ANN ARBOR, Mich. — The first of the Michigan football freshmen have moved in. They’ve woken up way too early for winter conditioning. They’ve gotten used to their class schedules and their coursework. They’ve even gone to Italy for a week of football and cultural immersion.
Now, Michigan’s 11 early enrollees — they started taking classes in January and took part in the spring game — will spend the summer preparing for their first season of college football. The Wolverines open the season Sept. 2 against Florida in Arlington, Texas.
But who will we see in the lineup among those 11 early enrollees? Land of 10 analyzed three early enrollees who could make an impact this fall at Michigan.
Tarik Black, WR
So far, Black looks like the best bet to earn one of the open starting spots among Michigan’s wide receivers. The 4-star wide receiver had 4 catches for 50 yards and a touchdown in Michigan’s spring game in April, and he utilizes his athleticism, quickness and a soft touch to be an effective receiver.
Black and fellow freshman Donovan Peoples-Jones could become a one-two tandem for the Wolverines at wide receiver. Throw in Oliver Martin, who joins the program next month as part of Michigan’s freshman class, and the future of the Wolverines’ receiving corps looks bright.
Cesar Ruiz, C
Ruiz enrolled in January as a 4-star center from Florida’s IMG Academy — and the No. 1 center in the nation in the 2017 recruiting class, according to 247Sports. He could immediately contend for a starting spot.
Michigan lost three starters on the offensive line to graduation and the NFL and continues to tinker with the line in preparation for 2017. That could mean moving Mason Cole, who started at center in 2016, back to tackle, or starting fifth-year senior Patrick Kugler at center.
It could also give the 6-foot-3, 330-pound Ruiz a chance to contend for the starting job as a true freshman.
Jaylen Kelly-Powell, S
Kelly-Powell is one of two players from Detroit’s Cass Tech High School who enrolled early at Michigan this year, joining Peoples-Jones.
With 3 tackles in Michigan’s spring game, Kelly-Powell has been lauded for his strong coverage skills. Michigan defensive coordinator Don Brown said after the spring game that Kelly-Powell worked out at nickel and at strong safety during the spring.
Kelly-Powell will contend for a spot in Michigan’s secondary, which looks to rebuild after losing all four of its starters — Jourdan Lewis, Channing Stribling, Dymonte Thomas and Delano Hill.