2017 Prespring Rankings: No. 18 Michigan Wolverines
The 2017 prespring college football rankings, taking the first look at the Michigan Wolverines
No. 18: Michigan Wolverines
Michigan Wolverines Prespring Status
It’s hard to come closer to doing really, really big things than Michigan did, losing three of its last four games by a combined total of five points. Instead, a potentially phenomenal season crashed with a gut-wrenching thud, missing out on a win over Ohio State, a Big Ten title shot, a possible College Football Playoff spot, and in the end, an Orange Bowl thriller against Florida State by the slimmest of margins. It was an amazing run by most standards, but …
It didn’t work considering the hope was to win the national title, and now the rebuilding has to begin.
Last season was when it was all supposed to come together, and it almost did. Now, Jim Harbaugh has to replace seven starters on offense, all 11 starters on defense – or ten, depending on the alignment, and considering this is sort of a guess; Michigan doesn’t do the whole depth chart thing. Kenny Allen is gone, too, after handling all the kicking duties.
Michigan Wolverines Biggest Issue
The defensive front – at least for a bit. Fortunately, this is where 2016 super-recruit Rashan Gary is supposed to step up, and Maurice Hurst Jr. chose to come back for one more year on the interior. However, it’s still a problem losing Taco Charlton, Chris Wormley, Ryan Glasgow, and Matthew Godin from the rotation.
Throw in the loss of leading tackler Ben Gideon, CB Jourdan Lewis, Jabrill Peppers, and almost all of the other stars from the No. 1 D in the country, and it might take a little while to rebuild.
Michigan Wolverines Biggest Positive
The offense should be okay, even with all the losses. The receiving corps gets gutted with the loss of Amara Darboh, Jehu Chesson and TE Jake Butt, but QB Wilton Speight is just good enough to crank up the big plays down the field if he’s given time to work.
There aren’t a slew of sensational backs returning, but Chris Evans, Ty Isaac and Karan Higdon should be okay as long as the offensive line can figure out the right combination in a hurry. The Wolverines caught a huge break when Mason Cole chose to come back for another year, and now there are options. He’s an all-star center, but he could anchor the line at left tackle if needed. It’ll be a young line, but it won’t be bad.
Really, Why Are The Michigan Wolverines Ranked Here?
Fortunately, the coaching staff is still amazing, the talent level has been jacked up, and this is still going to be a very, very good team that’ll be a tough out for just about everyone. You don’t lose this much experienced talent, though, and get better.
The expectations won’t be quite as high considering the massive experience drain, but don’t be shocked if Harbaugh and crew match the ten-win mark again.