2018 Season Countdown: #37 Carlo Kemp

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21Jul 2018
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2018 Season Countdown: #37 Carlo Kemp

Carlo Kemp (#2, image via Zimbio)

Name: Carlo Kemp
Height: 6’3″
Weight: 264 lbs.
High school: Boulder (CO) Fairview
Position: Defensive tackle
Class: Junior
Jersey number: #2
Last year: I ranked Kemp #19 and said he would be a backup strongside end (LINK). He made 3 tackles.
TTB Rating: 84

Kemp received a lot of hype going into the 2017 season. Practice reports were very positive, and he was looked at as a heavy rotation guy behind Rashan Gary. When the season came, the starting defensive ends played a ton (perhaps too much) and Kemp didn’t get on the field too much. When he did, he was just okay. As of his sophomore year, he was just a guy – not a bad player, but not a standout, either.

Now one has to wonder if he’s on a slightly faster path to Lawrence Marshall Land. When Kemp arrived a couple years ago, he was given a shot at inside linebacker. Then he was a weakside end. Then he was a strongside end. And now the talk is that he’ll play a fair amount of 3-tech defensive tackle (note: he’s reportedly closer to 280 lbs. now, but he’s still officially listed at 264). Kemp can play 5-tech or 3-tech, but he’s probably not any kind of option at weakside end. My overall excitement for Kemp has worn away a little bit, but the coaches still appear to be counting on him to play a decent-sized role.

Prediction: Backup strongside end and defensive tackle

20Jul 2018
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2018 Season Countdown: #38 Eddie McDoom

Eddie McDoom (image via Boston Herald)

Name: Eddie McDoom
Height: 6’0″
Weight: 181 lbs.
High school: Winter Garden (FL) West Orange
Position: Wide receiver
Class: Junior
Jersey number: #13
Last year: I ranked McDoom #38 and said he would be a backup receiver with 12 catches for 150 yards and 1 TD (LINK). He made 11 catches for 81 yards, ran 8 times for 43 yards, and made 2 tackles.
TTB Rating: 89

McDoom was expected to be a backup last year, and that was accurate. He put up modest stats working mostly from the slot. He and Donovan Peoples-Jones are the most jet-sweep-y guys on the team, so McDoom got some of those carries and did okay with them. So far his career-long carry is 33 yards, which came in 2016 against Michigan State, but 5.4 yards/carry last year wasn’t bad. The biggest disappointment is McDoom’s lack of contribution in the passing game. I was almost spot-on with my guess that he would get 12 catches (he got 11), but the yardage was way off. McDoom has speed and the ability to do things in open space, but Michigan hasn’t been able to get him there. On top of that – and maybe this is why he was limited to 11 catches – he had an egregious drop late in the game against MSU in 2017.

This year I think McDoom is one of the guys who could benefit most from the arrival of Shea Patterson at quarterback. Patterson can improvise, and McDoom is the type of speedy slot guy who can suddenly find himself wide open when the quarterback reverses field on a scramble. I also detailed the other day how an RPO could work with Patterson and McDoom (LINK). If McDoom can develop a rapport with Patterson, then McDoom could be a breakout player. He will have to hold off redshirt freshman Oliver Martin and fight with senior Grant Perry for snaps. He also can contribute in the return game. I know some people have begun to give up on McDoom, but I still think he can be an effective football player, given the right situation.

Prediction: Backup slot receiver, special teamer; 12 catches, 150 yards, 2 TD

19Jul 2018
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2018 Season Countdown: #39 Ben VanSumeren

Ben VanSumeren (image via MLive)

Name: Ben VanSumeren
Height: 6’3″
Weight: 232 lbs.
High school: Essexville (MI) Garber
Position: Fullback
Class: Freshman
Jersey number: N/A
Last year: VanSumeren was a senior in high school (LINK). He was 11/25 passes for 249 yards, 3 TDs, and 2 INTs. He caught 85 passes for 1,259 yards and 13 TDs. He ran the ball 54 times for 387 yards and 6 touchdowns. And he made 43 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, and 1 sack.
TTB Rating: 78

That summary after “last year” is called filling up the stat sheet, my friends. VanSumeren did a little bit of everything for his high school team, and sometimes that’s what it looks like when you have a big-time football recruit playing at a small school. Talent gap aside, it’s amazing that he just touched the ball so much, especially when 85 of those touches came on receptions. It’s not too hard to get a running back 150+ touches a year, but when a guy is lining up at receiver most of the time, that’s impressive.

I kept holding off on VanSumeren when I was making this list. I thought about him in the 60s. Then I thought about him in the 50s. Still not high enough. Then I thought about him in the 40s. And I finally thought it appropriate to place him at #39. Michigan lost co-starting fullbacks Khalid Hill and Henry Poggi, leaving behind sophomore Ben Mason and position-switching fifth-year senior Jared Wangler, plus a few walk-ons. On top of that, Mason is coming off a knee issue and might take some snaps at linebacker. With as much as Hill and Poggi played over the past two seasons, I think Mason and VanSumeren will be those two guys this year. Michigan might go with a few less fullback sets due to having Shea Patterson at quarterback and wanting to spread the field, but I still think Jim Harbaugh and Pep Hamilton are going to stick to their roots.

Prediction: Backup fullback

18Jul 2018
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2018 Season Countdown: #40 Joshua Uche

Josh Uche is changing from #35 to #6 (image via MWolverine)

Name: Joshua Uche
Height: 6’3″
Weight: 226 lbs.
High school: Miami (FL) Columbus
Position: Linebacker
Class: Junior
Jersey number: #35 #6
Last year: I ranked Uche #51 and said he would be a backup SAM linebacker (LINK). He made 3 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, and 1 sack.
TTB Rating: 82

Uche has the unfortunate luck of being a little bit of an odd fit in Michigan’s defense. Last year I thought he would be a backup SAM linebacker when Michigan went to heavier fronts, but it turned out that Michigan mostly just kept Khaleke Hudson in there at Viper most of the time. Uche is more of a pass rush specialist, but you don’t always need pass rush “specialists” when your regular defense is getting home with blitzes and excellent play from the defensive line. Furthermore, Michigan had Noah Furbush to come in as a part-time pass rusher and blitzer, and Furbush did a good job as a sub package guy.

Khaleke Hudson returns this year at Viper, and once again, Furbush remains present as a sub package player. Michigan wants to get Uche on the field, so he’s playing some at WILL linebacker. He’s battling Devin Gil, Josh Ross, and others, and I think Uche will lose the battle to be the starter. However, defensive coordinator Don Brown has mentioned that they have certain packages designed with Uche in mind, and he can be a rusher like Furbush. Personally, I wouldn’t mind seeing some third down packages with both Uche and Furbush on the field; since Michigan can lock up on the back end, those are some dangerous guys to send on a blitz package.

Prediction: Backup linebacker, special teamer