Michigan Football Preview 2013

2013 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Top Five Players To Watch 1. Redshirt freshman offensive guard Kyle Kalis: The Wolverines must replace all three starters along the interior offensive line, with the graduation of center Elliott Mealer and guards Patrick Omameh and Ricky Barnum. All eyes will be on Kalis, who is projected to take over the right guard spot and start in the season opener versus Central Michigan. Kalis was one of head coach Brady Hoke's first blockbuster recruits. Originally an Ohio State commit, Kalis backed out of his verbal pledge to the Buckeyes when former head coach Jim Tressel stepped down after the NCAA levied sanctions against the program. Kalis, who was a five-star prospect and the No. 22 overall player in the 2012 class according to Rivals.com, spent last season bulking up and learning the playbook while redshirting. Now standing 6-5 and 297 pounds, Kalis has all the physical tools to excel. If he can settle in and find success as a first-year starter, Kalis will have a long and promising career ahead of him. 2. Freshman defensive back Dymonte Thomas: The Michigan coaches will never shy away from playing a true freshman if he proves that he is ready to see the field. And Thomas has done just that this offseason. An early enrollee, Thomas turned heads in offseason workouts and impressed secondary coach Curt Mallory during the spring. The 6-2, 187-pound rookie played safety at Alliance (Ohio) Marlington last season and stood out, garnering four-star status and the No. 109 overall ranking in the 2013 class by Rivals.com. This season, he will see the majority of the snaps at nickel back when the Wolverines are in that package, a role formerly filled by senior cornerback Courtney Avery. With Avery taking over more responsibility on the outside, that leaves Thomas to make the nickel position his own — and he has the potential to be very good there. 3. Sophomore safety Jarrod Wilson: The Wolverines have a big hole to fill in the defensive backfield after losing Jordan Kovacs, who graduated with 46 career starts and signed a free agent deal with the Miami Dolphins. And they're looking to Wilson to help fill it, especially since Marvin Robinson decided to leave the program after the spring. Wilson will most likely take over at free safety, while fifth-year senior Thomas Gordon moves up to strong safety. But Wilson took plenty of reps at both spots in the spring. Wilson (6-2, 192) is not completely inexperienced. He rotated in last season to give Gordon a breather, playing in six games while tallying eight total tackles and a fumble recovery. 4. Fifth-year senior outside linebacker Cam Gordon: In 2010, Gordon appeared to be an up-and-coming star for the Wolverines. That year, he made 13 starts (seven at free safety and six at outside linebacker) and racked up 77 tackles en route to second-team Freshman All-America honors from CollegeFootballNews.com. When Hoke and Co. came in, Gordon lost his starting role to outside linebacker Jake Ryan, and he has made just 21 tackles in the last two seasons. But Ryan tore his ACL in the spring, and Gordon (6-3, 233) will have to step up to help fill the void. 5. Redshirt sophomore center Jack Miller: Hoke, now in his third season at the helm, has seen a new starter at center every year: Rimington Award-winner David Molk (2011), Elliott Mealer (2012) and someone in 2013. Stability at center breeds confidence and offensive production — and if Miller can take over smoothly in the middle, it could be huge for the Wolverines in the long run. The 6-4, 291-pound Miller has potential, but he has to prove he can play consistently and make the necessary calls to get the offensive line on the same page. Fifth-year senior outside linebacker Cam Gordon, who has totaled 21 tackles in the last two seasons combined, will be one of the players U-M will look to in trying to replace the production of injured linebacker Jake Ryan. photo by lon horwedel The Wolverine 2013 Football Preview  ■ 65

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