Name: Joshua Uche
Weight: 250 lbs.
High school: Miami (FL) Columbus
Class: Redshirt junior
Jersey number: #6
Last year: I ranked Uche #40 and said he would be a backup linebacker and special teamer (LINK). He made 15 tackles, 8 tackles for loss, and 7 sacks.
TTB Rating: 82
I doubt anyone other than Uche’s family was as excited to see him blow up in 2018 as I was. When Uche came out of high school, I was excited about his ability to bend around the corner and rush the passer. Edge rushers are hard to come by, and someone with that natural ability should be valued. Uche was a bit player last year, but he still managed to lead the team in sacks – he made more (7.0) than 1st round pick Rashan Gary (3.5) and new Patriots standout Chase Winovich (5.0).
Perhaps best of all was the fact that he didn’t beat up on the patsies on the schedule. All 7 of his sacks came against solid teams like Wisconsin, Penn State, Michigan State, and Northwestern. One sack against Northwestern was a huge play in a game that ended up tighter than it should have been.
It’s hard to say how much Uche will be utilized in 2019. He played less than a third of Michigan’s defensive snaps and was essentially a pass rush specialist, yet he still picked up 7 sacks in one season, which is the fifth best total in the last decade. Talk out of the spring and camp has been that Uche will be used in a variety of ways, but I don’t know that there’s too much mystery: Michigan is going to rush him off the edge as a defensive end, and they’ll blitz him from the second level. He should have a future as a 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL at some point, which doesn’t exactly mesh with how Michigan plays defense, but it’s nice to have at least one of those explosive edge rushers available.
Prediction: Backup SAM linebacker; 25 tackles, 6 sacks