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Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Depth chart analysis: Free safety

By Michael Rothstein

Over the next few weeks, WolverineNation will look at every position on the Michigan roster and give a depth chart analysis of each position on the roster heading into the offseason.

Thomas Gordon has played here the past two seasons despite threats of competition from behind and occasionally having his play called into question by his coaches. But one thing can’t be denied: Gordon is a ball hawk.

Now, though, he could be on the move, opening up his free safety position for a newcomer. Jordan Kovacs’ graduation leaves Michigan with an intriguing question: Where does Gordon fit better -- at his old position, free safety, or a potential new one as a strong safety?

The bet here is you see a new free safety for Michigan in 2013 and there are a multitude of options.

Thomas Gordon
Thomas Gordon likely will move from free safety to strong safety, creating a new opening.
The starter: Sophomore Jarrod Wilson. This is the natural position for the rangy sophomore, who likely would have been a starter last season if there had been an injury to Kovacs or Gordon. At 6-foot-2, he has the size you’d want at this position and the speed to match. He also has, even as a sophomore, the experience edge over his competition since Michigan put him in during certain nickel packages when Gordon dropped down into the box.

The depth: Redshirt junior Josh Furman, redshirt freshman Jeremy Clark, freshman Dymonte Thomas. This is an interesting group. A lot of athletes here but precious little experience. This group, though, could give Wilson a strong run for the spot considering the mix of talent. Furman has always had athletic gifts, Thomas is one of the prized recruits of his class and is already enrolled, and Clark is an underrated player.

The question mark: Could Clark surprise? In talking to some of Michigan’s departing seniors, they pointed to Clark as the freshman who redshirted who could be a talent down the road. He is a player who wasn’t discussed much in the recruiting process and was initially asked to greyshirt, but it wouldn’t be a stunner to see him become a contributor and push for time as early as next season and certainly two seasons from now when Gordon departs.

The bottom line: This is a position which will have some inexperience early -- likely meaning the corners and Gordon need to be even tighter and smarter in coverage -- but the chance for great athleticism and a potential playmaker coming out of this position group is very, very high. Even if it isn’t Wilson, one of this group will become a big-time player for Michigan. The thing is whether or not it will be Wilson and whether or not that comes by next season.