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Wednesday, March 6, 2013
Five to watch in spring: Taco Charlton

By Michael Rothstein

Over the next week, WolverineNation will give a brief look at five players to keep an eye on during spring practice for varying reasons.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- While Taco Charlton is just one of the six early enrolling freshmen this spring, but the defensive end is more intriguing than most for the simple reason that he’ll potentially have a chance to play.

Yes, fellow early enrollee tight end Jake Butt is in a similar situation, but due to lack of numbers at his position, Butt almost has to see some time. Offensive linemen Kyle Bosch and Logan Tuley-Tillman are long shots because they play a position where the preference is to redshirt. Dymonte Thomas and Ross Douglas have a lot of players to pass -- including some with experience -- to see significant time.

Charlton will be thrust into a position where he can compete immediately and have a legitimate chance to either start or be in the rotation at rush end. He is our No. 5 player to watch this spring.

Why Charlton? None of the incumbents at rush end -- three of them in juniors Frank Clark and Brennen Beyer and sophomore Mario Ojemudia -- displayed a complete skill set last season. Ojemudia had the speed. Clark had pass rush skills and Beyer was the run stopper. Charlton has the potential to be able to do all three, which would make him a valuable cog in the rotation. No matter who ends up starting, there will be a rotation there because of substitute packages and the preference of Greg Mattison to rotate his defensive linemen. But the 6-foot-6, 249-pound Charlton could make major moves with a big spring.

What does he have to accomplish? Show the ability to learn and be competent both rushing the passer and stopping the runners. Do that and he’ll be almost certainly be a rotation player. Michigan has shown no qualms playing and starting freshmen when need be -- see Ondre Pipkins, Devin Funchess and A.J. Williams last season -- and if he can pull even or trail by just a little bit during the spring, he’ll put himself in position to make a run at the starting position in the fall.