2015 Season Countdown: #80 Kenny Allen

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11Jun 2015
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2015 Season Countdown: #80 Kenny Allen

Kenny Allen (#91) with kicker Matt Wile

Name: Kenny Allen
Height: 6’3″
Weight: 220 lbs.
High school: Fenton (MI) Fenton
Position: Punter/kicker
Class: Redshirt junior
Jersey number: #91
Last year: I ranked Allen #68 and said he would be the backup punter. He punted 1 time for 51 yards.

For a few years, people have been talking about Allen as a capable punter. The walk-on is known for booming punts, but the problem reportedly comes down to consistency. He might boom one, shank the next, and go back and forth. With former All-Big Ten punter Will Hagerup a part of the equation, it was no surprise that Allen was mostly mired on the bench.

The job looked like it was about to open itself up to Allen with the graduation of Hagerup, as well as combo kicker/punter Matt Wile. And then along came Aussie Blake O’Neill, a Weber State graduate transfer. The new coaching staff has a slightly different special teams philosophy, and they found O’Neill, who has experience doing what the new staff wants. He has one year of eligibility remaining, so Allen is probably out of luck yet again. Allen will probably be O’Neill’s backup, and while Allen has also been working on his placekicking, he is not expected to win that job, either. Allen does have experience holding on extra points and field goals, but there are a few guys who have experience there (including Shane Morris) and could presumably do the job just as well.

Prediction: Backup punter, kicker, and holder

9Jun 2015
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2015 Season Countdown: #82 Juwann Bushell-Beatty

Juwann Bushell-Beatty
(image via Maizeandbluenews.com)

Name: Juwann Bushell-Beatty
Height: 6’6″
Weight: 319 lbs.
High school: Paramus (NJ) Catholic
Position: Offensive tackle
Class: Redshirt freshman
Jersey number: #76
Last year: I ranked Bushell-Beatty #91 and said he would redshirt. He redshirted.

One of my bigger concerns with Bushell-Beatty was the amount of bad weight he had on him coming out of high school. He looked somewhat out of shape during his senior year of football, and that continued on into the Under Armour All-American Game, where he struggled with quicker players. Bushell-Beatty redshirted his freshman year, like most thought he would.

Still pretty heavy at 319 lbs., it’s not clear whether he has remade his body and added some muscle or whether he still has a long way to go with his conditioning. I think we will see a more beefed-up line under Jim Harbaugh, but the hogs up front will still have to be in pretty good shape. Regardless, Bushell-Beatty is near the bottom of the offensive line depth chart with a few guys ahead of him who can fill in at various slots. I do not expect that he will factor into the rotation even if there are a couple injuries, although he could see some mop-up duty if Michigan gets a chance to throw a full second- or third-string line in there.

Prediction: Backup offensive tackle

8Jun 2015
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2015 Season Countdown: #83 Dan Liesman

Dan Liesman (image via Twitter)

Name: Dan Liesman
Height: 6’2″
Weight: 233 lbs.
High school: Lansing (MI) Catholic
Position: Linebacker
Class: Redshirt junior
Jersey number: #66
Last year: I did not rank Liesman. He did not see any game action.

Walk-on linebacker Dan Liesman did not play at all last year and has spent the last three season as a scout team player. That didn’t stop the new coaching staff from starting him in this year’s spring game, though. The intrasquad scrimmage might not portend the future exactly, and some players were unavailable due to injury, but the fact that Liesman played almost the entire time at inside linebacker indicates there’s at least something the coaches like about him. Based on what I saw, I do not think he will crack the rotation at all. But he is a guy that the coaches might want to reward with some mop-up duty or special teams play.

Prediction: Backup linebacker, special teamer

7Jun 2015
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2015 Season Countdown: #84 Michael Jocz

Name: Michael Jocz
Height: 6’4″
Weight: 231 lbs.
High school: Novi (MI) Novi
Position: Tight end
Class: Redshirt junior
Jersey number: #95
Last year: I ranked Jocz #86 and said he would be a backup tight end. He played in four games.

Jocz is undersized at 231 lbs. but the guy has some receiving skills (check out the link above). Junior Jake Butt is Michigan’s only proven option at the tight end position, and for the second year in a row, the Wolverines have another contributor (Khalid Hill) coming off of a torn ACL. The Wolverines should have a full-strength Butt and some other pieces at tight end, but Jim Harbaugh likes to use multiple tight ends. If there are injuries, Jocz could find his name called for certain situations.

Prediction: Backup tight end

6Jun 2015
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2015 Season Countdown: #85 Karan Higdon

Name: Karan Higdon
Height: 5’10”
Weight: 190 lbs.
High school: Sarasota (FL) Riverview
Position: Running back
Class: Freshman
Jersey number: N/A
Last year: Higdon was a senior in high school. He was a 247 Composite 3-star, the #40 running back, and #478 overall.
TTB Rating: 73

Higdon was a late success story for the new coaching staff this winter. He had been a Hawkeye commit, but he was interested in Michigan for a while without reciprocation. Jim Harbaugh extended an offer just before National Signing Day, and Higdon fought through a snowstorm and some travel issues to make it to Ann Arbor. Leading up to NSD, it was a question of whether he would stick with Iowa or flip to Michigan, and obviously he sent his National Letter of Intent to the Wolverines. Higdon is a slightly undersized back who has good vision and runs tough, though he lacks great speed.

Michigan’s situation this year is an intriguing one. There are two very highly touted recruits (Derrick Green, Ty Isaac) with experience, last year’s leading rusher returns (De’Veon Smith), and Drake Johnson made a late-season push before tearing his ACL for a second time. Yet three of the four guys have been hampered by injuries at one point or another, none has been outstanding, and the job remains up for grabs. It would be a surprise if Higdon were to beat out all those guys, although it’s not impossible. It would probably be best for him to redshirt, let the situation in front of him play itself out, and then have an extra year to make an impact down the road.

Prediction: Redshirt

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