Best Guess 2019 Roster: October 23, 2018 update

Our latest attempt to project what Michigan football's roster could look like next season.

This is a periodic feature taking a look at how we project Michigan to manage its 85 scholarships for the following season. This considers several factors: potential early entries to the NFL draft, those who may transfer and/or not rewarded a 5th year, latest information on the incoming recruiting class, and our own speculative analysis. This feature is intended to be a tool for those trying to keep track of who could be coming and going for the Wolverines. Obviously, that also means some names of players either currently on the roster, or currently thought to be committed, may not be on this list. Make of that what you will.

Quarterback (4)

Shea Patterson (Sr.), Dylan McCaffrey, (R-So.), Joe Milton (R-Fr.), Cade McNamara (Fr.)

A recent survey of NFL GMs and scouts had Patterson only the 9th-best quarterback in the 2019 draft. Just more reasons why we think the evidence continues to point to him returning next season. If he does return, this is pretty much the ideal quarterback room. A proven leader. A rising star. A promising youngster. A decorated newcomer.

Running Back (6)

Chris Evans (Sr.), Tru Wilson (Sr.), Hassan Haskins (R-Fr.), Christian Turner (R-Fr.), Zach Charbonnet (Fr.), Eric Gray (Fr.)

We’re moving Gray back into the fold solidly after some information our Michael Spath was given, but he’ll have to be recruited all the way until Signing Day. Michigan coaches remain excited about Turner’s potential, and he’s gotten on the field for some snaps now that he’s healthy. Charbonnet’s film is ridiculous, and he will be a candidate for early playing time next year. Wilson, the popular walk-on, has definitely played well enough to be on scholarship next season.

Fullback (2)

Ben Mason (Jr.), Ben VanSumeren (So.)

Mason is developing into a weapon. VanSumeren will take the snaps currently going to 5th-year senior Jared Wangler.

Wide Receiver (9)

Donovan Peoples-Jones (Jr.), Nico Collins (Jr.), Tarik Black (R-So.), Oliver Martin (R-So.), Ronnie Bell (So.), Michael Barrett (R-Fr.), Giles Jackson (Fr.), George Johnson (Fr.), Quintel Kent (Fr.)

Jackson and Johnson are pure slots, and at least one of them will compete for early playing time next season with Ambry Thomas needed more on defense. Also look for Barrett, just moved back to offense, to compete for slot playing time, too. Bell is a hybrid, as in he has outside receiver skills in a slot’s body type. The trio of Peoples-Jones, Collins, and Black will look like the WR line at the NFL combine. And don’t sleep on Martin, who has made some plays this season. We currently don’t project the Wolverines adding another wideout to this class, but as always recruiting is fluid.

Tight End (6)

Zach Gentry (R-Sr.), Sean McKeon (Sr.), Nick Eubanks (R-Jr.), Luke Schoonmaker (So.), Mustapha Muhammad (R-Fr.), Erick All (Fr.)

If Gentry improves his blocking down the stretch, the NFL draft is a possibility for him if he wants to go. For now, we’ll keep him here. If he does come back, the talent here is filthy. If he doesn’t, it’s still pretty dang good. All is one of the fastest rising Midwest prospects in the 2019 class. Muhammad was one of the most decorated members of the 2018 class. Eubanks is becoming one of their best downfield passing options.

Offensive Line (16)

Jon Runyan, Jr. (R-Sr.), Ben Bredeson (Sr.), Michael Onwenu (Sr.), Stephen Spanellis (R-Jr.), Cesar Ruiz (Jr.), Andrew Stueber (R-So.), Joel Honingford (R-So.), Chuck Filiaga (R-So.), Jalen Mayfield (So.), Ryan Hayes (R-Fr.), Nolan Rumler (Fr.), Trente Jones (Fr.), Jack Stewart (Fr.), Karsen Barnhart (Fr.), Zach Carpenter (Fr.), Trevor Keegan/Danielson Ike/Bryce Benhart (Fr.)

We believe Michigan will sign one of its final trio of coveted tackle prospects in the 2019 class. This would be the deepest the offensive line has been in Ann Arbor in a long, long time. With depth you get competition, and that’s always good news, although the departure of James Hudson is unfortunate. Everyone had high hopes for him.

Defensive Line (15)

Michael Dwumfour (R-Jr.), Carlo Kemp (R-Jr.), Aubrey Solomon (Jr.), Kwity Paye (Jr.), Donovan Jeter (R-So.), Luiji Vilain (R-So.), Aidan Hutchinson (So.), Taylor Upshaw (R-Fr.), Julius Welschof (R-Fr.), Gabe Newburg (Fr.), David Ojabo (Fr.), Mazi Smith (Fr.), Chris Hinton (Fr.), Mike Morris (Fr.), Zach Harrison (Fr.)

Good numbers here, starting with Solomon, Dwumfour, and Kemp, which would be as good as an interior threesome as there is returning in college football. On the outside, Paye seems poised for stardom, and Hutchinson’s future is also bright. Plus, there are several other well-regarded recruits to develop both inside and outside. In other words, this unit isn’t going anywhere. We also believe Harrison, considered one of the top overall prospects in the 2019 class, will end up a Wolverine, which would take this unit from salty to ridiculous.

Linebacker (6)

Josh Uche (Sr.), Devin Gil (Sr.), Josh Ross (Jr.), Jordan Anthony (R-So.), Cameron McGrone (R-Fr.), Charles Thomas (Fr.)

Uche has become a pass-rushing weapon as Michigan has shifted its defense to account for the loss of Gary. This unit would miss Devin Bush, and doesn’t appear to have a player waiting in the wings capable of replacing his presence. But there’s still enough athleticism and ability here to field a disruptive unit in Don Brown’s scheme. We are also forecasting elite prospect Crouch to end up in the class, with Michigan getting the pivotal final official visit. McGrone, ranked the top LB prospect according to 247 in the 2018 class, would immediately contend for the minutes Drew Singleton would’ve gotten next year before deciding to transfer. This position will need to be a top priority in the 2020 class.

Viper (3)

Khaleke Hudson (Sr.), Quinten Johnson (Fr.), Joey Velazquez (Fr.)

The good news of Hudson having an underwhelming season thus far is his draft stock has plummeted, and makes it more likely he returns next year. And he’d be needed, because behind him are newcomers. Of course, we wouldn’t be surprised to see another player or two shifted here in the spring as well. J’Marick Woods, for example, could be a fit here. Velazquez is the quintessential Don Brown recruit, while Johnson is an athletic freak similar to what Hudson was as an underrated prep star.

Defensive Back (14)

Lavert Hill (Sr.), Josh Metellus (Sr.), Ambry Thomas (Jr.), J’Marick Woods (Jr.), Brad Hawkins (Jr.), Jaylen Kelly-Powell (Jr.), Myles Sims (So.), Vincent Gray (So.), Sammy Faustin (R-Fr.), Gemon Green (R-Fr.), German Green (R-Fr.), D.J. Turner (Fr.), Daxton Hill (Fr.), Mike Sainristill (Fr.)

We’re currently projecting David Long, who has been dynamite in Big Ten play, to be a stronger early NFL draft entrant candidate than Hill. But we also wouldn’t be surprised if both those guys left, or both those guys stayed. This is a fluid position, and one where the Wolverines have plenty of numbers to cover for the difference scenarios. Daxton Hill, though, will compete for Tyree Kinnel’s safety spot right away. Metellus could be a preseason honors candidate next year if he stays on his current trajectory. We expect Sainristil to finally flip his commitment from Virginia Tech.

Specialists (4)

Will Hart (Sr.), Quinn Nordin (R-Jr.), Brad Robbins (R-So.), Jake Moody (So.)

Overall roster assessment:

This offensive personnel would be phenomenal if it turns out this way. The defensive line, the position group that separates the men from the boys in college football, would still be among the most formidable in the sport. The back seven on defense maybe not as dominant, but still more than good enough to excel under Brown’s guidance. And that kicking game isn’t too shabby, either.

In short, this is a good-looking team.

Notes:

  • This roster projection puts the Wolverines right at the 85-scholarship limit.
  • Italics are projected commitments still to come.
  • Eligibility is how each player would be classified in 2019.
  • This feature will be updated as more news becomes available.
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