2020 Season Countdown: #42 Braiden McGregor

Tag: 2020 season countdown


4Aug 2020
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2020 Season Countdown: #42 Braiden McGregor

Braiden McGregor

Name: Braiden McGregor
Height:
6’5″
Weight:
248 lbs.
High school:
Port Huron (MI) Northern
Position:
Defensive end
Class:
Freshman
Jersey number:
N/A
Last year:
McGregor was a senior in high school (LINK). He made 32 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, and 2 sacks.
TTB Rating:
90 87

McGregor lost some steam during the 2020 recruiting cycle after he played in the first seven games and then suffered a knee injury. He was in 5-star range at one point and ranked #28 overall when he committed, but those recruits often drop down a little bit, and the injury didn’t help. Not only did that perhaps dim some hopes for him, but he also wasn’t able to participate in any post-season All-American showcases.

I’m bumping McGregor down from a 90 to an 87 for one main reason: I rated Aidan Hutchinson an 88, and I think McGregor is a step behind him. Hutchinson is extremely technical, whereas McGregor is probably a little better overall athlete. I think McGregor will take a year to get up to speed with the college game, and then he should probably step in for Kwity Paye as a sophomore in 2021.

Prediction: Backup defensive end

Hit the jump for his junior highlights (no senior highlight reel exists, as far as I know).

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2Aug 2020
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2020 Season Countdown: #43 Charles Thomas

Charles Thomas

Name: Charles Thomas
Height: 6’0”
Weight: 233 lbs.
High school: Oakdale (CT) St. Thomas More
Position: Linebacker
Class: Redshirt freshman
Jersey number: #13
Last year: I ranked Thomas #96 and said he would redshirt (LINK). He redshirted.
TTB Rating: 69

When Thomas entered last year, it seemed inevitable that he would redshirt. Linebacker is not an easy position to learn, and Michigan generally leans on three inside linebackers. With Josh Ross, Devin Gil, Cameron McGrone, and Jordan Glasgow available, Thomas was at best the #5 inside ‘backer. Thus the redshirt.

I have heard varying reports about Thomas. Some reports have him playing a key backup role as the only veteran inside linebacker. Others have him behind freshmen. My guess is that he will factor in as a backup, based largely on his having a year in the system. (Keep in mind that guys like Drew Singleton, Devin Gil, and Jordan Anthony have all transferred in the past couple seasons.)

Prediction: Backup linebacker

2Aug 2020
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2020 Season Countdown: #44 Ben VanSumeren

Ben VanSumeren (image via Detroit Free Press)

Name: Ben VanSumeren
Height: 
6’2″
Weight: 
244 lbs.
High school: 
Essexville (MI) Garber
Position: 
Running back
Class: 
Redshirt sophomore
Jersey number: 
#40
Last year: 
I ranked VanSumeren #48 and said he would be a backup running back (LINK). He played in five games and ran the ball 6 times for 20 yards.
TTB Rating:
 78

Michigan’s transition to the Josh Gattis offense was a positive for a lot of people, but probably not someone like VanSumeren. Brought in as more of a traditional fullback, he was left without a real position on offense. At 6’2″ and 236 pounds, his speed and quickness were lacking as a runner. Though he spent the spring of 2019 getting a lot of reps due to injuries, the season itself saw him finish as the #5 tailback.

The outlook has not changed much going into 2020, and VanSumeren has reportedly made another position switch, this time to linebacker. It’s not clear exactly what role he would fill on defense, but he was rumored to potentially become a pass rusher off the edge, a role that Josh Uche previously inhabited. I do not see VanSumeren having a lot of success in that type of role, but like fellow fullback/linebacker recruit Ben Mason (who has also spent time at defensive tackle), it appears the coaching staff will try to shoehorn him into a role. I would not be surprised to see him line up at linebacker, defensive end, fullback, and/or tailback in 2020, but I would be surprised to see him become a standout at any one of those spots.

Prediction: Backup linebacker

1Aug 2020
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2020 Season Countdown: #45 Jess Speight

Jess Speight (image via Wolverines Wire)

Name: Jess Speight
Height: 
6’5″
Weight: 
288 lbs.
High school: 
Richmond (VA) Collegiate
Position: 
Center
Class: 
Redshirt junior
Jersey number: 
#67
Last year: 
I ranked Speight #90 and said he would be a backup center (LINK). He played in seven games and made 7 tackles.
TTB Rating: 
N/A

Speight has slowly climbed the ranks of Michigan football over the past few years. He came in as a preferred walk-on and the brother of quarterback Wilton Speight, who transferred from Michigan to UCLA. I liked him as a recruit and thought he might be able to work his way onto the field on the offensive line. After spending his first couple seasons on campus playing center, he switched to defensive tackle last fall when there was a need for depth. By the end of the season, he was playing some key minutes.

While Speight is not expected to start in 2020, there is once again an opportunity for him to play. Part-time starter Michael Dwumfour transferred to Rutgers, but sophomore Chris Hinton is expected to step into the starting lineup alongside nose tackle Carlo Kemp. Other players involved in the competition include Speight, Donovan Jeter, and Mazi Smith, among others. Hinton’s parents have been pretty vocal about being opposed to playing due to COVID-19, so there’s a chance that he will opt out of the season. That could elevate Speight’s importance for 2020, but I’m operating under the assumption that Hinton will play (NOTE: No Michigan players have opted out for 2020 as of this writing). I don’t think Speight will be a difference maker, but he’s an okay role player.

Prediction: Backup defensive tackle

30Jul 2020
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2020 Season Countdown: #46 Gemon Green

Gemon Green (image via MGoBlue)

Name: Gemon Green
Height: 
6’2″
Weight: 
180 lbs.
High school: 
DeSoto (TX) DeSoto
Position: 
Cornerback
Class: 
Redshirt sophomore
Jersey number: 
#22
Last year: 
I ranked Green #43 and said he would be a backup cornerback. (LINK). He made 5 tackles.
TTB Rating:
 82

Green had a momentary uptick in expectations during the pre-season leading up to 2019 when it came out that Ambry Thomas was suffering from an illness. That left Thomas’s availability for the season up in the air, and maybe backup corners like Green were licking their chops at the chance to play. Luckily for Michigan, Thomas made a pretty miraculous recovery to be ready for game one and he stayed healthy throughout the year. Green was limited to special teams as Thomas, Lavert Hill, and Vincent Gray took the vast majority of snaps at corner.

This year Green is in the hot seat. With Hill having graduated, Michigan needs to find a third corner. Green is in his third year on campus and has the most experience of any of the backups, but he hasn’t separated himself from the pack. In fact, word on the street is that D.J. Turner II has been the most impressive of the backup corners. Green needs to stake his claim to playing time here in 2020 or else Gray, Turner, Darion Green-Warren, and/or others might make him irrelevant going into 2021.

Prediction: Backup cornerback