The Wolverine

August 2018

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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AUGUST 2018 THE WOLVERINE 49 ing in an 81.2 overall grade from Pro Football Focus, which is considered to be "above average" and ranked 35th among edge defenders. Andy Patton of USA Today expects the 25-year-old to build on last sea- son's performance and become an even bigger threat in 2018. "With [defensive linemen] Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett and Sheldon Richardson all gone, Clark will step into an increased role in 2018," Pat- ton wrote in early July. "And with the amount of skill he has shown in a part- time role, he should be able to put to- gether a Pro Bowl worthy season for the Seahawks. "Clark is an elite pass rusher, hav- ing racked up 19 sacks in the last two seasons. That's more than both Bennett and Avril in the same window, even though Clark only started 17 games. … Clark should have no problem eclips- ing double-digit sacks again in 2018." 9. ZACH WERENSKI, D COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS (NHL) After being selected eighth overall by the Blue Jackets in the 2015 NHL Draft, Werenski lived up to the hype during his 2016-17 rookie campaign. He played in 78 contests, racking up 11 goals and 36 assists for 47 points, and finished with a plus-17 rating. The Blue Jacket also wound up third in the Calder Memorial Trophy vot- ing, which is given annually to the league's best rookie. Although his statistics took a slight dip this past season, the second-year pro was still a force to be reckoned with. He tallied 16 goals and 21 assists for 37 points, and a plus-eight margin. In fact, his 16 goals actually ranked fourth among NHL blue liners this past season and set a team record for defensemen. One of the highlights of his cam- paign came Jan. 26 when he was tasked with replacing fellow defense- man Seth Jones at the 2018 NHL All- Star Game. Following the season's end, Weren- ski revealed that he had played much of the year with an undisclosed shoul- der injury and wound up having sur- gery in May. Full recovery is expected to take five or six months. 10. TREY BURKE, G NEW YORK KNICKS (NBA) After averaging just 10.6 points per game with the Utah Jazz in 2015-16 and then only 5.0 with the Washing- ton Wizards the following year, it looked like Burke's NBA career was headed in the wrong direction. He redeemed himself, however, this past season with the Knicks. Burke tied his career high in points by tally- ing 12.8 per game, while accumulat- ing the second-best assist average of his professional tenure with 4.7. The highlight of his campaign came March 26 against the Charlotte Hor- nets when he racked up in 42 points and 12 assists, becoming the first Knick to score at least 40 and hand out 10 or more dimes in a game since Stephon Marbury in 2005. Perhaps competing alongside for- mer Wolverine teammate Hardaway helped resurrect Burke's career — the two also played next to one another for two seasons in Ann Arbor from 2011-13. ❏ The Up-And-Comers Five Michigan pros that are likely to make the top-10 list in the future: • Taco Charlton, DE, Dallas Cowboys (NFL): The first-round rookie played in all 16 games and notched 19 total tackles, three sacks and a forced fumble. He improved throughout each of his four years at Michigan, and will soon be on the top-10 list if he continues to progress the same way with the Cowboys. • J.T. Compher, LW, Colorado Avalanche (NHL): He saw action in 69 contests for the Avalanche during his second professional campaign, compiling 23 points and 13 goals. The 23-year-old could be the next in line of successful Wolverines in the NHL. • Ben Gedeon, LB, Minnesota Vikings (NFL): He provided a much bigger impact than expected during his rookie campaign in Minnesota, competing in all 16 affairs with nine starts, ac- cumulating 37 tackles. He also saw action in the Vikings' two playoff showdowns, recording one stop. • Caris LeVert, SG, Brooklyn Nets (NBA): He only started 10 of the 71 matchups he appeared in with the Nets in 2017-18, but he averaged 12.1 points, 4.2 assists, 3.7 boards and 1.2 steals per game, all of which were career highs. If the former four-year Wolverine (2012-16) makes another substantial leap next season, he'll assuredly find himself on the top-10 list. • Jabrill Peppers, S, Cleveland Browns (NFL): He started all 13 games he played in for the 0-16 Browns, racking up 57 tackles and one interception, while also returning 30 punts for 180 yards (6.0 average) and 14 kicks for 318 yards (22.7 average). Cleveland was the worst team in the NFL last year, but he can be a big part of their turnaround on the field. — Austin Fox Cleveland Browns safety Jabrill Peppers started all 13 games he played in as a rookie, but is looking to improve upon his 57 tackles and one interception. PHOTO COURTESY CLEVELAND BROWN

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