The Wolverine

September 2018*

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Page 42 of 75

SEPTEMBER 2018 THE WOLVERINE 43 in 13 games during his debut, rushed three times for four yards and two touchdowns, and also recorded two unassisted tackles en route to earning the team's Toughest Player award. Dylan McCaffrey QB 4 Redshirted last year but was called the "most improved" quarterback this spring by head coach Jim Harbaugh. Is fighting for the starting job with Shea Patterson and Brandon Peters. Phillip Paea OL 3 Redshirted last year and moved from defensive line to offensive line in the spring to add to the competi- tion at guard. Kwity Paye DE 3 Expected to see significant action at both end positions and was singled out by Brown as an up and comer. A strong pass rusher, he finished with five tackles (1.5 for loss, 1.0 sack) in nine games last year. Donovan Peoples-Jones WR 4 Michigan's 2017 Rookie of the Year after earning honorable mention All- Big Ten honors from the media as a punt returner. Peoples-Jones ranked third on the team with 654 all-pur- pose yards as a frosh, including 277 receiving, and scored one touchdown on a punt return. Brad Robbins P 2 Started 10 games after supplanting Will Hart for the job and kicked 64 times, averaging 40.4 yards per punt. He was inconsistent, but he did drop 19 attempts inside the 20-yard line. He was named All-Big Ten honorable mention by the coaches. Josh Ross LB 4 Played in 13 games last year, pri- marily on special teams, and regis- tered four total tackles. One of the favorites to start at weakside line- backer this year. Cesar Ruiz OL 4 Appeared in all 13 contests, start- ing the final five games at right guard. He's the starting center this fall barring something unforeseen and has the potential to be great. O'maury Samuels RB 4 Played in nine games and carried eight times for 13 yards in a reserve role. He is competing for the No. 3 tailback spot this year. Drew Singleton LB 4 Redshirted last year while recov- ering from a knee injury suffered in high school. Singleton is in the mix at weakside linebacker and vying for playing time. Aubrey Solomon DT 5 Appeared in all 13 games as a true freshman and showed signs of be- ing starter material by the end of the season, opening four of the final six contests at nose tackle. He notched 18 tackles, including two for loss, and will be a key part of what should be an outstanding line this year. Benjamin St-Juste CB 4 Saw action in 12 games last year and registered three tackles, but inju- ries slowed him this spring. He'll have work to do to earn his way back for significant playing time, but should at least see action on special teams. Andrew Stueber OL 3 Redshirted last season but has con- tinued to improve. Hopes to earn his way into the two-deep this fall. Kurt Taylor RB 2 Redshirted last season and did not carry the ball. Is competing for the No. 3 tailback spot, but has work to do to get there. Ambry Thomas CB 4 One of the breakout players of the spring at cornerback, Thomas played in all 13 games last season and recorded seven tackles. He also returned 20 kickoffs for 396 yards. Luiji Vilain DE 4 Tore his ACL and redshirted a year ago, but he's back to full health and competing for time at defensive end this fall. J'Marick Woods S 3 Woods is called one of the biggest hitters on the team by coaches and teammates, but needs to be more consistent in order to see the field. He'll play at safety in a backup role after notching nine tackles in 12 games and one start last year. ❏ Top Contributor To Date WR/PR Donovan Peoples-Jones: Peoples-Jones became the Wolverines' most dependable receiver by the end of the year, hauling in a 48-yard grab at Wisconsin as part of a four-reception effort and catching six passes for 58 yards in the Out- back Bowl. He also showed his big-play ability with a 42-yard punt return against Ohio State that set up a touchdown. He has gotten bigger and stronger this year. Unsung Hero CB/KR Ambry Thomas: Thomas has star potential, and he showed flashes of it last year while playing nickel back and kick returner. He shows explosion on kick returns and was mentioned by secondary coach Mike Zordich this spring as one of the team's top corners. Ready To Make An Impact This Fall C Cesar Ruiz: Defensive tackle Aubrey Solomon, too, is expected to be a force, but Ruiz has shown he could be Michigan's next great center. He's got the build, the smarts and the talent to anchor what should be an improved offensive line. Should transfer quarterback Shea Patterson win the starting job as expected, Ruiz already had experience snapping to him prior to this spring — the two were teammates at prep powerhouse IMG Academy in Florida, and Ruiz hosted him on his visit to U-M. Thomas appeared in all 13 games last year on special teams and totaled seven tackles, an assisted tackle for loss, one forced fum- ble and two fumble recoveries, and ran back 20 kickoffs for 396 yards (19.8 average). PHOTO BY PER KJELDSEN

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