2017 Season Countdown: #43 Nate Johnson

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20Jul 2017
Blog, homepage 7 comments

2017 Season Countdown: #43 Nate Johnson

Nate Johnson (image via 247 Sports)

Name: Nate Johnson
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 185 lbs.
High school: Thompson’s Station (TN) Independence
Position: Wide receiver
Class: Sophomore
Jersey number: #25
Last year: I ranked Johnson #94 and said he would redshirt. He played in three games, making 1 catch for 4 yards.
TTB Rating: 76

I don’t know why Nate Johnson didn’t redshirt last year. His deployment makes little to no sense. Late in the year – ensuring a burned redshirt – he caught 1 pass for 4 yards against Illinois, and that’s all he did. Now maybe keeping a fifth year in your back pocket for someone like Nate Johnson isn’t worth a great deal, but at least it would be an option in 2020 if both parties are interested.

I don’t trust Nate Johnson. I don’t like young guys returning punts, especially when they haven’t proven themselves as star players. Additionally, when we saw him in the spring game, he muffed a punt and fumbled a slant route. His hands and concentration are questionable, and yet, he appears to be the front-runner for the punt returning job. I could make an argument to rank him lower, and I can’t think of any reasons to place him higher. There are other guys on the roster who should be able to do just as good of a job, but maybe he’ll be lightning with the ball in his hands if we ever get a chance to see it. My guess is that if he starts the year as the punt returner, he won’t end it that way.

Prediction: Starting punt returner for part of the season; backup slot receiver

19Jul 2017
Blog, homepage 5 comments

2017 Season Countdown: #44 Stephen Spanellis

Stephen Spanellis (image via Twitter)

Name: Stephen Spanellis
Height: 6’6″
Weight: 335 lbs.
High school: Baltimore (MD) Gilman
Position: Offensive guard
Class: Redshirt freshman
Jersey number: #72
Last year: I ranked Spanellis #95 and said he would redshirt. He redshirted.
TTB Rating: 63

Spanellis played both offensive guard and tackle last year and in the spring. He had and has some reshaping of his body to do, and it’s unclear how quickly that change will take place. Michigan is a little bit thin on experienced offensive linemen, and with three seniors having graduated after the 2016 season, opportunities have arisen. Spanellis isn’t in the conversation to start, and he probably won’t be Michigan’s sixth or seven lineman, either. That would be quite a leap from where he was in the spring, which was still on the two-deep but not pushing for a huge role. I think Spanellis will play this year when it gets to garbage time, but he’s probably a year or two away from being serviceable.

Prediction: Backup offensive guard

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