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Posts Tagged ‘Peter Bush’

Predicting Michigan 2016: The linebackers

Wednesday, August 31st, 2016


Predicting Michgian 2016-Linebackers

Appalachian v Michigan(Leon Halip, Getty Images)

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There aren’t many legitimate critiques to make about Michigan’s 2015 defense, which finished the season among the 10 best defenses in the country. But it did have one clear weakness that was especially obvious late in the Big Ten season: the linebackers.
Heading into the season, the Wolverines felt good about their linebacking corps. Veteran starters Joe Bolden, Desmond Morgan and James Ross figured to have solid seasons as seniors. Unfortunately for Michigan, they were the Achilles heel of the defense and, ultimately, were the undoing in the final game against Ohio State.

Now the position will see more turnover than any other spot on the roster. With new faces joining the team and a few veterans expected to step up, here’s Michigan’s outlook at linebacker.

Returning contributors:

With all three senior starters gone, Michigan will turn to a handful of players who figure to step into bigger roles at linebacker.

Senior Mike McCray is finally healthy and prime for a breakout season (Scout.com)

Senior Mike McCray is finally healthy and primed for a breakout season (Scout.com)

One of the most talked about players throughout the summer has been Mike McCray, who missed the entire 2015 season with an injury. McCray worked himself into the mix at linebacker during his sophomore year, playing in 11 games and even blocking a punt. McCray is a reliable, consistent tackler and has the size to plug up running lanes. His challenge will be getting to the edge on stretch plays or dropping back in pass coverage – two abilities Michigan linebackers lacked in 2015.

Another player who hopes to take on a much bigger role is Ben Gedeon. Gedeon quietly enjoyed a very solid 2015 season, playing in 11 of 13 games and making a career-high 34 tackles. He showed good burst late in the year, picking up 2.5 tackles for loss in the team’s final three games. The senior has spent his first three seasons as a very solid part of the linebacker rotation, but now he has a chance to take on an even bigger role.

Oh yeah, there’s another returning player joining the linebacking corps. His name is Jabrill Peppers.

Peppers makes the jump to linebacker after playing virtually everywhere on the field. He’ll likely line up at multiple positions again in 2016, but his main job appears to be shoring up a thin second line. Peppers is the best athlete on the team, but that really hasn’t translated into any breakout performances through two seasons. He’s shown flashes of his elite athletic ability, but Michigan fans are still waiting (in heavy anticipation) for him to actually explode.

Linebacker is the spot where Peppers can best demonstrate his elite versatility. If he settles into the position, he has a chance to be one of the best at the position in the Big Ten.

Career Stats – McCray
Games Played Solo Assisted Total Tackles Sacks TFL FF FR INT
11 2 0 2 0.0 1.0 0 0 0
Career Stats – Ben Gedeon
Games Played Solo Assisted Total Tackles Sacks TFL FF FR INT
37 42 28 70 2.0 5.5 0 0 0
Career Stats – Jabrill Peppers
Games Played Solo Assisted Total Tackles Sacks TFL FF PD INT
15 40 13 53 0.0 5.5 0 10 0
Potential contributors:

The rest of Michigan’s linebackers are relatively unproven, but a couple of guys stand out as having a chance to make an impact this season.

One is Noah Furbush, who has battled some injuries but impressed Jim Harbaugh during camp and should work his way into the mix. The redshirt sophomore is a fringe candidate for a starting spot and hopes to build on a season in which he contributed mostly on special teams.

Furbush was a beast in high school, recording well over 200 tackles and even picking up 43 tackles for loss during his career. He’s not much of a pass rusher, but his ability to read plays and get in the backfield gives him a good chance to play in Don Brown’s defense. Remember Furbush as a potential breakout player in Michigan’s defense.

A more under-the-radar player who might contribute is Reuben Jones, who made the switch from defensive end to linebacker after committing to Michigan last season. Jones was the first player to commit to Harbaugh at Michigan and has been working his way toward some playing time as a redshirt freshman. As a former defensive lineman, Jones would bring a backfield threat into the mix at linebacker, something Brown values in his defense.

Career Stats – Furbush
Games Played Solo Assisted Total Tackles Sacks TFL FF FR INT
9 3 1 4 0.0 0.0 0 0 0
Career Stats – Jones
Games Played Solo Assisted Total Tackles Sacks TFL FF FR INT
N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
New faces:

Harbaugh knew his roster was thin at linebacker, so what did he do? He brought in four highly-rated linebacker commits to stir up the competition.

The headliner of the group is Devin Bush, a Florida native who will get a look at inside linebacker this season. Throughout camp, Bush’s name has been at the top of the list of freshmen who will make an impact in 2016. He’s a good tackler with enough speed to get to the edge – something this group desperately needs. Bush showed good instincts in the spring game, but he’ll need more work in pass coverage before he’s considered a great all-around player.

Bush’s high school teammate, Devin Gil, joins him in Ann Arbor after they helped Charles W. Flanagan High School win the 8A division title in Florida. Gil was a less flashy player in high school, but showed a better knack for pass coverage than Bush. There’s a chance the freshman could convert to safety before his college career is done, but for now, he’s fighting for a chance to see the field with his old teammate at the next level.

If Bush and Gil came to Michigan as one package deal, Elysee Mbem-Bosse and Josh Uche came as another. The two committed to the Wolverines somewhat unexpectedly on Jan. 24 and have made some noise during fall camp. Mbem-Bosse was mentioned by Harbaugh Monday as a freshman who could play this season and Uche – a former defensive end – could end up playing a hybrid role as well.

With four talented freshmen in the mix for playing time, Harbaugh hopes Michigan will elevate its linebacker play from the start.

Michigan also welcomed preferred walk-on Peter Bush to the roster. Bush, a former quarterback, is a guy to keep an eye on from the walk-on list, as he had offers to play several positions at schools around the country.

Meet the rest:

Jack Dunaway: Sophomore, 6-3, 222, from Bloomfield Hills, Mich. (Brother Rice)
No career stats
Cheyenn Robertson: Sophomore, 6-3, 238, from Union City, N.J. (St. Peter’s Prep)
No career stats
Michael Wroblewski: Senior, 6-2, 242, from Sanit Clair Shores, Mich. (Detroit Jesuit)
No career stats
Alex Kaminski: Junior, 5-11, 209, from Ada, Mich. (Lowell)
No career stats
Jameson Offerdahl: Sophomore, 6-2, 214, from Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (Cardinal Gibbons)
No career stats
Jared Wangler: Junior, 6-2, 229, from Royal Oak, Mich. (De La Salle)
No career stats
Wyatt Shallman: Senior, 6-3, 242, from Harland, Mich. (Detroit Catholic Central)
No career defensive stats