Michigan Football Preview 2019

Digital Edition

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Page 49 of 179

Top Five Players Out Of Spring Ball Several projected starters missed a good portion of spring ball, including senior cornerback Lavert Hill, junior receivers Nico Collins and Donovan Peoples-Jones, redshirt junior defensive tackle Michael Dwumfour and junior linebacker Josh Ross. Here are the standouts among those who saw the field: 1 Senior safety JOSH METELLUS — Metellus was playing at an "elite" level this spring, safeties coach Chris Partridge said, and he will be the Wolverines' rock in the secondary — and on the entire defense. He's got a nose for the ball, is a big hitter and is coming off a first-team All-Big Ten season (Associated Press). He was the defensive player of the game in two contests last year (Maryland and Wisconsin) on a unit loaded with talent — four defenders were chosen among the top 79 picks in the past NFL Draft — and he's elevated his game. 2 Senior quarterback Shea Patterson — Head coach Jim Harbaugh admitted after spring ball that Patterson got off to a slow start, but the senior picked it up and had the offense humming in the last few practices, despite missing two of his top receivers in juniors Nico Collins and Donovan Peoples-Jones (injuries). Patterson threw for 2,600 yards and 22 touchdowns last year and should improve on those numbers in a new offense strongly suited for his talents. 3 Junior defensive end Kwity Paye — Defensive coordinator Don Brown insisted Paye might be the best defensive lineman in the country this season — incredible praise for last year's spot starter. He's got the work ethic, the ability and the football IQ to be U-M's next great up front … and the team needs that from him. 4 Senior offensive guard Ben Bredeson — There might not be a better block finisher in the Big Ten than this 33-game starter, who plays to the whistle on every possession and earned the team's Toughest Player Award last year. He's become an outstanding leader and is only a bit more of consistency away from being mentioned among the best Michigan guards of the past several decades. 5 Senior linebacker Khaleke Hudson — The viper went from 83 tackles, 17.5 tackles for loss, 8.0 sacks and 11 passes defended (two interceptions) in 2017 to 44, 3.5, 2.0 and one (no picks), respectively, last year. The Wolverines will need him to return to his 2017 form, given the loss of linebacker Devin Bush Jr. to the NFL. Brown marveled at Hudson's consistency and toughness this spring, noting he played through some pain and illness in the last few weeks. BY CHRIS BALAS I n his span of four seasons as Michi- gan's head coach, Jim Harbaugh has led the Wolverines to the eighth-best record among Power Five conference teams. His 38-14 mark is especially impressive given what he inherited in 2015 … a program coming off 7-6 and 5-7 sea- sons under Brady Hoke and struggling to regain the identity that had made it a peren- nial contender. At the same time, U-M is 0-4 against Ohio State and is still working to regain its status as one of the Big Ten's elite. Will this be the year? We tackle some of the 2019 team's biggest questions and more in our annual season primer: 2019 Season Preview A Primer On Michigan's Outlook Entering Year Five Of The Jim Harbaugh Era 48 ■ THE WOLVERINE 2019 FOOTBALL PREVIEW PHOTO BY BRANDON BROWN

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