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Rashan Gary (3) is one of 10 returning starters on Michigan's defense for 2018.

Michigan football: Wolverines return loads of experience in 2018

Rachel Lenzi

During the week, Land of 10 reporters following the Wolverines answer questions on the minds of Michigan fans. Submit a question or suggest a topic by sending a tweet here to Rachel Lenzi. Check back Monday through Friday as we answer the Michigan Question of the Day. Go here to see our previous answers. 

How many starters return to Michigan for the 2018 season?

This is a constant question that has been asked in the offseason, and the immediate response is: “Quite a few!”

The better question is: How many starters does Michigan lose from 2017?

Michigan loses only two starters on one of the nation’s top-5 defenses: linebacker Mike McCray and defensive tackle Maurice Hurst.

Michigan loses five starters on offense: center Patrick Kugler, left tackle Mason Cole, running back Ty Isaac and fullbacks Khalid Hill and Henry Poggi.

We recently assembled mock depth charts — offense and defense/special teams — to show how we at Land of 10 think the Wolverines will line up this fall.

Here is a breakdown of Michigan’s returning starters, by position group. This isn’t just who returns at each position, but players who have started for the Wolverines.

  • Quarterback: Brandon Peters
  • Running back: Karan Higdon, Chris Evans
  • Offensive line: Ben Bredeson (left guard), Cesar Ruiz (center/right guard), Michael Onwenu (right guard), Juwann Bushell-Beatty (right tackle), Nolan Ulizio (right tackle)
  • Wide receiver: Tarik Black, Donovan Peoples-Jones, Eddie McDoom, Kekoa Crawford
  • Tight end: Sean McKeon, Zach Gentry
  • Defensive line: Rashan Gary (defensive end), Aubrey Solomon (nose tackle), Bryan Mone (nose tackle), Chase Winovich (defensive end)
  • Linebacker: Khaleke Hudson (viper), Devin Bush (middle linebacker)
  • Cornerback: Lavert Hill, David Long
  • Safety: Josh Metellus, Tyree Kinnel
  • Special teams: Quinn Nordin (kicker), Brad Robbins (punter)

Returning the bulk of the 2017 starters should be enough to get one’s hopes up. Hypothetically, and based on experience and returnees, Michigan is in position to be successful in 2018. By comparison, the Wolverines returned six starters in 2017, the fewest of any FBS program.

Michigan adds Casey Hughes, a graduate transfer and a defensive back from Utah. Hughes started 11 games in 2017 for the Utes. Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said on National Signing Day that Hughes’ assignment is “to be determined.” If he is assigned to safety, he’ll bring valuable experience to a spot that got burned too many times in 2017.

If Rice graduate transfer Calvin Anderson joins the fray at tackle, and if the NCAA approves quarterback Shea Patterson’s waiver to immediately play in 2018, that will strengthen the experience factor for the Wolverines.

The variable is how these players maximize their potential against what 247Sports ranks as the toughest 2018 schedule in college football.

Read more answers to questions about the Michigan Wolverines here