Best Guess 2019 Roster -- Post Signing Day Update

Our latest projection of who could be the 85 scholarship players Michigan opens the 2019 season with.

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.

To see the previous projection and compare it with this one, click here.

Quarterback (4)

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

Patterson’s return makes this the deepest and most talented quarterback room in Ann Arbor in many years. This is pretty much the ideal depth chart. A proven leader. A rising star. A promising youngster. A decorated newcomer.

Running Back (5)

Tru Wilson (Sr.), Michael Barrett (R-Fr.), Hassan Haskins (R-Fr.), Christian Turner (R-Fr.), Zach Charbonnet (Fr.)

We are currently not projecting Chris Evans to be on the 2019 roster given his academic difficulties, and the fact a university suspension such as this one isn’t as likely to consider the desire for him to be on the field as much as accountability. His loss would make this the youngest and most unproven running back position at Michigan in recent memory. Wilson became a fan favorite as a former walk-on, but it’s doubtful he’s a bell cow. Turner is a player the coaches have always been high on, and he flashed some in the Peach Bowl. Barrett was a prolific running quarterback in Georgia, so for now we’ll project he’s moved here. Haskins is an unknown and opinions vary. Charbonnet is the most decorated prep running back Jim Harbaugh has yet signed, and as an early enrollee much will be expected of him right away.

Fullback (2)

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

Mason became a force down the stretch in Michigan’s offense, but it will be interesting to see how he’ll factor into new offensive coordinator Josh Gattis’ “speed in space” offense. Could he be used as more of a running back given the lack of proven production and depth there?

Wide Receiver (11)

Brendan White (Sr.), Nico Collins (Jr.), Donovan Peoples-Jones (Jr.), Tarik Black (R-So.), Oliver Martin (R-So.), Ronnie Bell (So.), Giles Jackson (Fr.), Cornelius Johnson (Fr.), George Johnson (Fr.), Quintel Kent (Fr.), Mike Sainristil (Fr.)

Jackson, George Johnson, and Sainristill are pure slots, and therefore exactly the kind of “speed in space” Gattis is looking for. Bell is a hybrid, as in he has outside receiver skills in a slot’s body type. He’ll be one of the more explosive players returning next season. The trio of Peoples-Jones, Collins, and Black will look like the WR line at the NFL combine, and could be the best threesome returning in college football next year. The change in offensive philosophy couldn’t come at a better time for them. Don’t sleep on Martin, who has made plays in limited playing time. Cornelius Johnson followed in Black’s footsteps, as in a four-star receiving prospect from Connecticut who ends up signing with Michigan. Given the uncertainty at running back, it’s fortuitous timing Michigan is evolving to a more wide-open passing attack. And the Wolverines have the talent here to do it.

Tight End (5)

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

Lots of depth and potential here, although this is a unit that probably underachieved in 2018. All was one of the fastest rising Midwest prospects in the 2019 class. Muhammad was perhaps the most decorated member of Michigan’s 2018 class. Eubanks has become the best downfield passing threat, and was criminally under-utilized. McKeon needs to bounce back from an underwhelming season.

Offensive Line (16)

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

Michigan brings in one of the most impressive offensive line hauls in the country. Which further bolsters the expectation this will be the deepest this cornerstone position in Ann Arbor has been in a long, long time. Runyan and Bredeson will each garner some preseason All-America mention this summer, and Ruiz could end up being better than both of them. Plenty of raw material for Ed Warriner to work his mojo here.

Defensive Line (14)

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

The numbers are decent here, but there’s a lot of development to be done by the coaches this offseason thanks to unforeseen attrition and some near recruiting misses. A starting unit of Dwumfour, Kemp, Paye, and Hutchinson would be one of the better defensive fronts in the Big Ten. But behind them is no proven production whatsoever, and now there’s a new position coach to get to know as well. Thankfully, both Hinton and Smith looked dominant at times in their all-star games, and already have college-ready bodies. Keep an eye on Vilain, because if he’s finally healthy he might be the most gifted player in this group. We are projecting Danna, who was first team All-MAC for Central Michigan last season, will be a grad transfer.

Linebacker (7)

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

There’s still plenty of athleticism here to field a disruptive unit in Don Brown’s scheme. Just look at Uche, who came out of nowhere to surprisingly lead the Wolverines in sacks in 2018. McGrone, ranked the #1 LB prospect according to 247 in the 2018 class, will immediately contend for major minutes. Ross has played meaningful snaps already and been productive. Anthony is a former decorated recruit, who should be ready to contribute. Solomon is probably a candidate to redshirt. Thomas is a prospect the coaches have liked for a couple of years now.

Viper (4)

Khaleke Hudson (Sr.), Jaylen Kelly-Powell (Jr.), Quinten Johnson (Fr.), Joey Velazquez (Fr.)

Hudson returns after a star-crossed season, and should be motivated for a bounce back as a senior. After him, though, it’s a mystery. Johnson is one of the recruits I’m most excited about. His measurables are absolutely off the charts. Velazquez is the quintessential Don Brown recruit. Given the defensive back depth, we are projecting at least one position switch to here in the spring—and for now that player to be Kelly-Powell (but don’t be surprised if he’s not alone).

Defensive Back (15)

Louis Grodman (Sr.), Lavert Hill (Sr.), Josh Metellus (Sr.), Brad Hawkins (Jr.), Ambry Thomas (Jr.), J’Marick Woods (Jr.), Benjamin St. Juste (R-So.), Vincent Gray (So.), Sammy Faustin (R-Fr.), Gemon Green (R-Fr.), German Green (R-Fr.), Myles Sims (R-Fr.), Daxton Hill (Fr.), Jalen Perry (Fr.), D.J. Turner (Fr.)

Lavert Hill will be a preseason All-American/All-Big Ten candidate. Fellow Detroiter and former decorated recruit Thomas will get the first crack at the open corner slot this spring, but the coaches are also high on Gray. St. Juste flashed in spring ball two years ago, so his re-emergence would be a nice bonus. Sims was one of the highest-ranked recruits in the 2018 class. There is quality depth at safety. Metellus will be a preseason All-Big Ten candidate, and both Hawkins and Woods have played quality minutes. However, the hype surrounding the arrival of Daxton Hill is real, and he’s the most-coveted safety prospect Michigan has signed in many a moon. Faustin was a young safety who flashed during bowl practices.

Specialists (3)

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

Hart was the Big Ten Punter of the Year. Nordin and Moody both have big legs, but Moody was the more consistent kicker.

Overall roster assessment:

If this projection becomes a reality, the timing couldn’t be better to evolve to a more wide-open passing attack. At quarterback, offensive line, and wide receiver the Wolverines have their best overall depth in more than a decade. This would also be one of the best kicking games returning in the Big Ten. That brings us to the defense, which has good numbers but not a lot of proven playmakers according to this roster projection.

Still, Michigan has a defensive track record going back several years even before Don Brown’s arrival. Two years ago, they had to replace 10 starters and still finished No.3 nationally in total defense. Only once since 2011 has Michigan finished worse than 16th nationally in total defense, and its had three different defensive coordinators since then. Therefore, even if there is the expected drop-off on that side of the ball, that track record says this will still be one of the better defenses in the country.

Notes:

  • This roster projection puts the Wolverines one over the 85-scholarship limit.
  • Italics are projected commitments still to come.
  • Eligibility is how each player would be classified in 2019.
Comments