Michigan Wolverines Defense Will be Led by Young Linebackers

Rick Osentoski – USA TODAY Sports

The Michigan Wolverines are working hard this spring to break through to the top of the Big Ten next season. There will be plenty of changes taking place for next fall, but the success of the Wolverines in 2013 will rest on the shoulders of a young and talented linebacker corps on defense.

The linebacker position is in good hands in Ann Arbor and it’s set up to stay that way for the foreseeable future. Jake Ryan emerged as a star during his sophomore season and will come back as a leader next season. He finished the season with 88 tackles with 4.5 sacks. He’ll be joined by rising junior Desmond Morgan and rising sophomore Joe Bolden who have earned their spots as mainstays in the linebacker rotation.

The best among them, however, may be sophomore James Ross III. He made just two starts last season as a true freshman in relief of an injured Morgan and he made a huge impact. In a game against the Iowa Hawkeyes, Ross tallied a team-high 12 tackles and showed a great deal of promise as a weak-side linebacker.

With a full offseason of workouts under his belt, Ross will be better prepared to shed blockers and take on some of the burlier running backs in the conference. With a strong spring, Ross could push his way into the starting lineup and move Morgan inside to middle linebacker.

The Wolverines have plenty of promising young players to take a look at this spring, but Ross may be the one ready to make the biggest impact next fall. With his emergence, the Wolverines linebacker corps will be the strength of what should be a very strong defense in 2013.

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