The Detroit News' John Niyo and Angelique S. Chengelis break down the Wolverines' 26-19 loss to South Carolina. Angelique S. Chengelis
Here are three top returnees, three big losses and three key incoming freshmen for Michigan.
TOP THREE RETURNEES
DE Rashan Gary: Gary will be a junior and an important piece to the defensive line, especially in terms of leadership with the departure of senior tackle Maurice Hurst. Gary is an incredibly gifted athlete and finished with 67 tackles, including 12 for loss. He also had six sacks and seven quarterback hurries.
DE Chase Winovich (considering leaving for NFL): Winovich has not yet made official if he’s returning for another season or heading to the NFL. Gary said before the bowl game that the two of them have always talked about being the best defensive end tandem in the country. That could happen if he returns. Winovich had 77 tackles, including a team-best 18 for loss. He had eight sacks, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
LB Devin Bush: Bush is a tone-setting player who led the team with 100 tackles, was a Butkus finalist and was third-team AP All-American. He finished with five sacks, one interception and eight pass breakups. He is a vital cog in Don Brown’s defense and is comfortable taking on a bigger leadership role.
THREE BIG LOSSES
DT Maurice Hurst: The consensus All-American was voted the team’s most valuable player and is projected to be a top NFL pick. He is quick off the ball and a disruptive interior force that the line will miss. Hurst finished with 60 tackles and 13.5 tackles for loss and five sacks. But his value to the defense was not measured only in stats.
OL Mason Cole: Cole was a four-year starting lineman who made his 51st and final start for Michigan in the bowl game. He returned for his final year of eligibility and was voted co-captain, but what his teammates and coaches appreciated most about him was the fact he played out of position this season. Cole started the first two years at left tackle and then moved to center, where he is most comfortable, last year, before moving back to left tackle this year.
LB Mike McCray: McCray was voted a co-captain and learned to become more of a vocal presence for his team this past season. He was second on the team in tackles with 84, including 17 tackles for loss and five sacks. He was the lone returning defensive starter from the 2016 season.
THREE KEY INCOMING FRESHMEN
TE Mustapha Muhammad: The 6-foot-4, 235-pound tight end was rated four stars by 247Sports composite and is ranked No. 5 overall at the position. Muhammad had planned to sign in February, but instead signed last December. He is solid as a blocker and receiver and could be a factor in the fall.
LB Otis Reese (has not signed letter of intent): Although Reese has been committed to Michigan since June 2016, he did not sign during the early period. The 6-4, 206-pound Georgia native is rated four stars and No. 5 nationally at his position by 247Sports composite. He was a high school teammate of current Wolverine Aubrey Solomon. Reese is still being wooed by Georgia.
FB Ben VanSumeren: All set to sign with Iowa, Michigan got a late flip from a talented in-state player, VanSumeren from Essexville. He is rated three stars, but several recruiting analysts, when asked to choose a player they were excited to watch at Michigan, mentioned him. He’s strong and athletic and will have a chance to play in the fall.
Sept. 1, at Notre Dame
Sept. 8, Western Michigan
Sept. 15, Southern Methodist
Sept. 22, Nebraska
Sept. 29, at Northwestern
Oct. 6, Maryland
Oct. 13, Wisconsin
Oct. 20, at Michigan State
Nov. 3, Penn State
Nov. 10, at Rutgers
Nov. 17, Indiana
Nov. 24, at Ohio State