Remember this little guy?
No, I’m not going way off topic and discussing terrorist threat levels today — instead, I’m talking position threat levels. I did this last year, and since it’s Friday I’ll just copy and paste the explanation here:
Well, I decided — in a desperate attempt to figure out what type of content to post during the slow summer months — to apply these threat levels (minus the whole, you know, terrorist thing) to Michigan’s position groups. In other words, which groups are the Wolverines comfortably stocked at, and which ones have you buying mass quantities of bottled water and canned foods to prepare for the football apocalypse? I’ll be placing each of the position groups into one of the above categories. Today, I start with the spots that Michigan fans have the least to worry about — the “Low” threat category.
Hey, that worked pretty well. On with the show:
Wide Receiver (Last Year: Low/High — separated slots and outside receivers): Even with the status of senior returning starter Darryl Stonum still very much up in the air, Michigan fans should have little concern about the depth and quality of the wide receivers. Redshirt junior Roy Roundtree turned into Denard Robinson’s favorite target last season, hauling in 72 catches for 935 yards and seven touchdowns, and if he can eliminate the occasional dropped pass from his game he should be one of the Big Ten’s best at the position. Redshirt senior Junior Hemingway also has that type of potential after posting a team-leading 18.53 yards per catch on 35 receptions, but once again he’ll have to shake his reputation for injury if he wants to live up to the hype. From the sound of things at Media Day, it appears Stonum is on the right track to get reinstated, and if he sees the field this fall — at whatever point that might come — he should provide Robinson with another solid deep threat and consistent producer on the outside. If Stonum doesn’t earn his way back onto the field, senior Martavious Odoms can line up outside or in the slot and can provide a bit of everything for this team — lest we forget, he led the team in receiving as a freshman in 2008 (okay, I don’t blame you if you tried to forget that year), and Odoms has shown an impressive ability to block downfield given his 5-8, 175-pound frame. Though we haven’t had a chance to see him on the field, redshirt freshman Jerald Robinson earned praise from Brady Hoke at yesterday’s press conference, and he should at least provide solid depth along with classmate Jeremy Jackson, junior (and former top-100 recruit) Je’Ron Stokes, and redshirt senior slot receiver Kelvin Grady. That’s a solid seven-man rotation of receivers even without Stonum, and that doesn’t include potential contributors like Jeremy Gallon, Terrence Robinson, and Drew Dileo, a trio of smaller receivers who likely would have pushed for playing time under Rich Rodriguez but may be squeezed out of the rotation in the new offense. That’s a ton of depth, and with the talent among the starters to match, this is perhaps the team’s most rock-solid position group.
Defensive End (LY: Guarded): The defensive line should be the strength of the defense, and while DT Mike Martin is clearly the unit’s best player, the depth situation is a lot more palatable at end. Ryan Van Bergen returns for his redshirt senior season after posting a team-leading 8.5 tackles for loss in 2010 — Van Bergen showed he can be a very solid player against both the run and the pass when he was back full-time at his natural DE spot after spending a year mostly playing inside. The player everyone is looking to for increased production is junior Craig Roh, who spent most of his first two seasons horribly miscast as a hybrid outside linebacker, often forced to drop into coverage instead of playing to his strengths and rushing the passer. Roh now weighs over 250 pounds and will finally get the opportunity to play DE, where he was an Under Armour All-American coming out of high school — I expect big things from him this season. Backing up Roh and Van Bergen will be sophomore Jibreel Black, who flashed the potential to be a very good pass rusher last season but will have to improve his ability to hold up against the run. Luckily, with two strong returning starters, the team can afford to use Black situationally, and he should see an uptick in production as his frame fills out and he learns the nuances of the college game. Michigan will also get a boost with the return of redshirt senior Will Heininger, who missed the first ten games of 2010 due to a knee injury, and the 6-6, 283-pound Ann Arbor native has the size and strength to fill in for Van Bergen or even see time at tackle. Redshirt freshman Kenny Wilkins was a highly-touted recruit who many thought would step in and compete for time at end, and he could do just that, although for now he’s listed at defensive tackle on the roster — we’ll see what happens there. The Wolverines also have talent incoming in true freshmen Brennen Beyer, Chris Rock, and Keith Heitzman, though it would be surprising if any of the new blood saw the field this fall — Beyer has the most talent, but is also quite small at 6-3, 225. This is another position group with a good set of starters and nice depth at backup, and end should be a definite strength for Greg Mattison’s reclamation project on defense.