Today is Michigan Football‘s annual Spring Game at The Big House, and while it may be more of a practice instead of an actual game, there are some players to look out for today.
Devin Gardner, Quarterback
Gardner won’t exactly be tested today, as he’ll be wearing a no-contact practice jersey, but we should be able to see how comfortable he is in new offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier‘s new pro-style offensive attack.
There will not be a ton of designed runs for Gardner in this system, but today will show us that he has a handle on the new system and is building a good rapport with his teammates.
Jake Ryan, Inside Linebacker
Ryan is healthy and a proven talent on this team, but a big defensive shake up in the off-season has moved him over to middle linebacker, where he more or less becomes the quarterback on that side of the ball.
He is more than capable of being an impact player at this position, and calling the shots now should make everyone else better around him. Ryan has all the tools to be an elite defensive playmaker, and we should get to see how he is adjusting today.
Derrick Green and Deveon Smith, Running Backs
Ok, so this is more than just one player, but they are tied in together in more ways than one. Not only are they extremely similar players, but they will also split carries in the running game for the Wolverines this season.
Both are downhill runners and have the potential to be very good backs in this offense. Their success is indirectly tied in with how well the offensive line performs (we’ll touch on that a bit later), but I am eager to see how the two look compared to their freshman seasons.
Freddy Canteen, Wide Receiver
Many thought the Wolverines settled when they ended up with Freddy Canteen instead of Artavis Scott in the 2014 recruiting class, but by all accounts, this true freshman slot receiver appears ready to make a big splash.
Canteen has had a very good spring showing and hasn’t been shy about saying he wants to play early and play often. With guys like Jeremy Gallon and Drew Dileo graduated, the opportunity is there. Today will be the public’s first chance to see if he can seize it or not.
Dymonte Thomas, Safety
Going into his sophomore season, Thomas is a guy that many are looking to that can emerge as a playmaker in the defensive secondary. He has shown flashes of the great athlete that he is, but did not get many chances in that rotation last year. He is now being given that chance.
If Thomas can live up to his potential, the thought of him and freshman Jabrill Peppers in the same secondary over the next few seasons has scary good upside.
Honorable Mention: The Offensive Line
This group could be given an article of its own (and will be, soon enough).
Aside from Kyle Kalis and Ben Braden, there are several unknowns in this group, and today we may get a clearer picture of who is in the lead to land these other positions. Keep an eye on them.