Every year since 2009, I have counted down from the least important player on that year’s roster to the most important player, including starters, scholarship players, preferred walk-ons, special teams players, student body walk-ons, and everyone in between.
In case you want a look back at last year’s #1 player, here is Mazi Smith, who will probably be Michigan’s top NFL draft pick this off-season (LINK).
YEARLY DISCLAIMER: The countdown is by the player’s importance to the team, not his overall talent. A talented player at a deep position won’t necessarily be missed a lot if he gets injured, but an injury to a moderately talented player at a thin position could be devastating. For example, I had cornerback Ambry Thomas ranked at #2 in 2020 because he was the team’s only proven cornerback. Naturally, he opted out of the season and the team as a whole was an unmitigated disaster. Meanwhile, first round pick Kwity Paye was #6 because more talent was returning on the defensive line.
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Be ready for the countdown to begin next week after the spring game, which may let me re-calibrate some of my rankings.
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