Today it’s time to move on to the defense as the position preview takes a look at the defensive tackles:
Returning Contributors: Mike Martin (Jr.), Greg Banks (RS Sr.), Will Campbell (So.), Renaldo Sagesse (Sr.)
Incoming Freshmen: Richard Ash, Terry Talbott
Key Departures: None
Returning Player Stats:
[table id=116 /]
The Projected Starters: With Brandon Graham now terrorizing NFL offensive lines for the Philadelphia Eagles, junior NT/DT Mike Martin takes over the crown as Michigan’s best defensive lineman. Martin is slated to start once again at nose tackle, even though the 6-2, 299-pounder is more of a natural three-tech defensive tackle (the position Ryan Van Bergen lined up at last year). Martin, a former powerlifter, is extremely strong and possesses great quickness for a player his size — he should once again have a very solid year in the middle in 2010.
Fifth-year senior Greg Banks appears to have the inside track to start alongside Martin at Van Bergen’s old spot after practicing with the first team through the spring and fall. At 6-4, 285 pounds, Banks has the size to hold up against the run, and the former defensive end has good pass rushing ability for a tackle — he should be able to get into the backfield when Martin draws two blockers. Banks had drawn praise for his work ethic this year, and should be a reliable starter and team leader in his final season in Ann Arbor.
The Competition: Many hoped that sophomore Will Campbell would earn the starting job at nose tackle, which would allow Martin to move over to his natural DT spot. So far, the former five-star recruit hasn’t lived up to the recruiting hype as he continues to work on his motor, controlling his weight, and learning proper technique. Campbell should be Martin’s primary backup at nose tackle, and see the field more than he did as a freshman in 2009, but he will have to work hard and improve every day if he wants a bigger role this fall.
Senior Renaldo Sagesse, at 6-4, 289 pounds, can play both nose tackle or three-tech DT, and he will likely see time at both positions in 2010. Sagesse is a more consistent player than Campbell and could be relied upon to back up both Martin and Banks, and he is a very viable starting candidate should the team need someone to step in on the interior of the line.
Others: Michigan brought in two defensive tackles in the class of 2010, but neither is likely to see the field this year because of their weight. Pahokee native Richard Ash arrived on campus weighing 320 pounds and will spend the season working his way into shape, while Terry Talbott (not to be confused with brother and Wolverine cornerback Terrence) showed up this fall at 248 pounds and will have to bulk up significantly before he can compete for playing time. Both are locks to redshirt unless the line is hit by a rash of injuries.
Outlook: Michigan should be strong on the inside of the defensive line, although Campbell’s lack of progress is keeping the team from fully utilizing Martin’s prodigious talent. If Campbell can become a consistent player at nose tackle, this could be a great unit. As it stands right now, the starting duo of Martin and Banks should be solid, but not spectacular. On a defense that needs the line to excel, that might not cut it in 2010.
For every position preview, click here or hit the “2010 Position Previews” tag at the bottom of the post.