This installment of the Michigan Football position preview series focuses on the defensive line which is coached by none other than, defensive coordinator Greg Mattison with special emphasis from Brady Hoke. There are a lot of new names here for fans to familiarize themselves with. There is also great depth which is creating great competition for playing time.
What we know
This position group is deep and chock full of talented youngsters, many who have the look of future NFL players. One player to keep a close eye on this year is junior defensive end Frank Clark, who is endowed with tremendous athleticism and now has the size, 6-2, 273, and brute strength required to dominate on the defensive line. Clark started four games last season and notched 9 tackles for loss. He should easily reach double digits in that category and has gone on record saying he would like to register at least 10 sacks this season.
Waiting in the wings behind Clark, are two future stars in sophomore Mario Ojemudia and true freshman Taco Charlton. It might not be completely accurate to say they are waiting in the wings, because both figure to play prominent roles this season.
Michigan is stout at nose tackle with two massive specimens, 6-foot-4, 301 pound Quinton Washington and 6-foot-3, 315 pound Ondre Pipkins. They will be a formidable duo and lining one of them up next to rush tackle Jibreel Black will give the Wolverines some serious push in the middle of the line.
Areas of concern
The two deep is going to be littered with redshirt freshmen. In fact, the back up at each position along the line will almost certainly be an underclassmen. Here are some more names that fans should start acquainting themselves with.
Chris Wormley (RS Fr, 6-4, 289): “Chris (Wormley) number one is huge , he’s big guy. He’s done a nice job coming back from the rehab, and really the better job probably from the mental side of that,” Brady Hoke explained at Media Day. “Chris has that potential, and that’s a dangerous word, to be an awfully good football player for us. We like where he’s at and how he’s progressed.”
Tom Strobel (RS Fr, 6-6, 265): “Tommy Strobel is a guy who is playing well,” Hoke said at Media Day. “I’m excited about Tom and what he’s done so far.”
Matt Godin (RS Fr, 6-6, 280): Godin has been impressive since arriving on campus last year. He is battling with Wormley, Strobel and Keith Heitzman at strong-side defensive end.
Willie Henry (RS Fr, 6-2, 306): “I think Willie Henry is understanding how fast you need to play and that’s a daily grind,” said Brady Hoke. Henry is slated to back up Jibreel Black at defensive end.
Potential breakout player
Taco Charlton was an early enrollee and that gave him a headstart on his college career, which he took full advantage of with both a strong spring and by adding bulk to his imposing frame. When the Big Ten Network stopped by to take in a Michigan practice Tom Dienhart had this to say about Charlton.
If there is a more impressive true freshman DE in the nation than Taco Charlton, I want to see him…What a specimen, at 6-6, 270. I can’t wait to see this kid in another year or two when he fills. I have to think he’ll be a 300-pound end eventually. He should have an impact as a pass rusher this season.
DE: Frank Clark (Jr, 6-2, 273)
DT: Jibreel Black (Sr, 6-2, 278)
NT: Quinton Washington (RS Sr, 6-4, 301)
DE: Chris Wormley (RS Fr, 6-4, 289)
Key reserves: Ondre Pipkins, Willie Henry, Matt Godin, Tom Strobel, Mario Ojemudia, Taco Charlton, Keith Heitzman
Incoming freshmen: Taco Charlton, Maurice Hurst Jr, Henry Poggi
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