ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- There’s no way to look at Michigan’s 2013 class and not believe Brady Hoke when he says he’s putting an emphasis up front.
Not only is it impressive that the Wolverines were able to pull in six offensive line signees, each is big and physical (averaging 6-foot-5, 295 pounds).
“It was very important for us to establish guys who can play at the line of scrimmage the way we want to play Michigan football,” Hoke said. “For the style of football we need to play, I think that was important.”
But what all six of the offensive linemen will get is the opportunity to study under All-American left tackle Taylor Lewan, according to offensive line coach Darrell Funk.
After Lewan decided to stay for his final season of eligibility, he talked about how he wanted to be able to mentor the younger players. Funk said that’s a part of the freshman experience that he hopes these six linemen soak up because Lewan has proved that he plays the way that Michigan wants to play up front.
“He will be a great leader for them,” Funk said of Lewan. “He’s learning to be a better leader in all aspects, on and off the field, but as far as how he practices, how he plays the game, those kids will pattern themselves after how he goes after people, play after play, and how he plays the game.”
Fans were a bit sour after wide receiver Laquon Treadwell began showing interest elsewhere and only became even more unhappy when they didn’t see a “national level recruit” at the wide receiver position come signing day.
But that’s not the stuff that the coaches worry about.
“I want guys in my room that want to compete, that want to play physical, that want to bloody your nose,” wide receiver coach Jeff Hecklinski said. “When you look at all the high school kids we’ve signed to this point and look at how our kids here play, I think their play is very reflective of that.”
It’s very difficult for a freshman wide receiver to get on the field as an offensive player. It’s more likely that all three will either redshirt or see time on special teams like Jehu Chesson and Amara Darboh, respectively, did last year.
He’s not locked in to that, and he knows that if any of the three true freshman show out, he’ll put them on the field come next fall.
“There’s no entitlement here,” Hecklinski said. “If they are the best players, then they’ll play. If they are the players who can help Michigan win, then they’ll play.”
When the current coaching staff arrived in Ann Arbor, Michigan’s depth at tight end was about as deep as a spring puddle.
And while they’ve worked to amend that, they were still forced to play young players last season. By bringing in early enrollee Jake Butt as well as Khalid Hill, Michigan doubles its number of scholarship tight ends, giving both Butt and Hill plenty of opportunity to step forward as players who could be a part of the Michigan two deep.
And because of that, tight ends coach Dan Ferrigno is holding off on any kind of assumption of whether he’d redshirt the tight ends or throw them on to the field like he did last season with Devin Funchess and A.J. Williams.
“Depending on their development, that’ll determine whether we redshirt them or not,” Ferrigno said. “You probably need four kids in your depth chart that can play at our position, especially now that we are going to be more two tight end stuff.”
Ferrigno said that Hoke prefers to have five tight ends on the roster and for that to be accomplished next season they’re looking at a few different options. One would be to have Jordan Paskorz, a converted linebacker who weighs in at 265 pounds, come on to the offensive side of the ball. The other option would be to put Mike Jocz, a walk on who’s more slender, in with the tight ends.