Michigan Football Spring Preview: Defensive Line

Posted on Posted in Michigan Football

We’re now over halfway done with our Michigan football spring preview. Today we bring you the first batch of previews from the defensive side of the ball, starting with the line.

Last Season

Though Michigan has been a struggling program of late, one thing that can’t be held against the Wolverines is the play of the defensive line. Brady Hoke was blessed with Mike Martin and Ryan Van Burgen in 2011, and through the highs and lows, the defensive line has remained a source of success. Hoke’s final year saw another stellar performance from the line. You could make a strong case that Michigan would’ve lost two or three more games had the line not held up the way it did. Frank Clark had real star talent, but he wasn’t available to the Wolverines late in the season because of a suspension, and he’s now moved on to the NFL. Brennan Beyer is another guy who will be missed along the line. Frank and Beyer, in that order, were the line’s top two tacklers from a season ago, and you could easily make the case they were also Michigan’s overall top two linemen.

New Faces

• Shelton Johnson (a Rivals 3-star recruit)

• Reuben Jones (a Rivals 3-star recruit)

Projected Depth Chart (2-deep)

Strong-Side DE
1st Team Taco Charlton Jr. 6-foot-6, 273 lbs.
2nd Team Tom Strobel RS Jr. 6-foot-6, 270 lbs.

Taco Charlton played mostly as a reserve last season, but his play (5.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks) shows he’s ready to consume a larger role in 2015. Charlton brings NFL size to the table and has the versatility to play either side of the line for coordinator D.J. Durkin.

Tom Strobel has had a quiet career at Michigan, only appearing in seven games through three years; six of those came in 2014. Strobel is a former highly touted recruit from Ohio, dubbed a four-star prospect by 247Sports. This 2015 season will likely offer him the most opportunities he’s had to step on the field and prove his worth to this team.

Weak-Side DE
1st Team Mario Ojemudia Sr. 6-foot-3, 252 lbs.
2nd Team Lawrence Marshall RS Fr. 6-foot-4, 238 lbs.

Mario Ojemudia is coming off his best statistical season, recording 32 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks. He’s another guy who could see time on either side of the line.

Lawrence Marshall is about to get his first dose of real college football. He redshirted his true freshman season last year, but he now has a legitimate shot at taking a run at the starting position. The edge goes to Ojemudia for now, but we’ll see what happens moving forward.

Tackle
1st Team Chris Wormley RS Jr. 6-foot-4, 300 lbs.
2nd Team Willie Henry RS Jr. 6-foot-2, 311 lbs.

The tackle position is going to be a three- or four-way race between Chris Worlmey, Willie Henry, Matt Godin and Maurice Hurst. I’m giving the upper hand to Wormley and Henry for now, but there’s not much separation at the top of the pack. One reason I think Godin has a shot at busting through the ranks is his size. At 6-foot-6, 287 pounds, he still needs to add some meat, but he’s a good body to have on the line.

Nose Tackle
1st Team Ryan Glasgow RS Jr. 6-foot-4, 297 lbs.
2nd Team Bryan Mone So. 6-foot-4, 325 lbs.

Ryan Glasgow might have had the most meaningful experience in 2014 of any defensive lineman. He was a disruptive member of the Michigan defense, and he’ll get a chance to anchor the unit this season.

Bryan Mone is quickly emerging on Michigan’s front, but I don’t think he’s ready to leap to a starting role, especially with Glasgow in front of him. The true sophomore steps into this season with good experience under his belt—he appeared in 12 games last season and made on start—so we’ll see what carries over into 2015.

Player To Watch: Willie Henry

I have Willie Henry listed as the second-team tackle, but that doesn’t mean he’s second-team material. He and Chris Wormley will see their fair share of action this season; it’s not like Wormley is going to hog everything. I like what Henry brings in terms of his size, and he has a knack for disrupting things. Look for him to split time with Wormley at tackle, but don’t expect any slack in production.

Position Grade: A-

Tyler Fenwick is the managing editor of The Big House Report. Follow him on Twitter @Ty_Fenwick.

Tyler Fenwick
Managing Editor at The Big House Report
I am an aspiring journalist studying at IUPUI. I am the third (and youngest) manager of The Big House Report, and it's my responsibility to make sure it runs more smoothly today than it did yesterday.