2018 Season Countdown: #60 Casey Hughes

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10Jul 2018
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2018 Season Countdown: #60 Casey Hughes

Casey Hughes (image via Salt Lake Tribune)

Name: Casey Hughes
Height: 6’0″
Weight: 185 lbs.
High school: North Las Vegas (NV) Legacy
Previous college: Utah
Position: Cornerback
Class: Fifth year senior
Jersey number: N/A
Last year: Hughes started eleven games at cornerback for Utah. He made 35 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 2 forced fumbles, and 1 pass breakup.
TTB Rating: N/A

Hughes was a little bit of a surprise graduate transfer addition to Michigan’s defensive backfield. The Wolverines return everyone from last year and are bringing in a large defensive back recruiting class. Meanwhile, Hughes had a starting job at Utah and comes to a school where both starting corners are firmly entrenched, not just guys who are keeping the seat warm for someone better.

So where does Hughes fit? Insiders have suggested that he’s coming in to compete for the nickel defensive back position (currently slated to be Ambry Thomas) and press strong safety Josh Metellus for his role. Metellus struggled a little bit last season, and Thomas is still young, just entering his sophomore year. I don’t think Hughes will play a significant role unless there are injuries, but there’s something to be said for competition and keeping other guys on their toes. Hughes is a solid player, but he’s not going to be a game-changer. I expect him to have a minor role, kind of like when Wayne Lyons came in from Stanford a couple years ago.

Prediction: Backup nickel/safety

10Jul 2018
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2018 Season Countdown: #61 Dylan McCaffrey

Dylan McCaffrey (image via isportsweb)

Name: Dylan McCaffrey
Height: 6’5″
Weight: 199 lbs.
High school: Castle Rock (CO) Valor Christian
Position: Quarterback
Class: Redshirt freshman
Jersey number: #10
Last year: I ranked McCaffrey #89 and said he would redshirt (LINK). He redshirted.
TTB Rating: 91

McCaffrey was Michigan’s ballyhooed quarterback in the 2017 class, an Army All-American with great bloodlines. But he was really skinny and a little bit raw. With some more experienced (and perhaps more talented) quarterbacks on the roster last season, McCaffrey wasn’t needed. Michigan went through three quarterbacks (Wilton Speight, John O’Korn, and Brandon Peters) before going back to O’Korn when Peters got hurt, but they never pulled the redshirt off of McCaffrey.

This year Speight and O’Korn are gone, but Shea Patterson was brought in from Ole Miss to be the starter. Peters remains. Early talk from the spring was that McCaffrey had passed Peters, but then Peters got out of his funk at the end of spring to retake the lead. What’s the truth about how that will shake out? I don’t know, but Peters has experience on his side, and he did play well for stretches last year. My guess is McCaffrey will be #3 on the depth chart, but that may fluctuate, just like the O’Korn/Peters thing was flexible last year.

Prediction: Backup quarterback

10Jul 2018
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2018 Season Countdown: #62 Myles Sims

Myles Sims

Name: Myles Sims
Height: 6’3″
Weight: 173 lbs.
High school: Atlanta (GA) Westlake
Position: Cornerback
Class: Freshman
Jersey number: #6
Last year: Sims was a senior in high school (LINK). He made 17 tackles, 2 interceptions, and 6 pass breakups.
TTB Rating: 81

Sims was an Under Armour All-American after his senior year, where the coaching staff moved him to free safety. He looked tentative and very willowy at free safety, which was a little bit concerning. That’s because Michigan will ask him to be physical, whether he’s playing cornerback or safety. There’s nowhere to hide in Michigan’s defense if you’re not willing to be aggressive.

Even so, Sims is the highest rated defensive back in Michigan’s 2018 class (4-star, #17 CB, #170 overall) and enrolled early back in January. He got an extra semester of work in Michigan’s system, and he got some extra time to work on adding to his stringy frame in a college S&C (and nutrition) program. Michigan hasn’t been shy about playing freshman cornerbacks, and they need to consider that anywhere from 1-3 cornerbacks will be gone next year (Brandon Watson for sure, plus David Long and Lavert Hill as possibilities). Ambry Thomas and Benjamin St-Juste both played as freshmen last year, and Hill/Long played as freshmen in 2016. If Sims plays like the top corner in Michigan’s 2018 class, then I think they’ll groom him for action next year.

Prediction: Backup cornerback

9Jul 2018
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2018 Season Countdown: #63 Cameron McGrone

Cameron McGrone (image via 247 Sports)

Name: Cameron McGrone
Height: 6’1″
Weight: 225 lbs.
High school: Indianapolis (IN) Lawrence Central
Position: Linebacker
Class: Freshman
Jersey number: N/A
Last year: McGrone was a senior in high school (LINK). He made 84 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, and 7 sacks.
TTB Rating: 80

McGrone tore his ACL as a junior, but in just a few months, he was basically back to full speed and wowing college coaches. He played his senior year and tallied all of the above statistics in just seven games. He parlayed that into a U.S. Army All-American Bowl invitation, a game in which he played pretty well and was named by some as one of the top performers. He showed off his sideline-to-sideline speed and came downhill, too. In fact, he was so good that 247 Sports bumped him up to a 5-star, the #1 outside linebacker, and the #24 overall player in the 2018 class. (The 247 Composite has him as a 4-star, the #7 OLB, and #114 overall.)

McGrone is a talent like Devin Bush, Jr., whom Michigan was unable to keep off the field as a freshman. McGrone isn’t quite so stout, but he might be a little more athletic, especially now that he’ll be almost two full years removed from his ACL surgery. Last year Michigan played Joshua Ross in a bit role to help prepare him for playing time in 2018, when he’ll battle Devin Gil and others for the WILL position. Now that Mike McCray II is graduated, Michigan might follow suit with McGrone, who could potentially replace Bush in 2019 if Bush jumps to the NFL after his junior year. Either way, I think McGrone will see the field this season, whether it’s on defense or special teams.

Prediction: Backup linebacker, special teamer

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