2021 Season Countdown: #63 Joey Velazquez

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15Jul 2021
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2021 Season Countdown: #63 Joey Velazquez

Joey Velazquez (image via MGoBlue)

Name: Joey Velazquez
Height:
6’0″
Weight:
224 lbs.
High school:
Columbus (OH) St. Francis De Sales
Position:
Linebacker
Class:
Redshirt sophomore
Jersey number:
#29
Last year:
I ranked Velazquez #78 and said he would be a backup linebacker and special teamer (LINK). He played in one game.
TTB Rating:
82

Velazquez has developed roughly in the manner I expected so far during his career. After starting off his career at Viper in 2019, he moved to inside linebacker in 2020. That was a better fit for him, especially considering all the players Michigan had been bringing in at the hybrid Viper position. The one opportunity he got to see the field in 2020 was on special teams against Michigan State.

Now with the defensive coaching change, it’s unclear exactly what the defense will look like in 2021. Velazquez is still a little light at 224 lbs., and his baseball training probably holds him back from realizing his full potential in football. (He hit .174 with 7 RBI and 1 double this spring.) It’s very tough to play two sports in college, and I would not be surprised to see him make a choice sometime in the next year about which sport to choose to play full-time. There were some positive things being said about him this off-season, but at best, he appears to be at least the fifth-best inside linebacker going into year three.

Prediction: Backup linebacker, special teamer

15Jul 2021
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2021 Season Countdown: #64 Rayshaun Benny

NOTE: I’m skipping from #66 Cristian Dixon to #64 Rayshaun Benny because Cornell Wheeler, who is transferring to Kansas, was at #65.

Name: Rayshaun Benny
Height:
6’5″
Weight:
275 lbs.
High school:
Oak Park (MI) Oak Park
Position:
Defensive tackle
Class:
Freshman
Jersey number:
N/A
Last year:
Benny was a senior in high school (LINK). He made 32 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, and 5.5 sacks in five games.
TTB Rating:
81

Benny went through a meandering process to get to Michigan. A two-way lineman – who I think has more upside on offense – Benny seemed destined to sign with Michigan. Then a little bit out of the blue, he verbally committed to Michigan State. Rumors kept popping up that he would flip to the Wolverines, but he batted those rumors away and insisted that he would be a Spartan . . . except he didn’t sign in the December early signing period. As things moved along toward February, it seemed more and more likely that he would end up signing with Michigan, which he eventually did.

Michigan made a run on defensive tackles at the end of the recruiting cycle, and they also landed transfer Jordan Whittley from Oregon State. It’s hard to pin any single one of those freshmen or transfers down as being ready to contribute this fall, because they’re all unknowns at this point. Michigan has enough guys at defensive tackle this year to potentially plaster Benny to the bench, but the staff can’t really afford to redshirt every big defensive lineman in the class. Benny’s combination of size and athleticism seem to make him the most likely to play, but his strength and conditioning will probably place him in a backup role this season.

Prediction: Backup defensive tackle

15Jul 2021
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2021 Season Countdown: #66 Cristian Dixon

Cristian Dixon (image via SI)

Name: Cristian Dixon
Height:
6’2″
Weight:
187 lbs.
High school:
Santa Ana (CA) Mater Dei
Position:
Wide receiver
Class:
Freshman
Jersey number:
N/A
Last year:
Dixon was a senior in high school (LINK).
TTB Rating:
75

Dixon had a nice list of offers coming out of high school, picking Michigan over the likes of LSU, Notre Dame, and Oregon. He had been a teammate of now sophomore cornerback Darion Green-Warren, and like all Californians, his season was postponed to the spring. So instead of playing a senior year, he enrolled early at Michigan and went through spring ball.

Buzz about him coming out of practice was pretty much non-existent. And that’s not too surprising, considering that instead of playing a season and going through spring ball to develop even further, his playing experience over the past year was halved. If you then add in that Michigan landed transfer receiver Daylen Baldwin, I think Dixon’s chances of making an impact in 2021 are pretty slim. I expect him to play some, because Michigan should see some departures going into 2022 that might open some doors for playing time, but Dixon will probably not be used much.

Prediction: Backup wide receiver

14Jul 2021
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Scouting Report: 2022 OL/DL Deone Walker

Deone Walker (image via SI)

Name: Deone Walker
High school: Detroit (MI) Cass Tech
Height: 6’6″
Weight: 340 lbs.
Position: Offensive lineman/defensive tackle
Class: 2022
Offers: Akron, Arizona State, Arkansas, Arkansas State, Ball State, Buffalo, Central Michigan, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kent State, Kentucky, Liberty, Louisville, LSU, Michigan, Michigan State, Missouri, Ole Miss, Penn State, Pitt, Syracuse, Tennessee, Texas, Toledo, Virginia Tech
Commitment: Uncommitted

Notes: Rivals 4-star, 5.8 grade, #23 DT, #8 in MI…247 Sports 3-star, 88 grade, #66 DL, #14 in MI…Unranked by ESPN…Played for former Michigan RB Thomas Wilcher at Cass Tech, though Wilcher was recently hired by Michigan State…Announced a top five of Arizona State, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, and Missouri

Hit the jump for more.

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14Jul 2021
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Way Too Early 2022 Depth Chart: July 2021

Daxton Hill (image via Rivals)

The following depth chart has removed the following players from the 2021 depth chart for various reasons:

  • WR Ronnie Bell (graduation)
  • OL Chuck Filiaga (graduation)
  • S Brad Hawkins (graduation)
  • OL Joel Honigford (graduation)
  • DE Aidan Hutchinson (graduation)
  • DT Donovan Jeter (graduation)
  • K Jake Moody (graduation)
  • P Brad Robbins (graduation)
  • LB Josh Ross (graduation)
  • DT Jess Speight (graduation)
  • OL Andrew Stueber (graduation)
  • OL Andrew Vastardis (graduation)

It also assumes that every currently rostered player and every currently committed prospect will be here in 2022, which is obviously not true.

Hit the jump for the depth chart.

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