I’ve spent the past couple weeks gathering some information from sources to put together a compilation of notes about fall camp in Ann Arbor.
Let’s get right into it.
- This might be the most sure quarterback race since Harbaugh’s arrival. Everyone I’ve talked to says the same thing, it’s Shea Patterson barring something extreme. He is ? very good, as we know, but he’s impressed the program since the day he arrived. Laser-focused is a word I’d use to describe his past few months in Ann Arbor.?https://twitter.com/WolverineLounge/status/1030207073525661697
- RS freshman Dylan McCaffrey has really made strides. As we learned after the roster release, he’s put on some necessary weight. At this juncture, I have him slated as the backup. Maybe Michigan goes with Peters in an in-game situation, if Patterson is pulled/hurt, due to his in-game experience – but McCaffrey has been the second-best QB behind Patterson.
- This doesn’t mean Peters (RS sophomore) has had a?bad?camp – one source told me that McCaffrey’s has just been?that?good. The reality of the situation is between those three (plus Joe Milton, get to that in a sec) you have three guys who could compete for a starting job at nearly every school in the country.
- True freshman Joe Milton has lived up to the hype as the future of the QB position for Michigan. He won’t get in the mix this year for a starting role, but with that new-and-improved redshirt rule, he should at least get?some?time in the non-conference garbage time (if there is any).
- Hate to get ahead of myself because we don’t know what’s going to happen between now and next Monday, let along next year ? I think McCaffrey is your guy in 2019 with Milton chasing him. Then it’s all Milton. I mean, this kid’s ceiling is the roof. And, yes, I used an MJ quote despite my bias for LeBron being the GOAT. Which he is.
- So it’s quite obvious that the 1-2 punch will be senior Karan Higdon & junior Chris Evans. As far as who the starter is ? both. Whoever takes the first snap, sure, that’s the “starter.” But it should be almost identical to last season in that those two will have similar touches. Higdon will likely edge Evans out, but Evans will be getting far more receptions out of the backfield. I know that’s not news, but, hey ? just in case.
- The third running back is a weird battle. Usually, there’s no reason to care at all about a third-stringer. But with Evans & Higdon splitting carries, someone’s got to come in when those two are tired. My pick right now would be Christian Turner, with Tru Wilson right behind him. Wilson had the edge coming into camp but Turner is too strong of? weapon, even as a true frosh, to keep off the field. Again, with the redshirt rule, Turner will have an opportunity to get some carries, as will Wilson, in the non-Notre Dame non-conference games (if there’s garbage time). O’Maury Samuels, a RS freshman, is a name I wouldn’t count out as the season goes on. He’s got the intangibles and saw some carries in garbage time last season (before the redshirt rule).
- True freshman Hasaan Haskins hasn’t impressed quite yet. He was low-offered 3-star, so this was the expectation. The staff is in it for the development of Haskins – not for him to be a freshman phenom.
- Sophomores Donovan Peoples-Jones and Tarik Black are going to win the outside jobs with senior Grant Perry leading the way in the slot. Behind the sophomores is Nico Collins, also a sophomore, who is noticeably huge at nearly 6-5. Collins will get significant time this year behind DPJ and Black. Behind Perry is RS freshman Oliver Martin, who is without question my pick as the most overlooked player on this roster (the other being sophomore DE Kwity Paye).
- Do not overlook true freshman Ronnie Bell. A source told me that they’re very impressed with his progress in camp so far. At 6-1, 170, he’s?definitely?got to put some weight on. But, like Haskins, he’s not a guy that needs to be *there* right now. So for all those worried about the thinness of the WR room ? Bell, if he keeps this up, should spell DPJ and Black well either this season or next, depending on how he looks in-game and how the staff wants to handle his redshirt.
- I don’t have much here besides Zach Gentry (junior) is massive and unbelievably athletic for his size. He and sophomore Sean McKeon will be huge for the Wolverines, once again, this season.
- I know that Yoder guy will read this and hunt me down to let me know he reported it first(edit: he shouted me out for this? Ok, cool!), but, yes, Jalen Mayfield is having the best camp of any true freshman, based on all the notes I’ve collected. He’s got a strong opportunity to land a starting job at tackle.
- One of the twl tackle positions will be Jon Runyan, in my opinion. Though don’t count out senior Juwan Bushell-Beatty who doesn’t have the technique of Runyan nor Mayfield, but he has the size to still grab that starting job. Most importantly, RS freshman James Hudson is remains very impressive. He was arguably the most impressive before Mayfield arrived in fall. But the glare over Mayfield might have a lot to do with his short stint so far.
- In all honesty, there’s no concrete option at both tackle spots. It’s a mix of Runyan, Mayfield, Hudson JBB and Chuck Filiaga is still in the race, too. Either way, I can’t sit here and tell you “(name) will start,” because no one really knows who that’s going to be at this juncture, positively.
- (edit) didn?t mention much of James Hudson originally. Hudson, at this juncture, has as good of a chance to start as any other lineman.
- David Long and LaVert Hill continue to be lockdown. Ambry Thomas is definitely the third-best cornerback but senior Brandon Watson is still my pick for the SLCB.
- True freshman Vincent Gray has looked good, according to a source, he?s developing really well so far in camp. Again, another low-ranked recruit that has low expectations in his first year but is already exceeding them. He likely won?t see any time, but a good camp performance is never a bad thing.
The rest of the defense and more team stuff?
- All is standard with the d-line being what we all thought it would be: Gary, Solomon, DwumFour, Winovich. DwumFour stole the show in spring and continues to play at a high-level in fall camp. One source passed along a note that folks believes this d-line is 12-deep. Obviously not THAT deep, but… VERY deep.
- Kwity Paye and Luiji Vilain are out right now but it doesn?t sound serious. Vilain dealt with injuries all year in 2017, otherwise he might have seen the field some as a true freshman.
- RS freshman Donovan Jeter is slotted at the 1-tech right now. He?ll be the backup/split time with Bryan Mone, who?s over 330 and is a situational run-stuffer. I doubt he?ll be back to his once highly thought of talent. Nonetheless he?ll be effective as a run-stuffer.
- This is the best sized team in Harbaugh?s tenure, by far. A source said, ?(Michigan) finally looks like a big-time college football team (size-wise).?
- Another added that there?s a ?more serious attitude,? in SchemHall and that?s been said to me multiple times.
- According to a solid source, the staff is ecstatic with camp so far. So much so, that they?re trying to ?contain their excitement,? over how talented this roster has been in camp. Sure, most staff members think that, and say that so people like us can report it and make them look good… but I haven?t heard something like this out of a Harbaugh camp yet. My favorite quote yet, from a source: ?Jim McElwain has seen talent in his day, ane even he is surprised at this roster?s stacked talent.?
Don?t you just love the anticipation?