Top 5 Fall Position Battles

Left-Guard

ContendersElliott Mealer

SR. Elliott Mealer

RS. Soph. Joey Burzynski

FR. Kyle Kalis 

Micheal Schofield’s move to right tackle left a giant hole at LG. The good news is that whoever fills the position will be teamed with Michigan’s best offensive lineman Taylor Lewan. The bad news, the coaches are choosing between a career backup, a walk-on, and a true freshman. Elliott Mealer has the most experience of the 3, but was exclusively regulated to mop up duty. Joey Burzynski received a ton of praise from the coaches in the spring, and was actually the starter at LG for the spring game. Kyle Kalis is by far the most talented of the bunch, but he’s a true freshman whose head will probably be spinning for much of camp.

Split End, Wide-Receiver

Contenders

RS. Soph Jerald Robinson 

JR. Jeremy Jackson 

JR. Ricardo Miller 

FR. Amara Darboh 

FR. Jehu Chesson 

This spot would have surely been filled by Darryl Stonum had he not been dismissed from the team. The battle for who lines up across from Roy Roundtree will be one of the most hottest contested position battles in camp. Robinson was the talk of the spring but has done very little in his career at Michigan. The same is true of Jeremy Jackson and Ricardo Miller, who both entered Michigan with a lot of hype. Both of the true freshmen WRs should redshirt, but Michigan simply does not have enough depth to allow it.

Running Back

Contenders

SR. Vincent Smith 

B. Hawthorne - ScoutSO. Thomas Rawls 

SO. Justice Hayes 

So long as Fitz Toussaint remains suspended there will be a battle for time and carries at RB. Even without the suspension, there would have been a battle for time and reps behind Toussaint. Now that battles takes center stage and will be one of the most talked about leading up to the start of the season. Smith has the most experience, having started multiple games throughout his career, but the other backs on the roster are viewed as having more upside. Rawls, a bruiser, received praise in the spring for his physicality at both RB and FB. Hayes, the speed back, will likely get a shot but is dark horse at this point.

Weak-side LB

Contenders

SO. Desmond Morgan 

SR. Brandin Hawthorne  

FR. James Ross

This battle would really take off were Cameron Gordon to be moved from the strong-side LB spot. As it stands there is a two man race between Morgan and Hawthorne. Hawthorne started at OLB for the first half of the season before being overtaken by Morgan. Both players have different strengths and weaknesses and the battle may develop into a rotation depending upon what Greg Mattison decides. Morgan is a stout run defender, especially within the box, and very physical player but struggles in space and in pass coverage. Hawthorne is Brenen Beyer - MGoBlogconsidered undersized but is a terror in space and makes plays in pass coverage but struggles when defending the run and dealing with blockers. Had James Ross enrolled in the spring this race might have ended early as he is a perfect fit for what Mattison is looking for in a WILL LB. As it stands, Ross will be on the outside looking in as he deals with the transition to college.

Weak-Side Defensive End

Contenders

SO. Brennen Beyer 

SO. Frank Clark (?)

SO. Jake Ryan (maybe)

As of two weeks ago, WDE along with LG was slated to be the most hotly contested position battle of camp. Clark and Beyer battled all spring and while both players were expected to contribute this fall, the starter was yet to be determined. Frank Clark’s run in with the law throws a monkey wrench into the battle, effectively handing the job to Beyer. The coaches may experiment at WDE, especially given OLB Jake Ryan’s experience playing with his hand in the ground.