Brady Hoke and his staff are big believers in the notion that a successful program starts with having good players up front in the trenches. While mostly unproven to this point, Michigan could boast one of the meaner offensive lines in the Big Ten.
With five spots along the offensive line to fill, let’s take a look at who is projected to fill them.
Taylor Lewan turned down millions of dollars from the National Football League to return to Michigan for his senior season to help his team compete for the Big Ten Championship. Lewan is the anchor of this offensive line, and he will be a force to be reckoned with. He handled South Carolina’s Jadaveon Clowney, the consensus top 2014 NFL Draft prospect, very well in their bowl game last season.
After an impressive spring showing, it appears that redshirt freshman Kyle Kalis is in position to play this spot on the inside next to Taylor Lewan. Kalis stands at 6-5, 297 pounds, and has a mean streak in him that you love to see out of an interior offensive lineman. Kalis is a guy that I think has a chance to be one of the better guards for this team in awhile. He’s unproven, but I think he has the tools to get it done.
This to me is one of the more intriguing battles that will come out of camp, but for now, I would say redshirt sophomore Jack Miller is in the lead. He’s a pure center, but like Kalis above, is untested and a question mark as of now. Center is one of the more unheralded positions on the field, as they are the ones responsible for making the calls at the line of scrimmage while focusing on getting the ball cleanly to the quarterback. Other guys that are getting looks here are redshirt junior Joey Burzynski and walk-on sophomore Graham Glasgow.
Many have another redshirt freshman penciled in at guard opposite Kyle Kalis in Ben Braden. Braden is a guy this staff is very high on and by all accounts has had a stellar offseason. He is a natural tackle, but his physicality and run blocking ability have coaches anxious to get him on the field this season. Braden is the heir apparent to the right tackle position, but should have no issues translating his skill set to guard.
Michigan has another seasoned veteran opposite Taylor Lewan in the form of senior Michael Schofield. He is as solid as it gets and the perfect compliment to Lewan in terms of leadership and anchoring an inexperienced offensive line. The two tackles should combine to be one of the better duos in all of college football this season.
Key Reserve Players
Brady Hoke has made it a priority to build depth along his offensive line since he arrived in 2011. He stated earlier this past week during Big Ten Media Days that they have 15 offensive lineman on scholarship this season, which almost double what it was last year. I think Michigan has a few guys that can really help to plug holes due to injury or poor performance if need be. These names include guard Blake Bars (RS Fr), center/guard Graham Glasgow (So), and tackle Erik Magnusson (RS Fr). All are guys the coaching staff likes alot and should have key roles on this team in terms of depth.
Michigan brought in an impressive haul of freshman along the offensive line as well in Kyle Bosch, David Dawson, Chris Fox, Patrick Kugler, Dan Samuelson, and Logan Tuley-Tillman. Bosch and Tuley-Tillman were both guys that enrolled early and participated in spring practices. I do not expect to see much from this group this season, but they’ve built some nice depth in their 2013 recruiting class and it will definitely pay off for them down the road.
Michigan boasts one of the best offensive tackle duos in the country, but the interior of the line is young and still a question mark. This should be a solid position group for Team 134, and they have the guys to make this offense one of the better ones in the Big Ten. Watch for Kyle Kalis to be a breakout player this year.
- Team 134 Preview: Wide Receivers (bleedbluerecruiting.com)
- Team 134 Preview: Running Backs (bleedbluerecruiting.com)
- Team 134 Preview: Quarterbacks (bleedbluerecruiting.com)