The Wolverine

September 2016

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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SEPTEMBER 2016 THE WOLVERINE 35 Michigan's Top Five Rookies For 2016 Michigan trots out a veteran squad this year, the lineup rife with multi-year starters at a number of positions. That doesn't mean the rookies can't break through. Some will, sooner rather than later. Here is a best-guess list at a handful tough to keep off the gridiron in 2016. 1. RASHAN GARY, DL — Gary rose to No. 1 on's list of incoming recruits last year, and he's done nothing to dissuade any- one from the notion that he'll be a big-time performer for the Wolverines. "He's very humble, very confident, and really wants to improve and be really good," defen- sive line coach Greg Mattison explained. "He has high expectations for his level of play, to the point where he's been with some of our older kids learning the playbook already. "He wants to do anything he can to be as good as what a lot of people say he is. That's good coming in." "You'll see him at D-end," defensive coordi- nator Don Brown said. "That's where we'd like to put him, over those tight ends and see how many of those tight ends enjoy blocking him. That may be a treat watching that happen." 2. Devin Bush, LB — Michigan figures to play a number of freshman linebackers this season at times, and Bush is in line for serious action. Bush is an early enrollee frosh who went through the rigors of spring football and is now grounded in Brown's system. He could become a key factor as the grind of the season takes its toll. 3. Kekoa Crawford, WR — Listed as "Dylan" in his high school days, Crawford is now employing his middle name, which means "warrior" in Hawaiian. He's been just that in workouts, with a number of Wolverines men- tioning how he stood out. In a Michigan receiving corps full of veter- ans, Crawford could still see the field. 4. David Long, CB — Long should be ex- ceptional, long term, by most assessments. The question is, can he get on the field in a Michigan secondary awash in veterans? History reveals most teams like to play very talented defensive backs early to prep them for the future, and two starting cornerback jobs in 2017 are up for grabs. 5. Chris Evans, RB — Here's a wild card, given the depth on Michigan's running backs roster. But Evans' name keeps coming up as someone who has impressed everyone over the summer months. If he keeps it up, watch out, now and in the future. — John Borton Rashan Gary was recently named the best defensive tackle of the era, topping five-time Pro Bowler Haloti Ngata, fellow 2016 signee Dexter Lawrence (who inked with Clemson) and 2015 second-round pick Mario Edwards. PHOTO BY BRANDON BROWN

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