Michigan Wolverines Position Preview: Defensive Backs
Michigan‘s pass defense was very good in 2012 finishing fifth in the country in pass yards allowed. One area that they need to improve on is interceptions as they recorded only seven, tied for 96th in the country. The Wolverines will have to replace senior captain Jordan Kovacs and cornerback J.T. Floyd but will welcome back sophomore corner Blake Countess from an ACL injury.
Senior safety Thomas Gordon will move from free safety to strong safety replacing the departed Kovacs. The move to strong safety should benefit Gordon who is a sound tackler and excels at stripping the ball from opponents. He finished last season with 81 tackles and has started 26 games in his career. As the lone senior starter in the back seven he will be expected to be a leader. At free safety, sophomore Jarrod Wilson will move into the starting role. Wilson played in every game as a true freshman as a reserve safety and on special teams. The former four star recruit possesses great size for the position at 6’2 200 lbs. and was known as a ball hawking safety coming out of high school. Wilson will contribute greatly to an increase in interceptions this season. Josh Furman and Jeremy Clark will provide depth off the bench. Furman, a redshirt junior, has appeared in 24 games as a reserve safety in his career. Clark is a redshirt freshman and at 6’4 205 lbs. provides tremendous size at the position.
At cornerback, Countess will step right back into his starting role and will often face the opponent’s top receiver. In his true freshman season he played in every game, starting the last six, earning All-Big Ten accolades. He has yet to record an interception in his brief career, but that should change in his second season as a starter. At the other outside corner spot will be junior Raymon Taylor. He stepped into the starting lineup last year when Countess went down and was a pleasant surprise, recording two interceptions. His playing time last year will prove valuable as he and Countess should prove to be one of the top duos in the Big Ten. Early enrolled freshman Dymonte Thomas came into spring practice expected to contribute but surprised some when he took the starting nickelback position from senior Courtney Avery. The five star recruit has great size and athleticism that will be utilized frequently on blitzes and in run support. Depth at cornerback will be provided by the aforementioned Avery, Terry Richardson and Delonte Hollowell.
Michigan will have to replace the highly productive Kovacs on the field and in the locker room, but from an athletic and talent standpoint, they should be even better than last year. If they can come up with more interceptions and turnovers they could feature one of the strongest defensive back units not only in the Big Ten but in all of college football.