Name: Kenny Demens
Weight: 248 lbs.
High school: Detroit Country Day School in Oak Park, MI
Position: Middle linebacker
Class: Redshirt junior
Jersey number: #25
Last year: I ranked Demens #35 and said he’d be the backup MIKE. He started the final seven games of the year and finished with 82 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, and 1 pass breakup.
Demens was a pleasant surprise in 2010. After much practice hype, he actually lived up to it . . . belatedly. Despite a frustrating lack of production and progression from a returning starter in Obi Ezeh, Demens sat on the bench for the first several games and watched Ezeh give away all kinds of yardage. He stepped into the starting lineup against Iowa in the seventh game of the season and never looked back, making 71 tackles in his seven starts (Ezeh had 42 tackles in his 7 starts). He was a hard-hitting, run-stuffing tackling machine who made every Michigan fan giddy, unless it was a pass. The 248 pounder, who has put on four lbs. since last season, seemed a little bit stiff and unaware in pass coverage, things which should improve with experience.
Demens will no longer have to battle an undeserving upperclassman for the starting middle linebacker job, which means he looks like the de facto starter at MIKE. As a 4-3 middle linebacker with the weakside end and the strongside linebacker funneling running backs to the middle of the field, Demens should put up some excellent numbers this fall. Defensive coordinator Greg Mattison, previously of the Baltimore Ravens, had a Pro Bowl middle linebacker in the form of Ray Lewis. If you take a look at measurements of both Demens and Lewis, both play the same position, both are 6’1″, and they’re within two pounds of each other (Lewis is 250). Certainly I’m not saying that Demens is the second coming of Ray Lewis, but Demens flashed the ability to stop the run like the former Miami Hurricane by playing downhill and delivering a solid blow to the ballcarrier when he arrived. For the first time in a few years, Wolverines fans have a reason to be optimistic about their middle linebacker.
Prediction: Starting middle linebacker; 100 tackles
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