MLive: Speight out for “multiple weeks”

Tag: 2017 season countdown

2Oct 2017
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MLive: Speight out for “multiple weeks”

Jim Harbaugh announced that Wilton Speight will be out for multiple weeks (LINK). Word is that he has a broken vertebra and will be out for the rest of the season. This came after a Purdue defensive lineman jumped on Speight’s head/neck area as he was going down to the ground. Purdue’s coach thought it was a clean hit.

Hit the jump for some pictures of Nicky Gile.

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31Aug 2017
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2017 Season Countdown List

Nolan Ulizio is my nomination for “most underrated” in the 2017 Countdown

First of all, thanks for reading. I can’t tell you how monumental of a task it was to write approximately 100 posts about the upcoming football season. This year was more of a Herculean task than others, and I thought about cutting it off numerous times. There were several times where I was up at 4:00 a.m. or staying up until midnight to get posts ready. It brings a literal sigh of relief to have this thing finished.

Below is the countdown from beginning to end. Due to a couple stupid omissions and counting errors, I have rearranged the following list to hold true to a numerical countdown, rather than keeping the 3A, 3B, 5A, 5B, etc. This should give you a truer sense of the ranking, even if the actual posts themselves might have slightly different numbers.

  1. Wilton Speight
  2. Rashan Gary
  3. Maurice Hurst, Jr.
  4. Mason Cole
  5. Tyree Kinnel
  6. Bryan Mone
  7. Mike McCray II
  8. Chase Winovich
  9. Patrick Kugler
  10. Khaleke Hudson
  11. Devin Bush Jr.
  12. Ben Bredeson
  13. Quinn Nordin
  14. Chris Evans
  15. Josh Metellus
  16. Kekoa Crawford
  17. Khalid Hill
  18. Ian Bunting
  19. Michael Onwenu
  20. Lavert Hill
  21. Tyrone Wheatley, Jr.
  22. Carlo Kemp
  23. Keith Washington
  24. Brandon Peters
  25. David Long, Jr.
  26. Michael Dwumfour
  27. Cesar Ruiz
  28. Jordan Glasgow
  29. Aubrey Solomon
  30. Tarik Black
  31. Henry Poggi
  32. Brad Robbins
  33. Luiji Vilain
  34. Jon Runyan, Jr.
  35. Andrew Robinson
  36. Michael Wroblewski
  37. Donovan Peoples-Jones
  38. Brandon Watson
  39. Karan Higdon
  40. Noah Furbush
  41. Eddie McDoom
  42. Juwann Bushell-Beatty
  43. Ty Isaac
  44. Ambry Thomas
  45. Grant Perry
  46. Nate Johnson
  47. Stephen Spanellis
  48. Garrett Moores
  49. Kareem Walker
  50. John O’Korn
  51. Nate Schoenle
  52. Drake Harris
  53. Zach Gentry
  54. Josh Uche
  55. Sean McKeon
  56. Nolan Ulizio
  57. J’Marick Woods
  58. Nick Eubanks
  59. Maurice Ways, Jr.
  60. Reuben Jones
  61. Jordan Anthony
  62. Joshua Ross
  63. Carl Myers
  64. Lawrence Marshall
  65. Oliver Martin
  66. James Hudson III
  67. Andrew Vastardis
  68. Benjamin St-Juste
  69. Jaylen Kelly-Powell
  70. Andrew Stueber
  71. Nico Collins
  72. Elysee Mbem-Bosse
  73. Chuck Filiaga
  74. Ron Johnson
  75. O’Maury Samuels
  76. Devin Gil
  77. Ryan Tice
  78. Jared Wangler
  79. Brad Hawkins, Jr.
  80. Donovan Jeter
  81. Ben Mason
  82. Drew Singleton
  83. Kurt Taylor
  84. Will Hart
  85. Ja’Raymond Hall
  86. Kwity Paye
  87. Corey Malone-Hatcher
  88. Tru Wilson
  89. Camaron Cheeseman
  90. Conner Edmonds
  91. Joe Hewlett
  92. Phillip Paea
  93. Dylan McCaffrey
  94. Deron Irving-Bey
  95. Simeon Smith
  96. Joel Honigford
  97. Jack Wangler
  98. Michael Sessa
  99. Grant Newsome
31Aug 2017
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2017 Season Countdown: #1 Wilton Speight

Wilton Speight (image via SI)

Name: Wilton Speight
Height: 6’6″
Weight: 243 lbs.
High school: Richmond (VA) Collegiate
Position: Quarterback
Class: Redshirt junior
Jersey number: #3
Last year: I ranked Speight #9 and said he would be the starting quarterback. He completed 204/331 passes (61.6%) for 2,538 yards, 18 touchdowns, and 7 interceptions.
TTB Rating: 77

Speight probably wasn’t the fan favorite to win the job going into 2016. That honor probably went to John O’Korn, who had starting experience at Houston and supposedly looked even better than Jake Rudock during his 2015 redshirt season. But Speight did indeed win the gig. He started off great. From Hawaii through Maryland, he threw 15 touchdowns and just 3 interceptions, leading the team to a 9-0 record. In the final three games of the season, he threw 3 touchdowns and 4 picks while falling to 0-3 down the stretch. (He missed the Indiana game, a narrow win for O’Korn.) Speight’s ability to evade and shake off pass rushers led people to call him a Baby Roethlisberger, but that comparison didn’t stop fans from calling for the most popular guy on the team: the backup quarterback.

That continued into this off-season. The spring game pitted Speight against rising redshirt freshman Brandon Peters, and Peters looked better by far. It probably helped that Peters had a better supporting cast, but still, Speight threw some ugly passes and made some dumb decisions. He didn’t perform under pressure and dump off the ball like one would hope for a veteran quarterback, and that’s what he has to be. He’s going to face pressure behind an unproven offensive line, and he wont’ have a crew of veteran receivers to throw the ball to this fall. Hopefully, Michigan can find some offensive playmakers and carry on with their superior defensive effort from last fall, because they’re going to be playing some tigher games. Speight has reportedly improved his deep ball from last year, when he struggled to consistently hit guys deep. Now Michigan has more speed and playmaking ability at receiver, even though many of them are young. This is going to be a trying season for Speight.

I have Speight up here at #1 because Michigan needs his experience, calm, and leadership. O’Korn is 1-0 as a starter, but that was an ugly win against Indiana. He has reportedly improved, but that one starting performance left more doubt in my mind than I had before I ever saw him play in crunch time. Meanwhile, Peters has supposedly fallen off during fall practices, perhaps because he realized he wouldn’t surpass Speight. I believe Michigan has a backup or two whom Harbaugh can game plan to use well enough to prevent the season from totally tanking if Speight gets hurt, but it will be difficult to win games down the stretch if QB1 isn’t available.

Prediction: Starting quarterback; 2,800 yards, 20 touchdowns, 9 interceptions

30Aug 2017
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2017 Season Countdown: #2 Rashan Gary

Rashan Gary (image via Rivals)

Name: Rashan Gary
Height: 6’5″
Weight: 287 lbs.
High school: Paramus (NJ) Catholic
Position: Defensive end
Class: Sophomore
Jersey number: #3
Last year: I ranked Gary #23 and said he would be the starting strongside end with 35 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, and 5 sacks. He made 27 tackles, 5 tackles for loss, and 1 sack.
TTB Rating: 100

Gary was one of the most well known recruits in the 2016 class, especially when considering that he doesn’t throw the ball, run a 4.3 forty, catch touchdown passes, or return kickoffs for touchdowns. He was just a big, lithe defensive lineman whom many thought of as a future first round pick. Prior to the season, word started to filter out of insiders that Michigan planned to start Gary at Anchor (a.k.a. strongside defensive end) with Chris Wormley at defensive tackle. That turned out not to be true, and probably for good reason: Wormley was a 3rd round pick. Still, Gary played well and probably would have been just fine as a starter.

This year there’s a lot riding on Gary. Not only does he have immense talent, but Michigan lost all four defensive line starters. With an even more unproven secondary, the Wolverines need the defensive line to be outstanding, make plays in the backfield, and pressure quarterbacks into quick or bad decisions. Because of that, Gary is a very important player. Michigan can’t afford to take injuries on the defensive line, and the backups are totally unproven. Carlo Kemp has been earning rave practice reviews, and he’s Gary’s primary backup. Beyond him is Ron Johnson and air. If Gary or Kemp were to get injured, there would probably have to be some reshuffling of personnel. Practice observers have been salivating about Gary, and I hope the hype comes true this year, but I’m trying to reserve outlandish excitement until we see him putting things together on game day.

Prediction: Starting Anchor

30Aug 2017
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2017 Season Countdown: #3A Maurice Hurst, Jr.

Name: Maurice Hurst, Jr.
Height: 6’2″
Weight: 282 lbs.
High school: Westwood (MA) Xaverian Brothers
Position: Defensive tackle
Class: Fifth year senior
Jersey number: #73
Last year: I ranked Hurst #24 and said he would be a part-time starting defensive tackle. He made 34 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery, and 1 pass breakup.
TTB Rating: 78

Hurst was considered by some to be a top-30 national player going into 2016, but I had him ranked #24 on the team. He didn’t start a game, and he still put up some outstanding numbers for a nose tackle. Most offensive linemen can’t handle his combination of quickness and power by themselves, and they can’t always get help. Hurst was 10th on the team in tackles, 5th in tackles for loss, and 4th in sacks – not bad for a backup.

It was a little strange that a potential first round pick in Hurst was behind Matt Godin last season, but it kept intact a solid second unit that never gave offenses a rest. Michigan still has a good group of defensive linemen, but they’re younger and thinner, and Hurst’s playmaking is needed more. The Wolverines don’t have the same room for injury this season, and Hurst is a guy who can play virtually any position on the defensive line. This should be a big year for Hurst, and he fits well into a defense that likes to slant and blitz. He’s a potential All-American if he produces in a starting role, and he should also be a first team all-conference selection.

Prediction: Starting defensive tackle