How Michigan is approaching upgrading O-line through 2018 & ’19 classes

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Stay updated as Michigan rises toward the top of the recruiting rankings! Don’t miss the coverage from Kevin Goheen, who brings two decades of experience as a sports writer to coverage of Michigan recruiting. Read his daily notebooks here at 7:30 p.m. ET Monday through Friday, and follow us on Twitter for the latest Wolverines recruiting news.

Offensive line future still taking shape 

If there is one position group taking the hardest critique this season for Michigan, it is the offensive line. Yes, there has been plenty of criticism of the combined quarterback play of Wilton Speight and John O’Korn, but the offensive line was a question mark entering the season that has yet to deliver an answer.

It’s hard to quantify offensive line play but the following numbers don’t paint a pretty picture:

  • Rushing yards per game: 173.3 (55th nationally/6th Big Ten)
  • Sacks allowed: 23 (118/13)
  • Tackles for loss: 51 (114/13)

What kind of help does Michigan have coming in the future?

Senior left tackle Mason Cole and fifth-year senior center Patrick Kugler will be gone next season. Sophomore guards Ben Bredeson and Michael Onwenu return, as well as redshirt sophomore Jon Runyan. Redshirt junior Juwann Bushell-Beatty and redshirt sophomore Nolan Ulizio have split time at right tackle but neither has distinguished themselves.

There are replacements waiting in the wings in 2017 signees Chuck Filiaga and Cesar Ruiz, as well as the potential return of Grant Newsome for a horrific leg injury suffered last season. The Wolverines also have freshmen tackles Ja’Raymond Hall, Joel Honigford and Andrew Stueber who will have had a year in the program and be better equipped to compete for starting jobs.

Chuck Filiaga senior season highlights

As for the future beyond this season, the Wolverines have four offensive linemen among the 19 players currently committed to them for the 2018 and ’19 classes. All are considered 4-star prospects by the 247Sports composite ratings.

  • Emil Ekiyor (2018) has played all three line positions as a four-year starter for Indianapolis Cathedral but is projected to be a guard in college.
  • Jalen Mayfield (2018) of Grand Rapids (Mich.) Catholic Central and Ryan Hayes (2018) of Traverse City (Mich.) West are similar in their athletic makeup in that they could be good tight ends, as well. Hayes is playing tight end this season because, as his coach Tim Wooer told Land of 10 in August, he’s too good not to use him there.
  • Nolan Rumler (2019) of Akron (Ohio) Archbishop Hoban is listed as a tackle but could just as well be moved inside.

Michigan is still seeking to build depth throughout the line. Ruiz has played sporadically as an extra tackle but the Wolverines have gone with seven players rotating in a game at most.

Emil Ekiyor from this season:

Ekiyor is the best bet among the four to earn playing time as a freshman but Michigan isn’t content with these numbers. The Wolverines are targeting 2019 tackle Logan Brown of Grand Rapids East Kentwood, who is rated as the No. 3 player in the state and No. 76 nationally. Belleville (Mich.) tackle Devontae Dobbs is the No. 8 overall player in the country for the 2019 class but there isn’t much traction between him and Wolverines at this time, although he did take an unofficial visit for the Michigan State game on Oct. 7.

Jalen Mayfield from this season: 

Miss any editions of our daily Michigan recruiting notebook? You can find them all here

The post How Michigan is approaching upgrading O-line through 2018 & ’19 classes appeared first on Land of 10.

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