MLive: Shea Patterson earns respect of Michigan coaching staff

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8Aug 2018
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2018 Season Countdown: #20 Sean McKeon

Sean McKeon (image via Land of 10)

Name: Sean McKeon
Height: 6’5″
Weight: 251 lbs.
High school: Dudley (MA) Shepherd Hill
Position: Tight end
Class: Junior
Jersey number: #84
Last year: I ranked McKeon #52 and said he would be a backup tight end (LINK). He started ten games at tight end and made 31 catches for 301 yards and 3 touchdowns.
TTB Rating: 77

I underranked McKeon last season by a good bit. I thought then redshirt junior Ian Bunting would be the starter after Bunting filled in capably for Jake Butt in 2016. I still think Bunting would have been a fine starting tight end, but the coaching staff obviously liked McKeon, who led the team in receptions (31) and touchdown catches (3) while barely finishing #3 in receiving yards (he had 301; team leader Grant Perry had 307). McKeon proved to be a largely reliable tight end. Unfortunately, the coaching staff – particularly Jim Harbaugh – goofed in the Outback Bowl and called for a handoff to McKeon, who promptly fumbled it away; Harbaugh didn’t realize he didn’t have an actual fullback in the game. It wasn’t really McKeon’s fault, but it did leave a slightly bad taste in some fans’ mouths.

Going into the 2018 season, McKeon seems pretty well entrenched as a starting tight end, or at least a heavy contributor. Redshirt junior Zach Gentry should also play quite a bit, and while McKeon has more starts, I think Gentry is the guy who can help create big plays and stretch the field. You don’t find 6’8″ guys who can run like Gentry, but 6’5″ guys who play like McKeon are a little more common. I think I would be a little bit disappointed if McKeon leads the team in receptions again, because that would likely mean that Donovan Peoples-Jones and/or Tarik Black underachieved or got hurt. McKeon might match his numbers from 2017, but he should end up a little farther down on the stat sheet this season.

Prediction: Starting tight end; 25 catches for 250 yards and 3 touchdowns

7Aug 2018
Blog, homepage 14 comments

2018 Season Countdown: #21 Aubrey Solomon

Aubrey Solomon (#5, image via Freep)

Name: Aubrey Solomon
Height: 6’3″
Weight: 287 lbs.
High school: Leesburg (GA) Lee County
Position: Nose tackle
Class: Sophomore
Jersey number: #5
Last year: I ranked Solomon #26 and said he would be a backup nose tackle (LINK). He made 18 tackles and 2 tackles for loss.
TTB Rating: 89

Solomon had a long, winding path to Ann Arbor leading up to the 2017 season. A lot of times, it seems like odd recruitments lead to delayed – or destroyed – success. But for whatever reason, I thought Solomon would succeed pretty immediately at Michigan. If you look at Michigan’s nose tackles in recent years – Bryan Mone, Maurice Hurst, Ryan Glasgow, etc. – Solomon was more successful in his first year than any of them. In fact, you have to go back to Mike Martin in 2008 to find a nose tackle with a better freshman season (20 tackles, 4.5 TFLs, 2 sacks). Martin had a very good college career before petering out in the NFL.

Solomon is expected to start here in 2018. He’s a bit of a wild card because he should see an uptick in grass time this season, even though he has just one season under his belt and we haven’t seen him make huge impacts on the game. I would like to rank the starting nose tackle higher, but Michigan has other options there – fifth year senior Bryan Mone, redshirt sophomore Michael Dwumfour, and redshirt freshman Donovan Jeter, to name a few. It would definitely be a blow to lose him, but I think Michigan could handle an injury or two on the defensive line.

Prediction: Starting nose tackle; 35 tackles, 2 sacks

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