his off (non-snapping) hand. I like the way he gets all his cleats in the ground to make contact, but the initial movements are just a hare slow right now. I'm guessing those traits will get markedly improved as he gets more and more practice playing the center position. But for the 2024 season, Michigan has Greg Crippen slated to be the starter and Raheem Anderson II penciled in as his primary backup. Guarnera may get a few snaps in four games to get him some experience while preserving his redshirt, but he's probably headed for a season of watching from the sideline.

Prediction: Redshirt

Tuesday, June 4, 2024

2024 Season Countdown: #103 Bryce Wilcox

 

Bryce Wilcox (image via Twitter)

Name: Bryce Wilcox
Height:
5'11"
Weight:
188 lbs.
High school:
Sharpsburg (GA) Trinity Christian
Position:
Safety
Class:
Redshirt sophomore
Jersey number:
#38
Last year:
I ranked Wilcox #131 and said he would be a backup safety (LINK). He did not play.
TTB Rating:
N/A

This is the year.

I'm going to stand on the table for my guy Bryce Wilcox. He turned down an offer from Navy to walk on at Michigan, and he has spent the past two seasons biding his time on the sideline. He came in scrawny at just over 170 pounds, but has since added about 17 pounds to his frame. Now he's at a respectable 188 pounds for a guy who's probably just a special teams player, at least for right now.

So going into 2024, I think Wilcox might finally be ready for some special teams action.

This is the year.

(Unless it's not.)

Prediction: Backup safety, special teamer

Monday, June 3, 2024

2024 Season Countdown: #104 Noah Howes

 

Noah Howes

Name: Noah Howes
Height:
6'4"
Weight:
242 lbs.
High school:
Rochester (MI) Rochester
Position:
Tight end
Class:
Redshirt junior
Jersey number:
#45
Last year:
I ranked Howes #124 and said he would be a backup tight end (LINK). He played in three games.
TTB Rating:
N/A

Howes was a high school offensive lineman who has since transitioned to tight end. After playing in one game as a redshirt freshman, he has since played in three games last year. He's two pounds heavier than last season, which is a pretty inconsequential gain, but his past history as a lineman may help him play a blocking role for a team that lost a pretty solid blocking tight end in A.J. Barner. He will likely be a pretty deep backup, but some snaps may be available now that Barner (NFL), Matt Hibner (transfer to SMU), and walk-on Josh Beetham (transfer to Georgia Tech) have moved on.

Prediction: Backup tight end

Friday, May 31, 2024

2024 Season Countdown: #105 Ted Hammond

 

Ted Hammond

Name: Ted Hammond
Height:
6'5"
Weight:
265 lbs.
High school:
Cincinnati (OH) St. Xavier
Position:
Defensive tackle
Class:
Freshman
Jersey number:
N/A
Last year:
Hammond was a senior in high school (LINK). He made 38 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, and 0.5 sacks.
TTB Rating:
65

Hammond is a good-sized defensive tackle prospect at somewhere around 6'5" and 265 pounds. He finished the recruiting cycle ranked as a 247 Composite 4-star, the #48 defensive lineman, and #431 overall. To me that ranking seems a little high because he doesn't show a ton of athleticism and didn't have much production. Unless you're playing nose tackle, an FBS recruit on the defensive line should be getting more than 2 tackles for loss and half a sack in his senior season.

Michigan has three defensive tackles returning this fall with significant playing time and production, but they're going to have to find depth from elsewhere. It's unclear who the #4 through #6 interior guys will be, but Michigan does have some older guys - Roderick Pierce, Brooks Bahr, Ike Iwunnah, etc. - who could step in and see the field. Hammond is still a little light to play inside, and he needs to work on some technique things and playing lower before he gets on the field. He's most likely a scout team guy for 2024.

Prediction: Redshirt

Thursday, May 30, 2024

2024 Season Countdown: #106 Brandon Mann

 

Brandon Mann (image via Twitter)

Name: Brandon Mann
Height:
6'3"
Weight:
231 lbs.
High school:
Detroit (MI) Country Day
Position:
Tight end
Class:
Redshirt sophomore
Jersey number:
#46
Last year:
I ranked Mann #122 and said he would be a backup quarterback (LINK). He did not play.
TTB Rating:
N/A

If you look up "jack of all trades" in the dictionary, you'll see a picture of Leonardo da Vinci.

Or perhaps Shane Halter.

But by the end of his career, you might see a picture of Brandon Mann. A high school quarterback at Detroit Country Day, he entered Michigan's program, naturally, as a quarterback. He even attempted a pass against UConn as a true freshman, which is no small feat. (NOTE: Projected starting quarterback Alex Orji's lone career pass attempt came in the same game, but Mann's pass went for 7 yards while Orji's went for 5.)

Then came the 2023 season, and Mann switched to safety. And with such a position switch, it shouldn't have been surprising that Mann didn't see the field.

But now we're on to the 2024 calendar year, and Mann has made another switch, this time to tight end. He went from an average sized quarterback to a big safety to a small tight end now at 6'3" and 231 pounds. And once again, he's unlikely to see the field much this fall, if at all. It's another significant position switch.

And oh, by the way . . . did I mention he's also a right-handed pitcher for the baseball team? This spring he pitched 19 innings with 10 strikeouts and a 3.79 ERA while going 2-0.

Shane Halter's seat is getting warm, and by golly, if Mann moves to linebacker in 2025, Leonardo da Vinci better start looking over his shoulder.

Prediction: Backup tight end

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

2024 Season Countdown: #107 Jeremiah Lowe

 

Jeremiah Lowe (image via MGoBlog)

Name: Jeremiah Lowe
Height:
5'11"
Weight:
170 lbs.
High school:
Lexington (VA) Frederick Douglass
Position:
Cornerback
Class:
Freshman
Jersey number:
N/A
Last year:
Lowe was a senior in high school. He made 25 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 1 interception, and 1 forced fumble.
TTB Rating:
49

Lowe committed to Michigan in August 2023, and I was so busy at the time that I didn't have the bandwidth to create a commitment post. It didn't help that Lowe was a totally under-the-radar recruit, what with the Wolverines having to battle the likes of Boston College, Marshall, and Ohio University for him. He ended up ranked as a 3-star, the #107 cornerback, and #1172 overall in the 247 Composite.

Michigan actually has a pretty good hit rate on recruits ranked in that area; players lower than him in their respective classes include Nolan Ulizio, Brandent Englemon, Patrick Omameh, and Ronnie Bell, among others. So it's not a gimme that such lowly ranked players are going to flop. But there are also plenty of players in that range who disappeared into the mist, such as Greg Brown, Marques Walton, and Dytarious Johnson.

I probably would have ranked him Lowe . . . -er than #107 if Michigan had landed four transfer portal defensive backs earlier rather than just in the past two weeks, so that's the way the cookie crumbles. With a weak recruiting profile and at just 170 pounds, I would be very surprised to see him get on the field this fall. Long-term, he seems to have perhaps the upside of a Darnell Hood, someone who came to Michigan as a running back, switched to defensive back, and was mostly just a solid special teams player throughout his career.

Prediction: Redshirt

2024 Season Countdown: #108 Peter Simmons III

 

Peter Simmons

Name: Peter Simmons
Height:
6'1"
Weight:
283 lbs.
High school:
Bonita Springs (FL) Bishop Verot
Position:
Defensive tackle
Class:
Redshirt junior
Jersey number:
#70
Last year:
I ranked Simmons #128 and said he would be a backup defensive tackle (LINK). He did not play.
TTB Rating:
N/A

Simmons has spent three years at Michigan as a walk-on and a backup offensive and defensive lineman. So far he has yet to see the field.

Maybe this is the year!

Maybe not, though. It's tough when you're 6'1" and 283 pounds to see the field at a place like Michigan, unless you're super quick like David Molk. But he does play a defensive tackle position that is a little light in numbers. Michigan was flirting with defensive end types like Enow Etta and walk-on Joey Klunder at defensive tackle this spring, and they were going after some transfer portal types as rotation guys. No one should be expecting Simmons to enter the rotation, but in case of a blowout, he could be a guy who gets some late game snaps just to give other guys a rest. And if he sticks around for 2025, he could be on the same team as another Bishop Verot product in 2025 quarterback commit Carter Smith.

Prediction: Backup defensive tackle

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Visitors: May 31-June 2, 2024

 

Las Vegas (NV) Bishop Gorman WR Derek Meadows

2025

Marco Jones - DE - Danville (CA) San Ramon Valley: Jones is a 6'5", 230-pounder with offers from Alabama, Michigan, Texas, Texas A&M, UCLA, and USC, among others. He's a 4-star, the #15 edge, and #153 overall. In addition to this being his official visit to Michigan, he also has officials set to Texas and Texas A&M.

Nathaniel Marshall - DE - Oak Park (IL) Fenwick: Marshall is committed to Michigan (LINK). This is his official visit.

Derek Meadows - WR - Las Vegas (NV) Bishop Gorman: Meadows is a 6'5", 200 lb. prospect with offers from Alabama, Georgia, LSU, and Notre Dame, among others. He's a 4-star, the #9 wide receiver, and #61 overall. He has official visits to those other schools for the four subsequent weekends following this official visit to Michigan. His one crystal ball so far is for Notre Dame.

D.J. Sanders - DT - Bellville (TX) Bellville: Sanders is a 6'4", 290-pounder from Texas with offers from Texas and Texas A&M, plus others. He's a 4-star, the #11 defensive lineman, and #106 overall. He also has officials set for the Longhorns and the Aggies.

Douglas Utu - OG - Las Vegas (NV) Bishop Gorman: A 6'5", 300 lb. teammate of Meadows, Utu is a 4-star, the #2 interior offensive lineman, and #65 overall in the class of 2025. Listed in some places as a tackle - but more likely to be a guard - he has offers from Alabama, Georgia, Michigan, Ohio State, and Washington, among others. He also has an official visit set to visit the Huskies out in Seattle.

Kainoa Winston - S - Washington (DC) Gonzaga: Winston is a 5'10", 185-pounder with offers from Michigan, North Carolina, Oregon, and Penn State, plus others. He's a 4-star, the #10 safety, and #91 overall. This will be his second visit to Ann Arbor after taking a trip in the spring.

Monday, May 27, 2024

2024 Season Countdown: #109 Devon Baxter

 

Devon Baxter (image via MGoBlue)

Name: Devon Baxter
Height:
6'6"
Weight:
235 lbs.
High school:
Clinton (MD) Gwynn Park
Position:
Defensive end
Class:
Freshman
Jersey number:
N/A
Last year:
Baxter was a senior in high school (LINK). He made 55 tackles, 13 sacks, 9 pass breakups, and 3 fumble recoveries.
TTB Rating:
78

Baxter was a bit of an under-the-radar recruit until Michigan jumped into the ring. He took an official visit to Michigan in mid-June of 2023, and a few days later, he publicly committed to the Wolverines. He finished as a low-ish 4-star as the #26 edge player and #337 overall in the 247 Composite, but 247 itself is highest on him, ranking him all the way up at #182 overall in the class.

Personally, I like Baxter as an athlete to get into the program. I think he could be a standout receiving tight end, and he could also be an outstanding edge rusher. He has the length, burst, and change-of-direction skills to make an impact getting after the passer, perhaps more so than anyone in the pipeline right now. Very few people in Michigan's program have the length and quickness Baxter possesses. But he's also very light right now at 235 pounds, and his technique is lacking. He plays as a stand-up edge mostly, but sometimes he puts his hand in the dirt or even kicks inside sometimes, too. Michigan needs to get him in the weight room and see how quickly he can put on some much needed strength, because he could be a Taco Charlton-like player, and Michigan will need some natural pass rushers in the near future.

Prediction: Redshirt

Friday, May 24, 2024

2024 Season Countdown: #110 Hogan Hansen

 

Hogan Hansen (image via 247 Sports)

Name: Hogan Hansen
Height:
6'5"
Weight:
230 lbs.
High school:
Bellevue (WA) Bellevue
Position:
Tight end
Class:
Freshman
Jersey number:
#81
Last year:
Hansen was a senior in high school (LINK). He caught 11 passes for 224 yards and 4 touchdowns, and ran 8 times for 121 yards and 2 touchdowns; he also made 44 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, 6 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, and 2 fumble recoveries.
TTB Rating:
78

Hansen made the great choice of picking a college program that also wears winged helmets, so he can keep the same look from his high school years. He also picked a team that loves to use tight ends. Even if Jim Harbaugh, the tight end whisperer, is gone to the NFL, I think it's a pretty safe assumption that Sherrone Moore will continue to use a heavy dose of tight ends in his offensive philosophy. Hansen comes from a Wing-T program where he isn't used to getting the ball a ton (19 offensive touches as a senior) and he has good technique as a blocker, so it will largely be a matter of adding size and strength in college.

Fortunately for his development, Hansen will probably not be asked to play right away. Michigan has returning star Colston Loveland at the position, and he'll be backed up by guys like Marlin Klein and Deakon Tonielli, not to mention fullback-ish tight ends Max Bredeson and Jalen Hoffman. Additionally, Michigan brought in an elite tight end prospect in Brady Prieskorn in the 2024 class. This should be a year of preparation and development for Hansen.

Prediction: Redshirt

Thursday, May 23, 2024

2024 Season Countdown: #111 Alexander Lidback

 

Alexander Lidback (image via Twitter)

Name: Alexander Lidback
Height:
6'2"
Weight:
217 lbs.
High school:
Alpharetta (GA) Alpharetta
Position:
Linebacker
Class:
Redshirt junior
Jersey number:
#46
Last year:
I did not rank Lidback. He was not on the team.
TTB Rating:
N/A

Lidback has been hanging around Michigan's program for several years, but last year wasn't one of them. Which is unfortunate for him, because he missed out on the national championship run. No, he was on the team in 2021 and 2022 as a walk-on linebacker before missing 2023, and now he's back to compete at a linebacker position that lost a lot of pieces. Michigan lost both starters in Michael Barrett and Junior Colson to the NFL draft, as well as some transferring backups like Jeremiah Beasley, Semaj Bridgeman, and Joey Velazquez.

Still, Lidback is unlikely to play much of a role in 2024. He did not see game action in 2021 or 2022, and he's probably knocking off some rust from missing 2023. With the depth the Wolverines have at linebacker - even behind new starters Ernest Hausmann and Maryland transfer Jaishawn Barham - it's going to be tough for any walk-on to find playing time, and the top walk-on is probably Christian Boivin. We might see Lidback make an appearance on special teams or perhaps in a blowout, but he's most likely a scout team player.

Prediction: Backup linebacker

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

2024 Season Countdown: #112 Mason Curtis

 

Mason Curtis

Name: Mason Curtis
Height:
6'4"
Weight:
200 lbs.
High school:
Nashville (TN) Ensworth
Position:
Edge
Class:
Freshman
Jersey number:
N/A
Last year:
Curtis was a senior in high school (LINK). He made 31 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 4 fumble recoveries, 4 pass breakups, and 2 touchdowns.
TTB Rating:
73

Curtis has been a very quiet recruit for Michigan in the class of 2024. He committed to the Wolverines in June of 2022 and we never heard much of a peep from him through his junior and senior years. Part of the lack of excitement for him, in my opinion, is probably the uncertainty about what position he will play in the future. He played some safety in high school, but the original plan for him was to play linebacker, and then when he signed in December, Michigan labeled him as an edge. He's probably even versatile enough to grow into a tight end if things were to shake out in a certain way.

As for this year in particular, Curtis is unlikely to contribute. Especially if the coaching staff thinks he's an edge player, he needs to add . . . oh . . . about 40 pounds before he's an option. He could contribute as a special teams player if necessary, but I'm not sure there's a dire enough need for a 6'4", 200-pounder on special teams when Michigan already has such a strong overall roster. We're probably looking at a redshirt for Curtis this fall.

Prediction: Redshirt

Sunday, May 19, 2024

Jaden Mangham, Wolverine

 

Jaden Mangham (image via Michigan State Athletics)

Former Michigan State safety Jaden Mangham announced his commitment to Michigan.

As a transfer portal player, Mangham is a 3-star, the #70 safety, and #718 overall. It's somewhat mind-boggling to me that an Honorable Mention All-Big Ten safety can be the 70th best player at his position and #718 overall, but I guess that tells you the ridiculous number of transfers that have taken place this off-season.

Anyway, Mangham was a 4-star, the #13 athlete, and #311 overall coming out of Franklin (MI) Groves in the class of 2022. He spent two years in East Lansing, making 12 starts and totaling 73 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 4 interceptions, 3 pass breakups, and 1 fumble recovery. Michigan had recruited him out of high school, but the interest was tepid in both directions; that was the same class where Michigan landed Zeke Berry, Keon Sabb, and Will Johnson, so even with some so-so guys mixed in - like Damani Dent, Kody Jones, and Myles Pollard - it was still an outstanding defensive back recruiting haul for the Wolverines.

Mangham is one of four transfer portal defensive backs to pick Michigan in this 2024 cycle, all within the last week; he joins Louisville safety Wesley Walker, Albany cornerback Aamir Hall, and UNLV cornerback Ricky Johnson. With Michigan having lost Sabb to Alabama and Rod Moore to injury, the need at safety was significant. Now there's some great competition to be had between Quinten Johnson, Walker, and Mangham for the safety spot not held by Makari Paige, and Berry might even factor in, though it seems like he'll be playing the nickel corner spot.

Mangham has two years of eligibility remaining and the plan is for him to finish his undergraduate education prior to fall camp, making him a grad transfer who won't have to worry about losing credits in the school switch. Once Paige moves on after 2024, Mangham could be a clear-cut starter going into 2025.

The last Michigan-to-Michigan State transfer was just a few years ago when linebacker Ben Van Sumeren became a Spartan, and a somewhat recent case saw Michigan State linebacker Edward Warinner join the Wolverines as a walk-on for one season in 2020 while his dad Ed Warinner was Michigan's offensive line coach. Warinner the Younger played special teams in just three games during the COVID season.

Saturday, May 18, 2024

Ricky Johnson, Wolverine

 

Ricky Johnson (image via UNLV Athletics)

UNLV transfer Ricky Johnson has committed to Michigan after a midweek visit. He was previously committed to Washington State.

Johnson is a 6'1", 180 lb. player who is entering his fifth year of college football. Originally out of Houston (TX) Cypress Falls in the class of 2020, he played in four games that first year that didn't count against his eligibility. He also suffered an injury in 2022 that limited him to three games, meaning he would get an injury redshirt for that season. So he has only used up two years of eligibility and should have two remaining for the 2024 and 2025 seasons if he wishes to use both.

Johnson was ranked as a 3-star, the #151 safety, and #1951 overall in 2020 and has been a starter for UNLV since his second year on campus, but injuries have limited his time on the field. Altogether, he has played in 27 games, making 78 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, 4 interceptions, and 10 pass breakups. He did not play in the 2023 game against Michigan due to injury.

Johnson and fellow transfer portal commitment Aamir Hall give Michigan a couple good options to fight for playing time across from Will Johnson. Johnson has a ton of impressive plays on his highlight reel, but his PFF grades are mediocre; he grades out better as a run defender and tackler than in pass coverage. He appears to be more of a third or fourth corner, and I would not expect him to start this fall.

Here are some clips of his time at UNLV:

Here are some highlights from his high school days:

Friday, May 17, 2024

Wesley Walker, Wolverine

 

Wesley Walker (image via Emma Corona/Tennessee Athletics)

Former Georgia Tech, Tennessee, and Louisville safety Wesley Walker has committed to Michigan. He picked Michigan over LSU and USC.

Walker has started 25 games in his career, which started in 2019 at Georgia Tech, where he played for three seasons. He then transferred to Tennessee for the 2022-2023 seasons, hit the transfer portal in December, committed to Louisville, spent the spring at Louisville, and then re-entered the portal. Altogether, he has made 184 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 1 interception, and 12 pass breakups while playing in 45 career contests.

Walker was listed at 6'1" and 200 pounds at Tennessee last season. He started ten games for the Volunteers last year and finished #4 on the team with 53 tackles.

It will be interesting to see where Walker fits into the rotation at safety. Makari Paige returns and is guaranteed a starting spot, while Zeke Berry looks like the top nickel and Quinten Johnson returns, too. Those were the top three safeties prior to Walker's commitment, so can he unseat any of them? My guess is that Berry will stay at nickel, with Paige, Walker, and Johnson being a three-man rotation at safety, much like Paige, Rod Moore, and Keon Sabb did in 2023.

Overall, Michigan has now landed seven transfer portal players for the 2024 season, including offensive guard Josh Priebe (Northwestern), linebacker Jaishawn Barham (Maryland), kicker Dominic Zvada (Arkansas State), cornerback Aamir Hall (Albany), wide receiver C.J. Charleston (Youngstown State), and wide receiver Amorion Walker (Ole Miss), and now Wesley Walker. It seems like Michigan will still look to add at least one more defensive back, perhaps in the form of Michigan State's Jaden Mangham. Mangham has two years of eligibility remaining, whereas both Hall and Wesley Walker will be in their final year.

Wesley Walker's time at Tennessee coincided with current linebackers coach Brian Jean-Mary, and Walker is also from Nashville (TN) Ensworth originally, which is the home of 2024 signee Mason Curtis.