Way Too Early 2017 Depth Chart: August 2016

Way Too Early 2017 Depth Chart: August 2016

August 8, 2016
20 September 2014: Michigan defensive back Jabrill Peppers (5) gets into position in an NCAA college football game between the Michigan Wolverines and Utah, at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Let’s hope this guy can stick around for two more seasons (image via Today’s U)

With Michigan about to embark on fall practice for the 2016 season, it seems to be the perfect time to jump past this season and think about a year from now.

Below is a look at how the roster could shape up in 2017. There will certainly be departures, injuries, reshuffling of positions, etc., but those things are pretty difficult to project a year ahead of time. What we do know is that the 2017 version of Michigan’s team will be vastly different than 2016. The lineup below projects there to be at least 8 new starters on offense and 8 on defense, not to mention a new punter and kicker. Those six returning starters in 2017 should be the winner of the QB battle (O’Korn/Speight), the nominal fullback (Poggi/Hill), Grant Newsome, Rashan Gary, Jabrill Peppers, and Mike McCray. And yeah, that includes Jabrill Peppers, who could very well leave for the NFL. Particularly of note would be the lack of depth and experience on the offensive and defensive lines.

Hit the jump for an early look at 2017.

QB: John ‘Korn (5th), Wilton Speight (RS Jr.), Brandon Peters (So.), Alex Malzone (RS So.), Dylan McCaffrey (Fr.)
RB: Ty Isaac (5th), Karan Higdon (Jr.), Kareem Walker (So.), Kingston Davis (So.), Chris Evans (So.), A.J. Dillon (Fr.), O’Maury Samuels (Fr.), Kurt Taylor (Fr.)
FB: Henry Poggi (5th), Khalid Hill (5th), Chase Lasater (Fr.)
WR: Maurice Ways (RS Jr.), Drake Harris (RS Jr.), Eddie McDoom (So.), Ahmir Mitchell (So.)
WR: Grant Perry (Jr.), Kekoa Crawford (So.), Nate Johnson (So.)
TE: Ian Bunting (RS Jr.), Tyrone Wheatley (RS So.), Devin Asiasi (So.), Zach Gentry (RS So.), Sean McKeon (So.), Nick Eubanks (So.), Carter Dunaway (Fr.)
LT: Grant Newsome (Jr.), Ja’Raymond Hall (Fr.), Kai-Leon Herbert (Fr.)Joel Honigford (Fr.)
LG: David Dawson (5th), Ben Bredeson (So.)
C: Mason Cole (Sr.), Patrick Kugler (5th), Michael Onwenu (So.)
RG: Jon Runyan (RS So.), Stephen Spanellis (So.)
RT: Nolan Ulizio (RS So.), Juwann Bushell-Beatty (RS Jr.), Andrew Stueber (Fr.)

SDE: Rashan Gary (So.), Lawrence Marshall (RS Jr.)
DT: Maurice Hurst (5th), Phillip Paea (Fr.)
NT: Bryan Mone (RS Jr.), Michael Dwumfour (RS Fr.), Aubrey Solomon (Fr.)
WDE: Chase Winovich (RS Jr.), Shelton Johnson (RS So.), Ron Johnson (So.), Corey Malone-Hatcher (Fr.), Luiji Vilain (Fr.)
SAM: Jabrill Peppers (RS Jr.), Noah Furbush (RS Jr.), Joshua Uche (So.), Wyatt Shallman (5th)
MIKE: Mike McCray (5th), Reuben Jones (RS So.), Elysee Mbem-Bosse (So.), Carlo Kemp (So.), Ben Mason (Fr.)
WILL: Devin Bush (So.), Jared Wangler (RS Jr.), Devin Gil (So.), Joshua Ross (Fr.)
CB: Lavert Hill (So.),  Keith Washington (RS So.)
CB: David Long (So.), Brandon Watson (RS Jr.), Benjamin St-Juste (Fr.)
FS: Tyree Kinnel (Jr.), Tru Wilson (So.)
SS: Khaleke Hudson (So.), Josh Metellus (So.), J’Marick Woods (Fr.)

K: Quinn Nordin (So.), Andrew David (RS So.)
P: Ryan Tice (RS So.)
LS: Scott Sypniewski (5th)

Currently committed true freshmen, who cannot sign National Letters of Intent until February, are listed in italics.


  1. Comments: 1118
    Joined: 8/13/2015
    Aug 08, 2016 at 6:42 AM

    DeVeon Smith?

    • Thunder
      Comments: 2479
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Aug 08, 2016 at 6:47 AM

      Smith is a senior this year.

    • Comments: 1118
      Joined: 8/13/2015
      Aug 08, 2016 at 6:48 AM

      Ahhhhh, 17 ….. never mind.

      You’re going a lot faster than I am.

  2. Comments: 169
    Joined: 9/3/2015
    suduri xusai
    Aug 08, 2016 at 7:12 AM

    Very scary indeed. 2017 is def. shaping up to be a down year.

    The weak recruiting of 2014 and 2015 are going to bite us in the ass by then. I hope Harbaugh and co. coach up these kids quick.

    • Comments: 169
      Joined: 9/3/2015
      suduri xusai
      Aug 08, 2016 at 7:14 AM

      A few quality grad transfers are in order, imo.

  3. Comments: 1118
    Joined: 8/13/2015
    Aug 08, 2016 at 7:18 AM

    Onwenu to center is an interesting call.

    Lavert Hill better pack on some weight. I know I’m gonna hear about this one and I can hardly believe what I’m about to type here, but if I’m betting on this one it’s St-Juste over Hill,

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 3725
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Aug 08, 2016 at 2:23 PM

      Good bet they go for a bigger corner like St. Juste or Washington at one of the spots and Long/Hill are at the other. Would also expect that they add another DB or 2 in the class.

      • Thunder
        Comments: 2479
        Joined: 7/13/2015
        Aug 08, 2016 at 2:45 PM

        If the choice wasn’t clear, I just gave the edge to the older guy. That’s one reason why Hill is above St-Juste.

  4. Comments: 734
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Aug 08, 2016 at 8:51 AM

    Can’t help but be a bit worried by a lot of those position groups. There will be a lot to learn about a lot of those players this year, and hopefully some of the worries will be assuaged by the end of the season. Still hard to see how 2017 will be anything but a regression from 2016, though.

    And should we be scared shitless that our backup safeties are a 2 star recruit and a walk-on? Not to mention uncomprehending. How the hell do you set recruiting priorities so poorly that you only have one scholarship player who realistically projects as a FS? I have to believe that some position switching is inevitable, possibly from CB (though that would leave us even thinner there) or WR.

  5. Comments: 809
    Joined: 1/19/2016
    Aug 08, 2016 at 9:34 AM

    Surprised you don’t have Bredeson penciled in as a starter?

    • Thunder
      Comments: 2479
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Aug 08, 2016 at 2:51 PM

      I gave the edge to the older guy if it was a toss-up. The idea is less about predicting the exact order of the depth chart, and more just to look at the numbers/talent at each position.

  6. JC
    Comments: 171
    Joined: 8/17/2015
    Aug 08, 2016 at 12:15 PM

    We need talent immediately on both sides of the line.

  7. Lanknows
    Comments: 3725
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Aug 08, 2016 at 1:45 PM

    Good post and kudos for not making ‘slot’ a different position.

    Good to see you’re still bullish on Ways. I don’t agree but of course having a quality vet starter would be nice. If things go the way I expect/hope it’ll be DPJ and Perry starting with McDoom and Johnson rotating in.

    I like our TEs!

    That OL has a lot of questions – I guess you have Cole turning pro? Could be, but I bet he’s back. Runyan seems more likely to move to OC than Onwenu to me.

    I think the DL will be fine as long as Mone, Gary, and Mattison are back. I could see Hurst going pro and Gary moving to DT. Would also expect a current WDE (like Kemp or Jones maybe) to move to SDE.

    There’s very little chance Peppers is back IMO.

    Shallman to LB makes sense, but it’s probably at least a year too late at this point.

    The DL to LB moves are very rare. It’s usually guys moving down to bigger positions, not vice versa.

    Tice and Wilson (walk-ons) are interesting. Never want to see walk-ons on the 2 deep a year in advance but it could play out this way.

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 3725
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Aug 08, 2016 at 2:20 PM

      Here is mine:

      QB: John ‘Korn (5th), Wilton Speight (RS Jr.), Brandon Peters (So.), FRESHMAN

      I would guess Malzone or Speight look for an opportunity elsewhere. Speight is close enough to the grad year that he’ll probably stick.

      RB: FRESHMAN, Kareem Walker (So.), Kingston Davis (So.), Chris Evans (So.)

      I would guess Isaac grad-transfers. Michigan keeps recruiting RBs and he and the staff have butted heads for too long to make me think this is all going to end happily.

      FB: Henry Poggi (5th), Khalid Hill (5th), Chase Lasater (Fr.)

      Kind of think they’ll find another walk-on here.

      WR: FRESHMAN, Eddie McDoom (So.), Maurice Ways (RS Jr.),
      WR: Grant Perry (Jr.), Kekoa Crawford (So.), Nate Johnson (So.)

      I see some attrition here and expect a freshman to start next year, assuming they land at least one of their big targets.

      TE: Ian Bunting (RS Jr.), Tyrone Wheatley (RS So.), Devin Asiasi (So.), Zach Gentry (RS So.), Sean McKeon (So.), Nick Eubanks (So.)

      Deepest unit on the team.

      LT: Grant Newsome (Jr.), Bredenson
      LG: David Dawson (5th), Jon Runyan (RS So.)
      C: Mason Cole, Jon Runyan (RS So.)
      RG: Michael Onwenu (So.), Stephen Spanellis (So.)
      RT: Ben Bredeson (So.), Nolan Ulizio (RS So.), Juwann Bushell-Beatty (RS Jr.)

      SDE: Lawrence Marshall (RS Jr.), Ron Johnson (So.), Carlo Kemp (So.)

      I see several WDEs moving down.

      DT: Rashan Gary (So.), FRESHMAN
      NT: Bryan Mone (RS Jr.), Michael Dwumfour (RS Fr.), FRESHMAN

      Hurst goes pro, Gary moves to his natural position. Less rotation but multiple freshman play right away.

      WDE: Chase Winovich (RS Jr.), Joshua Uche (So.), Reuben Jones (RS So.)

      I see Uche ending up here after gaining size.

      SAM: Khaleke Hudson (So.), Noah Furbush (RS Jr.), FRESHMAN
      MIKE: Mike McCray (5th), Elysee Mbem-Bosse (So.), FRESHMAN
      WILL: Devin Bush (So.), Devin Gil (So.)), Jared Wangler (RS Jr.),

      Tough to project our LBs. Still imagine Hudson as Peppers’ heir.

      CB: Lavert Hill (So.), FRESHMAN
      CB: David Long (So.), Brandon Watson (RS Jr.),

      Hill and Long need to pan out.

      FS: Tyree Kinnel (Jr.), Keith Washington (RS So.)
      SS: Josh Metellus (So.), FRESHMAN

      I expect some position switches to the position, including Washington. Regardless, yikes that secondary!

      In general, I expect a lot of skill position contributions from freshman on offense and a heavy reliance on the ’16 class on the defense.

    • Comments: 734
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Aug 08, 2016 at 2:38 PM

      I’d say TE and QB are our only two relatively worry-free positions next year. I think we have enough bodies at RB and WR and that adequate talent will emerge…it’ll be more a matter of how it shakes out. Would love it if Isaac, Ways and Harris took the lead, but I think any of them could be bypassed by younger guys.

      Agree about Cole…don’t see him as the kind of dominant guy who would leave early, especially when he’s still undersized for a franchise-type LT. Centers don’t leave early. Even if he returns, everything else on the Oline is very iffy..too much finger-crossing at this point. Same on the Dline…Hurst, Mone and Gary would be a really good core, but after that, there’s a big dropoff. Somewhere from that swarm of DE/LB tweeners we need to develop some edge rushers..please. Definitely think Kemp will be needed at DE much more than LB, and he has the bulk, more than anyone else.

      Don’t like to think too much about next year’s DBs…just going to wait and hope that all of those guys stay healhy and are as good as they’re supposed to be.

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 3725
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Aug 08, 2016 at 4:22 PM

        We have Mattison, so worrying about the DL is pointless.

        This is probably going to be the best DL in Michigan history in 2016. So yeah, going to take a step back next year.

        Still going to be one of the more talented units in the country in ’17 given all the beef they are bringing into the class. The question will be if they trust them enough to rotate or have to lean on the starters.

        And just consider for a sec that the projected starting DL: (Gary/Hurst/Mone/Winovich) is probably an elite DL RIGHT NOW. Give them another year of development and you’re talking a top 5 unit again, depending on depth coming through (which given talent it should.)

        DL will be excellent again. Most of the LBs return. The big big question is the secondary – hopefully we are given reason to feel comfortable in 2016.

    • Thunder
      Comments: 2479
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Aug 08, 2016 at 2:48 PM

      I don’t think Harbaugh will send out small wide receivers who struggle to block. I like McDoom, Johnson, etc., but they’re probably not going to be great blockers from the get-go. The one young guy I like in that area is Kekoa Crawford.

      I put Cole in there now. His absence was an oversight.

      Agree on DL to LB moves, but Kemp, Jones, etc. are listed as linebackers on the fall roster right now after being at DE earlier in their careers.

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 3725
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Aug 08, 2016 at 4:16 PM

        I think experience is a bigger deal than size, but I like your point. I think Perry looked very good last year and projects as our best blocker by next year. Blocking could keep a freshman off the field.

        And yeah, it could be Crawford over McDoom or Johnson. I envision a taller guy at one spot (could be Ways, Harris, or a freshman like DPJ) and then a shorter guy at the other spot (Perry, McDoom, Johnson) with heavy utilization of slot as well. Crawford could fit in either category and will be in the mix.

      • Comments: 734
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Aug 08, 2016 at 4:22 PM

        Obviously you’d like your WRs to be good blockers AND good receivers, but when it comes down to it, if nobody is doing both really well, I think the coaches will lean towards the guys getting open and catching the ball.

        As far as guys like Kemp, Jones, Johnson, Johnson, Winovich and Marshall, I would still take their roster designations as somewhat fluid, certainly until at least after fall practice. Still a lot of shaking out to be done, even for this season, let alone next. Depending on injuries, and how the guys around him develop, someone like Kemp may get more of a look at LB this season, but be needed more at DE in 2017.

  8. Comments: 144
    Joined: 9/15/2015
    Aug 08, 2016 at 2:50 PM

    nice column! weve all discussed it and expressed concern over the future depth chart but ive rarely seen the topic examined on paper like this.

    its been pretty obvious that the small classes in 2014 and 2015 along with some very significant recruiting misses will hugely impact the roster in 2017. they need to coach up the current OL and DL (which theyll certainly do) and pray some guys make big leaps (runyan, ulizio, newsome, marshall, kemp, johnson, etc) in addition to some frosh and sophs stepping up and playing above their experience level. theyre going to have guys playing early and often at pretty much every spot in 17.

    due to small size of 14 and 15 classes and some key misses and due to the 16 and 17 jumbo classes, guys from the 16 and 17 classes will comprise much of the scholarship players for foreseeable future. so while theyre looking ok with 2017 recruits as of now, theyll obviously still need to close just as strongly as last year – wrap up a few top OL, another few DL, and hopefully land the elite DBs and WRs on their board (and of course im all for late flipping of guys like najee harris, browning, etc even if it means a current commit misses the cut) bc those guys will have a chance to play in 17.

    ive been looking forward to this fall to see which youngsters play and how often since so many will be relied upon next year. id be surprised if any of the 2016 DB recruits redshirt (unless theyre injured or just incapable of grasping the mental side, etc) since thats another big depth chart question area. even if those dudes are not needed at all i still think the coaches hope long, hill, metellus and hudson earn PT this fall bc theyll likely want to work in those DBs as much as possible.
    kinnel appears to be a player and thats huge bc theyll really need him in 17 – hopefully watson, washington, etc make strides this season to give the coaches a little wiggle room rather than being forced to rely on basically just kinnel plus 1st – 2nd year players across the board in secondary.

    they look to be in good shape with some top WR targets this class and i like the 16 WR prospects so should be ok even if they only close on 1 of their top 2017 guys. theyll be young at WR but i have full confidence in harbaugh and fisch and their ability to manufacture decent passing game with grouping of elite TE prospects and some young but talented WRs – provided they can run the ball of course. theyll have some nice QBs in the system and solid RB options (ideally issac keeps his weight down, stays out of the doghouse and rolls into 17 with some real momentum). LB could still be a problem area in 17 but at least theyve begun adding bodies to address it.

    basically OL, DB and DL jump out as the most concerning areas on depth chart. theyre doing what they can but itll come down to recruits from 16 and 17 making an early impact since those guys will comprise most of the scholarship roster. its gonna be interesting, thats for sure. the great thing is theyre loaded and experienced this fall so 2016 should be fun

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