By Tyler Fenwick @Ty_Fenwick on May 22, 2014
The conclusion of the 2013 season didn't hand the Wolverines a great number of departures, but those who did leave early or expire their eligibility left behind some mighty shoes to fill for this season. These are the five Wolverines with the biggest shoes to fill this year.
Thomas Gordon held down the free safety position last season but didn't do a great job of it. 2012 was really his peak season. Michigan allowed way too many big plays a season ago, and junior Jarrod Wilson, who won the free safety spot this spring, is going to be burdened with making sure that doesn't happen again.
Brendan Gibbons is out, as you surely know by now, and that leaves an important gap to fill in the kicking game. Matt Wile was originally recruited by Michigan to kick field goals but has spent the last three seasons handling punting and kickoff duties. This year he may exclusively be moving to the placekicker position, but either way, he's going to have to become a reliable option for the Wolverines.
I think I'm most excited to see Devin Funchess play this season because he's going to have the opportunity of a lifetime to get to step in and become the go-to receiver for Devin Gardner. Funchess will be replacing Jeremy Gallon, who had a Michigan school record 1,373 receiving yards last season. Gallon's signature was consistency, an area in which Funchess really needs to improve.
Ben Braden is currently in a battle for the right tackle position, but I think he'll end up walking away as the starter come this season. Braden will be attempting to fill the shoes of Michael Schofield, who was selected by the Denver Broncos in this year's draft. As a redshirt freshman, Braden only appeared in two games last season for the Wolverines. Watch out, though; this kid does have a hockey background.
Erik Magnuson gets the toughest test of them all as he tries to fill the gaping hole left behind by Taylor Lewan, who started 48 games in his illustrious career at left tackle. Magnuson will, just like Braden, be a redshirt sophomore this season. He made seven starts at guard last year but has moved back to his natural position at tackle. He missed spring practice because of shoulder surgery, but it's nothing that will be hindering him this fall.
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