The Michigan Wolverines‘ defensive secondary was very average last season. 11 interceptions and 20 pass break-ups looks okay on paper, but opponents were able to connect on the home run often and there were occasionally times when coverage simply looked horrible. One of the few bright spots for the entire Michigan team last season was cornerback Blake Countess, who tallied six interceptions. This season, Countess will be leading the charge for a Wolverines secondary that has the potential to be a team strength.
While Countess was busy breaking up passes and picking off quarterbacks, he was dealing with lower abdominal pain that left him feeling subpar as a player for much of the season. He has since undergone surgery and made a full recovery, so it naturally begs the question: What can Countess do when completely healthy?
So much attention has been paid to incoming freshman defensive back Jabrill Peppers, the coveted five-star recruit who can pretty do it all on a football field, and even though he does have the most talent and potential in that secondary, you can’t put a price on experience and leadership. This is what Countess is able to bring to the table.
For example, expect to see some patchwork done in the secondary when it comes to opponents converting deep down field. Michigan’s defense allowed way too many big plays in 2013, and some of that falls on Countess. He is naturally at a disadvantage against many wide receivers because of his height at 5-foot-10, but he clearly showed the ability to match up with some very talented receivers, which is what he’ll need to be doing this season.
As a whole, Michigan’s secondary in 2014 is going to be a sound one. With Raymon Taylor returning at the other cornerback position and Peppers making his highly anticipated debut, expect to see some very noticeable improvements from a season ago. The secondary has the potential to be a serious strength for Michigan this year, starting with Countess who will finally be healthy for an entire season.
The Michigan Wolverines are starting to rise in the rankings for this 2015 recruiting class, and it appears that things may just be getting started. After coach Brady Hoke picked up a commitment from four-start athlete Brian Cole yesterday, the Wolverines are hosting several top prospects at the annual Barbecue at The Big House event today. Some big commitments for the 2015 class could be looming as Michigan begins to heat up on the recruiting trail.
According to 247Sports.com’s Composite Team Rankings, Michigan is still further back in the pack than many would like to see, but that is large part due to only having nine commits at this point. Every other team ranked ahead of the Wolverines has at least 10 heading into the 2014 season. Hopefully Hoke can continue the charm of the Barbecue and pick up a few more commits today. Of course then the next step is to keep those kids. Last year’s event saw highly-talented receiver George Campbell and running back Demien Harris make a pledge, though neither remain committed today.
Because of the heavily competitive recruiting grounds shared between Michigan and Michigan State and neighbor Ohio State, a commit from an in-state prospect often times goes up as a loss for the other two. That’s exactly what happened when Cole committed to Michigan yesterday; both the Spartans and Buckeyes were hot on the trail.
One thing to really love about what Michigan’s 2015 class is shaping up to be is the skill stepping in on offense. Guys like Alex Malzone, Grant Newsome and Chris Clark are all going to be difference-makers for the Wolverines in time. A commit from either Harris or Michael Weber, both of whom have great potential as running backs, would help catapult this recruiting class towards the top since Hoke has been in Ann Arbor.
It looks like things are heading in the right direction for Michigan’s 2015 recruiting class, and the heat of the trail is only just arriving. There are probably a few more special commits waiting on the horizon for the Wolverines yet.
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