2017 Season Countdown: #51 Joshua Uche

2017 Season Countdown: #51 Joshua Uche


July 12, 2017

Joshua Uche (#35, image via MWolverine)

Name: Joshua Uche
Height: 6’3″
Weight: 217 lbs.
High school: Miami (FL) Columbus
Position: Linebacker
Class: Sophomore
Jersey number: #35
Last year: I ranked Uche #55 and said he would be a backup linebacker. He played in four games and made 3 tackles.
TTB Rating: 82

Uche entered last season as a linebacker/defensive end tweener, and his deployment in 2016 saw him playing linebacker almost exclusively. I was skeptical of that move coming into last season, because he was primarily a rush end at Miami (FL) Columbus. He didn’t do anything special and made a couple gaffes, which would be expected for a true freshman playing a relatively new position.

When Don Brown was talking to media members this spring, he said Michigan was going to do some special things with Uche. And when Don Brown says “special things,” I figure he plans to blitz Uche a ton when he’s out there, and that’s his specialty. Michigan lost some good pass rushers in the off-season, and a couple of their best rush guys (Chase Winovich, Maurice Hurst Jr.) may get worn down by increased roles this season. Uche might be a guy who can offer some pass rush in obvious throwing situations. The Wolverines might use Khaleke Hudson as a Viper instead of throwing the SAM linebacker out there a ton, but if Michigan goes to a three-man front or wants to sub out a linebacker, I expect to see Uche.

Prediction: Backup SAM linebacker

21 comments

  1. Comments: 635
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    WindyCityBlue
    Jul 12, 2017 at 4:17 PM

    Too many guys like this on the roster..undersized and underathletic LB/DE tweeners that are going to take 3-4 years to even have a chance to contribute meaningfully.

    • Comments: 2083
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Jul 12, 2017 at 4:19 PM

      Hm. Well, that’s an interesting take.

      • Comments: 635
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        WindyCityBlue
        Jul 12, 2017 at 5:58 PM

        Reuben Jones, Lawrence Marshall (now an undersized DT), Ron Johnson, Kwitty Paye, Uche, and of course Shelton Johnson already busted out.

        • Comments: 3181
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Jul 12, 2017 at 6:10 PM

          Marshall and Jones look like busts but the others are fine.

          Paye hasn’t arrived at campus yet.

          S. Johnson got in off-field trouble.

          Uche is a red-shirt freshman who is on track.

          Johnson is a red-shirt freshman who is on track and getting praised by coaches and players alike. Thunder ranked him very low but it wouldn’t surprise me at all if he’s in the 8-man rotation as the backup WDE.

          A year ago you’d have put Winovich on this list and now he looks like a burgeoning all conference caliber performer.

          Somebody has to play the rush-end role. To get elite athletes like Frank Clark you’re going to have some whiffs along the way. Keep these DE/LBs coming.

          • Comments: 635
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            WindyCityBlue
            Jul 12, 2017 at 8:42 PM

            Winovich is a prime example of the low standards this fan base has for talent. OSU has two backup DEs (Bosa and Holmes) that are significantly better. Winovich is a solid starter, but no better. No one is picking him for All-conference.

            • Comments: 2083
              Joined: 7/13/2015
              Jul 12, 2017 at 9:39 PM

              a) Chase Winovich had more sacks and tackles for loss than any defensive lineman on OSU’s team except Tyquan Lewis…and Winovich was a backup.

              b) We get it. Michigan isn’t as good as OSU. You make this point over and over again. (If you can call it a “point.”) I don’t think you’ve seen any/many people argue that Michigan has better overall talent than Ohio State.

            • Comments: 3181
              Joined: 8/11/2015
              Lanknows
              Jul 13, 2017 at 9:14 PM

              And yet – Michigan took them to OT in Columbus and arguably should have won.

              Hopeless days in AA…

        • Comments: 2083
          Joined: 7/13/2015
          Jul 12, 2017 at 9:47 PM

          All of those guys have yet to begin their third year in the program, except Marshall, who was a Brady Hoke recruit and overrated to begin with (IMO). Regardless, this is what teams do: they take good athletes and try to make them good football players. Sometimes it doesn’t work out. Sometimes it does.

          I think it’s a little bit ridiculous that we have people criticizing Michigan’s defensive line recruiting and development when we just sent Glasgow, Charlton, and Wormley to the draft; we have two guys with some of the best pass rushing numbers in the country (Hurst, Winovich); a potential 1st round pick was a backup as a redshirt junior (Hurst); and another guy is receiving pre-season All-American talk as a true sophomore (Gary).

          This is almost certainly Michigan’s best position group over the past several years, and you’re still bad-mouthing it. I think that says more about your perspective as a glass-half-full fan than the program itself.

          • Comments: 635
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            WindyCityBlue
            Jul 12, 2017 at 10:49 PM

            Where am I “bad-mouthing” the whole DL position group? Nowhere. I’m criticizing the recruitment of a certain type of player that we seem to have a lot of but that seems to take us a long time to make anything of. Yes, DL is likely our best position group this year, but our recruiting, player development and talent are still a significant notch below where they need to be if we’re going to be something other than a second-tier program. This is Michigan…we shouldn’t be satisfied with half full.

            • Comments: 2083
              Joined: 7/13/2015
              Jul 13, 2017 at 7:01 AM

              Who’s saying “I am satisfied with Michigan being 10-2 and losing to Ohio State”? Who’s saying that? Where are these people you’re talking about?

              • Comments: 3181
                Joined: 8/11/2015
                Lanknows
                Jul 13, 2017 at 9:20 PM

                This is WCB’s thing: somehow being negative on a message board makes the team better.

  2. Comments: 3181
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Jul 12, 2017 at 5:59 PM

    This seems way too high. The “starting” SAM doesn’t play very much and the backup SAM may as well not exist.

    Brown said the following after spring when directly asked about Uche: “Oh yeah, jeez. Josh has had some good days. We have a few things special for him, so when we let him do those things he’s been exceptional. But he’s got a long way to go. Again, he’s a guy who was a defensive end in high school who I absolutely loved because he was fast. Now we’re teaching him to play linebacker. That’s a huge challenge for him, so that’s a big deal.”

    That sounds like a raw athlete who is still far from prime-time ready.

    I’m as guilty as anyone else of projecting speedy athletes to specialized pass-rushing roles, but it rarely comes to..uh, pass. If Michigan wants a speedy blitz from the edge, they can use their Vipers. If Michigan wants heavier personnel to stop run-oriented teams, a 220lb OLB isn’t the answer.

    I would guess Uche is a special-teamer in 2017.

    • Comments: 3181
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Jul 12, 2017 at 6:21 PM

      The LB playing Viper thing that Thunder has raised repeatedly seems like a noble goal. Eventually they’l fine one who has the athleticism needed to both be a threat off the edge, forceful enough to hold it, and has an ability to cover and tackle in space.

      That guy is a unicorn. It seems much easier though to just bulk up your safeties and teach them how to play tough in the box. Just as in the NBA it’s easier to play small-ball with a wing who is willing to bang than finding a 6’10 PF who can also take guys off the dribble and shoot 3s.

      Maybe Willie Gay would have been that guy, maybe Josh Uche gets there eventually. Until we see it I’m going to assume that we’ll either use a safety at viper or sub him out for a classic OLB at SAM.

    • Comments: 2083
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Jul 12, 2017 at 9:42 PM

      It happened just last year with Chase Winovich, who finished second on the team in sacks. In fact, I would say that Don Brown has shown that he WILL use those types of players in that way. But we’ll see.

      • Comments: 3181
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Jul 13, 2017 at 9:17 PM

        Winovich was moved to DE. If he had stayed at SAM there was no role for him. Even if he was the ‘starter’ there. A backup DL is more important.

        That’s why it makes sense for Furbush to move to WDE too.

    • Comments: 635
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      WindyCityBlue
      Jul 13, 2017 at 10:53 AM

      Which was exactly my point. We bring on too many guys who take 3-4,years to develop and get bumped around from one position to another in the process. And when they do start, it’s often by default, because none of the guys coming up behind them develop any more quickly.

      • Comments: 3181
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Jul 13, 2017 at 9:17 PM

        Who was the last DE who started ‘by defualt’?

  3. Painter Smurf
    Comments: 191
    Joined: 8/12/2015
    Painter Smurf
    Jul 13, 2017 at 6:02 AM

    I still don’t quite get Uche. We are talking about him as a LB/DE tweener. But he is frankly built more like a LB/S tweener at this point. To be a legit pass rush specialist, he needs another 30 lbs at minimum. And I don’t see the value in a LB who can only blitz, but not handle other duties well. Brown hand picked Uche and obviously has some vision for him. He does need to make a move in ’17 because front seven depth will be much more solidified going into ’18 and beyond.

    • Comments: 904
      Joined: 8/13/2015
      Roanman
      Jul 13, 2017 at 9:34 AM

      I’m thinking that Uche’s future is a function of his ability to cover. I think he’s competing for the #2 viper spot and the way to think of him is as a big viper rather than a skinny LB. I’d like to see him come in at 225/230 and then hear that he’s getting pretty good at picking up tight ends, backs and bubble screens.

      Furbush is the guy that I think is slipping back on the D. Which is ok by me as solid, tough, full time special teams guys are a good thing, in my book.

    • Comments: 24
      Joined: 12/19/2015
      greggoblue
      Jul 13, 2017 at 9:18 PM

      It’s hard to project Uche’s role in a Don Brown defense at Michigan… simply because we haven’t seen it yet! Peppers played both SAM and VIPER last year, so M didn’t need to take him off the field in favor of more specialized personnel.

      I do know a few simple things: 1) Don Brown knows blitzing. 2) He hand picked this guy because he likes his ability to bring some heat. 3) Uche is a redshirt freshman. I think throwing in the towel is a bit premature at this point. Let’s wait and see what Dr. Blitz has in store for this guy that he “loves”.

    • Comments: 3181
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Jul 13, 2017 at 9:19 PM

      Roanman’s guess is different than mine. I don’t think you can take a HS linemen and turn him into somebody who is going to cover slot WR in space. I think Uche is headed for WDE if he’s going to get meaningful playing time.

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