- Chantel Jennings, ESPN Staff Writer
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The Michigan coaching staff uses the first few practices of the bowl practice time to give the older, more experienced players some rest and get younger guys into drills with the first and second teams.
The Wolverines played a lot of young players this season, but here’s a closer look at a few of the names that have cropped up during bowl-prep practices. A lot of them will be names that you’ve seen before, but some are guys who played mainly scout team this season and are finally getting some run with the top groups. Bowl prep really is a chance to take a look at the talent that a team will have for the future, so these will be names to watch for not only for a snap or two in the bowl game, but also in the coming seasons.
Taco Charlton and Chris Wormley are two young players who had game reps this season, but even with that, defensive coordinator Greg Mattison has seen a lot of improvement through bowl prep as well with them. Mattison said Poggi really just needs to get physically stronger in order to make more of an impact. He missed the first two months of practices for health reasons, then injured his shoulder when he returned, but Mattison has seen him make some impressive plays through bowl prep. And with Hurst, Mattison said that he “can really move,” which makes sense because in high school (at 295 pounds) he played some running back.
Mattison described McCray as “a natural,” and said he has had the chance to run with the top group at times throughout bowl prep. And though we saw a bit of Gedeon in these past few games, Mattison said he’s excited to “get the freshman out of him” before next season. Mattison also said that the media could, “put [his] name on that one; I think this guy is going to be a heck of a football player.”
Kind of cheating here because there are two 2014 commits listed. However, Mattison mentioned that they had “two very highly recruited young men to play that position.” And that was the only time this season that Mattison has referenced any kind of recruits. Realistically, these are names that shouldn't really pop up until the 2015 season, when Jake Ryan is gone, but it’s still good to keep track of their progress.
Thomas is working at nickel, but Mattison said that he thinks it was important to find just one position so that he can find a way to be very good at that single spot rather than moving him around a lot. Clark and Hill are both working at safety, and Mattison said he has been impressed with their growth. Two players who played a bit this season who also seem to be improving through bowl-prep practices are Jourdan Lewis and Jarrod Wilson.