|Gallon and Gardner, via the 2012 spring game gallery.|
Disclaimer: The content of this post is rumors/perspective gleaned from Twitter (@gerrydinardo), spring practice videos and multiple coach press conferences. As you know, practices are closed to the media and public.
Devin Gardner's better-than-expected performance at the end of last season generated plenty of hype going into the 2013 spring session. No doubt, this has helped ease the transition to the post-Denard era of the Michigan offense.
His arm is reported to be rocketing the ball all around the Glick. What makes Devin so explosive is his great arm combined with good athleticism. Word is that he's working on his scrambling in terms of getting more comfortable in the pocket and not tucking and taking off too quickly. He's also really starting to embrace his new role as a leader of not only the offense, but the team as a whole.
Russell Bellomy had a rough introduction to Michigan fans in the Nebraska game when he stepped in for an injured Denard Robinson. That's not exactly fair, and from what I hear, he's gotten bigger, stronger and maybe a little wiser. I wouldn't write him off as a presumed backup just yet.
LT Taylor Lewan and RT Michael Schofield lead the way for this group. The two 5th-year seniors are the foundation for a rather young but very impressive line. So far things are shaping up this way. Redshirt sophomore Jack Miller at center, redshirt freshman Ben Braden at left guard, and redshirt freshman Kyle Kalis at right guard.
Braden has been getting rave reviews from those who have seen him. He's big, physical and athletic. Kalis is all of those things as well as nasty. The key for these two is to get some much needed experience. Like all OL's, it takes time to gel.
Also making noise this spring are tackle Erik Magnuson and guard Blake Bars.
A lot of question marks going into the spring for this group. 2012's leading rusher Fitz Toussaint has been reported to be healing very quickly from his broken leg against Iowa last year. He's been participating in almost all of the spring drills. We might not see him though in the spring game.
Word is it could be a very tight race between Fitz and incoming RB Derrick Green. Also in the mix is Drake Johnson who's been getting some hype so far this year. Justice Hayes and Thomas Rawls add some good depth to the position.
One thing is for certain in 2013...Michigan needs a breakout receiver. Hell, the Big Ten needs a breakout receiver, and I think one might just come from Ann Arbor.
Sophomore Amara Darboh has generated quite a bit of buzz this spring making some amazing catches is closed scrimmages. He's being compared to guys like Jason Avant, who made a name for himself at Michigan with some circus-style catches. He's got great speed, can jump, and some good hands...the trifecta for any receiver. He's also very physical.
Senior Jeremy Gallon is getting the label "toughest guy on the team" this spring, inheriting that from Vincent Smith. I like Gallon because he just makes plays. He plays bigger than he is, and in any offense, there's a place for guys like that. Same could be said for Drew Dileo.
Sophomore Jehu Chesson, former walk-on Joe Reynolds, and senior Jeremy Jackson will all be factors, each earning as much playing time as they can. It's a group of relatively unknowns, but I don't think that will last long. Michigan needs guys who can catch the ball, and we have some guys who can do that.
At the current moment, it's pretty much Devin Funchess...and then everyone else.
Incoming freshman Jake Butt is also participating in spring drills as an early enrollee.
But like I said, it's Funchess's spot to lose. We saw flashes of brilliance from him last year, and hopefully that only continues to evolve with this new offense, which should suit him much better. I expect to see the Devin-to-Devin connection much more in 2013. I think that duo could drive Michigan to the Big Ten championship game and beyond. I really do.
Next up, the defensive spring rumor mill.