The Wolverine

2020 Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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THE WOLVERINE 2020 FOOTBALL PREVIEW ■ 113 DEFENSIVE BACKS QUICK FACTS Position Coach: Michael Zordich (cornerbacks, sixth season) and Bob Shoop (safeties, first season). Returning Starters: CB Ambry Thomas (13 career starts) and S Brad Hawkins (10). Departing Starters: S Josh Metellus (38) and CB Lavert Hill (37). Projected New Starters: CB Vincent Gray (1) and S Daxton Hill (3). Top Reserves: S Sammy Faustin, DB Gemon Green, CB DJ Turner and CB Andre Seldon. Wait Until 2021: DB German Green, CB George Johnson, CB Jalen Perry and S Quinten Johnson. Newcomers: Seldon, S Jordan Morant, S Makari Paige, CB Eamonn Dennis, S R.J. Moten and CB Darion Green-Warren. Moved In: George Johnson (from WR). Moved Out: CB/S Jaylen Kelly-Powell (transferred to Akron), S J'Marick Woods (transferred to Duke). Rookie Impact: Seldon. Most Improved Player: Gray. Best Pro Prospect: Hill. back Ambry Thomas. Thomas started all 13 Michigan games a year ago, and has played in every one (39) since he arrived at Michi- gan three years ago. He made three tackles for loss among his 38 stops a year ago, tied for the team lead in interceptions with three, broke up four more passes and recovered a pair of fumbles. He and Gray will both need to stand tall in Brown's man-to-man pass cover schemes. "Vincent Gray stepped up as a player last year," Karsch said. "Ambry Thomas is going to be asked to be the lead dog back there. He's got the attitude for it, for sure. He is a player that has never looked physically intimidating, but has never backed down, either. "Now, when Michigan's secondary is at its best, there's always been a third cover guy, a corner, someone who can come in. That person has yet to emerge." That's all guess work at this point, with no spring ball and players just re- cently getting together for sum- mer workouts. But there are some reasonable guesses in that regard. "I wouldn't bet against the freshman Andre Seldon," Karsch Versatile redshirt sophomore Vincent Gray contributed at cornerback and safety while seeing action in all 13 contests a year ago. PHOTO BY BRANDON BROWN PRESEASON ANALYSIS: DEFENSIVE BACKS STARTERS ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ While the Wolverines can certainly trot out four starters who have played in the biggest games against the toughest foes, they are largely unproven when it comes to dominating in a big game. U-M experienced significant trouble slowing down the passing attacks of Ohio State and Alabama, but they had plenty of company there. It will help them that redshirt sophomore cornerback Vincent Gray and sophomore safety Daxton Hill got extensive time a year ago. This is a crew that really could have benefited from spring practice, but they'll need to learn to work together on the fly entering the 2020 season. DEPTH ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ There are players available, but not proven ones at the collegiate level. The Wolverines will rely on some who have been around for a couple of years, like redshirt sophomores Sammy Faustin and Gemon Green, as well as true freshman talent like Andre Seldon, should they encounter injury issues or rotation needs. X-FACTOR Hill's growth at safety certainly factors into the overall improvement mix. If he can become a fast, dominant force in the middle of the field, Michigan (and oppo- nents) will feel the difference. OVERALL ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ The Wolverines' scheme will put plenty of pressure on quarterbacks and create opportunities in the secondary. U-M will dominate the weaker opponents and give a number of middling-to-good teams fits. The test will come when crews with a very strong passing (and overall) attack come at them. Michigan's secondary needs to take full advantage of the season it has to prepare for that encounter.

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