2019 Season Countdown: #12 Josh Metellus

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19Aug 2019
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2019 Season Countdown: #12 Josh Metellus

Josh Metellus (image via MLive)

Name: Josh Metellus
Height:
6’0″
Weight:
218 lbs.
High school:
Pembroke Pines (FL) Flanagan
Position:
Safety
Class:
Senior
Jersey number:
#13
Last year:
I ranked Metellus #25 and said he would be the starting strong safety with 45 tackles and 1 sack (LINK). He made 48 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, 3 interceptions (1 for a TD), and 6 pass breakups.
TTB Rating:
71

Metellus has been a very pleasant surprise in Ann Arbor over the past couple years. He was All-Big Ten Honorable Mention in 2017 as a sophomore, and it was nice to have a returning starter. He stepped up his game in 2018, making Second Team All-Big Ten to the coaches and media, along with First Team to the Associated Press. His huge 73-yard interception return for a touchdown on the final play of the first half against SMU gave Michigan some much-needed relief during a bit of a nail-biter that was 14-7 prior to the pick. His performances against Maryland and Wisconsin earned him the team’s defensive player of the week award, and he was named to Pro Football Focus’s Big Ten Team of the Week after Nebraska.

This year Metellus should be a huge piece of Michigan’s defense. I could make an argument to move him higher on the list, but I like the pieces Michigan is compiling at safety – including J’Marick Woods, Brad Hawkins, Daxton Hill, Quinten Johnson, and others. Metellus is the best of that bunch right now, but there’s both experience and talent behind him. Metellus can cover and support the run. I was skeptical when he came out of high school, but I’m a believer now. Metellus is among the top few true safeties Michigan has developed over the last twenty years, right up there with Ernest Shazor, Jarrod Wilson, and Jamar Adams.

Prediction: Starting safety; 55 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, 1 interception

19Aug 2019
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2019 Season Countdown: #13 Carlo Kemp

Carlo Kemp (#2, image via MGoBlue)

Name: Carlo Kemp
Height:
6’3″
Weight:
286 lbs.
High school:
Boulder (CO) Fairview
Position:
Defensive tackle
Class:
Senior
Jersey number:
#2
Last year:
I ranked Kemp #37 and said he would be a backup strongside end and defensive tackle (LINK). He started twelve games, making 17 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, and 0.5 sacks.
TTB Rating:
84

From the perspective of pure playing time, Kemp made quite a leap in 2018. He went from a mediocre backup in 2017 to a part-time starter in 2018, and he went from being a backup defensive end to basically a full-time defensive tackle. It’s arguable how much of an impact he made, however. He finished the year with 17 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, and 0.5 sacks over twelve starts. On pace for roughly 1.5 tackles per game and 1 sack every 24 starts, not many offensive linemen lined up across from him are afraid going into their matchup.

The loss of three defensive tackles boosts Kemp’s importance, and by all accounts, he’s a standout leader. Some have suggested that he should be a captain, along with rumblings about Khaleke Hudson, Josh Metellus, and others. I have little doubt about his leadership; those traits were discussed during his recruitment. He grew up in a football family (he’s the nephew of Chuck Pagano and John Pagano, both long-time NFLers) and knows the commitment it takes to succeed at a high level in football.

Unfortunately, Kemp is lacking in a couple areas. One is explosion. The other is size. He’s expected to play nose tackle, a position normally reserved for 330+ pound behemoths. When not that, they’re lighter but lightning quick. Aside from his positive leadership qualities, Kemp is basically just a guy. He will occasionally slice into a backfield and make a play, but he would be ranked lower if Michigan could afford to lose defensive tackles and still chug along. As things stand right now, Kemp is a fairly important piece of the defensive puzzle, since the interior line starts to dissolve into freshmen rather quickly after the first three guys.

Prediction: Starting nose tackle; 25 tackles, 1.5 sacks

18Aug 2019
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2019 Season Countdown: #14 Khaleke Hudson

Khaleke Hudson

Name: Khaleke Hudson
Height:
6’0″
Weight:
220 lbs.
High school:
McKeesport (PA) McKeesport
Position:
Linebacker
Class:
Senior
Jersey number:
#7
Last year:
I ranked Hudson #2 and said he would be the starting Viper with 75 tackles, 16 tackles for loss, 7 sacks, and 2 interceptions (LINK). He made 44 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 1 fumble recovery, and 2 blocked punts.
TTB Rating:
80

I ranked Hudson at #2 overall last year, behind only Shea Patterson. We got a chance to see what the team looked like without Hudson when he was ejected from two games for targeting, a rule that Don Brown said affected his play for the remainder of the year. For better or worse in regard to Hudson, the defense as a whole didn’t miss a beat. The Wolverines plowed ahead with an elite defense until the whole thing went to s*** against Ohio State and then Florida.

The primary replacement at Viper last season was Jordan Glasgow, who still exists this year in the form of Viper/WILL Jordan Glasgow. There are some reports indicating that Glasgow is playing both positions, while others say Glasgow has made the full-time switch to WILL. Maybe the coaching staff is confident in redshirt freshman Michael Barrett to back up Hudson at Viper, or perhaps one of the other options, who are mostly true freshmen.

I expect a bit of a bounce back from Hudson. The Viper position has been much more productive, both in 2016 and 2017, and Hudson shouldn’t have to make any adjustments to his game. Maybe it was a one-year blip. Maybe it was just the fact that the Wolverines didn’t play Minnesota in 2018. Whatever the reason, Hudson should have a solid year in 2019. But if he goes down, the incredibly creative Don Brown could go with Barrett, Glasgow, more of SAM Josh Uche, a veteran safety (J’Marick Woods, Brad Hawkins), or a talented freshman (Daxton Hill, Quinten Johnson, Joey Velazquez). As perhaps the most recognizable position in Michigan’s defense, it will be very interesting to see who gets the snaps in 2019 when Hudson needs a breather.

Prediction: Starting Viper; 60 tackles, 5 sacks, 1 interception

18Aug 2019
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2019 Season Countdown: #15 Michael Onwenu

Michael Onwenu (image via MGoBlue)

Name: Michael Onwenu
Height:
6’3″
Weight:
370 lbs.
High school:
Detroit (MI) Cass Tech
Position:
Offensive guard
Class:
Senior
Jersey number:
#50
Last year:
I ranked Onwenu #22 and said he would be the starting right guard (LINK). He started all thirteen games.
TTB Rating:
78

Onwenu has had an up-and-down career at Michigan so far. He has struggled with his weight, for one, and the roster refuses to list him at more than 350 lbs. even though coaches acknowledge that he’s about 370 lbs. right now. And if he’s 370 right now, he has probably been 380 or 390 at times in the past. Onwenu has also struggled with the consistency of his play on the field, sometimes looking like a road-grader and other times looking like a statue. On the plus side, he was named a Third Team All-Big Ten player by the coaches and Honorable Mention by the media.

This year we should see more of the same from Onwenu. Seniors don’t generally take huge leaps, so I don’t expect a major one from him this year. There has been some buzz about him in the off-season. He has the right guard spot locked down, and his experience is even more valuable now that Andrew Stueber is injured and a redshirt freshman (Jalen Mayfield) will be starting next to him at right tackle. Backup options include redshirt junior Stephen Spanellis and redshirt sophomore Chuck Filiaga, not to mention redshirt sophomore Joel Honigford, who has at least temporarily bumped out to tackle to help back up Stueber/Mayfield.

Prediction: Starting right guard

18Aug 2019
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Morning Roundup: August 18, 2019

Ben Bredeson (image via MGoBlue)

Ben Bredeson was named to the Sports Illustrated pre-season All-America team (LINK).

Chase Winovich beat former Wisconsin OT Tyler Marz for a sack of the Tennessee Titans backup QB Ryan Tannehill:

Hit the jump for more.

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