2018 Season Countdown: #45 Will Hart

Tag: 2018 season countdown

15Jul 2018
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2018 Season Countdown: #45 Will Hart

Will Hart (image via Twitter)

Name: Will Hart
Height: 6’3″
Weight: 196 lbs.
High school: Hunting Valley (OH) University School
Position: Punter
Class: Redshirt sophomore
Jersey number: #17
Last year: I ranked Hart #84 and said he would be a backup punter. He punted 13 times for 490 yards (37.7 yards/punt) with 1 touchback, 5 fair catches, and 6 punts inside the 20-yard line.
TTB Rating: N/A

Last season was an odd year for punters at Michigan. Michigan brought in freshman Brad Robbins late in the recruiting cycle, and he was expected to be the guy. However, Robbins struggled. Michigan didn’t let strong-legged Quinn Nordin pull double-duty as the kicker and punter. So they turned to Hart, who was very inconsistent. At times he hit some decent punts, but he never averaged over 40 yards/punt in any contest throughout the year, and his 37.7 yards/punt average for the entire season was less than stellar. (It would have been last in the Big Ten if he had enough punts to qualify.)

This year I expect Robbins to be the guy, and he averaged 40.4 yards/punt (#11 in the Big Ten). However, he has not proven to be consistent enough to ward off Hart permanently, and it might be important for Hart to give Robbins competition and keep him on his toes. There’s a chance Hart won’t punt a single ball this year, but based on last season, this is still a question mark for the Wolverines.

Prediction: Backup punter

14Jul 2018
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2018 Season Countdown: #46 Lawrence Marshall

Lawrence Marshall (#93, image via MLive)

Name: Lawrence Marshall
Height: 6’4″
Weight: 268 lbs.
High school: Southfield (MI) Southfield
Position: Defensive tackle
Class: Fifth year senior
Jersey number: #93
Last year: I ranked Marshall #61 and said he would be a backup defensive tackle (LINK). He made 5 tackles and 1 fumble recovery.
TTB Rating: 72

Marshall had a chance last season to step up at defensive tackle last season, and he . . . sort of did. A converted defensive end, Marshall hasn’t shown the same explosiveness he displayed in high school, so Michigan bulked him up and made him an interior guy. He has 11 tackles and 0.5 tackles for loss in four years on campus, and it looked like he might not return for a fifth year. However, he stuck around through the spring, and reports were generally positive. He’s not developing into a star, but he’s developing nonetheless.

I contemplated putting Marshall below Donovan Jeter, but Marshall has the experience and isn’t coming off an injury. I have to think the coaching staff offered to bring him back for a fifth year for a reason. They didn’t want him to come back just so he can waste away on the sideline and eat up a scholarship, so I expect Marshall to play. Maybe he’ll be the second 3-tech, or maybe he’ll be #3. Either way, I expect him to be a rotation guy and get a decent amount of playing time behind Michael Dwumfour and perhaps others.

Prediction: Backup defensive tackle

13Jul 2018
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2018 Season Countdown: #47 Jaylen Kelly-Powell

Jaylen Kelly-Powell (#16, image via Zimbio)

Name: Jaylen Kelly-Powell
Height: 6’0″
Weight: 173 lbs.
High school: Detroit (MI) Cass Tech
Position: Safety
Class: Sophomore
Jersey number: #16
Last year: I ranked Kelly-Powell #66 and said he would be a backup safety and special teamer (LINK). He made 2 tackles.
TTB Rating: 77

Kelly-Powell was a freshman last season with an undefined position. Was he a safety, a cornerback, or a nickel? Michigan tried him everywhere in the defensive backfield to see where he fit best. Ultimately, they decided he probably had the best chance of contributing at the nickel corner position. He’s one of those tweeners who doesn’t have the speed/athleticism to be great at corner, and he’s not physical enough – at least not yet – to be a safety.

This year not much has changed in the defensive backfield, except Utah transfer Casey Hughes has entered the fold as a potential contributor at safety or nickel. Spring reports were positive about Kelly-Powell, though, and some observers said he looked excellent. I’m skeptical of spring practice reports without seeing evidence of it myself, but there were some who said Kelly-Powell will force his way onto the field somewhere. The problem is it’s a loaded defensive backfield, and there aren’t enough positions to get all the good players on the field. The four starters (David Long, Lavert Hill, Tyree Kinnel, Josh Metellus) all return, along with highly touted corner Ambry Thomas and experienced veteran Brandon Watson. Then you have Hughes, big-hitting J’Marick Woods, and a whole cadre of freshmen.

Prediction: Backup nickel corner

13Jul 2018
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2018 Season Countdown: #48 Camaron Cheeseman

Camaron Cheeseman (#33, image via Denver Post)

Name: Camaron Cheeseman
Height: 6’4″
Weight: 225 lbs.
High school: New Albany (OH) Gahanna Lincoln
Position: Long snapper
Class: Redshirt sophomore
Jersey number: #38
Last year: I ranked Cheeseman #85 and said he would be the backup long snapper (LINK). He started at long snapper.
TTB Rating: N/A

Cheeseman got to Michigan in 2016 and redshirted, even when starting long snapper Scott Sypniewski got hurt. Andrew Robinson replaced Sypniewski, so I assumed Cheeseman would continue to be a backup, only to Robinson.

That turned out not to be the case, as Cheeseman started all year long. So I assume Cheeseman will once again be the starter in 2018, but you never know with these types of things. Off-season insider reports weren’t brimming with news about the long snapper competition. Either way, Robinson has experience and should be okay if Cheeseman isn’t. Usually I rank the starting long snapper a little higher, but I think Michigan has two pretty solid guys.

Prediction: Starting long snapper

13Jul 2018
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2018 Season Countdown: #49 Tyrone Wheatley, Jr.

Tyrone Wheatley, Jr. (image via Pinterest)

Name: Tyrone Wheatley, Jr.
Height: 6’6″
Weight: 276 lbs.
High school: Buffalo (NY) Canisius
Position: Tight end
Class: Redshirt junior
Jersey number: #17
Last year: I ranked Wheatley #18 and said he would be a backup tight end (LINK). He made three starts and caught 3 passes for 26 yards.
TTB Rating: 82

When Wheatley came out of high school a few years ago, many Michigan fans wanted to bulk him up and make him an offensive tackle. I kind of wanted him to play defensive end. Instead, he has stayed at tight end, redshirting his first year and playing sporadic minutes since. He made bookend starts last year against Florida and Ohio State, but there wasn’t a lot of production in the meantime; he had one catch each against Cincinnati, Indiana, and Rutgers. The thing most people expected him to be good – blocking – has not been a strength.

It’s hard to believe Wheatley is a redshirt junior now, but that’s the case. The son of a Michigan all-timer has 6 catches for 61 yards and 1 touchdown in three years on campus. Furthermore, he might not be taking a step forward this season, because Sean McKeon and Zach Gentry look to still be ahead of him, while the only departure (Ian Bunting as a grad transfer to Cal) only had 1 reception last season. There’s no reason to expect Wheatley’s impact to increase this year unless he can improve significantly as a blocker, and both McKeon and Gentry have two years left if they decide to stay. Unless something changes this might be a case where Wheatley gets his degree and finishes his career elsewhere.

Prediction: Backup tight end