Top 5 players to watch at Michigan this season
This is going to be a big year for Michigan football. Harbaugh already had a great first year, ending 10-3 with a blowout victory over Florida in the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl. He only lost one player early for the NFL Draft, convincing Jehu Chesson, Amara Darboh, Jake Butt and Jourdan Lewis to return and possibly play for a Big Ten Championship and a Playoff berth. With some of these great players returning, and some making their debut, there are five players you should focus on in the upcoming season. Check them out below…
1. Jabrill Peppers – ATH
Jabrill Peppers has been the most talked about player in this program since committing in 2013. His debut season in 2014 was cut off short due to injuries and he would receive a redshirt, giving him an extra year to play in the Maize and Blue. 2015 was fun to watch, and it was just the beginning. Jabrill came in as a cornerback that played many different positions in high school, wide receiver, quarterback, safety, return specialist, the list goes on. Coming to Michigan it looked like he would strictly play cornerback and maybe return kicks. Harbaugh wanted this kid on the field as much as possible and you saw how that worked out. Jabrill played cornerback, safety, quarterback, running back, wide receiver, and punt/kick returner. His stats from last year are impressive, he had 45 tackles, five and a half for loss, 10 pass deflections, 25 total returns for 417 yards, 18 carries for 72 yards and two touchdowns, eight catches for 79 yards and his only pass attempt was incomplete. Jabrill is now adding linebacker to his position playing time and that will only boost his NFL Draft stock and his chance of winning the Heisman trophy.
Jabrill did tweet saying “I’m not leaving without my degree” last July when a fan asked him if he would leave Michigan early for the NFL. Since then, the tweet has been deleted, so Jabrill may have changed his mind. He is already getting first round looks by scouts and if he is projected as a solid first round pick, don’t be surprised to see him leave for the NFL.
2. Jake Butt – TE
Jake Butt had the chance to be the number one TE in the NFL Draft this year, but would have been a second round pick. Now, with him returning, he can make his resume better and be the number one TE for sure and be a first round pick in 2017. Last year, Butt saw his biggest playing time and action as a tight end. His freshman year, he was behind Devin Funchess and AJ Williams. In 2014, he became the starting tight end, but with Devin Funchess still being on the team, he wasn’t getting the main targets. 2015 he became a real star. He had 51 catches for 654 yards and three touchdowns. The previous two years the most amount of catches he had was 21. Now that he has had the exposure, expect him to keep getting it. Butt rarely drops a pass and can block as well as catch as a tight end. He can make defenders miss with some moves, but he usually uses his power to knock them over. With Darboh and Chesson also returning and having good years last season, he will still get the production as the other two will need some attention, leaving Butt with one on one coverage. Can you say, the next Gronkowski?
3. Jourdan Lewis – CB
Another player on this list that was a huge guy to return to Michigan for his senior season. Jourdan Lewis is easily a top three cornerback in the NCAA right now and could move up to number two, right behind Desmond King from Iowa. Jourdan Lewis had a fantastic year in 2015, with 52 tackles, three and a half for loss, one sack, two interceptions (one for a touchdown), one forced fumble, and 20 pass deflections, along with 13 punt returns for 378 yards. He set a new Michigan record for passes defended in a season and he is a shutdown corner. Him and Peppers being in the same secondary isn’t even fair for opposing offenses. Lewis is only 5’10 and is still knocking the ball away and making plays left and right. He has a chance to be a first round pick in the NFL Draft and if he can get more interceptions and keep up the pass deflections, he could be a dark-horse candidate for the Heisman trophy.
4. John O’Korn – QB
John O’Korn is the one player on this list that might not even play in 2015, but the chance he does is a reason he is on the list. Before the Spring Game and even going back to last year, O’Korn looked like the starter in practice and was impressive to his coaches. When he made his “debut” in the Michigan Spring Game, it looked different. O’Korn didn’t do horrible, going 6-for-14 with 93 yards and a rushing touchdown. Wilton Speight though, is fighting for that starting job and impressed at the Spring Game as well, going 5-for-6 with 46 yards and both a rushing and passing touchdown. Speight will push O’Korn for the starting gig and if O’Korn wins overcoming the sudden surge of Speight, he could be a great quarterback for Michigan. O’Korn transferred from Houston where he threw for 4,068 yards, 34 touchdowns and 18 interceptions, along with rushing for 122 yards and getting two touchdowns. O’Korn is fast for being tall and showed off his wheels in the spring game. Whether its O’Korn or Speight, Michigan will have a good quarterback at the helm.
5. Rashan Gary – DL
The number one player in the class of 2015 decided to come to Michigan on National Signing Day. Some people see Gary getting redshirted since we have so many players that are good on the defensive line, so keeping him for next year would give us him when we lose most of our talent on the line. I don’t see that happening. Gary has a chance to start at the defensive tackle position. He could also get some playing time at defensive end, but Taco Charlton and Chris Wormely will most likely lock up the starting gigs there, leaving Gary to play that spot when they need a break or are injured. The only stats I could find on Gary were from 2014 and 2015, both impressive years. He had a combined 110 tackles, 27.5 sacks and four forced fumbles. While Peppers was and still is the most talked about player on the team due to his ability to play any position, Gary will take over that position since he was the number one recruit of the 2015 class. If Gary can start or at least get some playing time, Michigan will have a stout defensive line, one that will help them grab that number one defense ranking.https://www.myfantasysportstalk.com/top-5-players-to-watch-at-michigan-this-season/https://i1.wp.com/www.myfantasysportstalk.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/CcY927TW0AEN7AP.jpg?fit=600%2C563&ssl=1https://i1.wp.com/www.myfantasysportstalk.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/CcY927TW0AEN7AP.jpg?resize=150%2C150&ssl=1Big TenNCAAFRecent PostsMichigan,Michigan Football,NCAAThis is going to be a big year for Michigan football. Harbaugh already had a great first year, ending 10-3 with a blowout victory over Florida in the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl. He only lost one player early for the NFL Draft, convincing Jehu Chesson, Amara Darboh, Jake...Brandon KnappBrandon KnappKnappmb@outlook.comEditorBrandon is a senior at Central Michigan University majoring in Journalism and minoring in Sports Management. He loves the Michigan Wolverines, Detroit Red Wings, Lions, Tigers and Pistons, UFC, WWE and Video Games. Follow him at @BKnappBlogs on Twitter.MyFantasySportsTalk