Michigan Football Preview 2015

2015 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Page 113 of 163

112 ■ THE WOLVERINE 2015 FOOTBALL PREVIEW DEFENSIVE BACKS BY MICHAEL SPATH O ver the past decade of Michigan football, from 2005-14, Brandent Englemon, Willis Barringer, Brandon Harrison, Jamar Adams, Ryan Mundy, Stevie Brown, Donovan War- ren, Mike Williams, Troy Woolfolk, Jordan Kovacs, Cam Gordon, Ray Vinopal, Thomas Gordon, Josh Furman, Jarrod Wilson, Courtney Avery, Delano Hill, Jeremy Clark and Dymonte Thomas have all started at safety for the Wolverines. Not one has been named first- team all-conference. Michigan's current 10-year drought of league plaudits at the posi- tion is the longest since at least the late 1960s when the term 'safety' joined the football lexicon, doubling the five-year gap without an All- Big Ten first-team safety from 1984-88. In fact, only two of the 19 players mentioned even came close — Adams garnering second-team recognition in 2006-07 and Kovacs the same in 2012. The good news is U-M may have more physical talent at the safety position than it has had during this past decade, since five-star, and all-league first-teamer, Ernest Shazor and four-star Mundy anchored the secondary in 2004. Even better, safeties coach Greg Jackson knows what to do with talent, coaching four Pro Bowl players in four seasons as a defensive backs coach for the San Francisco 49ers (2011-14). "We have some guys right now that really could be good," said Jackson. "They're not there yet, but coming out of spring they showed me some things that were exciting. I'm eager to see what's in store this season because they're really hungry. This is important to them, they're focused, they're pretty bright players and they listen to everything we tell them." Heading into the summer offseason, senior Jarrod Wilson, junior Delano Hill and redshirt freshman Jabrill Peppers had separated themselves from a pack that also includes redshirt juniors Jeremy Clark and A.J. Pearson, and Thomas, a junior. Jackson is looking for specific traits in his safeties, and that trio, to different degrees, possesses the necessary skills. "I want guys with vision, guys that can see the ball, can see the field, and what's going on around them," he said. "I want to see how instinctive they are. When that ball is up in the air, do they know how to go to it? Do they find the quickest way to a ball carrier? "And the third thing, and one of the biggest things, is how they play MAKING THEIR MARK A Talented Group Of Safeties Looks To End An All-Conference Drought, While The Cornerbacks Seek Stability After An Early Departure Senior safety Jarrod Wilson posted a combined four pass breakups, two interceptions and three tackles for loss during the past two seasons. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL

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