Spring football is coming. Prepare yourself. Until then … the mailbag.
James Kruse: Which positions are most crucial for Michigan as national signing day approaches?
Chantel Jennings: I don’t think Michigan’s 2014 recruiting class is going to grow before signing day. Between the six early enrollees and the 10 current commits, you’re probably looking at the class. The only remaining target is Malik McDowell, and it doesn’t sound like he’s going to be choosing Michigan. However, surprises happen, so I can’t say for sure. The position groups you should be thinking about are in the 2015 class. There are definitely some areas in which they’ll need to add a few key players -- quarterback and defensive line jump out for sure. Then, they’ll want to add a wide receiver and running back, considering they’ve lost commitments from George Campbell Jr. and Damien Harris in both of those spots.
Matt Burns, Connecticut: Going into spring practices, is Shane Morris going to get more reps with the first team?
Chantel Jennings: I don’t see that happening. I think Devin Gardner is going to still be the starter through the spring. Obviously, the spot will be open, and I think the competition between Gardner, Morris and Wilton Speight is going to elevate everyone’s play. However, Gardner has had the most time to build chemistry with Devin Funchess, Jake Butt, Jehu Chesson and Amara Darboh (last spring and fall, before he got hurt), so in such a short amount of practices, he’ll be a bit ahead just because of that chemistry. Now, a lot can change during the summer, so this fall, I wouldn’t say it’s as clear cut that Gardner would be taking the most snaps as the starter. But as far as this spring game goes, I’d assume the fifth-year senior, Gardner, will be the starter.
Karson, Detroit: Which position group makes the biggest jump between this season and next?
Chantel Jennings: Defensively, I’m going to go with the secondary. Now, this doesn’t mean that it’s going to be stellar next year, but considering where they’re starting from (terrible in coverage), the talent it returns (look for Blake Countess to step up while JD Lewis and Channing Stribling could make major strides) and the players coming in (hello, Jabrill Peppers) I think this group could make major, major strides. Offensively, it will be the line, and for similar reasons. It was really bad this past season, so any kind of progress is going to be noticeable. But I think those jumps will be even more noticeable because the returning experience is in the interior of the line, which should be so much more helpful than the situation last season, when the only returning experience was at the tackle positions.