ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Michigan never issued an official depth chart for 2017. But watching this team over the course of 13 games, it was enough to learn about the Wolverines’ depth, about who earned what positions, and who is in line to start in 2018.
Land of 10 has assembled its own depth chart. A few of these spots are self explanatory: who returns for another season or who made a solid showing to move into a starting spot or a No. 2 spot. Others need to be filled because of an obvious lack of depth at several positions and the holes Michigan has to address as it prepares for 2018.
A few key points we’ve gathered:
- Michigan’s most significant losses will be at quarterback — but this also has the potential to be a spot where it makes its biggest gains. Wilton Speight and Alex Malzone are pursuing transfers, and John O’Korn will graduate. Brandon Peters is the only returnee with playing experience, but he isn’t the assured starter. Shea Patterson has enrolled at Michigan after two seasons at Mississippi. He awaits eligibility clearance for 2018. If he is immediately granted eligibility, he enters the fray with the most playing experience. He threw for 23 touchdowns and more than 3,100 yards in 10 games at Mississippi.
- Michigan loses only one player at running back — senior Ty Isaac, whose final year was hampered by injuries. Karan Higdon and Chris Evans combined for 1,679 yards (Higdon finished with a team-leading 994 yards), and they will return for 2018. Michigan needs to build depth at fullback, losing Khalid Hill and Henry Poggi to graduation. Ben Mason is in line to be Michigan’s top fullback, but there’s no one behind him with similar experience at a position tailored to Michigan’s scheme.
- The Wolverines return the bulk of their receivers. The only departure will be Maurice Ways, who announced last month he will pursue a graduate transfer after the spring. The problem with the wide receivers is that their collective production has plummeted in three seasons. Michigan’s receivers will build upon their experience next season, which was sometimes rocky in 2017. Another boost for 2018: Tarik Black will return after missing 10 games with a broken foot.
- The offensive line loses right tackle/center Mason Cole to graduation and to the NFL. Cesar Ruiz will have a chance to shine in 2018. Ruiz is a center who can fill in at multiple spots on the offensive line and displayed that versatility at the Outback Bowl, where he played at guard. The offensive line could also get a boon from the return of Grant Newsome. The tackle has missed the past season-and-a-half after sustaining a dislocated right knee in October of 2016 that required a hospital stay of more than a month.
- Michigan’s defensive line never rests, which is a testament to its health and to its depth. Michigan returns its three starting defensive linemen and will lose only one starter (defensive tackle Maurice Hurst) on defense. Hurst’s eligibility expired, and he is a likely first-round NFL draft pick. Aubrey Solomon is the likely candidate to replace him. Solomon took reps in the second half of the season as a freshman, and earned praise from the coaching staff.
- Kicking depth could be an issue for the Wolverines. James Foug exhausted his eligibility — he redshirted his freshman year and played in 2014 at Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo, then transferred to Michigan prior to the 2015 season. Foug will graduate after handling kickoff duties. Either Brad Robbins or Quinn Nordin could take on the kickoff responsibilities, similar to how Kenny Allen took on double- and triple-duty on kicking in 2016.
|Position||First team||Second team|
|Quarterback||Shea Patterson**||Brandon Peters|
|Running back||Karan Higdon||Chris Evans|
|Left tackle||Grant Newsome*||Chuck Filiaga|
|Left guard||Ben Bredeson||Andrew Vastardis|
|Center||Cesar Ruiz||Stephen Spanellis|
|Right guard||Michael Onwenu||Jon Runyan Jr.|
|Right tackle||Juwann Bushell-Beatty||Nolan Ulizio|
|Tight end||Sean McKeon||Tyrone Wheatley Jr.|
|Tight end||Zach Gentry||Nick Eubanks|
|Wide receiver||Tarik Black*||Nico Collins|
|Wide receiver||Grant Perry||Eddie McDoom|
|Wide receiver||Donovan Peoples-Jones||Oliver Martin|
|Position||First team||Second team|
|Defensive end||Rashan Gary||Carlo Kemp|
|Defensive tackle||Bryan Mone||Michael Dwumfour|
|Defensive tackle||Aubrey Solomon||Lawrence Marshall|
|Defensive end||Chase Winovich||Kwity Paye|
|WLB||Devin Gil||Jordan Anthony|
|MLB||Devin Bush||Josh Ross|
|SLB||Noah Furbush||Josh Uche|
|Viper||Khaleke Hudson||Jordan Glasgow|
|Cornerback||Lavert Hill||Ambry Thomas|
|Cornerback||David Long||Brandon Watson|
|Safety||Josh Metellus||J’Marick Woods|
|Safety||Tyree Kinnel||Jaylen Kelly-Powell|
|Long snapper||Camaron Cheeseman|
|Punt returner||Donovan Peoples-Jones|
|Kick returner||Kekoa Crawford|
Note: * denotes player injured, ** denotes eligibility still to be determined