The Michigan Wolverines seem to be destined for another year of stifling defense. The Wolverines’ defensive line and secondary are both top-tier in the NCAA. The only uncertainty that comes with the Wolverines is the linebacker position. The Wolverines are losing two senior starters, Desmond Morgan and Joe Bolden, who were very experienced and will be difficult to replace.
SAM Linebacker: Jabrill Peppers will start, and play, here 70% of the time. Peppers in this spot bolsters the weak linebacking core. In the Don Brown scheme, Peppers will be the center piece of the defense. Brown’s style of blitzing linebackers has yielded great results in the past, as Boston College had the number one defense in the country last year, and previous linebackers in this system have gone to be very productive NFL players, such as Kevin Pierre-Louis and Josh Keyes. Don Brown said that the SAM linebacker position will need to be filled with a hybrid player, and Jabrill fits that mold perfectly.
MIKE Linebacker: Ben Gedeon should get the start here. At 6-foot-3 inches and 241 pounds, he is the most physically ready linebacker (aside from Peppers). He also has the most experience at the middle linebacker position. Harbaugh sees him as a “stud” at the linebacker position. He has had a great spring and the Wolverines can hope that he carries that great spring performance into fall.
WILL Linebacker: Mike McCray seems to be locked at this position at this point. He stands at 6-foot-4 inches tall and weighs 240 pounds. He missed last season due to injury, but when he is healthy, he plays with a lot of speed and power. He had a sack in the spring game and he was also able to score a pick-6 in Florida on John O’Korn. Hopefully, he will be able to stay healthy and make an impact next year for the Wolverines. Devin Bush Jr. has also gotten some time at this position. He can be expected to make a contribution this year for the Wolverines. He seemed to have a good spring, and he played well during the spring game.
Overall, the linebacker position for the Wolverines seems to be the weakest going into the season. Depth will be the biggest issue at this position. Don Brown knows what he is doing with the linebackers on his teams, so you can expect these Wolverine linebackers to be ready to play next season. Barring injury, I expect the Michigan linebackers to be a pleasant surprise on what is already a ferocious defense.