Michigan Wolverines fans got their first glimpse of the 2013 football season with Saturday's Maize and Blue game, and a few players stepped up to prove they'll be all over the college football scene in the coming seasons.
With the loss of quarterback Denard Robinson and others, there will be some new faces taking the field in Ann Arbor come September. Saturday's spring game allowed us to figure out which of those players will take over the unclaimed starting positions.
Let's take a look at the studs who proved they'll be big contributors to the Wolverines in 2013 and beyond.
QB Devin Gardner
This was far from the first glimpse we've gotten of Devin Gardner, but it was a vastly impressive one, nonetheless, and one that proved he can be this team's gunslinger.
Gardner replaced Robinson near the end of last season (when Robinson went down with an elbow injury) and was able to find success throwing the ball. This comes despite the fact that he was the team's leading receiver for parts of 2012.
On Saturday, Gardner was 11-of-16 for 145 yards and a touchdown pass. After a sluggish start, Gardner tuned up his game and finished with a great performance.
All signs are that Gardner will keep up his successes from late 2012 and become a great player for Michigan.
RB Thomas Rawls
With starting running back Fitzgerald Toussaint still recovering from a broken leg suffered in November of 2012, it's obvious Thomas Rawls won't get as much playing time in 2013 as he did Saturday. But regardless, he did much with his chance.
Rawls was constantly punishing defenders and creating holes for himself, proving he can lay the lumber when necessary. He also found the end zone.
With incoming freshman Derrick Green expected to vie for playing time and Toussaint getting healthy, Rawls needed a big-time performance Saturday to further prove he deserves playing time.
That's just what he did.
TE Devin Funchess
After leading all tight ends in receiving last season, rising sophomore Devin Funchess showed why he's one of the Wolverines' best targets with another solid performance Saturday.
Funchess was constantly open and snatched a couple of big catches from Gardner, helping mold chemistry between two players who'll be interacting a lot in 2013.
The offense will look much different for the Wolverines next season than it did this past year. Funchess will have to be one of the major factors if this offensive unit if it is to be a potent one, and if he can continue his success in 2013, it likely will be.
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