The Wolverine

September 2016

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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28 THE WOLVERINE SEPTEMBER 2016 Rk. Name Year Pos. 1. Jabrill Peppers R-So. LB/DB Peppers will serve as a multi-dimen- sional weapon in new defensive coor- dinator Don Brown's scheme. He'll also likely get some more cracks on offense and special teams, making No. 5 per- haps No. 1 in terms of snaps and poten- tial contributions. 2. Jourdan Lewis Sr. CB Harbaugh's media day declaration that Lewis will get a shot at playing offense gives the Wolverines a pair of three-way players at the top of this list. Meanwhile, he's Michigan's best lock- down corner. 3. Jake Butt Sr. TE Butt figures to be right out front in Michigan's offensive arsenal. The 2015 Kwalick-Clark Big Ten Tight End of the Year recorded 51 catches a year ago, the second most on the team, for 654 yards. 4. Jehu Chesson 5th-Sr. WR Last year's team MVP, Chesson an- swered every other doubt in resound- ing fashion a year ago, earning All-Big Ten first-team honors with 50 catches for a team-leading 764 yards and nine receiving touchdowns. 5. Chris Wormley 5th-Sr. DL The 2015 Robert Katcher Award win- ner as Michigan's best defensive line- man, Wormley has seen it all and could match or exceed the team-leading 6.5 sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss he posted last fall. 6. Ryan Glasgow 5th-Sr. DT The torn bicep suffered by this fifth- year senior late last season put a signifi- cant dent in Michigan's defensive line. Glasgow is back in fall camp and figures to factor heavily into the two-line rota- tion the Wolverines will roll out against opponents. 7. Mason Cole Jr. C One of the biggest offseason moves of the year took Cole, a junior, away from left tackle and ushered him into the all-important center position. Re- por ts are that Cole's transition has been smooth. Rk. Name Year Pos. 8. Amara Darboh 5th-Sr. WR Darboh gives Michigan pass catch- ers a triple threat in the top eight of this particular list. He snagged a team- leading 58 receptions for 727 yards and five touchdowns a year ago, including an electric, leaping, one-hand grab still making the rounds on the highlight reels. 9. De'Veon Smith Sr. RB The honorable mention All-Big Ten performer bulled his way to a team- leading 753 yards and six touchdowns on 180 rushing attempts a year ago, capped by a strong performance (25 carries for 109 yards and two scores) against Florida in the Citrus Bowl. 10. Taco Charlton Sr. DE Charlton registered his best season to date a year ago under Harbaugh, notch- ing 5.5 sacks among 8.5 tackles for loss. Those numbers should continue to rise, given Brown's aggressive scheme and the abundance of talent up front. 11. Channing Stribling Sr. CB This senior cornerback notched a pair of interceptions and three passes bro- ken up last year. He dominated at times in the spring and represents a key fac- tor on the defense. 12. Maurice Hurst R-Jr. DL Hurst pitched in with three sacks and 6.5 tackles for loss and enjoyed flashes of brilliance a year ago. He's only a red- shirt junior, but with the right sort of season might be thinking of a move beyond Michigan after this year. 13. John O'Korn R-Jr. QB O'Korn could move way up on this list if he grabs the starting job at quarter- back. The transfer from Houston fea- tures plenty of tools and is looking to nail down a crucial post. 14. Delano Hill Sr. S Hill executed the game-saving pass breakup at the goal line in Michigan's nervy overtime struggle against In- diana in Bloomington last season. He wound up fifth on the team in tackles, with 46 (2.5 for loss). BY JOHN BORTON M ichigan figures to put some of the Big Ten's — if not the nation's — best football players on the field this season. The level of experienced talent continues to rise, underscored by top-10 rankings across the board. Such an upsurge in ability allevi- ates a host of concerns for Jim Har- baugh and his staff. Meanwhile, it provides the staff of The Wolverine with a major dilemma — whom to cast as the Wolverines' most irre- placeable performer in our annual preseason top-25 list. Is it senior cornerback Jourdan Lewis, the All-American lock-down ballhawk who can own his side of the field like few have since Charles Woodson roamed the Michigan sec- ondary? Is it All-American Jabrill Peppers, who can excel in all three phases of the game for the Wolver- ines? How about other key players, like yet another returning All-American, senior tight end Jake Butt? He could be the best in the nation at his po- sition, buttressing a veteran wide receiver group with another prime target for a new starting quarterback. How about a fifth-year senior like defensive lineman Chris Wormley, poised to be one of the biggest forces in what's expected to be a dominant defensive line? Or last year 's team MVP, wideout Jehu Chesson, who led Harbaugh's first Michigan offer- ing in countless ways last fall? The Wolverine staff had options. This proved the most closely con- tested race in the near decade that we've been producing the top 25 — a tie vote on our Ann Arbor staff for No. 1, between Lewis and Peppers. The tiebreaker, from The Wolverine's publishing office, gave the nod to Peppers. Here's how they shook out, with the season right around the corner: MICHIGAN'S TOP 25 Versatile Redshirt Sophomore Jabrill Peppers Repeats As No. 1 Heading Into 2016

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