Interview by Sam Webb
Story by Josh Henschke
Michigan's offensive line was anchored by familiar faces during the previous handful of seasons. Now, heading into the 2017 season, the offensive line will be headed into somewhat uncharted waters. Without any clear returners, especially at both tackle positions, the coaching staff will be looking for replacements to emerge throughout the spring and into fall.
For offensive coordinator Tim Drevno, he likes the depth that he has currently on the offensive line.
With Grant Newsome's playing status still up in the air left tackle will have to be manned elsewhere. Luckily for the Wolverines and Drevno, he has some players in mind who could fit the mold.
Despite the vision, it's still too early to tell who will take control.
“Juwann Bushell-Beatty, he has shown some good flashes right now," Drevno said regarding players sticking out. "He did a nice job coming off the bench of Grant Newsome against Wisconsin. We have Ja’Raymond Hall will be out there. Andrew Stueber will be joining us, Chuck Filiaga will be joining us. As I see at that spot there, a left tackle spot, as we put the pieces of the puzzle together.”
While the knee injury Newsome suffered appeared to be very serious, the coaching staff is not giving up on the idea that Newsome could see the field sooner or later. In fact, Drevno says that Newsome's rehab is progressing at a positive pace and one should not rule out his eventual return.
“Absolutely, his rehab is going very, very well," says Drevno about the possibility of Newsome's return this fall. "He has been to our meetings. It is great to have him there and see his face. It is great to ask him questions. He’s very intelligent, he helps the room get better and actually you don’t want to count him out. They’re doing a great job downstairs with Dave Granito, our strength staff, Kevin Tolbert, Dr. Asheesh Bedi. He’s in great hands and his recovery is going well.”
The right tackle position is another spot that needs to be filled that doesn't necessarily have a clear-cut replacement set. Drevno could decide to shuffle some players around, or he could choose a player still learning the position.
Or, as Drevno describes, a versatile lineman could play either on the left or right side of the line.
“We’ve got Nolan Ulizio there, Stephen Spanellis could go out there, Chuck Filiaga, Joel Honigford. It could be the left side, could be going to the right side. You kind of see those tackle spots, you want guys who have some measurables, some arm length, the foot turnover speed and we felt that this year, the class that we did sign, they have that skill set.”
Stay tuned to The Michigan Insider for word on the impressive development of some of the young offensive linemen, Cesar Ruiz's impact on the center competition, and more. In the meantime, for more from Tim Drevno press play below.