2021 Season Countdown: #34 Trente Jones

    Trente Jones (image via 247 Sports)

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    Name: Trente Jones
    Height:
    6'4"
    Weight:
    305 lbs.
    High school:
    Loganville (GA) Grayson
    Position:
    Offensive tackle
    Class:
    Redshirt sophomore
    Jersey number:
    #53
    Last year:
    I ranked Jones #72 and said he would be a backup offensive tackle (LINK). He played in one game.
    TTB Rating:
    88

    Jones seems to have been lost in the shuffle over the past years, so some may have forgotten that he was an Under Armour All-American and the #108 overall player in the country. After redshirting as a freshman and then playing in just one game last season, it's understandable that he might have been forgotten. Scuttlebutt out of practice is that he and former offensive line coach Ed Warinner did not quite see eye to eye. While Warinner has proven to be a very good offensive line coach, sometimes people just don't mesh.

    According to that same scuttlebutt, Jones and new offensive line coach (former tight ends coach) Sherrone Moore get along much better. And it doesn't hurt that a couple starting-caliber offensive linemen moved on in Zach Carpenter (transfer to Indiana) and Jalen Mayfield (drafted by the Falcons), the latter being more significant for Jones's case. With the right tackle position open, it appears to be coming down to Jones and classmate Karsen Barnhart to see who will start. I'll give the edge to Barnhart, who started four games at left tackle in 2020 when Ryan Hayes was injured. But injuries always happen, and Jones should be one of the first guys off the bench.

    Prediction: Backup offensive tackle

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    2021 Season Countdown: #35 Julius Welschof

    Julius Welschof (image via Twitter)

    Name: Julius Welschof
    Height:
    6'6"
    Weight:
    286 lbs.
    High school:
    Miesbach (Germany) FOS Altoetting
    Position:
    Defensive tackle
    Class:
    Redshirt junior
    Jersey number:
    #96
    Last year:
    I ranked Welschof #67 and said he would be a backup defensive tackle (LINK). He made 6 tackles and 0.5 sacks.
    TTB Rating:
    78

    After redshirting in 2018 and playing in just one game in 2019, Welschof became a rotational player in 2020. An athletic big man, Michigan used him in pass rush situations, lining him up at defensive tackle and having him loop and stunt. When forced into action against the run, he did not perform well. I still have nightmares of him getting pushed around against Wisconsin.

    There has been positive buzz about him this off-season. How much value should those rumors get? I don't know. I do know that if I were putting together a 3-4 defense, I would really like having a 6'6", 290-ish pound guy playing 4i. The biggest question is whether Welschof has improved at defeating run blocks (down blocks, combo blocks, etc.). If Shaun Nua has not improved those skills, then Welschof will probably remain a sub-package guy.

    Prediction: Backup defensive tackle

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    2021 Season Countdown: #36a J.J. McCarthy

    J.J. McCarthy

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    Name: J.J. McCarthy
    Height:
    6'3"
    Weight:
    195 lbs.
    High school:
    Bradenton (FL) IMG Academy
    Position:
    Quarterback
    Class:
    Freshman
    Jersey number:
    #9
    Last year:
    McCarthy was a senior in high school (LINK). He completed 92/165 passes for 1,392 yards, 16 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions.
    TTB Rating:
    89

    McCarthy was Michigan's second commitment in the 2021 class after only offensive lineman Giovanni El-Hadi. McCarthy was a standout player early in his career at La Grange Park (IL) Nazareth Academy before finishing his career at IMG Academy in Florida. The decision to transfer came when football in the state of Illinois came into question during the pandemic.

    McCarthy is known as a great leader with a rocket arm and solid mobility. He's not the biggest or fastest quarterback, but he's in the range of a lot of mobile quarterbacks who are taking college and NFL quarterbacking by storm. At 6'2" and 195 lbs., he looks more like Mac Jones (6'2", 180 in high school), Baker Mayfield (6'1", 190), Sam Howell (6'0", 225), etc. than the 6'5" statue quarterbacks of yesteryear. I think his size, athleticism, and skills match the offense better than anyone Michigan has had since Jake Rudock in 2015.

    Will he take over in 2021? That is the huge question. McCarthy graduated in December and participated in spring practice, but Jim Harbaugh came out of the spring naming Cade McNamara the starter. At Big Ten Media Days, Harbaugh reiterated that McNamara was #1, McCarthy was #2, Dan Villari was #3, and transfer newcomer Alan Bowman would slot in there somewhere, depending on how August practice goes.

    Right now my guess is that McNamara is truly #1, and Bowman would be the second-best quarterback option to start the year. But I think it's important for McCarthy to get snaps this season and prepare for the future. He has more upside than McNamara or Bowman, and the offense can be more dynamic with him, since he can push the ball downfield better and he moves better than both. I also think it's important for the state of the program right now to get a 5-star player to come in and perform like a 5-star, because fans and possibly recruits might be wondering at this point whether Michigan can develop its offensive skill players to the level they should. Shea Patterson, Dylan McCaffrey, Donovan Peoples-Jones, and Zach Charbonnet are all recent high-level recruits who have somewhat fizzled during their time in a winged helmet.

    Prediction: Backup quarterback



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    Visitors: 2021 BBQ at the Big House

    Josh Conerly (image via Twitter)

    2022

    Aaron Alexander - LB - Belleville (MI) Belleville: Alexander is committed to Michigan (LINK).

    Falentha Carswell - OT - Sandersville (GA) Washington: Carswell is a 6'7", 275 lb. prospect who committed to Miami recently. He also has an offer from Michigan. He's a 3-star, the #64 offensive tackle, and #741 overall. He's a recent convert from basketball to football, so he's a project.

    Josh Conerly - OT - Seattle (CA) Rainier Beach: Conerly is a 6'5", 275 lb. prospect with offers from Alabama, Michigan, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Texas, among others. He's a 5-star, the #4 offensive tackle, and #20 overall. He worked out in front of Michigan's coaches at a satellite camp in Washington, and he also plans to return for an official visit in the fall.

    Mario Eugenio - OLB - Clearwater (FL) Gaither: Eugenio is committed to Michigan (LINK).

    Hit the jump for more.

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    2021 Season Countdown: #36b Donovan Edwards

    Donovan Edwards

    Name: Donovan Edwards
    Height:
    5'11"
    Weight:
    190 lbs.
    High school:
    West Bloomfield (MI) West Bloomfield
    Position:
    Running back
    Class:
    Freshman
    Jersey number:
    #7
    Last year:
    Edwards was a senior in high school (LINK). He rushes for 1,021 yards and 17 touchdowns, adding 153 receiving yards and 3 touchdowns.
    TTB Rating:
    90

    Edwards had long been considered "The One" within the state, the guy that Michigan needed to land in 2021. There was a lot of pressure for the staff to sign him, and he made everyone sweat until National Signing Day in December. After flirting with Georgia, Michigan State, and Oklahoma, among others, he finally signed with the good guys. Considered to be a borderline 5-star prospect (247 Composite 4-star and #41 overall) at a position of need, Michigan fans let out a big sigh of relief.

    I debated for a long time about how high to place Edwards in the countdown. Michigan needs help at running back after Zach Charbonnet (UCLA) and Christian Turner (Wake Forest) transferred, and while Charbonnet had one of the best freshman years for a running back a couple years ago, it can be a tough transition from high school to college. Edwards has good physical skills, but he also has some bad habits, such as carrying the ball too loosely and celebrating a little too early and too much on some of his big plays.

    Michigan rotates heavily at running back, and Hassan Haskins and Blake Corum appear to be 1-2 at the position. The Wolverines only have four scholarship running backs (Haskins, Corum, Edwards, and Tavierre Dunlap), and they don't even have quasi-running backs like Ben Mason and Ben VanSumeren anymore to fill in for a spell if necessary. The last time Michigan had a full season in 2019, Tru Wilson and Christian Turner tied for #3 on the team in carries with 44 each. I'm not sure that Michigan will be able to redshirt Dunlap, but if they tried, that might mean 60+ carries for Edwards. Michigan also sold Edwards on a plan to use him in the passing game, although I'll buy into that when I see it.

    Overall, Edwards will certainly play quite a bit and he will probably make some flashy plays when he does. But Haskins is reliable and steady, and Corum is a weight room warrior with some quickness. When it gets down to crunch time, Haskins and Corum will probably be on the field.

    Prediction: Backup running back



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    2021 Season Countdown: #37 Joel Honigford

    Joel Honigford (#59, image via Maizenbrew)

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    Name: Joel Honigford
    Height:
    6'6"
    Weight:
    305 lbs.
    High school:
    Sugarcreek (OH) Garaway
    Position:
    Offensive tackle
    Class:
    Fifth year senior
    Jersey number:
    #85
    Last year:
    I ranked Honigford #50 and said he would be a backup offensive guard (LINK). He played tight end and on special teams in six games.
    TTB Rating:
    84

    Honigford has had a bit of an odd career over his four-plus years at Michigan. I thought he would develop into a starting offensive tackle by the time his career ended, but instead, he has floated around from tackle to guard to tight end in 2020. After spending his first three years at offensive line exclusively, he changed his number from 59 to 85 and played as a tight end (basically an extra offensive lineman). Jim Harbaugh has done that kind of thing numerous times over his career.

    The most surprising part to me is that Honigford is returning for a fifth year. With no clear path to playing offensive line, Honigford is the type of player who would normally take a grad transfer exception to go play somewhere else. I think it's pretty obvious that he could go play offensive tackle in the MAC or elsewhere, probably start for a year or two, and then see what happens. Maybe he just loves Michigan or thinks he can beat out someone for playing time, but most guys don't stick around for five years to play his role.

    What is that role? Well, starting tight end Nick Eubanks and starting fullback/H-back Ben Mason are gone, which sort of bumps everyone else up a notch or two. While junior Erick All will presumably take Eubanks's role, it's unclear how Michigan will use personnel to replace Mason or fill in for the roles that All and Luke Schoonmaker held. Redshirt freshman Matt Hibner and true freshman Louis Hansen are also in the mix to play, but I have to think Honigford will reprise and perhaps expand upon his role as a blocking tight end in 2021.

    Prediction: Backup tight end

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    Davonte Miles, Ex-Wolverine

    River Rouge (MI) River Rouge defensive tackle Davonte Miles (image via SI)

    River Rouge (MI) River Rouge defensive tackle Davonte Miles decommitted from Michigan on Thursday. He had been committed to Michigan since mid-December of 2020 (LINK).

    Miles is listed at 6'5", 275 lbs. and is a 3-star, the #127 defensive lineman, and #960 overall.

    I did not view Miles as an impact player at the next level, but his commitment was important because Michigan needs interior defensive linemen. While Michigan does not have any other defensive tackle commitments, they are pursuing numerous others and Miles seemed to have been forgotten. With a new defensive staff in place, it's quite possible that Mike Macdonald and Co. just didn't see Miles fitting into their scheme.

    Michigan has now lost two defensive tackle commits in the 2022 class, Miles and Alex VanSumeren.

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