Citrus Bowl Preview: Roster Notes

Citrus Bowl Preview: Roster Notes

December 11, 2019
Najee Harris

Michigan will be playing Alabama in the Citrus Bowl on January 1, 2020. Instead of squeezing the game preview into one giant post, I’ll be breaking it up into several. Here’s an easy place to start: a look at Alabama’s roster.

Hit the jump for more.

Since Alabama typically has one of the top couple recruiting classes, of course Michigan whiffed on a bunch of their players as recruits:

  • QB: Taulia Tagovailoa, Paul Tyson
  • RB: Najee Harris, Keilan Robinson
  • WR: Jerry Jeudy, John Metchie III, Tyrell Shavers, Xavier Williams
  • TE: Jahleel Billingsley, Miller Forristall, Major Tennison
  • OL: Tommy Brown, Landon Dickerson, Emil Ekiyor Jr., Amari Kight, Alex Leatherwood, Evan Neal, Chris Owens, Pierce Quick, Jedrick Wills
  • DL: Labryan Ray, Ishmael Sopsher, Stephon Wynn
  • LB: Chris Allen, Markail Benton, Ben Davis, Kevin Harris II, Sean Lee, Terrell Lewis, Josh McMillon, Dylan Moses, Jarez Parks
  • DB: Marcus Banks, Jordan Battle, Shyheim Carter, Trevon Diggs, Josh Jobe, Jared Mayden, Xavier McKinney, Patrick Surtain Jr., Daniel Wright

Backup offensive guard Emily Ekiyor, Jr. was committed to Michigan at one point (LINK).

Running back Najee Harris was, according to some, a silent commit to Michigan. He was part of a heated recruiting battle in which nobody really knew what program he was committing to until he flew to Alabama after the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

Alabama has zero players from the state of Michigan.

Michigan has one player from Alabama in wide receiver Nico Collins. A second, safety J’Marick Woods, is transferring out of Michigan.

Two Alabama coaches used to be Big Ten head coaches: head coach Nick Saban (MSU) and offensive line coach Kyle Flood (Rutgers). Nick Saban is 3-3 as a head coach against Michigan (2-3 at MSU, 1-0 at Alabama), while Flood was 1-1 against the Wolverines.

Jim Harbaugh has never faced Alabama, either as a player or coach.


  1. Avatar
    Comments: 1852
    Joined: 1/19/2016
    Dec 11, 2019 at 7:03 AM

    Just looking at the list of names – all kids we wanted, but never had a shot at

    I’ll take some luck, and the best game of the Harbaugh era, and then some poor misfortune on bama’s past to pull an upset

    • Thunder
      Comments: 3612
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Dec 11, 2019 at 7:40 AM

      Well, I wouldn’t exactly say we never had a shot at them. One was (publicly) committed to Michigan, and one was (allegedly) silently committed to Michigan.

  2. Lanknows
    Comments: 5906
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Dec 11, 2019 at 1:59 PM

    Good idea. Bowl games are kind of funny because there is so much time to preview them in advance and then the entire offseason to consider the results. Yet, in terms of evaluating the team, they can be pretty inconsequential when you factor in the circumstances, team motivation, etc. Some teams clearly just going through the motions. A post-season exhibition to be enjoyed. Or skipped altogether.

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 5906
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Dec 11, 2019 at 2:15 PM

      Have you heard any buzz on which UM players might sit out the Bowl?

      I’ve seen plenty of speculation both ways with all the Alabama kids but we’re supposedly going to lose some early entrants to the NFL as well.

      Given all the NFL talent on both sides I have a suspicion we won’t see all that many people sitting out.

      Thinking of a kid like Collins who has the measurables but not the production to call himself elite. Producing against another NFL caliber corner could be meaningful.

  3. Lanknows
    Comments: 5906
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Dec 11, 2019 at 2:10 PM

    Today is Giles Jackson’s 18th birthday which means he played his entire freshman year as a 17 year old. I’m sure this has happened before but I’ve either forgotten or not noticed.

    Jackson is very “young for his age”. Added together with stellar athleticism and a promising freshman year on the field, this speaks to incredible upside.

    We’ve seen a lot of slot WR types contribute as freshman and not really get much better (Norfleet, McDoom). But Jackson played a lot of RB and Kick Returner and seemed to take touches from some pretty good skill position options in 2019. He is the type of player Gattis seems to love.

    To me, he’s the highest upside option at RB on the roster. I often say RBs don’t matter because very few differentiate themselves, but Jackson is the special kind of athlete that could be an exception to the rule.

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 5906
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Dec 11, 2019 at 2:12 PM

      I realize he’s small and won’t ever be a 30 carries a game guy. That’s fine.

      I’d love to see a thunder/lightning rotation with Jackson as something like Reggie Bush. Haskins and/or Charbonnet look like good big-back options who can convert in short yardage and make some plays as well.

      I feel very optimistic about the future of this offense and Jackson is a big part of that. I’ll feel even better if we can get a couple of the big WRs back next year…

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 5906
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Dec 11, 2019 at 2:18 PM

        Been hoping for this since Bush was in college though. Doesn’t happen very often.

        Saquan Barkley isn’t walking through that door.

        But maybe Darren Sproles is already here.

  4. Avatar
    Comments: 114
    Joined: 9/28/2015
    Dec 11, 2019 at 4:33 PM

    So….UMBIG11 says over on MGOBLOG ….2 are sitting out the Bowl game. Thoughts or knowledge on who this may be? We need everyone in this game!

    • GrandLake
      Comments: 95
      Joined: 8/22/2019
      Dec 11, 2019 at 7:35 PM

      It certainly could happen although there is no one on UM who can’t improve their draft stock by playing well against a team like Alabama. With Bush and Gary, they were both pretty much 1st round locks so I understand sitting out but aside from fear of injury, there is no real reason for anyone to sit esp if someone is planning to play the Senior Or East West Shrine Bowl. Also don’t think anyone who could sit out will have as much impact as Bush or Gary except maybe Bredeson.

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 5906
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Dec 12, 2019 at 2:29 PM

        Even a projected 5th round pick has something to lose. But unlike a first rounder, they also have something to gain. In the long run going from 5th to undrafted might be a lot more significant than going in 2nd vs 5th.

        But I agree with the overall point. It’s a very different situation for a guy locked into the 1st round. There’s not much upside for the individual and plenty of risk. It’s a fairly slam-dunk decision if you consider pragmatically that the bowl game is mostly an exhibition and you’re basically signing on to a month of volunteer labor so that the Bowl can profit. You’re volunteering your time during finals, holidays, draft prep, etc. That’s a lot on the line for loyalty.

        An early entry guy in a lower round has more to gain and less to lose. If things go poorly you come back to school. Seems logical to play the game and see if you can move up… Unless you are dead set on not doing that.

        Those guys who are just ready to move on, they may see that situation more like a 1st rounder from the risk perspective. I want to leave and I don’t want to blow the draft slot I have or get hurt.

        I’m one of those guys who thinks the player should do whatever they feel like, but I’ll admit to being disappointed should anyone sit this out other than Bredeson or Hill.

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