Freshmen to Watch for 2002

It's not clear if any true freshmen will start, but at least three should play a significant role.


Gabe Watson was a monster at Southfield High, starting on both sides of the ball for four years and racking up numerous All-America awards. He bench pressed 435 pounds in high school and ran a 4.9 40-yard dash.

Oh yeah, and he's one of the biggest human beings that I have ever seen.

Michigan lists Watson at 6-foot-4 331 lbs., but other published reports have him closer to 360 pounds (after losing an undetermined amount of weight before and during camp).

Thus far, it does appear that his amazing size has done anything but wow the Michigan coaching staff.

His athletic ability led Carr to quip that he "thinks he will play this year."

That would be no small achievement, given that the Wolverines already are loaded on the defensive line.

Returning players Grant Bowman, Norman Heuer, Shawn Lazarus, Dan Rumishek, Larry Stevens, Shantee Orr, and Alain Kashama all saw game action last season. 

In addition he will have to compete with very highly touted redshirt freshmen Patrick Massey and Pierre Woods.

Carr loves to rotate lots of big bodies along the front four, so Michigan fans can expect to see Watson get some limited but valuable experience this season.

Look for him to utilize his size to stop the run in goalline situations this fall.



Last year the wide receiver position at Michigan was the Marquis Walker show. Now that Walker has departed, many have focused on that position as a possible question mark.

While the killer B's (Calvin Bell, Tyrece Butler, and Ron Bellamy) all return, this year's freshman class boasts a number of candidates to fill Walker's void.

Ann Arbor Carl Tabb and converted QB Steve Breaston both looked good in camp, but only Avant was named as a real threat to crack the offensive rotation.

Avant has size and speed (6-2 195 with a 4.4) to go with his 39-inch vertical leap.

He shouldn't be expected to lead the team in receptions in his first campaign. But especially if the Wolverines suffer an injury at WR, Avant should be poised to contribute.

ATH Steve Breaston

Last season Breaston, the prep quarterback, led his team to a state title by racking up 37 rushing TDs and more than 2,500 yards on the ground.

Another speedy freshman (4.4), Breaston might have been a threat to play WR for the Wolverines, but the transition from QB may take him some time.

Breaston certainly appeared to have a knowledge of the position in July, when he lit up the stage at the Big 33 All Star event. He scored twice and tallied 169 yards.

But where Breaston will most likely contribute immediately is in the return game.

At that same All-Star event, he returned four punts for 122 yards. 

His open field ability was even more evident in high school, where he twice returned punts for TDs. Of his 37 rushing touchdowns as a senior, 10 were at least 50 yards in length.

If his performance at the Big 33 is any indication, Breaston should be a star at Michigan soon. But until the coaching staff is comfortable with his progress at WR, expect to see him contributing mostly in special teams. 

The Michigan Insider Top Stories