After initially declaring for the NFL Draft when it looked like there wasn't going to be a Big Ten season, redshirt sophomore offensive tackle Jalen Mayfield decided to return to Michigan when the season was reinstated. He still had to clear some hurdles in order to return to the field after missing practice and school for more than two weeks, and as of Saturday night, that's exactly what happened.
The 6-5, 320-pounder instantly makes Michigan's offensive line exponentially better and brings 13 starts, a lot of athleticism and some much needed leadership to a very inexperienced group.
Mayfield started to pop up on mock draft boards after a solid season last year that included a very impressive effort against Ohio State's Chase Young. Getting him back is bigger than signing any five-star recruit and immediately makes offensive line coach Ed Warinner's job easier.
With Mayfield back, three of the five starting spots are likely now filled. Mayfield will hold down the right tackle spot, while fellow redshirt sophomore Ryan Hayes will occupy the left tackle position. Redshirt junior Andrew Stueber is very likely the starting right guard. Former walk on and fifth-year senior Andrew Vastardis feels like the starter at center for now, but redshirt freshman Zach Carpenter is definitely in the mix. Redshirt junior Chuck Filiaga and redshirt freshman Trevor Keegan are reportedly battling it out for the left guard spot.
Whoever ends up starting will now do so with Mayfield. It's an absolutely huge development and definitely puts Joe Milton's mind a little bit more at ease.