2018 Season Countdown: #25 Josh Metellus

Tag: 2018 season countdown

4Aug 2018
Blog, homepage 2 comments

2018 Season Countdown: #25 Josh Metellus

Josh Metellus (#14, image via Michigan Sports Zone)

Thanks to John and Sean for the Paypal donations! You guys are awesome.

Name: Josh Metellus
Height: 6’0″
Weight: 204 lbs.
High school: Pembroke Pines (FL) Flanagan
Position: Safety
Class: Junior
Jersey number: #14
Last year: I ranked Metellus #12 and said he would be a starting strong safety with 50 tackles and 1 interception (LINK). He made 50 tackles, 0.5 tackles for loss, 5 pass breakups, and 1 forced fumble.
TTB Rating: 71

Last season I ranked Metellus a good deal higher at #12. He got some experience in 2016, and Michigan was losing two safety starters going into the 2017 season. With only freshmen and walk-ons as backups, I felt Metellus needed to stay healthy and relevant. He wasn’t terrible, but the safeties were the weakest defensive position group of 2017. Metellus really maddened the fan base when he could have made an interception to snuff out a scoring drive for Ohio State, but the Buckeyes went on to score a touchdown, gain momentum, and eventually beat the Wolverines.

This year I have dropped Metellus down to the mid-twenties, but not necessarily because of a poor performance in 2017. I have never been too high on Metellus, and the additional experience behind him makes him less important. He went from having just walk-on Jordan Glasgow, freshman Jaylen Kelly-Powell, and freshman J’Marick Woods behind him in 2017 to having all those guys one year older, plus sophomore Brad Hawkins, several freshmen, and Utah transfer Casey Hughes. It’s good to have a starter back, but there don’t appear to be any stars in the making at either safety position.

Prediction: Starting strong safety; 45 tackles, 1 sack

2Aug 2018
Blog, homepage 1 comment

2018 Season Countdown: #26 Brad Robbins

Brad Robbins (image via Twitter)

Name: Brad Robbins
Height: 6’2″
Weight: 181 lbs.
High school: Westerville (OH) South
Position: Punter
Class: Sophomore
Jersey number: #3
Last year: I ranked Robbins #29 and said he would be the starting punter (LINK). He punted 64 times for 2,583 yards (40.4 yards/kick), 4 touchbacks, 23 fair catches, and 19 punts inside the 20.
TTB Rating: 70

Robbins had an up-and-down 2018 season. Walk-on Will Hart was a part-time punter in Robbins’s place because Robbins was somewhat inconsistent. Robbins has the stronger leg and looks to be the better punter long-term, but some guys just aren’t ready to be the guy as true freshmen. That appears to be the case here.

Now that Robbins has a year under his belt, I expect him to be more consistent. He doesn’t have a booming leg, so he needs to be able to kick directionally without shanking punts out of bounds. I have heard that he has improved over the off-season, but with those types of things, I’m in wait-and-see mode. When defensive players start rushing him as hard as they can, he might revert to previous bad habits. So we’ll see what happens this year, but I think he’ll take a small step forward.

Prediction: Starting punter

1Aug 2018
Blog, homepage 3 comments

2018 Season Countdown: #27 Devin Gil

Devin Gil (image via Zimbio)

Name: Devin Gil
Height: 6’2″
Weight: 220 lbs.
High school: Pembroke Pines (FL) Flanagan
Position: Linebacker
Class: Redshirt sophomore
Jersey number: #36
Last year: I ranked Gil #73 and said he would be a backup linebacker and special teamer (LINK). He made 5 tackles and recovered a blocked punt.
TTB Rating: 63

Gil redshirted in 2016 and then stepped up into a backup role in 2017. He even got credit for a start against Florida. He played in thirteen games throughout the year, but Michigan spent most of the time with Mike McCray at weakside linebacker, leaving very few snaps for backups.

I have almost zero confidence in this ranking, but Don Brown called Gil a “dude” and insiders are suggesting the WILL linebacker spot is Gil’s to lose. I haven’t really seen anything from him that suggests he should be the next starter at the position, so his presence here at #27 is largely based on hype. The Wolverines have other options at WILL, including Josh Ross and freshman Cameron McGrone. A starter is a starter, I guess, and Gil is the first projected full-time starter to come off the board. The good thing is that if Don Brown thinks he can play, he can probably play. I’ll be interested to see how he looks when the season rolls around.

Prediction: Starting weakside linebacker

31Jul 2018
Blog, homepage 7 comments

2018 Season Countdown: #28 James Hudson III

James Hudson III (image via Twitter)

Name: James Hudson III
Height: 6’5″
Weight: 302 lbs.
High school: Toledo (OH) Central Catholic
Position: Offensive tackle
Class: Redshirt freshman
Jersey number: #55
Last year: I ranked Hudson #63 and said he would be a backup defensive tackle (LINK). He redshirted.
TTB Rating: 85

I gave Hudson a TTB Rating of 85 coming out of high school, and that was with the thought that he would play defensive tackle, the position for which he was recruited. I always saw Hudson as more of an offensive tackle, though. While he came in expecting to play defense, it hasn’t taken long for Michigan to switch him to offense.

Lo and behold, the talk all spring and summer has been that Hudson is in a battle to start at left tackle. In one corner, you have fifth year senior Juwann Bushell-Beatty, who started part of the 2017 season at right tackle and did a pretty good job of run blocking (not so much in the passing game). In the other corner, you have redshirt freshman Hudson, who has yet to take a college snap. My metaphorical money is on Bushell-Beatty to start the first game, but he’s been out of shape in his career and he’s not a great athlete. It would be great if he can take a leap as a senior, but I stop expecting a ton of growth going into years four and five. Aside from the two incoming freshmen (Ryan Hayes and perhaps Jalen Mayfield) and the injured Grant Newsome, Hudson is physically the best suited guy to play left tackle. I expect Hudson to start at left tackle for at least a portion of the season.

Prediction: Part-time starting left tackle

30Jul 2018
Blog, homepage 2 comments

2018 Season Countdown: #29 Ambry Thomas

Ambry Thomas (#1, image via Michigan Daily)

Name: Ambry Thomas
Height: 6’0″
Weight: 179 lbs.
High school: Detroit (MI) King
Position: Cornerback
Class: Sophomore
Jersey number: #1
Last year: I ranked Thomas #41 and said he would be a nickel corner and special teamer (LINK). He made 7 tackles, 0.5 tackles for loss, 2 fumble recoveries, and 1 forced fumble; he also returned 20 kickoffs for 396 yards (19.8 yards/return).
TTB Rating: 90

Thomas was one of the most heralded recruits in Michigan’s 2017 class and might have been the jewel of many classes. Unfortunately for him, he was overshadowed a little bit by Donovan Peoples-Jones and others. Thomas was very skinny coming out of high school, and the transition from high school to heavy playing time in college can be difficult, even for talented skill guys. Michigan had two pretty good guys on the outside in 2017, Lavert Hill and David Long. Thomas saw most of his time in the slot and playing on kickoff return.

Hopefully a year under strength and conditioning coach Ben Herbert will help him become a little more physical. I mentioned when I profiled Brandon Watson a couple days ago that Michigan has perhaps its most talented group of cornerbacks in a long time, and that includes Thomas, who would probably be starting at almost every other Big Ten school. Instead, he’s probably going to be a part-timer as the nickel corner, as long as Hill and Long stay healthy. Watson saw more snaps on the outside, while the coaching staff tried to limit Thomas to learning the nickel spot. It’s unclear whether they’ll free him up to play more on the outside this season if needed, but the point is that he should play quite a bit. His kickoff returns were uninspiring last season and his 19.6 yards/return was not impressive, but that additional strength and maturity might help a little bit there. If Hill and/or Long leave early for the NFL after the 2018 season, look for Thomas to get his shot.

Prediction: Nickel corner, special teamer