Michigan Football Preview 2017

2017 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Page 20 of 179

THE WOLVERINE 2017 FOOTBALL PREVIEW ■ 19 MICHIGAN FOOTBALL They Said It "[Freshman] Brad Hawkins possibly could be a safety. What's transpired is [defensive coordinator] Don Brown got to him. Don Brown said he talked to Brad, and Brad wanted to play safety. I accused Don Brown of some recruiting going on there. We haven't investigated the whole thing yet. But I think it's a little bit of both." — Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh on a possible position switch for the incoming wideout "One of the many productive defensive linemen at Michigan, Hurst may be the best of the bunch after dominating on 760 snaps over the last two seasons. He can win with quickness and technique right off the snap, resulting in seven sacks, 15 QB hits and 42 hurries on 442 rushes, while ranking among the nation's top run defenders in each of the last two years." — Pro Football Focus' too-early 2018 mock draft, which predicted Maurice Hurst to Miami at No. 13 overall as the first Big Ten player chosen "Michigan enters 2017 with lofty aspirations and a difficult schedule that kicks off in Texas against an SEC opponent. The last time the Wolverines saw such a scenario was 2012, a disappointing campaign that started on the sour note of losing a blowout to Alabama in the Cowboys Classic. Florida presents a more manageable Week 1 opponent for Jim Har- baugh's team this time around, but the Gators set a fitting tone for a challenging docket." — Athlon Sports ranking Michigan's 2017 slate the third-most difficult schedule in the country "If both teams hold their form throughout the regular season, this will be the top cross-divisional game of the year. The Badgers — favorites in the West — will get a chance to prove they're worthy competition for the East Division and pick up an eye-catching victory on a schedule that doesn't have many other opponents that rise above pedestrian. Michigan has to make this trip one week before hosting the rival Buckeyes. A win over Wisconsin would give the Wolverines a little more wiggle room in their championship hopes if they end up splitting with Penn State and Ohio State." — ESPN listing the contest between Michigan and Wisconsin as one of the most important matchups in the battle for the Big Ten East "The loser of this game last year won the confer- ence, but that required an unusual confluence of circumstances. For Penn State to defend its title, it probably needs at least a split between this game and its game at Ohio State the following Saturday. On paper, this feels like the easier of the two. Mich- igan, meanwhile, has November matchups with Wisconsin and Ohio State. A loss at this juncture could cripple the Wolverines' Big Ten title hopes." — Sports Illustrated's Andy Staples naming this sea- son's game between Michigan and Penn State a pivot point for both teams. "Jim Harbaugh has turned Michigan into a recruit- ing force, and that's a good thing considering all the talent the Wolverines are replacing. A total of just six starters are back with only one of those being on defense. Harbaugh does have a veteran quarter- back in Wilton Speight and plenty of young, hungry guys ready to take advantage of more playing time. The key will be how quickly all of the pieces come together, as Michigan's margin for error is small as it relates to the difference between being a good team and a College Football Playoff contender, especially in what figures to be a rugged Big Ten East Division." — Athlon Sports' Michigan 2017 season preview "As the only player to primarily contribute on de- fense and win the Heisman Trophy, the two-time Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year should be an obvi- ous choice for the College Football Hall of Fame. He also has a Thorpe Award on his résumé, and played for some outstanding U-M teams, winning an AP national championship in 1997. He made 18 career interceptions, and also contributed as a return spe- cialist and wide receiver, with 25 career receptions." — NFL.com on listing Charles Woodson among its nine players who should be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in January. Woodson was one of three with Michigan ties on the 75-player ballot announced June 1, along with offensive tackle Jumbo Elliott and quarterback Rick Leach PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL "This seems too easy. The former No. 1 recruit in the country was the No. 1 pick in Michigan's spring game draft. He learned from defensive linemen Taco Charlton and Chris Wormley last year. Gary has the tools to be one of the most disruptive players in the nation. In Don Brown's scheme, that's going to happen." BILL BENDER OF SPORTING NEWS NAMING SOPHOMORE DEFENSIVE END RASHAN GARY ONE OF 2017'S BREAKOUT PLAYERS IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL

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