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Wednesday, April 25, 2012
What the defense might look like in 2014

By Chantel Jennings and Tom VanHaaren

Joe Bolden
Early enrollee linebacker Joe Bolden could be the starter at the Mike position in 2014.
It’s always fun to look into the future and guess where players will be after the next few seasons. So Tom and Chantel decided to sit down and do their best to produce the depth chart for the beginning of the 2014 season. They aren’t coaches, nor are they scouts, but this is an educated guess at what could happen over the next few seasons. View the offensive depth chart here.

DEFENSIVE DEPTH CHART:

WDE:
1/2. Brennan Beyer or Frank Clark

This will be an exciting battle to watch over the next few seasons. With Beyer’s switch from linebacker to defensive end this year, he’ll show how versatile of a player he really is. And while Clark is more of a true defensive end, this should be a position where the one and two deep are neck in neck. That’s not true at every position, but here, it is.

NT:
1. Ondre Pipkins
2. Richard Ash

Ash has seniority here, but expect Pipkins to come in as early as this season and start making some noise. And by 2014, Pipkins should have the job on lock down. However, Willie Henry will also be in the mix, with Ash winning out because of his experience.

DT:
1. Matt Godin
2. Kenny Wilkins

The three technique defensive tackle spot will be interesting, because there are a few options here. With the talent that Michigan has coming in there could be a few options, and there will likely be another option or two added in the 2013 class. Godin could slide in and play defensive tackle, and you could also see Tom Strobel do the same. This spot is tough to predict because it will be an open competition.

SDE:
1. Chris Wormley
2. Tom Strobel

Wormley and Strobel are two very good options here, but Matt Godin could also see time at this spot. Competition is a good thing and Michigan is starting to build competition along the defensive line. Same as the defensive tackle spot, Michigan could still add a prospect in the 2013 class to get in this conversation as well, but Wormley has a great shot at being the starter.

SAM LB:
1. Jake Ryan
2. Royce Jenkins-Stone

If Ryan isn’t the starter here, that’ll be quite the surprise. He’ll be a fifth-year senior, and presumably, a captain. Jenkins-Stone will be a fine backup by all standards, but expect Ryan to be one of the leading tacklers on the team in his final year.

MIKE LB:
1. Joe Bolden
2. Mike McCray

Bolden filled in for Kenny Demens during the spring season when Demens was out with a concussion, so it seems as though the coaches are transitioning him into the MIKE position. As a junior, he’ll be right up there with Ryan, and the fact that McCray will be his backup shows just how deep Michigan’s linebacking group is.

WILL LB:
1. James Ross
2. Kaleb Ringer

With all the linebackers Michigan is bringing in this will be another position group that will provide excellent competition. Antonio Poole is still in the conversation here, and with Michigan adding Ben Gedeon to the 2013 class, he could also get his name in the discussion. Ringer’s decision to enroll early will help him see the field, though, and Ross’ pure ability should catch him up to Ringer eventually. This could be a spot where you see multiple guys getting quality playing time because of the talent at the position.

FS:
1. Jarrod Wilson
2. Jeremy Clark

When is the last time Michigan had a big, ball hawking free safety roaming the field? By all accounts that’s what Jarrod Wilson should be for the Wolverines. He enrolled early to get a leg up, and the coaching staff is hoping he becomes a star in the defensive backfield. Add Jeremy Clark -- the sleeper prospect of the 2012 class -- and even 2013 commit Dymonte Thomas and there will be some quality options going forward.

SS:
1. Allen Gant
2. Dymonte Thomas

In 2014, Michigan’s secondary could be dominated by underclassmen but that’s not a terrible thing as long as it’s a talented group of youngsters -- which will be the case for the Wolverines. Along with Wilson, Gant should be quite the talent in the backfield. Expect those two to be the big time safeties that Michigan hasn’t seen in its defensive backs in recent years.

CB:
1. Blake Countess
2. Jourdan Lewis

If Blake Countess doesn’t have/take the opportunity to go to the NFL this will be his senior season. Judging by his freshman campaign Countess should be able to have a picnic on his side of the field, as no one will be throwing his way.

CB:
1. Terry Richardson
2. Gareon Conley

Lewis and Conley will just be freshmen at this point, but theses cornerbacks have major potential. Richardson is coming in as the top recruit in the 2012 class and with his speed, quickness and hands, he could be potent to opposing team’s offenses. Deep threats won’t seem quite so threatening with these play makers in the backfield.

SPECIAL TEAMS:

P/PK:
1. Matt Wile
2. Kenny Allen

KR:
1. Jehu Chesson
2. Drake Johnson

PR:
1. Dennis Norfleet
2. Drake Johnson