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March 14, 2008
Michigan's spring practice will be one of the most closely watched this spring. Let's see – there will be a new quarterback, two new starting wide receivers, a new tailback, three new offensive linemen, two new linebackers, two new safeties. And there's a new coach, too! Here's a look at the Wolverines as they prepare to open spring practice.
Rich Rodriguez has plenty of building to do on the offensive side of the ball.
Defense—7: LB Obi Ezeh, CB Brandon Harrison, E Tim Jamison, T Will Johnson, T Terrance Taylor, CB Morgan Trent, CB Donovan Warren[/db].
Offense—3: G Justin Boren, FB Mark Moundros, T Steven Schilling.
Special teams—2: K K.C. Lopata, P Zoltan Mesko.
WR Darryl Stonum (from high school)
POSITIONS OF STRENGTH
At cornerback, Trent will be a three-year starter, Warren was so impressive in his debut season that he was on every freshman All-American team and Harrison started seven games when Michigan opened in a nickel package. And on the defensive line, there are three returning starters plus E Brandon Graham, who started five games.
HELP IS NEEDED
No quarterback on the roster has college playing experience. The Wolverines need three new starters on the offensive line, and their two best linemen (Jake Long and Adam Kraus) are gone. Who will be the go-to wide receiver? Ezeh is the only returning starter at linebacker, and the candidates to replace Shawn Crable and Chris Graham – John Thompson, Marell Evans, Austin Panterand Brandon Herron – have limited experience.
KEEP AN EYE ON
SS Artis Chambers: The former three-star prospect was declared academically ineligible early in his true freshman campaign last season. He is back in good graces academically and both starting safeties from last season must be replaced.
C David Molk: Moving Molk, a redshirt freshman, into the starting lineup figures to be one of the first steps in rebuilding the Wolverines' offensive line.
QB Steven Threet: The redshirt freshman is expected to emerge from spring drills as the starter. He isn't the running threat usually associated with new coach Rich Rodriguez's system, but he did play in a spread offense in high school.
HIS TIME IS NOW
Injuries and inconsistency have been an issue for Jamison throughout his career. He needs a excellent senior season to live up to his vast potential. Having a strong spring would be a good start.
How well and how quickly the players who were recruited for a pro-style offense can grasp Rodriguez's spread system this spring may provide an omen of what's to come this fall. A lot of attention is focused on Threet, but the offensive linemen must learn much different blocking schemes.
Olin Buchanan is the senior college football writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.