Thursday, February 27, 2014
Position battles to watch this spring: No. 2
By Chantel Jennings
Spring football started Tuesday, so the competition for positions is well underway. This week, we’re counting down the five position battles that you should also keep an eye on over the next month. On Wednesday, we took a look at the center. Today, we move right as the Wolverines look to replace three-year starter Michael Schofield.
What to watch: The Wolverines need to make major strides with their offensive line this fall but how much of that can actually happen this spring remains to be seen. Erik Magnuson -- who’s in contention for the starting spot at left tackle -- isn’t participating in spring football while he rehabs after a shoulder surgery. And Tuley-Tillman, another option at tackle, will miss the first few weeks of spring practices with a hand injury. That doesn’t exactly leave Michigan a ton of options for what to do on the offensive line, nor does it help with building chemistry for what will eventually be the starting five -- one of the biggest struggles of last season.
However, Michigan will move forward as it needs to replace the book ends of its offensive line from last season. Schofield was the less heralded of the two tackles, but he played in 52 games and made 36 starts (first 10 starts were at left guard before moving to right tackle). On Tuesday, coach Brady Hoke said that on the first day of practice Braden was running with the first group at right tackle, and Dawson was running with the first group at left tackle. Dawson could probably be at the two-deep spot at either position when Magnuson does return. Magnuson and Braden are both 6-foot-6, as opposed to Dawson, who’s a mobile 295 pounds but only 6-4. So while Dawson may be playing left tackle this spring, look for him to take reps at both in the fall. And when Tuley-Tillman does return to spring practices, he’ll likely be jumping in at the right spot with Braden. Tuley-Tillman is the tallest of the options at 6-7, but Braden still has him on weight (319 pounds as opposed to Tuley-Tillman’s 290 pounds).