2016 Michigan Fall Camp Preview: 3 Positional Battles to Watch

With the BBQ at the Big House is all cleaned up and media day in the books, all eyes turn to the play on the field with fall camp starting tomorrow. Everyone will get their first look at one of the most anticipated teams in the past 20 years of Michigan football. And with the anticipation and excitement, I’ve put together a couple preview posts to get ready for fall camp. 

Check out the biggest positional battles heading into fall camp and my prediction on who will win each:

Starting Quarterback: Wilton Speight vs John O’Korn

O’Korn was expected to runaway with the starting job during the spring but it was Wilton Speight who took the reins in spring practice and was the first quarterback taken in the spring game draft. The staff clearly knew what they were doing as Speight outperformed O’Korn during the spring game. But it’s not over just yet.

This battle will come down to consistency. Speight has shown that he’s the safer option as a big, pocket passer with a decent arm but still struggles a bit with the deep ball (sounds a lot like Rudock, right?). While O’Korn is a much more dynamic player. He’s a gutty, athletic quarterback that has a good arm but, at times, questionable with his decision making as he can make unnecessary throws and can give up on play calls a little early to try and make plays with his feet.

Can O’Korn tighten up his decision making? Can Speight add a consistent deep ball to his repertoire? With the star studded defense, experienced offensive line, All-American level receiving core and stable of running backs, the need for a playmaking quarterback may not be as important to Jim Harbaugh and the staff.

  • Prediction: Wilton Speight is the starting QB vs Hawaii

Back Up Wide Receiver: Drake Harris and Moe Ways vs the Freshmen

The 2016 Michigan football team will feature one of the programs best 1-2 combos on the outside in quite sometime. Amara Darboh and Jehu Chesson made huge steps last season and are expected to be even better this fall. The question is, who will be the next off two outside receivers off the bench behind Darboh and Chesson?

Drake Harris and Moe Ways are the prohibitive favorites as the upperclassman. However, neither have locked down their spots on the depth chart because of past injuries that have hampered both mightily. But going into this season, they’re both expected to be at 100% and need to make the best out of this camp. That’s not only because of their eligibility beginning to run out but it’s also because of the wide receiver haul that has come to town.

Kekoa Crawford, Eddie McDoom, Ahmir Mitchell and Nate Johnson are all in camp and are viable threats to see the field. Though some need some time to build up some more size, the speed and big play ability that all four bring to the table could vault any of them ahead of either Harris or Ways with successful camp showings.

  • Prediction: Ways and Harris have productive camps and lock down the two back up spots but Crawford’s camp performance puts him in the top 6 wide receivers vs Hawaii.
    1. Darboh
    2. Chesson
    3. Perry
    4. Ways
    5. Harris
    6. Crawford

Punter: Kenny Allen vs Quinn Nordin

With Blake O’Neill’s departure, one of the biggest camp positional battles to watch will be the punter position.

Some may think it’s not that big of a deal but with an elite level defense and questions at the quarterback position, the punter may end up being one of the most valuable players on the team in 2016. And it looks to be down to two players who are kicking specialists that can also punt.

Kenny Allen has some experience as a punter in his college career and looked pretty good in his staged punts during the spring game. While Quinn Nordin was the #1 ranked kicker in the 2016 recruiting class as well as a highly ranked punting prospect. Both have the talents to handle the punting duties during the fall.

So, who will it be? Allen will very likely handle the kicking duties this fall so if the punting competition is a wash, the staff has the choice to have Allen do double duty and allow Nordin to possibly redshirt. Or they could take some responsibility off of Allen’s shoulders and name Nordin the starting punter.

  • Prediction: Allen is named starting kicker and punter.

There will be plenty of competition for positions throughout fall camp. Which ones will you be watching closest and who do you think will win those battles? Let us know in the comment section below!

Photo Credit: TheBigHouseReport