The Wolverine

September 2018*

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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SEPTEMBER 2018 THE WOLVERINE 29 19. QUINN NORDIN, R-SO., PK Nordin went 19 of 24 (79.2 percent) in his first season as Michigan's field goal kicker, slamming through two deeper than 50 yards with a long of 55. He's certainly one of the top 25 most important Wolverines, and sky- rockets up the crucial meter if U-M happens to face a game-winning field goal situation in the opener at Notre Dame — hardly unprecedented. 20. MICHAEL DWUMFOUR, R-SO., DT Harbaugh referred to Dwumfour as one of Michigan's best breakthrough players of the spring, and that's good news for Greg Mattison's defensive line. The third-year Wolverine has been referred to as "Maurice Hurst- like" by some observers, regarding his ability to penetrate opposing offensive lines and make plays. Dwumfour became the talk of spring practice, and Harbaugh was still talk- ing when he hit Chicago for the Big Ten football meetings in late July. He left no doubt that the spring chat- ter wasn't idle encouragement for a younger player at a position of need. "Michael Dwumfour really had a great spring," Harbaugh stressed. "Of all of our play- ers, I thought he was most improved. He's had a tre- mendous summer. The good players have been taking leadership roles, but then here comes Mike Dwumfour. "Did you really an- ticipate that, that he was going to become the force and the leader he's been this summer? That's good." Meanwhile, Winovich identified Dwumfour as his prime candidate in the projected role of Michigan's breakout player of the year for 2018. "It's either Michael Dwumfour or [redshirt sophomore line- backer] Devin Gil," Win- ovich said. "Both could have breakout years, but specifically Michael Dwumfour. I think he's going to have a breakout year." Dwumfour's mother, Agnes Agbo- loso, loves that her son stands on the brink of pulling on the winged helmet and playing a major role next to Gary, a childhood friend. "I'm not surprised," she cautioned. "I know what he can do. He's good at it. I just thank God that he's getting to where he wants to be. "He's loving every bit of it. He loves his coaches. I'm just glad he's serious in what he's doing." 21. MICHAEL ONWENU, JR., OL Onwenu stands locked in a battle for the starting spot at right guard. He became a starter for the Wolverines in 2017, trotting out with the ones in eight games at right guard, and drawing his first start at left guard in the Outback Bowl. He's the beefiest Wolverine, at 6-3, 350, and could be a key cog in an upgraded offensive line. 22. BEN MASON, SO., FB/LB Mason tore the meniscus in his knee in spring practice and under- went offseason surgery. But the Wolverine identified as Michigan's "toughest player" will be ready to knock heads during the season, at both fullback and linebacker, accord- ing to Harbaugh. 24. NOAH FURBUSH, 5TH-SR., LB Furbush gets the call at outside linebacker when the opponents' of- fense features a beefier run game. The veteran will be ready, follow- ing a fourth year in the program that saw him produce 30 tackles, including a sack among 2.5 TFLs. He also picked off a pass in the Outback Bowl and recovered two fumbles on the year. 25. BRANDON PETERS, R-SO., QB Michigan's struggles in 2017 un- derscored the need for experienced, effective backup quarterbacks. Pe- ters took some hard knocks last year, one of which knocked him from the lineup. He'll compete for the starting job, after completing 52.8 percent (57 of 108) of his passes for 672 yards and four touchdowns. ❏ PHOTO BY PER KJELDSEN 23. AMBRY THOMAS, SO., CB Thomas figures in as Michigan's top substitute corner, if he doesn't wrest away a starting job. He's also a solid kickoff returner, averaging 19.8 yards per takeback, to go along with a pair of fumble recoveries and a forced fumble on defense. Michigan cornerbacks coach Mike Zordich knows it's tough to be patient, with all four secondary starters returning from last season. He'll challenge Thomas not to be and to practice as if he's in the starting lineup — which isn't a far-fetched scenario, given the right circumstances. "It's maturity level," Zordich said. "Last year, we were so young. Now all of a sudden, these guys have had some playing experience and it's helped. "Things are slower for him. He's been really im- proved." Meanwhile, Thomas isn't putting any limitations on himself, with regard to any facet of the game. "Every game, I get closer and closer," he said, regard- ing breaking a long kickoff return. "We're going to get one. "I like going fast. My speed is untouchable, no matter where I go, anywhere in this country. I just want to show- case my ability." He's taken huge strides on defense, not just in Zordich's eyes, but in his own estimation. Thomas has focused on his ball skills, desiring to not just tip away passes but intercept them and head the other direction. Wherever he fits in 2018, No. 1 isn't ready to settle for second best. "I felt like if I took [jersey] No. 1, I was going to hold myself to a high standard," he assured. "I tried to shy away, back to No. 13, but it came back to me. Coach was like, 'No, you can't wear No. 13.' I think it was a message from God. I've got to hold myself to that high level."

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