(Photo Credit: Bryan Fuller/MGoBlog)
We’re now just three weeks away from kickoff at the Jerryworld between Michigan and Florida. It’s a game that will finally give the Wolverines young talent to show exactly what they can do. And that’s especially true on defense as Jim Harbaugh and Don Brown will be replacing almost of of their starters. But thanks to big recruiting wins and player development, there shouldn’t be as much of a drop off between last season’s top ranked defense and this season’s squad of youngsters.
With camp running full steam ahead and a lot of positions up for grab, UM has a ton of options to fill those positions and fill the roles of leaders and standouts. Here are my five candidates to break out for Michigan’s defense in 2017:
With the losses of Dymonte Thomas and Delano Hill, Kinnel is going to have to step into the role as a leader of the defense. And he looks like he’s already locked up that role. Kinnel flashed his potential in limited defensive action and on special teams his first two seasons in Ann Arbor. With a full season as the centerfielder in Michigan’s defense, look for him to become a fan favorite thanks to big hits and smart, instinctual plays. I see a little Earl Thomas in his game.
Another easy choice for this list of candidates, Bush showed everyone what he’s capable of in the Spring Game. He brings a mix of speed, smarts and aggressiveness to the defense that I haven’t seen since Larry Foote. And that ability makes him a perfect fit in Don Brown’s blitz heavy defense. Look for him to be one of the most productive players in the defense as he racks up the sacks, tackles and becomes a standout in pass coverage.
VIPER Khaleke Hudson
There aren’t many players on the roster I’m more excited to see what he can do with more playing time than Hudson. He was one of the most athletic recruits in the country and has now bulked up to take over Jabrill Peppers’ VIPER position. And all reports have been high on him as both a physical presence and playmaker. Just hear what LB coach Chris Partridge had to say about him. Look for him to make some big hits (like he did on John O’Korn in the Spring Game) and create some turnovers for the defense this fall.
Gary is the obvious pick here but you can’t “breakout” when you’re already seen as 22nd best player in all of CFB. And even if I did add him to the list, Winovich would be a candidate to breakout as well. He’s been looking to solidify a position in the Michigan defense since arriving on campus in 2014 with a lot of potential. He finally put on the size needed to lock himself into the defensive end rotation last season and will now start for the Wolverines opposite Gary. With his relentlessness and speed, he’ll give Gary a run for his money to lead the team in sacks this season.
S/VIPER Jordan Glasgow
Glasgow is the 3rd brother from the family of walk-ons to sport the Maize and Blue, and he could end up being the best. Jordan showed off his long hair and big play ability throughout the Spring Game and has, reportedly, had a very good fall camp. Though he may not start to begin the season, look for him to make his presence known with impactful plays on both defense and special teams all season long.
Plenty of other names could’ve easily been a part of this list, including CB Lavert Hill, CB David Long, DT Aubrey Solomon, DE Luiji Vilain, DT Michael Dwumfour, S Josh Metellus and CB Keith Washington.
Who are your choices to breakout for the defense in 2017? Let us know in the comment section below!