ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Every other week our writers invite in an outside reporter to weigh in on Michigan recruiting topics. Today, Adam Rittenberg from the Big Ten blog stops by to chat.
1. Generally speaking, at which position at the college level is it “easiest” to contribute as a true freshman?
Adam Rittenberg: Running back and wide receiver are the two that jump out. Some freshman running backs aren't physically ready to be significant contributors, but running back and receiver are spots where freshmen can use their natural skills to get on the field. There's learning to do at both spots, but not like what you see at quarterback, linebacker or safety. Unless you're named Jadeveon Clowney, linemen usually need at least one full offseason in the program to have a chance to be a significant contributor.
Tom VanHaaren: It really depends on the athlete, and it's tough to generalize in this sense. I think you have to factor in the depth chart and where the athlete is at physically as well. That said, I think running back is a place where an incoming freshman can see a lot of opportunity. It isn't rare to see young running backs on the field if they are top-tier guys and are ready to handle that load physically.
Chantel Jennings: Defensive back. For a player who comes in physically ready and smart enough to learn the defensive scheme, it’s a spot in which natural speed and instincts can make up for a few technical errors. And really good defensive backs have really, really good speed and instincts.
Rittenberg: It's always about decision-making with young quarterbacks. So for a guy like Morris, it's all about maturity and making the right reads. The college game is faster and defenses are more complex. Morris will have to speed up his decision-making process and make the throws to the right receiver or (in some cases) into the sideline to avoid a sack or a turnover. A freshman doesn't need to be an All-American right away, but he can't hurt his team with interceptions, holding onto the ball too long or missing open receivers.
VanHaaren: He needs to become more consistent. That was one knock against him throughout his high school career, and without consistency in college it will be a difficult transition. He has the arm strength, but just needs to take to the coaching and learn from the quarterbacks ahead of him.
Jennings: He needs to be able to find chemistry with his receivers. He has a cannon for an arm, and while he hasn’t always been the most accurate of passers, neither of those things will matter if he doesn’t have chemistry with receivers. And that just takes time. Had he been able to enroll early, he would have been able to get reps with guys like Jeremy Gallon, Drew Dileo, Devin Funchess and Amara Darboh. But he didn’t. And that’s going to hurt when he only has a month to get a feel for his receivers.
3. With Michigan's roster, who’s the most likely candidate to see the most playing time as a freshman?
Rittenberg: Among true freshmen, it's running back Derrick Green. As stated above, running back is one of the easiest positions for a freshman to see the field, and Michigan has a need there after struggling to run the ball with its backs in 2012. Fitzgerald Toussaint is coming off of a serious leg injury, and while he looked good in spring practice, he's a question mark. None of the other backs distinguished himself in the spring, so even though Green doesn't arrive until the summer, he has a good chance to contribute.
VanHaaren: The obvious answer is Green because of his ranking and the fact he's a running back. Just to give a few different names I think Jake Butt and Taco Charlton could also see some time on the field this coming season. I have heard good things about Charlton with regards to his size and ability, so even if he doesn't play this year I think his name will come up sooner than later.
Jennings: I’ll agree and say Green, but the truth of the matter is, he has to beat out far fewer guys in front of him to get playing time than a guy like Charlton. I do think Charlton has the ability to see the field a lot this year, and if he does get on it for several snaps it’ll be more impressive -- to me -- than Green getting out there even if Green is on it for more snaps.