2016 Michigan Football Season Preview: 5 Offensive Breakout Candidates

Every year, players emerge from nowhere as mainstays on the field for Michigan’s football team. At this time last year, no one had mentioned Sione Houma or Grant Perry as important contributors to the offense, but they were.

Breakout players happen each and every season, and Michigan has plenty of candidates for the 2016 season. Check out who Fish and myself believe could be those breakout players:

Evan Paputa

1. FB Michael Hirsch, Glenview, IL (6’1, 230lbs)

Summary: Hirsch comes to Michigan with the unique story of playing football at Harvard, beating Cancer, and working on Wall Street before strapping up for Michigan. He will be a walk-on with two years of eligibility remaining and will certainly get a chance to be Jim Harbaugh’s starting fullback.

2. RB Chris Evans, Indianapolis, IN (5’11, 200lbs)

Summary: Evans will get a chance to showcase his speed and shiftiness at running back right away. It is likely that he will get used in multiple ways such as hand offs, sweeps, and screens. Michigan has lacked a speed demon, do-it-all offensive playmaker lately and Evans can fill that role quickly. Also look for Evans to get some snaps at slot receiver and in the ‘Wild Wolverine; down the road.

3. TE Tyrone Wheatley Jr., Buffalo, NY (6’6” 276lbs)

Summary: Michigan will be searching for depth at the tight end position to compliment Jake Butt and Wheatley Jr. is a likely option. He’s tall, athletic, and strong; which make him an ideal tight end. Harbaugh will probably expand his tight end packages which will allow multiple tight ends to succeed.

4. WR Eddie McDoom, Winter Garden, FL (6’0, 182lbs)

Summary: It doesn’t take long to see why McDoom was highly wanted by Oregon. He can do it all at receiver in Michigan’s offense; run routes, catch, jet sweeps, and flat out run. With the lack of a true speedster that is used for just that.

5. ATH Jabrill Peppers, East Orange, NJ (6’1, 208lbs)

Summary: Since Peppers was limited on offense until late in the season, he still counts as a potential breakout player. Last year, he played primarily running back with some wide receiver. This year, look for Harbaugh, Jedd Fisch, and Tim Drevno to feature a lot of Peppers; at receiver, running back, and even at quarterback in the ‘Wild Wolverine.’

Garrett Fishaw

1. QB Wilton Speight, Richmond, VA (6’6” 243lbs)

Summary: Though the quarterback position has yet to be solved, signs continue to point to Speight. He showed his skills in the spring game and looked like the #1 guy heading into fall camp. From pretty much every report, it’s neck-to-neck but the most positivity has been with the big guy. If he does indeed land the job, he clearly earned it. And when you add those improved skills with the talent around him, he should have a big year.

2. RB Chris Evans, Indianapolis, IN (5’11, 200lbs)

Summary: Like Evan, I’m picking Evans. The talented freshmen was featured on both of my pre-camp bold predictions and breakout candidates. Welp, it looks like it was a good call as he’s been one of the most talked about players in camp thus far. His speed, elusiveness and toughness has put him on the field with the ones and will very likely earn him a good amount of touches this fall. Look for him to be that electric guy Michigan has been missing for awhile now.

3. WR Kekoa Crawford, Rancho Santa Margarita, CA (6’2” 195lbs)

Summary: Crawford is another electric freshmen that brings that speed and toughness factor to the skill position group. He’s a player I’ve been high on since he landed his offer from Michigan and have been hyping him up heading into camp. Well, that looked to be another good call as almost every inside camp report has mentioned him as a standout performer among the freshmen wide receivers.

4. OT Ben Bredeson, Hartland, WI (6’5” 310lbs)

Summary: Bredeson is another freshmen that has received a ton of love over the last week of camp as rumors of him being a standout performer were confirmed by Tim Drevno. The offensive line coach said the left tackle spot is between the true freshmen and, expected starter, Grant Newsome. Win or lose, Bredeson will very play this fall. If he doesn’t land the starting gig, he looks to be the main candidate to fill the 6th man role in goal line sets and other run heavy plays.

5. TE Tyrone Wheatley Jr., Buffalo, NY (6’6” 276lbs)

Summary: TDubJr, as I like to call him starting today, came to Michigan with a high ceiling. However, his freshmen year was spent on a redshirt as he was still learning the tight end position and getting into college shape. And that looks to have worked like a charm. According to multiple reports, he’s been having a great camp and brings a mix of size and athleticism that no one else can offer.

There are plenty of breakout candidates on the offensive side of the ball for Michigan. Who do you think will breakout this fall for the Wolverines? Let us know in the comment section below!

Photo Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Evan Paputa