FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. – With one game to go, Michigan's secondary will go from one of the best in the country to possibly the most inexperienced.
The Wolverines graduate seniors Jourdan Lewis, Channing Stribling, Delano Hill and Dymonte Thomas. And while Jabrill Peppers played “viper” linebacker/safety this season, most expect U-M’s Heisman Trophy finalist to leave after his third year too. And Fifth-year cornerback Jeremy Clark remains the only possible holdout, as U-M is pursuing a possible medical sixth year after he sustained an torn ACL earlier this season.
But yet, the cupboard isn’t bare. In fact, the talent is there, and they “understand” what it takes to be the next player up in 2017, says Lewis, who talked about his possible successor in freshman, Lavert Hill.
“He’s just prepared like an animal,” Lewis said Hill. “Just like everybody else on that backend.”
By everyone else, Lewis mentioned David Long, Josh Metellus and Khaleke Hudson as other notable freshman ready to take the next step.
“You can see it, they get it,” Lewis said. “They understand what it means to be great. They understand you have to work hardest to go out there and compete everyday. So they’re getting it, understanding it, I’m excited to see what they have to do next year.”
Hudson, who starred on special teams for U-M this season, is expected to be somewhere in the backed of the defense, says Lewis.
“He’s a safety,” Lewis said. “He can get around."
That being said, can he cover?
“He can cover,” Lewis insisted. “I know you see him as a big, he can get in the box. He can tackle. But no, he can go out there and cover people.”
Lewis even pointed out that Hudson could lineup at hybrid linebacker/safety like Peppers.
“He’s athletic enough to play that Jabrill spot,” Lewis said. “I mean he can cover wide outs, too. Especially that slot receiver, he can go out there and do it.”
One of the other safety spots should go to sophomore Tyree Kinnel, says Lewis, who noted Kinnel’s experienced he gained for the Wolverines as primary backup.
“We don’t even consider him a young guy,” Lewis said of Kinnel. “The way he matured over this year, we actually call him the ‘Young Vet,’ he out there and we think of him as one of us. He’s out there preparing his hardest. He understands what his job is. He understands he’s next up. He understands this will be his team next year. It’s just exciting to him mature and take reigns of the secondary.”
No. 5 Michigan (10-2) plays against No. 11 Florida State (9-3) this Friday at 8 p.m.