August 12, 2017
ANN ARBOR — Today marks the half-way point of preseason camp for the Michigan football team, meaning decisions loom when it comes to filling open spots.
And as Jim Harbaugh put it Friday, the train is about to leave the station.
Some positions are more nailed down than others, but uncertainties exist with just about every group on this Wolverines team. Here’s an update on where things stand, straight from the mouth of Harbaugh himself:
OL: The left side seems intact, with Harbaugh referring to left tackle Mason Cole and left guard Ben Bredeson both as “mainstays.” Center Patrick Kuglar has “had a nice camp.” Meanwhile, Junior Juwann Bushell-Beatty sounds like he’s giving John Runyan, Jr., and Michael Onwenu a battle on the right side. “(They) all have been in there rotating with the 1s,” Harbaugh said.
DL: The front four are set, anchored by Rashan Gary, but the real competition here is the group behind them. Junior Lawrence Marshall, redshirt freshman Michael Dwumfour, and true freshmen Luigi Vilain, James Hudson and Deron Irving-Bey, of Flint, are all in the mix. “There’s quite a battle going on there,” Harbaugh said.
WRs: No shocker here, but Harbaugh said true freshmen receivers Tarik Black and Donavan Peoples-Jones have impressed in camp and are going to play quite a bit. Sophomore Eddie McDoom “is not giving up anything to anybody,” Harbaugh said. Then there’s Kekoa Crawford and the recently-instated Grant Perry. If you’re wondering, no mention of Nate Schoenle, whose name has popped up recently.
TIGHT END: No clear frontrunner here, but Harbaugh raved about Tyrone Wheatley, Jr., who’s down about 20 pounds from last season and “running faster.” Redshirt freshman Sean McKeon has shown his athleticism, while senior Ian Bunting is back healthy and practicing. “And (expletive), Zach Gentry is fighting like a madman and doing some really, really good things.”
KICKING: Kenny Allen did it all last year, kicking off, kicking field goals, punting. That won’t be the case this year, even if it goes down to the wire. Sophomore Will Hart is punting well, but Harbaugh called freshman Brad Robbins the best freshman punter he’s ever had. “So, they’re neck-and-neck,” Harbaugh said. Additionally, sophomore Quinn Nordin is “really kicking well,” while junior Ryan Tice, who booted 10 point-after attempts in 2016, could be a factor.
We’ve already touched on quarterback, running back is pretty much settled, and if you were wondering, Harbaugh said very little about the secondary. So, stay tuned.