2016 Michigan Spring Football Preview: Fullback

Michigan will kick off the spring this weekend when they make their way down south for a controversial start to camp at IMG Academy. While there, the staff will have their first (official) look at some of the positional battles, including finding replacements for Sione Houma and Joey Kerridge at the full back position.

Overview

Once Harbaugh came to town, the fullback position became a main component of the Wolverine offense. Houma and Kerridge were perfect fits for the system but, unfortunately, they’re eligibility is up and UM is forced with the task to replacing their output. Here’s the kicker: Michigan doesn’t have any other pure fullbacks on the roster. So, like most new coaching staffs, Harbaugh and company will be moving players around to find the best fit.

Pre-Spring Expected Depth Chart

  1. #19 Henry Poggi, SR*
  2. #80 Khalid Hill, SR*
  3. #34 Deyanco Hardwick, JR
  4. #23 John Andrysiak, SO  

Names to Watch Closest

Wyatt Shallman and Jared Wangler. No, neither of these players are fullbacks at the moment but I believe both the players and position could be a perfect match for each other from an individual and team stand point.

Shallman is buried on the running back depth chart and has always looked to be a running back/fullback tweener. He has the hard nosed running style and toughness that could fit position well but is a little undersized. If he’s able to pack on some more size (same weight as Houma but three inches taller), I believe he could be a really nice running threat at the position.

As for Wangler, this is a total shot in the dark and has zero backing or reports to support it. But I believe the other former in-state star that is buried on the depth chart could be a great fit at the fullback position. He has the size and plays with the physicality needed, and he also has the ball skills to be a threat out of the backfield (player wide receiver in high school). If he’s looking to get on the field and help build the depth chart at a depleted position, this may be his best and quickest opportunity.

Don’t Forget About Us

Walk-ons. At most programs, the fullback position may only see a one or two scholarship players and Michigan will be similar. That’s where top level walk-ons come into play. Harbaugh brought in a couple preferred walk-ons last year in LB/FB John Andrysiak, LB/FB Tommy Whitted and LB/FB Jameson Offerdahl. With the playing time available behind Hill and Poggi, I’d expect the staff to give the walk-ons a good look this spring.

Breakout Prediction

Hill. The tight end turned fullback/h-back is one of the most under appreciated players on Michigan’s offense. He is a fantastic blocker and was a sneaky offensive weapon as a 3rd tight end in 2015. With the depth at the tight end position, he’s moving positions and should be a perfect fit. It’s not known if he’ll be a running threat but as a blocker/receiver out of the backfield, he should hit the ground running in spring practices.

Other Spring Positional Previews

Who do you believe will leave spring ball as the starter? Backup? Breakout candidate? Add your predictions in the comment section below! 

Photo Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports