Name: Ricky Barnum
Weight: 296 lbs.
High school: Lakeland (FL) Lake Gibson
Class: Redshirt senior
Jersey number: #52
Last year: I ranked Barnum #16 and said he would be the starting left guard. He started three games at left guard before suffering an ankle injury.
Much like the recently profiled Fitzgerald Toussaint, Ricky Barnum has consistently been injured throughout his career. Of course, Toussaint stayed mostly healthy last season and had a stellar season. Despite being a fifth year senior, Barnum has played in just nine career games – two in 2009, three in 2010, and four in 2011. He started three games last year, but he suffered an ankle injury that saw him replaced by Michael Schofield, who never relinquished the job. Barnum has never been outstanding, but the coaches like him and he’s a solid player.
Barnum has practiced snapping the ball throughout his college career after playing center in high school; but he has never taken a snap in college. However, with the departure of Rimington Award winner David Molk and no clear heir, the coaches asked Barnum to move from left guard to center. He’s fairly short and quick for a lineman, so both of those traits bode well. Unfortunately, if recent trends continue, he’ll only be healthy enough to play in five games this season. His backups are even less experienced. First off the bench will likely be redshirt freshman Jack Miller, who is just 6’4″ and 288 lbs., so he’s a little slight. Other options at center include former walk-on Joey Burzynski, who is also competing for the left guard position; and redshirt senior Elliott Mealer, who has been starting at left guard in recent days. Both have played center in practice at times over their careers. I hesitated to place Barnum this high on the list, but Michigan fans have seen what happens when the starting center leaves the game, most recently in the first series of the Sugar Bowl when Rocko Khoury replaced Molk. Barnum can be an adequate player this season, but if/when he gets injured, it could seriously hamper the timing and effectiveness of Michigan’s offense.
Prediction: Starting center
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