Turel's U-M Spring Preview: Defensive Backs

GoBlueWolverine's Josh Turel is going through the Michigan football team, position by position: here are his 2005 Review and 2006 Pre-Spring-Practice Preview. Next Up: Defensive Backs.

Secondary

5 Charles Stewart Jr./So.
25 Johnny Sears So./Fr.
28 Chris Richards So./Fr.
29 Leon Hall Sr./Sr.
14 Morgan Trent Jr./So.
21 Ryan Mundy Sr./Jr.
19 Willis Barringer 5th./Sr.
27 Brandon Harrison So./So.
31 Brandent Englemon Sr./Jr.
22 Jamar Adams Jr./Jr.
9 Anton Campbell Sr./Jr.
23 Carlos Brown Fr./Fr.

Fall
Jonas Mouton
Steve Brown


Review 2005:

As with the other two defensive groups, the secondary had an average year. After starting out the season very strong, injuries diminished the unit's effectiveness as the year progressed. Leon Hall was the MVP of the group, showing good coverage skills as well as making some big plays on defense. His 83 yard fumble return sparked the team against Northwestern and his four interceptions led the defense.

Starting opposite of Hall was Grant Mason was adequate supporting the run despite lack of size. He accumulated 85 tackles last season, but was overmatched at times because of his lack of long-speed or size. He made some plays along the way but overall his year was rather inconsistent. The safeties were a revolving door all year long, starting several different lineups due to injury. Ryan Mundy was knocked out early due to a reoccurring nerve injury in the shoulder/neck area. Willis Barringer and Brandent Englemon were both injured for stretches of the season and didn’t show the needed range for the position. True freshman Brandon Harrison was thrown into action by the list of injuries and showed some promise.

Redshirt freshman Morgan Trent saw playing time in nickel packages and while he showed his athletic ability, it was also clear that he was still learning the position. He will need to focus on playing more physical and supporting against the run on the perimeter better. Overall, expect this group to improve but last year was a tough learning year.
Grade=C+

2006 Spring Preview:

Leon Hall is a lock to return as the wide side cornerback but the job next to him will likely take some time to decide. The general feeling among fans is that Morgan Trent will take over for Grant Mason but don’t be surprised if Johnny Sears provides a stiff challenge. Sears appears ready to take over the Nickel position, but Charles Stewart will factor in there as well. Defensive coordinator Ron English will put his cornerbacks in more situations to be physical and Stewart could thrive in this style. Many observers have been impressed with Johnny Sears and he could develop into quite a cover corner, which something the defense is in need of. Redshirt freshman Chris Richards will need to get bigger to see playing time in the new system. Cornerback Darnell Hood will be back to add depth and true freshman Carlos Brown will spend some time in the spring learning the nickel packages in addition to his duties at running back.

The safety lineup will likely hinge on Ryan Mundy’s health. Mundy will give it a go in the spring to see how his shoulder holds up. His long term prospects won't truly be known until he takes a number of hit on the affected area. If Mundy can not return to previous form, Willis Barringer could be the starter once again. Brandon Harrison will compete with Brandent Englemon for the other safety spot. Harrison obviously has more upside and if he shows the ability to support against the run, he could take over here. Englemon will miss time in the spring with an injury. If he can return to form, he has the ability to be a playmaker with his big hits.

Jamar Adams may benefit from a change in defensive scheme. Adams was a victim of “thinking too much” last year and he didn’t make wasn't decisive out on the field. Hopefully a change in system, terminology and coordinators, will help him in this area. Adams is the biggest of the Michigan defensive backs and could be a candidate for a hybrid type strong safety/linebacker position should the Wolverines utilize he 4-2-5 scheme that was employed while English was at Arizona State. Talented freshmen Jonas Mouton and Steve Brown will join this group post spring, and both should. Brown brings great range to the free safety position and Jonas Mouton is a big hitter at the strong position. This group could have a big year if they can avoid the injury bug.


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