Five players to watch
Michigan is officially in game week preparations and the wait for the start of the 2007 season is finally almost over. Much of the pre-season coverage of the Wolverines focused on the '07 Football Fab Five (i.e., QB Chad Henne, RB Mike Hart, LT Jake Long, WR Mario Manningham, & WR Adrian Arrington). However, Michigan's fortunes do not rest exclusively on the shoulders of those players. The Fab Five will almost assuredly perform in a big time way this season. Nevertheless, the Wolverines' championship hopes will rise and fall with the performances of the new players who are stepping into starring roles in 2007. If the "supporting cast" can adequately fill their roles then Michigan has a chance to go all the way this year. However, if the new players struggle in their roles then Michigan will be hard pressed to challenge for the Big Ten Championship. Following are five key players to watch in 2007:
- Johnny Sears, CB, Jr./So.: Johnny is the new "lock-down" corner who will also be returning kicks in 2007. Johnny takes the spot of departed All-American Leon Hall. Johnny recorded a career best 4 solo tackles in last year's OSU game while playing CB and on special teams units.
- Jason Gingell, K, Sr./Jr.: In somewhat of a surprise, Jason beat out Bryan Wright (So./Fr.) for the placekicking duties. Jason is filling the void left by the departed Garrett Rivas who graduated from Michigan as the Wolverines all-time leading scorer with 354 points. Jason has a grand total of one point in his career which he scored when he converted an extra point attempt during last year's CMU game.
- Brandon Graham, DE, So./So.: He played in 11 games last season and tallied three tackles and shared one sack. Brandon will be putting up much bigger numbers this season as he takes over for the departed Lombardi Award winner LaMarr Woodley. Only a true sophmore, Brandon hopes to make a Woodley-type impact on opposing offenses this season.
- Steve Schilling, RT, So./Fr.: The 6'5", 297 lb. Schilling battled mononucleosis and a shoulder injury last season and had to redshirt but he is ready to play this season. Schilling is not only big, he is also very athletic. Although he has never played a snap in college, he is already a starter and the Wolverines are counting on him to protect Henne and open big holes for Hart.
- Steve Brown, S, So./So.: True sophmore Brown will play free safety while returning starter Jamar Adams (Sr./Sr.) will play Strong Safety in 2007. Brown played in all 13 games last year on special teams and saw action at safety in four games. He came out of high school in 2005 ranked as the #5 safety in the country in his class.