Monday, January 28, 2013
Corner depth is crucial for Michigan
By Tom VanHaaren
Michigan's secondary suffered a big blow in the first game of last season when sophomore starter Blake Countess went down with an ACL injury. The already thin unit held together well without him, but the depth was a concern going forward, especially at cornerback.
That concern was evident on the recruiting trail as Michigan currently has six defensive back commits for 2013, five of which will likely be corners. The secondary in general is a younger position group, so competition for a few spots might be up for grabs in the future.
Senior starter J.T. Floyd has graduated, but Countess should be getting a medical redshirt and will still be a redshirt sophomore with a few years left to hold down his spot. Junior-to-be Raymon Taylor did well later on in the season and should be the starter come next season.
CB Jourdan Lewis might see some early playing time at Michigan.
That's good news for this season, and it could be good news for the future as well. Allowing the 2013 cornerback commits to come in and get settled, rather than thrown right in the fire will be beneficial to their development.
Some of the commitments, including Channing Stribling (Matthews, N.C./Butler), would benefit from some time in the system and learning the position. Stribling only recently made the switch to defensive back from wide receiver, but has a ton of potential. At 6-foot-2 he has a lot of qualities that the coaching staff wants in their corners going forward.
In fact, getting bigger at the corner spot was a priority for this class. The Wolverines landed three commitments that are 6-feet or taller. Delano Hill (Detroit/Cass Tech), Reon Dawson (Trotwood, Ohio/Trotwood-Madison) and Stribling will all bring size and speed to Michigan's secondary.
Despite being 6-foot and almost 200 pounds, Hill was clocked with a 4.44 forty time at The Opening, which could help him earn playing time once the opportunity arises.
The top-ranked defensive back in the class, though, is Hill's high school teammate Jourdan Lewis, who is the No. 13 ranked corner. Lewis isn't the biggest guy at 5-foot-10, 159 pounds, but he has a ton of athleticism.
He always seems to be around the ball and has performed well against some top competition at numerous camps and combines throughout his career. Lewis could get a chance to see early playing time in certain situations if for no other reason than he just seems to make plays.
Lewis is one of the two four-star corners that Michigan has landed, the other being Ross Douglas (Avon, Ohio/Avon), who has already enrolled at Michigan and is on campus.
On the surface it didn't seem as though Michigan needed so much help at the cornerback spot, but looking at the roster it's clear that this haul was needed. Outside of Countess and Taylor, Courtney Avery is the only other corner that has seen significant playing time. Avery is a senior next season, which only leaves Terry Richardson and Delonte Hollowell as backups.
This 2013 recruiting class is top to bottom an excellent class for Michigan, but maybe more importantly it will help fill some definite holes on the depth chart. Filling those spots now is vital to build continuity and consistency going forward.