Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Top players to watch this spring: No. 4
By Chantel Jennings
Spring ball starts on Feb. 25, and until then we’re going to be taking looks at different players, position groups and parts of the team to keep an eye on as the Wolverines wind through their month of spring practices. We continue our countdown today with a young duo for No. 4.
Channing Stribling got some key playing time for the Wolverines as a freshman and could be a big part of the Michigan defense going forward.
Stribling: Height: 6-foot-2
Weight: 171 pounds
2013 statistics: seven games as a DB, 12 games total, 15 tackles, 1 forced fumble
Lewis: Height: 5-foot-10
Weight: 170 pounds
2013 statistics: eight games as a DB, 12 games total, 17 tackles, 2 passes defended
Stribling and Lewis were two of the true freshmen who were able to get quality game reps, especially as the season wore on and both players got more accustomed to the scheme.
Because of their youth and inexperience, they got picked on a bit by opposing quarterbacks, and in most of those instances both players were in a “close but not quite there” situation. But that early experience is going to pay off.
Stribling has the height advantage, but Lewis seemed to be more reliable in jump-ball situations in 2013. Both are guys who could become a part of the foundation of this defense over the upcoming seasons.
Raymon Taylor and Blake Countess return as the starting corners, so what makes these two players’ spring seasons so intriguing to watch is that they’ll likely be battling for playing time behind them. Michigan rotates its corners, so whichever player has the better spring will be first off the bench in substitution and situations where five or six DBs are needed.
The Michigan secondary needs to make major strides. In 2013 the Wolverines allowed 6.93 yards per pass attempt (54th nationally) and 49.8 percent of opponent pass completions went for at least 10 yards (87th nationally). Whether it’s Stribling or Lewis, they’ll need to step up.