2021 Season Countdown: #48 Mike Morris

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21Jul 2021
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2021 Season Countdown: #48 Mike Morris

Mike Morris (image via 247 Sports)

Name: Mike Morris
Height:
6’6″
Weight:
276 lbs.
High school:
Belle Glade (FL) American Heritage
Position:
Defensive end
Class:
Redshirt sophomore
Jersey number:
#90
Last year:
I ranked Morris #76 and said he would be a backup defensive end (LINK). He played in one game and made 1 tackle.
TTB Rating:
81

I have to admit that I’m going out on a limb here with my ranking of Morris at #48. With Michigan’s new defensive staff taking over, I have to think that someone in the front seven will come out of nowhere to become a solid rotation player, and I’m going with Morris as one of those candidates. He only played in one game last season and looked pretty thin, as though he hasn’t fully matured. With another off-season under his belt, I think he has the length and athleticism to be a guy who can play the 4i or a 5-tech and help contribute. Michigan needs players to step up on game day or at least provide competition. With proper development I still think Morris could be a good player down the road.

Prediction: Backup defensive end

21Jul 2021
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2021 Season Countdown: #49 Jess Speight

Jess Speight

Name: Jess Speight
Height:
6’5″
Weight:
290 lbs.
High school:
Richmond (VA) Collegiate
Position:
Defensive tackle
Class:
Redshirt senior
Jersey number:
#67
Last year:
I ranked Speight #45 and said he would be a backup defensive tackle (LINK). He made 2 tackles.
TTB Rating:
N/A

I want to take a walk down memory lane to Speight’s first appearance in the countdown (LINK):

Speight, who is the brother of former Michigan quarterback Wilton Speight, is the rare walk-on offensive lineman who actually got me excited a little bit. . . . Speight’s time won’t come this year, but he’s one to keep an eye on in the coming years.

When the Michigan program took Wilton’s “little brother” as a preferred walk-on, I thought he was a guy who could eventually work his way into the starting center position, post-Cesar Ruiz. Obviously, Speight made the transition to defensive tackle, so I’m no Nostradamus. But he did start one game in 2019 and has played in a total of thirteen games, making 7 total tackles.

Entering his final year on campus, I think Speight will probably end up playing one of the defensive end (4i) positions as a backup. I don’t think he’s strong enough to play nose tackle and stand up to double teams as an interior guy, but he might be able to handle some single blocks from offensive tackles. He’s not going to turn into a star overnight, but for a team lacking experienced bulk on the defensive line, he should be back in the rotation once again in 2021.

Prediction: Backup defensive end

21Jul 2021
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2021 Season Countdown: #50 German Green

German Green (image via MGoBlue)

Name: German Green
Height:
6’2″
Weight:
181 lbs.
High school:
DeSoto (TX) DeSoto
Position:
Cornerback
Class:
Redshirt junior
Jersey number:
#33
Last year:
I ranked Green #62 and said he would be a backup safety (LINK). He played in six games and made 1 tackle.
TTB Rating:
59

German and his brother Gemon are so twin-like that they’re both listed at 6’2″ and 181 lbs. on Michigan’s roster. Unfortunately for German, their playing time has not been quite as equal. While Gemon started all six games at cornerback last season and led the team in pass breakups, German saw the field almost exclusively on special teams. He did play one game as a backup corner, and that’s reportedly where he remains in 2021 after spending his first two years on campus at safety.

German has special teams upside as well as a little bit of defensive experience at multiple positions. He has not been talked about as a possible starter opposite his brother, even though Vincent Gray and others really struggled in 2020. I would not expect him to factor into the prime-time rotation at corner this season, but it’s nice to have a veteran backup.

I’m interested to see how things might play out for the twins going forward. Would German spend five seasons as a backup in Ann Arbor while Gemon gets starting reps for two or three years? Or would German break apart from his brother as perhaps a grad transfer to try to strike out on his own and get playing time elsewhere?

Prediction: Backup cornerback

20Jul 2021
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2021 Season Countdown: #51 Reece Atteberry

Reece Atteberry (image via 247 Sports)

Name: Reece Atteberry
Height: 6’5″
Weight: 284 lbs.
High school: Aurora (CO) Eaglecrest
Position: Center
Class: Redshirt freshman
Jersey number: #74
Last year: I ranked Atteberry #103 and said he would redshirt (LINK). He played in one game.
TTB Rating: 74

Atteberry surprised me a little bit last season. He was the lowest-ranked scholarship player in the countdown, but he ended up playing in one game on special teams against Minnesota. Usually you want big, beefy guys on the field goal protection unit, and at 284 pounds, Atteberry was not one of the biggest or beefiest guys available. But he got on the field, so good for him. That probably means the coaches were pleased with what they saw out of him in summer/fall practice.

This off-season Atteberry has been mixed in the talk about the center position. At one point I heard a rumor that he was a possible starter, but I found that to be very surprising. As the spring and summer have progressed, there has been more talk about Zak Zinter playing center. With Andrew Vastardis, Raheem Anderson II, Greg Crippen, and Nolan Rumler all also available, there’s no shortage of bodies. My guess is that it will be Zinter at #1, Vastardis as the primary backup, and then other guys filling in at center and/or guard on occasion to give them playing experience for when Vastardis graduates or for when a guard spot opens up, perhaps allowing Zinter to slide one way or the other.

Prediction: Backup center

20Jul 2021
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2021 Season Countdown: #52 R.J. Moten

R.J. Moten (image via 247 Sports)

Name: R.J. Moten
Height: 6’0″
Weight: 213 lbs.
High school: Delran (NJ) Delran
Position: Safety
Class: Redshirt freshman
Jersey number: #6
Last year: I ranked Moten #88 and said he would redshirt (LINK). He redshirted.
TTB Rating: 68

Moten was a do-everything player in high school who was recruited, like many others, to play the ballyhooed Viper position. I thought he was pretty raw, especially on defense, in high school, so I expected him to redshirt last year. He essentially did, playing in one game on special teams.

But then the off-season came, and the Viper position disappeared. Of all the freshman and redshirt freshman safeties in the class, the most buzz was coming out about Moten. I have heard more talk about Moten than the guy who actually saw the field a bunch in 2020, Makari Paige. It’s always tough to gauge practice rumors, and I don’t really trust them a ton here, other than to think Moten could be in line to be the fourth safety, behind Daxton Hill, Brad Hawkins, and Paige. There are still other guys to wonder about – Jordan Morant, Sammy Faustin, German Green, Quinten Johnson, etc. – and frankly there are too many on the roster to expect them all to stay too much longer. But Moten has a shot to start earning some playing time this season and stake his claim for a starting position when Hawkins and perhaps Hill are gone in 2022.

Prediction: Backup safety, special teamer