Michigan Football’s season opener against Central Michigan is rapidly approaching and our position preview series is reaching the final few editions. In this installment, I’ll zero in on the defensive backs. There are three returning starters in the secondary and a bumper crop full of young, talented guys battling for playing time.
What we know
The defensive backfield looks to be in pretty good shape as the Wolverines get ready to launch their 133rd season of football. Blake Countess was going to be Michigan’s top defensive back last year until his season was cut short, due to a knee injury, during the Alabama game. Countess is now 100% healthy and is an All-Big Ten caliber cover man. He is aggressive and has good instincts. Two years ago, as a true freshman, Countess started 11 games, notched 44 tackles and 6 pass break ups.
Countess’ injury opened up the door for Raymon Taylor last year. He responded with a fairly strong season in which he recorded 45 tackles and 2 interceptions. Michigan should be set at cornerback, although neither Countess nor Taylor has shown explosive playmaking ability.
Thomas Gordon has made 27 career starts at safety for Michigan and will be one of the leaders for the defense this year. He was third on the team last season with 81 tackles. Gordon, who has 4 fumble recoveries, 3 interceptions and 3 forced fumbles in his career, has shown a knack for making the big plays.
Areas of concern
Jarrod Wilson was supposed to take the starting free safety job and run with it. However, instead of putting a stranglehold on the position, he is in danger of losing playing time to Courtney Avery. Avery has served, primarily, at nickel back during the first three years of his career. Now, he is in serious contention to become the starting free safety. Wilson is a big-hitter and talented athlete, but has yet to establish himself as a go-to guy at safety.
Potential breakout player
True freshman Dymonte Thomas enrolled early and has been impressive. The coaches love his size, 6-2, 190, and playmaking ability. He is very instinctive and has all the tools to be a tremendous blitzer and a big hitter.
Also keep an eye on true freshman corner Jourdan Lewis. He is very athletic and has big play ability. Don’t be surprised if Lewis is a prominent member of the secondary this season.
CB: Blake Countess (RS So, 5-10, 182)
CB: Raymon Taylor (Jr, 5-10, 183)
SS: Thomas Gordon (RS Sr, 5-11, 210)
FS: Jarrod Wilson (So, 6-2, 200)
Nickel: Dymonte Thomas (Fr, 6-2, 190)
Key reserves: Courtney Avery, Josh Furman, Delonte Hollowell, Jourdan Lewis, Terry Richardson
Incoming freshmen: Reon Dawson, Dymonte Thomas, Channing Stribling, Delano Hill, Jourdan Lewis, Ross Douglas
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