2018 Season Countdown: #39 Ben VanSumeren

2018 Season Countdown: #39 Ben VanSumeren

July 19, 2018

Ben VanSumeren (image via MLive)

Name: Ben VanSumeren
Height: 6’3″
Weight: 232 lbs.
High school: Essexville (MI) Garber
Position: Fullback
Class: Freshman
Jersey number: N/A
Last year: VanSumeren was a senior in high school (LINK). He was 11/25 passes for 249 yards, 3 TDs, and 2 INTs. He caught 85 passes for 1,259 yards and 13 TDs. He ran the ball 54 times for 387 yards and 6 touchdowns. And he made 43 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, and 1 sack.
TTB Rating: 78

That summary after “last year” is called filling up the stat sheet, my friends. VanSumeren did a little bit of everything for his high school team, and sometimes that’s what it looks like when you have a big-time football recruit playing at a small school. Talent gap aside, it’s amazing that he just touched the ball so much, especially when 85 of those touches came on receptions. It’s not too hard to get a running back 150+ touches a year, but when a guy is lining up at receiver most of the time, that’s impressive.

I kept holding off on VanSumeren when I was making this list. I thought about him in the 60s. Then I thought about him in the 50s. Still not high enough. Then I thought about him in the 40s. And I finally thought it appropriate to place him at #39. Michigan lost co-starting fullbacks Khalid Hill and Henry Poggi, leaving behind sophomore Ben Mason and position-switching fifth-year senior Jared Wangler, plus a few walk-ons. On top of that, Mason is coming off a knee issue and might take some snaps at linebacker. With as much as Hill and Poggi played over the past two seasons, I think Mason and VanSumeren will be those two guys this year. Michigan might go with a few less fullback sets due to having Shea Patterson at quarterback and wanting to spread the field, but I still think Jim Harbaugh and Pep Hamilton are going to stick to their roots.

Prediction: Backup fullback


  1. GKblue
    Comments: 359
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Jul 19, 2018 at 9:09 AM

    Also I think with the new redshirt rules we will see what he can do and where as a freshman. Will he catch the ball out of the backfield? Line up at H-back?

    • Thunder
      Comments: 3849
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Jul 19, 2018 at 10:53 AM

      Regarding the redshirt rule, I don’t think that will have an effect on VanSumeren. Unless he gets injured OR unless the coaching staff just goes full Air Raid, I don’t think there’s any way that he’s not a full-season contributor. Wangler doesn’t seem like a viable option, and the walk-on fullbacks right now aren’t as good as in past seasons (full disclosure: I liked Peter Bush coming out of high school but haven’t seen him much at Michigan yet, so he’s a potential wild card that could make me eat my words). I think VanSumeren is going to be roughly what Mason was last year.

  2. Avatar
    Comments: 1863
    Joined: 1/19/2016
    Jul 19, 2018 at 10:22 PM

    I hope so! Our best hope lies in our playmakers on the field, or at least those with the highest potential. Black, DPJ & Collins, Gentry & McKeon, Higdon & Evans, Perry & Martin, and then even Eubanks & TWJr should be on the field looong before our backup TrFr Fullback (who arrived in the fall)

    “Michigan might go with a few less fullback sets due to having Shea Patterson at quarterback and wanting to spread the field”

    • Thunder
      Comments: 3849
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Jul 20, 2018 at 12:05 AM

      I agree to an extent, but personally, I like what Harbaugh does on short yardage and near the goal line. Most other teams aren’t under center with 2 tight ends and then 3 fullbacks in the backfield, so nobody sees those offensive sets until they play Michigan. It’s “unique” enough to be effective, even though it looks like 1970s or 1980s football.

      In the middle of the field, I agree with you. On 2nd-and-Goal from the 3-yard line, let’s see Mason at fullback, Stephen Spanellis at fullback, and VanSumeren at tailback. Or something like that.

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