The road to playing time can be quite the haul, but Michigan sophomore Matt Godin could have a season full of green lights in 2014.
Redshirted as a true frosh in 2012, the former Detroit Catholic Central bone-crusher now has experience and, thanks to Keith Heitzman’s switch to tight end, a window straight to the No. 1 strong-side defensive end spot on the Wolverines’ depth chart.
At 6’6” and 280 pounds, Godin isn’t exactly what one would call a quarterback- or running-back-friendly defender.
“I’ll be honest with you, I just like to hit people,” he told MLive.com.
With quickness, great strength at the base and core, swift hands and improved technique, it was only a matter of time before he got the nod from defensive coordinator Greg Mattison—and Team 135 desperately needs attacking ends, not stationary figurines simply occupying space on the line.
See Clock, Punch
For those not familiar, here’s a quick refresher: He was probably one of the 2012 class’ most slept-on defensive recruits. Tagged with a 3-star composite rating from 247Sports, Godin received interest from Michigan State, Wisconsin and Missouri—and Michigan, obviously.
In terms of prestige, those were the Big Four, which seems strange considering his pedigree. Tom Mach, a nationally respected prep football coach, once called Godin “one of the best” to ever play end at DCC.
I think he has a good personality for the game of football. He’s a hard-working kid and he’s a guy that can get along with other people. He’s a good teammate. I think he understands the big picture instead of worrying about himself.
Big picture, not worrying about himself—being an “us” guy is how Godin operates. Coach Brady Hoke needs more from the crowd bent on restoring program glory, not from those looking to build personal reputations and resumes.
Sure, a realignment of personnel helps.
Heitzman's jump to offense presents an opportunity, but a tweet by Mark Snyder of the Detroit Free Press in September reveals that Godin has been steady on the path to playing a lot of downs.
Power on the Edge
Jake Ryan, a senior, is one of the obvious mainstays on Mattison's defense. However, a year ago, he fell victim to the ACL bug, as so many of his teammates have in recent months.
Needless to say, he wasn't the same in 2013.
Hopping over from Sam to Mike will put Ryan in the thick of the action on an every-down basis. The Wolverines need assistance in the middle and Ryan is a welcome addition.
As a junior, he earned a reputation as one of the Big Ten's elite defenders and should get back on track come August.
His move takes a little force away from the strong side, though.
Enter James Ross, who is slated to take over that post.
Coming from the weak side, the junior could experience growing pains. However, an improved Godin could remedy the situation and give the Wolverines a boost in the pass-rushing and run-stopping departments.
Quotes from coach Mach and Godin were obtained firsthand during a phone interview in May 2011 (The Flint Journal, MLive.com).
Follow Bleacher Report's Michigan Wolverines football writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81