As the Michigan Wolverines look for a bounce-back campaign in 2014, Brady Hoke prepares for spring practice with plenty of questions to answer on offense. While he attempts to sort things out on that side of the ball, he may need to lean a little heavier on his defense next season to keep the Wolverines close until the offense can get things figured out. One key piece to making sure that defense holds up will the defensive line rotation and the impact that sophomore Taco Charlton can make at defensive end.
Last season, Charlton made a splash in the spring game as an early enrollee but couldn’t translate that into consistent production during his freshman season. He finished the year with just two total tackles, including 0.5 of a tackle for loss. The 6-foot-6, 270-pound defensive end is a versatile and athletic playmaker on the defensive line, even though his production didn’t back that up in 2013. Having a full year of experience under his belt could make a world of difference for Charlton as he gets another crack at terrorizing Big Ten offenses.
The Wolverines appear to be settled on their starting defensive line with Brennen Beyer penciled in as the strongside defensive end and Frank Clark on the weak side. But Charlton figures to be the first guy out in the rotation at either end position and even possibly play a bit inside as well. He’s young and motivated to get onto the field to prove himself, which only helps keep the guys ahead of him sharper as they play for their jobs on every snap.
Charlton could develop into one of the best defensive linemen in the Big Ten before it is all said and done. Can he start on his legacy during his sophomore season in 2014?