The Wolverine

2014 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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76 ■ THE WOLVERINE 2014 FOOTBALL PREVIEW Top Five players To WaTch 1. Freshman wide receiver Freddy Can- teen: After the graduation of Jeremy Gallon, who was taken by the New England Patriots in the 2014 NFL Draft after he set a single-season Michigan record with 1,373 receiving yards last season, the Wolverines' receiving corps ap- peared to be a question mark this year. Canteen immediately helped alleviate some of those concerns when he stepped on cam- pus as an early enrollee in January. Canteen (6-1, 170) proved himself as a playmaker in off- season seven-on-seven drills and, more impor- tantly, in spring practice, where he emerged as a consistent offensive threat at both the slot receiver and outside receiver positions. Canteen, who was ranked as a four-star pros- pect and the No. 47 wide receiver in the 2014 class by, hauled in the biggest play of the day at U-M's annual spring game, a 44-yard catch on a well run out route down the sideline. If Canteen can build on the momentum he had coming out of spring ball, he could be a dangerous addition to the Wolverines' re - ceiving group, lining up opposite junior Devin Funchess. 2. Redshirt sophomore guard Kyle Kalis: Kalis was one of Michigan head coach Brady Hoke's first blockbuster recruits. Originally an Ohio State commit, Kalis backed out of his ver- bal pledge to the Buckeyes when former coach Jim Tressel stepped down after the NCAA lev- ied sanctions against the program. Kalis, a five- star prospect and the No. 22 overall player in the 2012 class according to, has been in the public eye since he first set foot on campus. As a redshirt freshman last year, Kalis earned the starting nod at right guard in fall camp. He stayed there for the first six games of the season, before a midseason changeup left him on the bench for four straight games (Erik Mag- nuson, now a redshirt sophomore, started at right guard for the Indiana, Michigan State, Nebraska and Northwestern games). Kalis eventually worked his way back into the lineup, starting the final three games of the season. The offensive line, which surrendered a nation-worst 114 tackles for loss last fall, needs to improve dramatically this year, and a big leap from Kalis would help tremendously. 3. Freshman defensive back Jabrill Pep- pers: Not since Drew Henson first stepped on campus in 1998 has an incoming rookie drawn as much attention or higher expectations than Peppers, who was rated as a five-star prospect, the No. 3 overall player and the No. 1 corner- back in the 2014 class by He has the talent to play any position in the defensive backfield — but he may have the biggest opportunity at safety, where the Wol- verines are still trying to find a starter opposite junior Jarrod Wilson. More than that, Peppers, who racked up an impressive 373 carries for 3,122 yards and 43 touchdowns and 57 catches for 877 yards and 17 scores in high school, could also contribute on offense. He could also be a possible kick and punt returner for the Wolverines. 4. Sophomore running back Derrick Green: When Green checked into Michigan's season-opening game against Central Michi- gan, rattling off a 30-yard rush and finishing with 11 carries for 58 yards and a score, it appeared to be the beginning of a breakout rookie season. However, the campaign didn't pan out that way. Green had just one other game in which he rushed for more than 50 yards — racking up 79 yards on 19 carries at Northwestern — and posted just one more rush of 20 or more yards, a 23-yard scamper against the Wildcats. On the season, he recorded 83 carries for 270 yards (a middling 3.3 yards per rush) and two touchdowns. Now, Green is pitted in a battle with redshirt junior Justice Hayes and sophomore De'Veon Smith to replace the graduated Fitzgerald Toussaint as Michigan's No. 1 back. Will Green, who was rated as a five-star pros- pect and the No. 8 overall player in the 2013 class by, step up and claim the starter's role for himself? 5. Sophomore cornerback Jourdan Lewis: When Blake Countess, now a redshirt junior, shifted down from cornerback to nickel back (fifth defensive back) last season, the Wol- verines cycled through a plethora of third- cornerback options. Everyone from Lewis to sophomore Channing Stribling to senior De- lonte Hollowell to redshirt sophomore Terry Richardson took a turn at the spot. Lewis was one of the most impressive per- formers in spring, earning the starting corner- back spot opposite senior Raymon Taylor in the spring game. If the Wolverines can rely on Lewis to be a consistent, every-down cornerback, they can move Countess to nickel without worry and have talent across the board in the secondary. Sophomore running back Derrick Green rushed for more than 50 yards in a game just twice as a rookie, but he could be poised to have a breakout season in 2014 after shedding some weight. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL 72-76.Season Preview.indd 76 6/18/14 3:55 PM

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