Where the Michigan roster stands heading into 2020
Here’s a look at each position group for Michigan headed into the offseason:
With Shea Patterson, the Wolverines’ starter the last two seasons, moving on, the competition is open entering the spring and should be close between Dylan McCaffrey, who had been the backup to Patterson, and Joe Milton. Cade McNamara will be in the mix, as well. McCaffrey has had more game experience, but Milton also has tremendous upside and said he has worked this past season to develop more touch on his throws. This will be the second year in the offense for all three with offensive coordinator Josh Gattis, so they should all have a good handle on it.
Zach Charbonnet and Hassan Haskins, who became the Wolverines’ top two backs during the 2019 season, return, but also back in the fold is Chris Evans, who had a year-long suspension from the university for an academic issue. Evans has a year remaining and although he hasn’t played since the 2018 season, he brings considerable experience. He obviously has not been part of Gattis’ offense so there might be some catching up to do, but he has been studying the playbook and has a good feel for the game. Freshman Blake Corum could also get playing time and be the spark the run game needs.
This is the position group that has the biggest losses, but it’s not catching anyone by surprise. Left tackle Jon Runyan, left guard Ben Bredeson and right guard Michael Onwenu have all exhausted their eligibility. Cesar Ruiz, who has started the last two seasons at center and got a handful of starts at right guard his freshman year, is contemplating a move to the NFL with a year left. That would leave Jalen Mayfield as the only returning starter. So how would things shake out? Hard to say, but Ryan Hayes could move into right tackle, and then there’s Andrew Stueber, who suffered a torn ACL before the season, and was neck-and-neck with Mayfield in preseason camp. Andrew Vastardis could move into center, while Chuck Filiaga and Zach Carpenter would be at the guard spots.
There’s a lot of talent here, but it’s unclear how loaded the group will be with Nico Collins and Donovan Peoples-Jones still considering whether they’ll return. Michigan has some young receivers, speedy players that fit Josh Gattis’ style. Ronnie Bell had a breakout season and there’s no sign of him slowing down his productivity. Mike Sainristil got a lot of praise for his play during bowl practices, and Giles Jackson and Cornelius Johnson also got some key game experience in 2019.
Nick Eubanks has decided to return and will be the veteran in the room. Outgoing tight end Sean McKeon said the group will be in good hands with Eubanks, who took a bit step this season developing his blocking. This is a solid group with Luke Schoonmaker, who scored a touchdown in 2019, and Erick All showed his ability as a physical blocker in his game appearances during his freshman season.
The ends are solid with the return of Kwity Paye, who considered a departure for the NFL, and Aidan Hutchinson, who had a standout season as a full-time starter during his sophomore season in 2019. Tackle was not exactly deep during the 2019 season. All indications are Carlo Kemp will be back, and Michael Dwumfour, who had surgery before the bowl game, could be back. Freshman Chris Hinton and Mazi Smith will be factors at tackle. Other linemen to keep an eye on are Luiji Vilain, David Ojabo, Jess Speight, Donovan Jeter and Gabe Newburg.
Cam McGrone took over when Josh Ross went down with a high ankle sprain in the Wisconsin game and got better and better. Defensive coordinator Don Brown has said McGrone’s speed is close to Devin Bush-level. Ross will return and Anthony Solomon and Michael Barrett are working at the viper position as well.
Ambry Thomas is still thinking about whether he will be back or enter the NFL Draft, and he certainly would be a great asset for the Wolverines at cornerback. Lavert Hill’s eligibility is complete, so Vincent Gray likely would be at the other corner. Dax Hill, the five-star recruit who showed his athleticism and game-changing ability, will be at safety along with Brad Hawkins.
No changes anticipated here. Quinn Nordin finished the season handling field goals and was 3-for-3 in the Citrus Bowl, including a 57-yarder that ties a Michigan record, while Jake Moody, with whom he split the job earlier in 2019, handled kickoffs. Will Hart will be back punting, and Camaron Cheeseman is the long snapper.