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Wednesday, May 1, 2013
WolverineNation mailbag

By Chantel Jennings

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Draft day, three commitments and Big Ten realignment approved. Who said the end of April is slow for football? Well, whoever said it was wrong, because this past week has been jam-packed with news and stories for Michigan fans. So, let’s talk about it.

Next week Mike will take care of the mailbag so send any questions you have to him: @mikerothstein or michaelrothsteinespn@gmail.com. Now, on to this week’s questions ...

1) Darryl G., Ypsilanti: Realistically, how excited can we be about either line next season?

A: I think all the expectations and good things you’ve heard throughout the spring need to be tempered with the fact that both lines will be pretty young, either in terms of experience or just actually young. Because of that, there will be communication issues, missed assignments and an occasional implosion. As the team gels, improvement will be fairly obvious. That being said, I think there will be some bright marks from both lines early and often. Taylor Lewan could be the most consistent player the Wolverines have next season. A lot has been said about Frank Clark and his possible contributions, and that I think could be true for the D-line. As far as younger guys who could be bright spots frequently, Taco Charlton and Kyle Kalis are two names that stand out.

2) Spencer Brown via Twitter: Is U-M an elite football program in terms of recruiting yet? If not, what do they need to do to achieve that status?

A: They’re as good as they’ve been in a while. It’s hard to put it in a historical perspective, because with the proliferation of the SEC, some Southern guys who at one point would’ve come to the Big Ten for the best possible football now are going to stay in the South. As far as where they stand right now, just looking at what they have and who they’re going after, I think they’re pretty high level (Don’t know if I’d say elite, though). They’re in on the Jabrill Peppers (Paramus, N.J./Paramus Catholic) and Da’Shawn Hand (Woodbridge, Va./Woodbridge), two top-five players. Outside of that, the Wolverines could realistically finish with 12 or more ESPN 150 guys -- that’s pretty impressive.

But their next step in becoming elite on the recruiting trail is really getting themselves into the offense they want to run, winning the Big Ten championship and competing for the national title. That’s pretty basic, no? Top players want to play in games like that. Michigan hasn’t played in those games for a while. So, if the Wolverines want to be elite recruiters they need to pick up some major W's on the field.

3) Sam, Portage, Michigan: Will [John] Beilein play at all with two bigs next year, or can we just expect to see Mitch McGary a lot?

A: I would imagine we’ll see a mix of it. It’ll be a lot of scheme-based stuff and it will differ from game to game. McGary should be the starter/main guy when Beilein is running with four little guys (I know they’re not "little"), but I wouldn’t totally exclude the thought that he’d go with two big men quite a bit in some games. The Wolverines played primarily with just one big guy this year, which kept the middle of the floor more open for Trey Burke to penetrate and kick or create. Now, next season Spike Albrecht or Derrick Walton will be commanding the floor, so it’ll be a bit different and Michigan might have a better chance of creating elsewhere, meaning the center of the floor wouldn’t have to be as open as it was for Burke. Putting two big guys in there will be another way to attack for Michigan next year, perhaps, whereas it could’ve been an inconvenience for Burke at times this year.

4) Alex, Washington, D.C., via Madison: Is Michigan going to get Jabrill Peppers?

A: I think the Wolverines are in a really good place with him, and Peppers moving up his decision date is good news for Michigan. It also doesn’t hurt that Michigan now has a commitment from Juwann Bushell-Beatty (Paramus, N.J./Paramus Catholic). At the end of the day, I think Michigan could end up with Peppers.