2015 Season Countdown: #74 Keith Washington

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17Jun 2015
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2015 Season Countdown: #74 Keith Washington

Keith Washington

Name: Keith Washington
Height: 6’2″
Weight: 175 lbs.
High school: Prattville (AL) Prattville
Position: Cornerback
Class: Freshman
Jersey number: #6
Last year: Washington was a senior in high school. As a quarterback, he was 92/162 passing for 1,718 yards, 17 touchdowns, and 6 interceptions; he also rushed 152 times for 1,201 yards and 20 touchdowns. He was a 247 Composite 3-star, the #78 athlete, and #955 overall.
TTB Rating: 68

Washington grew up in Louisiana and Texas before moving to Prattville as a junior. Once he arrived, he took over the quarterback job and had quite a successful two-year career there. He was good enough to earn a fair number of scholarship offers, and he committed to Cal. Michigan swooped in with an offer late in the process after Jim Harbaugh was hired, and Washington committed to the Wolverines without ever visiting Ann Arbor.

Washinton has not played much cornerback in his career since he was the starting quarterback, and he did not have the advantage of enrolling early. Since he is very unpolished and skinny, it’s reasonable to expect that he will redshirt. Michigan is fairly thin at corner, though, so a couple injuries could put him on the field. The coaches like his speed, change of direction, and mentality, and I think he might get a chance before Reon Dawson (who is only 3 lbs. heavier than Washington despite being a redshirt sophomore). But if the Wolverines need to count on Washington, they might be in trouble.

Prediction: Redshirt if possible

16Jun 2015
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2015 Season Countdown: #75 Alex Malzone

Alex Malzone

Name: Alex Malzone
Height: 6’2″
Weight: 218 lbs.
High school: Bloomfield Hills (MI) Brother Rice
Position: Quarterback
Class: Freshman
Jersey number: #12
Last year: Malzone was a senior in high school. He was 211/325 for 2,998 yards and 38 touchdowns. He was a 247 Composite 4-star, the #13 pro-style quarterback, and #295 overall.

Malzone committed to Michigan in the spring of 2014, and it was a source of some consternation for Michigan fans. Also an accomplished baseball player, he was not extremely well regarded as a quarterback recruit and had a hitch in his throwing motion that worried some analysts. Many Michigan fans thought Brady Hoke and his staff should have waited longer on some of the big fish instead of offering Malzone, who was a shoo-in to commit. Brother Rice fell short of a state championship, but he had a stellar season throwing to eventual Michigan-bound receiver Grant Perry.

Malzone skipped his senior year of baseball to enroll at Michigan in January. He received some mixed reviews during spring practice, but Jim Harbaugh supposedly warmed up to him because of how quickly he picked up the offense and the dedication he showed. When Michigan held an intrasquad scrimmage for the spring game, Malzone headed up one of the squads. The defense is always ahead of the offensie in the spring, so it was tough to glean much. However, things moved a little too quickly for Malzone, and he currently lacks the arm strength to push the ball down the field or fit it into tight spaces. Not only did he look to be behind junior Shane Morris, but freshman Zach Gentry is on his way into town, and fifth year Iowa transfer Jake Rudock will likely be the starter. It seems that Malzone will be no higher than third on the depth chart, and with both Rudock and Morris available, it would make sense to redshirt the freshman.

Prediction: Redshirt if possible

15Jun 2015
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2015 Season Countdown: #76 Reon Dawson

Reon Dawson (#20)

Name: Reon Dawson
Height: 6’2″
Weight: 175 lbs.
High school: Trotwood (OH) Trotwood-Madison
Position: Cornerback
Class: Redshirt sophomore
Jersey number: #30
Last year: I ranked Dawson #89 and said Dawson would play cornerback very little, if at all. He did not see game action.

I will admit that I have heard zero buzz about Dawson since he arrived on campus in 2013. He was a flier scholarship offer in that class, and so far it has not paid dividends. Last season he was listed at 178 lbs., and this year he’s listed at 175 lbs., which is a small change but one in the wrong direction. The Wolverines have almost a desperate need for cornerbacks this season because things get questionable beyond the top two guys, but I do not expect Dawson to be in the mix for playing time unless a series of injuries plagues the defensive backfield.

Prediction: Backup cornerback

14Jun 2015
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2015 Season Countdown: #77 Tom Strobel

Tom Strobel (image via MGoBlog)

Name: Tom Strobel
Height: 6’6″
Weight: 270 lbs.
High school: Mentor (OH) Mentor
Position: Defensive end
Class: Redshirt junior
Jersey number: #50
Last year: I ranked Strobel #67 and said he would be a backup strongside end. He played in five games and made 1 tackle.

Strobel has been a difficult player to project throughout his career. He came in as a guy who looked like he could stay at weakside end, but then he became a strongside end. Then he was a severely undersized defensive tackle. Then he moved back to strongside end. He appears to be too slow to play on the edge, and he can’t or won’t add the bulk necessary to play tackle.

A new coaching staff has been hired, and they look no closer to figuring out where he can actually play. He is listed at defensive end still, but he again appears to be a bench player. With the Wolverines looking like a bit more of a 3-4 team, that would seem to indicate a better chance for him to play because of his size, but it also constricts the pathway to playing time a little bit. Strobel hasn’t shown anything yet that resembles a breakout, so he remains in the lower third of the countdown.

Prediction: Backup defensive end

13Jun 2015
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2015 Season Countdown: #78 Reuben Jones

Reuben Jones (image via Lake Gibson Football)

Name: Reuben Jones
Height: 6’4″
Weight: 225 lbs.
High school: Lakeland (FL) Lake Gibson
Position: Defensive end
Class: Freshman
Jersey number: #4
Last year: Jones was a senior in high school, where he had 71 tackles and 10 sacks. He was a 247 Composite 3-star, the #44 strongside end, and #784 overall.
Final TTB Rating: 67

Jones is a one-time Nebraska commit who chose to play for the Wolverines after having a bit of a falling out with the Cornhuskers. He appears to be a high-effort guy and is very aggressive, but he lacks some technique and is not a freak athlete. Especially if the Wolverines go to more of a 3-4 look, they should have the opportunity to redshirt a guy like Jones. However, Michigan is pretty thin at defensive end. One of the true freshmen will probably have to play (my Monopoly money is on Shelton Johnson), but an injury or two could force the other to burn his redshirt, too.

Prediction: Redshirt if possible, backup defensive end if not

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