The Wolverine

May 2021 Issue

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 65 of 67

66 THE WOLVERINE MAY 2021 Chris Balas has been with The Wolver- ine since 1997. Contact him at cbalas@ and follow him on Twitter @Balas_Wolverine. INSIDE MICHIGAN   CHRIS BALAS Spring Spies Provide Football Intel F or years, with few exceptions, it's been easier to learn U.S. trade secrets than to glean in- formation from Michigan football practices. This isn't a complaint — coaches will do what they feel is best for their programs, and they have that right — but there's a reason those in the media have re- ferred to Schembechler Hall as "Fort Schembechler," and it's not because it looks like the Alamo. This year's access was more lim- ited than any time we can remem- ber, in part because of COVID-19 restrictions, in part … well, just because they want it that way. But we've still been able to pick up several tidbits from both sides of the ball. Here's a taste to get you through the long summer months before the season opener against Western Michigan Sept. 4: SPRING OFFENSIVE MVP Redshirt sophomore running back Hassan Haskins gets the nod here, having elevated his game in the last few weeks of camp after being pushed by freshman upstarts Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards. He was also one of the standouts in the spring game, breaking tackles and running for a number of solid gains in the first half before the coaches went deeper into the bench. Corum is a blazer and has got- ten much more patient between the tackles. Edwards is "what a [prep] five-star is supposed to look like," offensive coordinator Josh Gattis said in the days leading up to the spring scrimmage April 10. But Haskins is the veteran in the room, and — right now — the best all-around back of an impressive trio. SPRING DEFENSIVE MVP Sophomore safety Daxton Hill was an elite recruit out of high school, a five-star prospect, and he's starting to live up to his lofty potential. His instincts make him a natural at free safety, but he can be called upon to lock down an op- ponent's top receiver, has been great in run support (and can lay a hit at 6-0, 192 pounds) and has incredible make-up speed. He was all over the field when he played in the first half of the spring game, per our sources, sniffing out a double pass and nearly making a tough pick after a timely break on the ball. "He played like an absolute freak," one observer said — and ev- eryone else we know who was there agreed. YOUR STARTING QUARTERBACK IS … Redshirt freshman Cade McNa- mara … at least for now. McNamara and freshman J.J. McCarthy both had their ups and downs this spring, but the former was more consistent, for the most part. He had some big plays in the spring game, including long gainers to sophomore Cornelius Johnson — one of two receivers Gattis singled out as leading the wideouts this spring (along with sophomore Mike Sainristil) — and another to fresh- man Andrel Anthony. On a side note, Anthony might be the steal of the 2021 class. He's been outstanding and has great ball skills. But this is a young team, and it will need very good quarterback play to make up for its lack of ex- perience. They aren't there yet, and while McCarthy looks the part for the future, he's still learning the of- fense. This competition will continue into the fall, and Texas Tech transfer Alan Bowman (67 percent comple- tion rate, 5,260 yards and 33 touch- downs in parts of three seasons) will get a serious look, too. OFFENSIVE PLAYERS ON THE RISE We'll go with two on each side of the ball, and on offense, freshman guard Zak Zinter is the no-brainer. Even before Gattis called him the "bell cow" around which the line would build, folks in the building were telling us the 6-6, 334-pounder would be the next great Michigan lineman. He's primarily playing right guard, but he's also snapping the ball at times and could be the starting center this fall — he's that versatile. Sophomore tight end Erick All has received a lot of praise for his prac- tice play the last few years, but it hasn't translated to the field, largely due to drops. He was a spring game standout with an estimated four receptions for 60-plus yards. His emergence would be huge for an offense looking for consistent play- makers. DEFENSIVE PLAYERS ON THE RISE Hello, Mike Morris. Not only was the redshirt fresh- man end one of the most improved this spring, but he might also have been one of the best linemen overall with junior Aidan Hutchinson side- lined. He's got a great motor and can get to the quarterback. We also like what we've heard about redshirt frosh cornerback D.J. Turner. He was banged up in the spring game, but he's come on strong in coverage. ❑ Michigan has a loaded running backs group, led by redshirt sophomore Hassan Haskins. PHOTO BY PER KJELDSEN

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of The Wolverine - May 2021 Issue