Two 'leaders' emerge at safety for Brian Smith

Michigan safeties coach Brian Smith says two "leaders" have emerged in U-M's defensive backfield.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – With two starting roles up for grabs at either safety spot, the competition has been strong so far in spring camp, says Michigan safeties coach Brian Smith.

And while he was quick to compliment early-enrolled freshman J’Marick Woods and Jaylen Kelly-Powell, Smith says there are two clear leaders at safety as Michigan heads into its spring game this Saturday.

“We’re still competing, we’ll see in the spring game how those guys line up in live competition. But right now Tyree Kinnel and Josh Metellus those guys are the leader of the pack in my eyes, and they’ve done a good job just from a leadership standpoint.,” Smith said. “I think Tyree has done a good job in communication getting guys to line up and making checks. And I feel comfortable with him in the game right now.”

Kinnel Stepping Up

That’s big news for Kinnell, considering he spent most of his first two years at U-M as a key reserve player and special team standout.  Now, Smith is saying he could be Michigan’s next starting free safety.

“It is a big step, because he hasn’t played a full game since I’ve been here,” Smith said of Kinnel. “Now if he ends up winning that starting job it’s going to be on him to carry the load and he hasn’t done it before.

“When did get called on last year when he had an opportunity to play, he stepped up and did a nice job, whether it was one (special) teams or in a relief role for Dymonte (Thomas) or Delano (Hill), he did a nice job.”

Coach Kinnel?

And Kinnel’s transition to starter only helps further with his coach-like mannerism on and off the field, says Smith.  

“Tyree is the oldest one in our room, the safety room,” Smith said of Kinnel. “He’s a guy that coaching may be in his future. He’s kind of taken to that role, he’s taking young guys aside showing them ropes, showing them all the details of the position. He’s kind of helped me back there giving a different players perspective to those young that have come in.”

Michigan plays its annual spring game this Saturday at 1 p.m.

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