So as the early enrollees step foot on campus, I figured we could go ahead and talk about who is ready to make the biggest impact in 2014. This does not necessarily mean who is going to have the best individual careers at Michigan, but who is going to get the most playing time based on team needs.
#5 Lawrence Marshall
With as deep as Michigan goes on the D line, its hard for me to see this kid not on the field at some point in time. Marshall stands 6’3 and weighs a solid 215. Yes I did say 215 for a DE, but by the way, the Southfield High School product 40 time is 4.41. By no way am I saying it’s going to be easy. Marshall has a lot of work to do starting in the weight room and the drawing board, but trust me he has a lot of raw talents. Expect him to see a role as Taco Charlton saw in 2013. I can see Marshall as 3rd and long pass rusher in 2014, while earning precious experience for his future. If he is able to put it together and gain some weight, he could turn out to be a steal for the Wolverines.
#4 Freddy Canteen
Freddy Canteen is a four star WR out of Maryland. Canteen stands 6 feet tall and weighs a merely 170 lbs. Do I really think a WR not named Drake Harris is going to contribute next year? Absolutely, he will get more playing time than Harris. Why? Because they play two entirely different positions. Canteen is more of a slot WR that Michigan really didn’t have this past season. Expect Freddy to compete with Justice Hayes and Dennis Norfleet for playing time at the slot.
#3 Michael Ferns
As deep as Michigan is at LB, I couldn’t leave this kid off the top 5. Michael Ferns is a four star linebacker out of Ohio and by the way, in a few years Ferns is going to be a nightmare for QBs in the Big Ten. Book It. After watching film of Ferns one thing is for sure, he has the IT factor. The IT factor is the instincts that some linebackers just have (See Jake Ryan.) Ferns has a nose for the football. He always seems to be in the right place at the right time and boy does he finish the play. Somehow, someway Ferns finds the field for the Wolverines next year.
#2 Ian Bunting
Ian Bunting is a 6’7 223 pound TE out of the state of Illinois. Although he is too skinny right now, I expect him to add 10-15 pounds when on campus. Sound familiar? The same happened to sophomore TE Jake Butt who turned into an overall reliable option for both blocking and receiving this past season. In high school, Bunting was used at WR and showed that hands have never been an issue. Assuming Funchess moves to WR full time in 2014, Bunting should provide Michigan with a reliable receiving tight end behind Jake Butt. These two may form the best TE duo in the country at some point in the next two years.
#1 Jabrill Peppers
Shocking right? Every Michigan fan has heard about this kid and some claiming him to be Michigans savior. While I don’t disagree, lets take a minute and realize that he is going to be playing as a true freshman. He is only going to be a freshman and there are going to be hiccups along the way, I assure you. We must be patient, as some fans say he should play both ways from the get-go. Not so fast. Jabrill is an obvious playmaker on both sides of the ball and nobody is denying that. There is such thing as overdeveloping players. Let Jabrill develop at CB for a year or two and when and if he becomes an elite corner, throw some plays for him at wildcat. In 2014 I can see Peppers playing frequently in the secondary and returning punts and kicks along with Norfleet. He is going to be a stud; and he surely has the potential to be a star, but we must be patient.
Thank you for this opportunity Michigan fans, and as always.. GO BLUE!
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BBR writer Matt Ray