Reactions To The WolverineDigest Top 25 Michigan Football Players For 2020

MichaelSpath

If you missed it, WolverineDigest released its Top 25 Michigan football players for 2020 earlier this week, with redshirt sophomore right tackle Jalen Mayfield a surprise No. 1. 

At least one prominent source inside Schembechler Hall disagreed with us strongly, sharing that junior defensive end Aidan Hutchinson - third on our list - is the clear best player on this Michigan football team followed by senior defensive end Kwity Paye and senior receiver Nico Collins. With his firsthand knowledge, he had Mayfield fifth. 

This is an imperfect list, a combination of last year's performances, expectations for 2020 and opportunity went into our voting process. We will update it again before the season and every month during the season. 

Best average per position: If you take the number of starters at a position (so five OL, three WR, four DL, etc.), add up their ranking and divide, the top position group on the team is wide receiver, where Collins (No. 2), junior Ronnie Bell (No. 7) and sophomore Giles Jackson (No. 13) give the position three of the Top 15 players on the team. If that plays out like the rating suggests, Michigan is on the precipice of a special season from its playmaking wideouts. 

U-M also is loaded at defensive back (the second-best unit by rankings), running back (third) and defensive line (fourth). Even with Mayfield at the top, the offensive line came in last, redshirt sophomore left tackle Ryan Hayes ranking 19th and the rest of the possible starters outside the Top 25. 

Who will rise the most? 

The three best possibilities are sophomore DT Chris Hinton (currently No. 18), Hayes (No. 19) and redshirt sophomore LB Michael Barrett (No. 23). All three are relative unknowns, having played some in backup roles but not significantly in 2019. Yet all three are projected starters and have excited insiders behind the scenes with their combination of physical talent and mental focus. 

Who will fall the most?

Mayfield has nowhere to go but down, but it would take a completely unexpected regression to not rank among the Wolverines' best in 2020. I hate to single out Zach Charbonnet but at No. 9, the sophomore running back will be challenged to remain in the Top 10. 

Why? First, he has two strong competitors vying for carries in fifth-year senior Chris Evans (No. 12) and redshirt sophomore Hassan Haskins (No. 11). Second, his lack of home-run ability - just three of his 149 carries last year went for 20+ yards (2.0%), far less than the career numbers for Haskins (5.8%) and Evans (5.6%) - may also limit Charbonnet to situational work, though he did move the chains on 27.5% of his total carries, a valuable commodity regardless of breakaway speed. 

Who isn’t on the list that will be?

I had fifth-year senior punter Will Hart on my personal Top 25 (at No. 21) and junior placekicker Jake Moody, if he takes the job back from Quinn Nordin, will certainly make the cut next time around. 

The best bet, though, is an offensive lineman, whether that is redshirt freshman Zach Carpenter, the favorite to start at center, or redshirt junior Andrew Steuber, who could man one of the open guard positions. The Wolverines feel confident their offensive line will be a plus again in 2020 even with three new starters, and one of the newbies will emerge as a Top 25 performer. 

The biggest deviations from my own list:

There is considerable hype for sophomore safety Daxton Hill. The former five-star comes in at No. 8 on our collaborative ranking. I didn't have him as high (13th) only because I have reported through 20 years of safeties being billed as the next great thing and they rarely have been. I'll have to "see it to believe it."

On the flip side, I've been high on Jackson since we first caught glimpse of him against Rutgers in Week 4, scoring on a 23-yard touchdown reception. He had five 20+ yards offensive touches on just 19 combined rushes/receptions (26.3%), and as crazy as it sounds, I think he could do that with 50 total touches. He came in at No. 13 on our list but I had him in my Top 10. 

No one really knew what to do with the quarterbacks. Redshirt junior Dylan McCaffrey ranks 14th on our compilation and redshirt sophomore Joe Milton is No. 20. I had them 18th and 24th, respectively. One ballot had Milton in the Top 10 and another didn't even rank him in the Top 25. 

Whoever starts should (let me rephrase: HAS TO) rank in the Top 10 but I don't know how you can rank either currently ahead of more accomplished players. 

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