2016 Michigan Spring Football Preview: Safety

Hello, spring football. The Michigan football team is in Bradenton, Florida for their controversial and well publicized start to the offseason. And unlike the cornerback position, there’s one big opening in the secondary and it’s at free safety.


Michigan fans got their first full look at what Jabrill Peppers can bring to a defense in 2015 and, man, he did not disappoint. His play earned him Freshmen All-American and All-B1G honors. So, he’s a lock to return to the starting lineup but who will join him in centerfield? Jarrod Wilson has departed via graduation which opens up the free safety spot to, what should be, a street fight competition.

Dymonte Thomas and Delano Hill both played really well in 2015 and will both see plenty of playing time in 2016. That’s especially true thanks to Peppers’ versatility and ability to play the nickel back spot which opens things up for all three to see the field. Behind them, Tyree Kinnel earned himself special teams run during his true freshmen year but will need to fight off the incoming freshmen this summer.

Pre-Spring Expected Depth Chart

-Not enrolled yet

  1. #5 Jabrill Peppers, JR* 
  2. #25 Dymonte Thomas, SR 
  3. #44 Delano Hill, SR
  4. #23 Tyree Kinnel, SO
  5. #7 Khaleke Hudson, FR
  6. Josh Metellus, FR

Name to Watch Closest

Peppers. Let’s be honest, there isn’t a player that Michigan fans and NFL scouts watch closer on the roster than Peppers. He proved his superstardom in 2015 and should take another giant step forward in 2016 as he could see even more time on both sides of the ball.

Don’t Forget About Me

Kinnel. The true sophomore earned his way onto the field in 2015 after most believed he would redshirt. That shows what type of player he is and what the staff thinks about his future. With the departure of Wilson, he has his opening to see plenty of playing time in the secondary this spring and fall.

Breakout Prediction

Thomas. As a five star recruit, most expected Thomas to be an instant star. However, his transition from running back to safety wasn’t as smooth as projected. But was it on him or the previous staff? In his first year under the Harbaugh era, he really figured things out and flashed his ability to be a game changer in the secondary. With the opening there, I believe Thomas will not only be a big contributor but will become a star in centerfield for Michigan.

Other Spring Positional Previews

Who do you believe will leave spring ball starting next to Peppers? Two deep prediction? Breakout players? Add your predictions in the comment section below! 

Photo Credit: Melanie Maxwell | The Ann Arbor News