Since his arrival in Ann Arbor, Michigan head coach Brady Hoke has shown that he likes to build his teams from the trenches out. Coming from a defensive background like he does, it’s not too difficult to find why many of the Wolverines’ most talented players lie on that side of the football.
In 2014, the defense seems poised to be what carries the Wolverines to possibly represent the Big Ten East in the conference title game, but it will only happen if the guys along the front four improve from last season. The most important player along that defensive line comes in the form of senior end Frank Clark.
Follow on through the jump to see the type of impact Clark should have on Michigan Football this season.
There’s not much sugar coating to do when it comes to the defensive line. Since 2012, they simply haven’t been good enough. Last season, however, was not what one would expect when looking over the stat sheet.
The Wolverines were near the middle of the pack last season in terms of sacks (25) and toward the bottom in tackles for loss (70) in college football, coming in at 66th and 91st in the nation, respectively. In a 13-game season, that’s not enough to get the job done.
However, Clark had a solid season in 2013 with nine sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss. With that being said, they are going to need more from him this year in order to make that defense a unit of strength for the Wolverines.
Clark had some legal troubles early on at Michigan, but my all accounts he has straightened himself out and become a good influence on the locker room as a whole and is a guy who is extremely likable. That’s all fine and good, but going into his senior year, he will be expected to be a leader, which is a role he should fit just fine into.
The development of the defensive line as a unit will hinge on the improvements that the interior guys make, but pairing Clark with sophomore Taco Charlton, along with Brennen Beyer, gives the Wolverines some very good ends who have the ability to get into the backfield persistently.
Clark looks like an NFL player and probably has the ceiling of a day two prospect. He looks like one of the better defensive ends in the entire Big Ten and will need to be a star for Michigan this year, which his talent suggests can certainly happen. An acceptable stat line for him probably looks like 8.5 sacks with 18 or so tackles for loss.
He has the ability to be one of Michigan’s best pass rushers since Brandon Graham. In his senior season, it is time to put everything together and bring the Wolverine defensive line back to the ranks of the elite.