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April 18, 2005 - Image 16

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The Michigan Daily, 2005-04-18

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6B - The Michigan Daily - SportsMonday - April 18, 2005
THE REPLACEMENTS
AN IN-DEPTH LOOK AT WHO WILL REPLACE SOME OF LAST YEAR'S GRIDIRON STANDOUTS
By Jake Rosenwasser 9 Daily Sports Writer

0

s is the nature of college sports, Michigan
has found itself with many holes to fill this
offseason. The Wolverines lost a handful
of key players last year, and, with the season fast
approaching, the Daily football writers wanted to
ease your worries - or in some cases fuel the fire
- by breaking down who is expected to fill those
vacated spots.
Braylon
Edwards
Obviously, the most prominent player that won't
be returning to Michigan is No. 1 Braylon Edwards.
But the Michigan receiv-
ing corps will not be
totally depleted.
Senior Jason Avant
and junior Steve
Breaston will try to fill
the void left by the future
top-five NFL draft pick. Last
season, Avant caught 38 balls
for 447 yards and three touch-
downs, and Breaston hauled
in 34 passes for 291 yards
and three touchdowns while
also shouldering the punt and
kick return duties. The two
will certainly play anRed shirt fresh
even bigger role in the Doug Dutch
offense this season,
assuming they can avoid the injuries that plagued
each of them at times last season.
Breaston was slow to recover from offseason sur-
gery on his right foot last year and was also hampered
by a broken finger. Still, he showed his elusiveness in
the Rose Bowl when he broke O.J. Simpson's record
for all-purpose yards in the storied game.
Avant, on the other hand, was forced to sit out the
Rose Bowl after undergoing surgery on his left knee.
But he is focusing on suiting up for every one of the
Wolverines' games this season.
"My main goal this season is to be healthy the
whole season," Avant said. "Because I know if I'm
healthy, and, if I play my hardest, everything else
will work out."
The third receiver spot is still up in the air. It will
be filled by either the more experienced junior Carl
Tabb, the speedy redshirt freshman Doug Dutch or
the tall sophomore Adrian Arrington.
Jackson &
Shazor
The Wolverines were hurt the most by departures
in the secondary. Two All-America first-team selec-
tions - Marlin Jackson and Ernest Shazor - will
test their skills in the NFL. As a senior cornerback,

Jackson's departure was expected,
but strong safety Shazor decided to
test the NFL waters with a
year of eligibility remaining.
Coach Lloyd Carr and many
other Wolverines are confi-
dent that junior Leon Hall
can step in where Jackson
left off.
"I think Leon Hall has a
chance to be one of the bet-
ter corners we've had here,"
Carr said. "I think he's made
dramatic improvement. He's
tough, he's smart ... and
what he's done this spring is
impressive." Leon
Junior Ryan Mundy returns at Hall
free safety, but, with the gradu-
ation of Markus Curry, there are questions
at the other cornerback position and at strong safety.
Fifth-year senior Grant Mason will battle junior Dar-
nell Hood for the job at cornerback, and sophomore
Jamar Adams will try to beat out junior Brandent
Englemon for the starting strong safety spot.
"We're going to be young in the secondary, but I
think Englemon has really had a good
spring," Carr said. "I think (Adams) will
play an important role regardless of
what happens."
All the same, Carr acknowledged
nan that - aside from offensive line and
quarterback - safety might be the most
difficult position to get a handle on because
so many aspects of playing the position depend upon
a slew of variables. The high level of skill required
for proficiency in the deep secondary means that the
Wolverines have their work cut out for them if they
want to find consistent production from the posi-
tion.
"I think one of the reasons that you see so many
big plays in today's football (is that other teams)
shift, they motion, they line up with no backs in the
backfield," Carr said. "When the ball is snapped, if
you're one or two steps out of position, then you're
vulnerable. We just have to continue to improve this
summer."

Two linemen size each other up before the "Michigan Drill" on Saturday in Michigan Stadium.

hm

tainly has the athletic ability."
If Riley steps in and junior Mike Kolodziej
can earn the left, guard spot, then every starter
on the offensive line will have started in at least
one game last season. Baas, who is a probably
an early round pick, will be a big loss, but maybe
Michigan can survive without his massive 6-foot-
5, 323-pound presence.
Manning &
Reid
With the graduation of Roy
Manning and the startling
loss of Lawrence Reid
due to atypical bone
structure in his spi-
nal cord, there will
be some holes to
fill at linebacker.
Fifth-year senior
Scott McClintock
returns at inside line-
backer, but the roles
of junior Prescott
Burgess and soph-
omores Shawn
Crable and Chris Sophomore
Graham will linebacker
increase dramat-S

ically next season, and junior David Harris will be
a dark horse candidate for significant playing time.
If the linebackers perform up to their capabilities,
they could be one of the fastest linebacking corps in
Michigan history.
"(Graham) is a guy that's really had a great
spring," Carr said. "I think he's going to be very
difficult to keep out of the lineup. We've got good
competition (at linebacker). Crable, particularly, is
getting comfortable. He's got really explosive speed.
I think there's a lot of things we can do with him that
are going to give us the ability to be a much quicker,
faster defense."
Kevin
RDudley

the junior missed all the spring practices because
of a broken bone in his foot. If Thompson doesn't
heal in time for next season, Carr will call on either
junior Obi Oluigbo or redshirt freshman Mike
Massey to fill in.
"We missed Brian Thompson, but I think Obi
really had a good spring," Carr said. "To do the
things we want to do at that position, he's got to work
hard this spring and summer on catching the foot-
ball. ... If you saw, another one of these young guys
who made great strides today and throughout the
spring is Mike Massey. So I think Massey is going
to play an important role on this football team."
sk" Adam
Finley
It seems like Adam Finley has been punt-
ing for Michigan since the days of Bo Schem-
bechler. But this season, Michigan will have
to find a new punter to pin opponents deep in
their own territory. Senior Mark Spen-
cer and incoming freshman Zoltan
Mesko are the leading candidates to
replace Finley.
"The biggest question mark in our
special teams, from a skill standpoint,
is the punter," Carr said. "We'll
have nobody that has game
experience."

David
-Baas
Michigan is traditionally known as a run-first,
pass-second team. To continue to run, Carr will
need another overpowering offensive line. With the
departure of All-America first-team selection David
Baas, Chad Henne will have to forge a new center-
quarterback relationship. Carr is hoping that junior
Rueben Riley can anchor the middle of the line, even
though he missed a lot of spring practice.
"We're going to be unsettled at center until we get
into training camp," Carr said. "(But) Rueben cer-

He may not have been the mostj
Michigan player, but how
Michigan handles the loss
of Kevin Dudley at fullback
may dictate the success of
Mike Hart and the rest of
the offense. Last season, the
6-foot-1, 236-pound blocking
back cleared holes twice the
size of the diminutive Hart.
Brian Thompson would
be the obvious replace- 01
ment for Dudley, but 010,

recognizable

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