Name: Khaleke Hudson
Weight: 220 lbs.
High school: McKeesport (PA) McKeesport
Jersey number: #7
Last year: I ranked Hudson #8 and said he would be the starting Viper with 65 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, and 2 interceptions (LINK). He made 83 tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss, 8 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 2 interceptions (returned for 22 yards), and 9 pass breakups.
TTB Rating: 80
Hudson was probably the breakout star of the year for Michigan, at least on defense. Taking over the position of first round draft pick Jabrill Peppers, we didn’t know what we were going to see. Practice reports said he was as good as or better than Peppers. Peppers did leave some things to be desired, but that hype still seemed outlandish. But for once, the practice hype was real. Hudson started off fast and played well all year long. His game against Minnesota was an all-timer after he racked up 15 tackles, 8.0 tackles for loss, and 3 sacks. Those 8 tackles for loss are a Michigan school record and tied the NCAA’s mark for that stat. (The previous school record was set by linebacker Larry Foote against Iowa in 2001.) Rashan Gary, Chase Winovich, David Long, Lavert Hill, and Shea Patterson are getting a lot of hype, but meanwhile Hudson is putting up some of the most impressive numbers of all time.
Now we head into the 2018 season with Hudson entrenched at Viper and having bulked up to 220 lbs. There’s no reason to expect anything less from him this year, except a) that would be ridiculous and b) other teams should be identifying and game planning for him. That Minnesota performance was probably a once-in-a-lifetime thing, but Hudson should still rack up some big numbers. He can cover, he can blitz, and he can stop the run. The reason he’s up here at #2 on the team is . . . we don’t know what’s behind him. Walk-on Jordan Glasgow exists, but he hasn’t shown anything to suggest he can approximate Hudson’s performance. Otherwise, Brad Hawkins, Jr. has spent some time practicing at Viper, and Michigan has moved freshman Michael Barrett from slot receiver/running back to Viper. To get the best players on the field, Michigan might have to restructure its whole defense to play more SAM-type linebackers like Noah Furbush or Joshua Uche. That would negatively impact the team’s versatility and playmaking ability.
Prediction: Starting Viper; 75 tackles, 16 tackles for loss, 7 sacks, 2 interceptions
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