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Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Analysis: 2013 offensive depth chart

By Michael Rothstein

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Spring practice has ended for Michigan and for the first time, the depth chart for the fall is beginning to take shape.

Yes, there will still be some big competitions on Michigan’s offense -- particularly at running back and wide receiver -- but there is now a better idea of who the Wolverines’ starting 11 will be in August when they open the season against Central Michigan.

WolverineNation takes a two-day look at what Michigan’s depth chart will be come fall, starting with the offense.

Quarterback
Devin Gardner

Gardner

Starter: Redshirt junior Devin Gardner.
Why? This is a surprise to no one. Gardner essentially won the job last fall when Denard Robinson got hurt. He is Michigan’s most intriguing and indispensable player next season. Gardner has a shot to have a massive season -- his stats from his five games as a starter last season would have placed him among the top quarterbacks in the country extrapolated over a whole year -- but he needs to stay healthy for Michigan to have a shot.

Depth: Freshman Shane Morris, redshirt freshman Brian Cleary, redshirt sophomore Alex Swieca.
Why? Russell Bellomy is not on this list because the chances of him recovering from his spring ACL tear in time to make an impact this season is minimal. This leaves three players who have never taken a snap in a game. Cleary left spring practice as the No. 2 quarterback, but if Gardner were to go down, it would likely be Morris who fills that role. If not, Michigan could look to preserve Morris’ redshirt. The other option here is a late transfer, either from a fifth-year eligible player or a junior college player. There is no guarantee here, but Hoke said he would be open to exploring the option. If that happens, said quarterback likely becomes second on the depth chart.

Running back
Fitzgerald Toussaint

Toussaint

Starters: Redshirt senior Fitzgerald Toussaint (HB) and redshirt sophomore Joe Kerridge (FB).
Why? This will be the most-watched position battle this fall. Went with Toussaint because the Wolverines coaches believe he will be healthy for the start of the season and with an inexperienced interior of the offensive line, having an experienced tailback will help. Plus, when Michigan went to the pro-style offense last season, Toussaint started to have some more success until his injury. He might not start all season, but he’ll get the first shot.

Depth: Freshmen Derrick Green, redshirt freshman Drake Johnson, freshman Deveon Smith, junior Thomas Rawls, freshman Wyatt Shallman, redshirt sophomore Justice Hayes, sophomore Dennis Norfleet (RB), sophomore Sione Houma (FB).
Why? Toussaint gets the nod as the starter, but he’ll be pushed hard and fast by Green, Smith and Johnson. Would not be shocked to see some sort of time share by season’s end -- even if Toussaint is having a good year. With the way Michigan’s running back situation has evolved in Hoke’s tenure, don’t be surprised if multiple guys get a shot early. Hayes and Norfleet could end up in the role vacated by Vincent Smith on passing downs and as a third-down back. At fullback, Houma will back up Kerridge for the time being. Shallman could see a look here, too.

Wide receiver
Jeremy Gallon

Gallon

Starters: Redshirt senior Jeremy Gallon and sophomore Amara Darboh.
Why? Gallon is a no-brainer and has fantastic chemistry with Gardner. They were working together even when the two weren’t playing. Now they’ll be one of the Big Ten’s best quarterback-receiver combinations. Darboh earns the other slot, for now, based on the blend of his hands and his speed. Much like running back, the spot opposite Gallon will be up for grabs in the fall.

Depth: Seniors Drew Dileo and Jeremy Jackson, sophomore Jehu Chesson, fifth-year senior Joe Reynolds, freshmen Jaron Dukes, Da’Mario Jones and Csont’e York.
Why? When Michigan goes three-wide, Dileo will get the start backed up by Jackson. As far as the others, expect Chesson to push Darboh for the starting role. Those three will likely see a lot of the snaps between the outside receiver spots, with Reynolds seeing some as well. It wouldn’t be shocking to see two of the three freshman receivers redshirt this season unless they are specifically good on special teams. This isn’t a particularly deep group -- and sophomore tight end Devin Funchess could steal some slot and outside snaps as well -- but the top end of it has talent.

Tight end
Devin Funchess

Funchess

Starter: Funchess.
Why? He has the potential to be a star with a full offseason and then a full season in a pro-style offense with Gardner throwing to him. With his talent level, he could end up in a similar mold to either Rob Gronkowski or Aaron Hernandez.

Depth: Sophomore A.J. Williams, freshman Jake Butt, freshman Khalid Hill, redshirt junior Jordan Paskorz.
Why? When Michigan goes to two tight ends or a blocking tight end set, Williams will receive the start and most of the snaps. For all purposes, he is a co-starter with Funchess. Butt enrolled early, could see a lot of time in the fall and gives Michigan a lot of flexibility with two strong pass-catching tight ends to be on the field at the same time. Don’t be surprised if he has a big impact in the fall. Hill could see some time as well, but Butt enrolling early likely means he’ll be the first freshman to see time.

Offensive line
Taylor Lewan

Lewan

Starters: Redshirt senior Taylor Lewan (LT), redshirt freshman Ben Braden (LG), redshirt sophomore Jack Miller (C), redshirt freshman Kyle Kalis (RG), redshirt senior Michael Schofield (RT).
Why? Lewan and Schofield are givens. The biggest question with Lewan is if he is the best offensive lineman in the country. The middle of the line will be young -- and Graham Glasgow could push at all three positions -- but expect that to be the group in the beginning. It is Michigan’s most talented five and could be a really strong unit by the end of the season.

Depth: Glasgow (G, C), redshirt junior Joey Burzynski (G, C), redshirt freshman Erik Magnuson (T), redshirt freshman Blake Bars (G, T), freshmen freshmen Logan Tuley-Tillman (T), Kyle Bosch (G, C), David Dawson (G), Patrick Kugler (C), Dan Samuelson (T).
Why? Michigan has some offensive line depth for the first time in a long time. Still, there isn’t a ton there, especially if the freshmen all redshirt, but Michigan now has capable backups at every spot without having to rejigger the starting five too much. Of the five freshmen, Kugler and Bosch are the most likely to see time as true freshmen, but they have talent ahead of them in the depth department. Glasgow will likely take on the Elliott Mealer utility lineman role who could move to any position if necessary. The guys to watch next season are Magnuson and Bars because they’ll be competing for the two certain vacancies on next season’s line with Lewan and Schofield graduating.