Michigan Football: 5 Players Sure to Surprise at Fall Camp
In merely a handful of weeks, Michigan's Team 135 takes the field, looking to avenge a 7-6 stumble in 2013.
Naturally, there are expectations—sky high, in some cases—for the group as a whole, but there are also several players who are on the brink of having breakout seasons...or continuing where they left off this past year.
By looking at who did what in 2013 and during the offseason, this slideshow will examine five candidates who are almost certain to impress come fall.
Dymonte Thomas (6'2", 193 Pounds; Sophomore, DB)
So the Wolverines' secondary looks good. Really good.
Raymon Taylor, Blake Countess, that Jabrill kid—no need to worry much, right?
But with so much talent, there are bound to be a few on the bubble. Dymonte Thomas is probably one of those guys. However, the big hitter can play safety and corner (and probably linebacker in some cases), making him a valuable component to Curt Mallory's backfield.
In terms of defensive strength, the secondary is right there with the linebackers. That's due to depth, and having guys such as Thomas probably makes Greg Mattison sleep well.
In his collegiate debut, Thomas blocked a punt that resulted in a touchdown for Joe Reynolds against Central Michigan. That should have been more than enough to gain attention. Sure, it was against the Chippewas, but it was an impressive play.
And by a true freshman, at that.
Everyone's caught up with "Jabrill this...Jabrill that," and that's fine. Peppers deserves credit. But don't sleep on Thomas, who could absolutely be one of Michigan's top performers this fall.
Or the rest of the secondary, for that matter.
Freddy Canteen (6'1", 176; Freshman, WR)
There isn't a good reason not to think that Freddy Footwork will turn heads, dazzle and impress during fall drills. He got warmed up during the spring game and is set to really let go come kickoff.
At 6'1" and 176 pounds, he's ideal for the slot position. But he has the speed and athletic ability to tame corners and safeties while trotting downfield as a deep-ball favorite. By the time camp is through, there shouldn't be any doubting Canteen, who doesn't doubt himself one bit (see above video by Maize and Blue News' Matt Pargoff).
Michigan wide receivers breakdown: Devin Funchess, freshman Freddy Canteen are top targets http://t.co/reBpPJ8UTk— Mark Snyder (@Mark__Snyder) July 22, 2014
Joe Bolden (6'3", 231; Junior, LB)
Remember that line about the linebackers being the strength of Mattison's defense? Joe Bolden's presence only reinforces that statement.
As a sophomore, Bolden emerged as a head-knocking run-stopper. He was physical, perhaps more so than his counterparts. If he was on the field, he was near the ball. The two-year letterman has 26 games on his resume...as a reserve spot-action guy.
Count on him logging snaps tenfold in 2014. If there's a linebacker to watch during fall camp, it's him. Back in June, Mattison told me that Bolden was excellent during spring activities. Well, evidently, the defensive coordinator isn't done with praising his junior (via TheWolverine.com, subscription required):
Joe Bolden was the most improved player in the spring, based on what I evaluated he didn't do well in the past. I felt at times he wasn't very physical. At times he didn't fit as well as he should have, and that could have been about getting off a block. This spring you saw that.
When he didn't do what he was supposed to, I didn't even need to say something to him because he would turn to me and say, 'I get it.'
Learning is the name of the game, and by the sound of things, he's soaking up knowledge like a sponge. It's safe to assume that he'll showcase his improved aptitude this fall.
Derrick Green (5'11", 220; Sophomore, RB)
As a freshman, Derrick Green rushed 83 times for 270 yards and two touchdowns. Really, that's about two games' worth of production. Well, at least in terms of what's expected of a former 5-star, bluest-chip of blue-chip running backs.
So, to say that Green will surely impress this fall is more like a suggestion, not an actual ironclad prediction. However, Doug Nussmeier, the new offensive coordinator, has gone on record to spread the word of a leaner, better-looking sophomore pile driver.
Player X on the O-Line
Someone, somewhere, needs to raise their hand and say, "Hey coach, I can be relied upon this year."
For Hoke's sake, several guys should do that. And for his sake, it'll be a few offensive linemen. On this end, Kyle Kalis seems like a logical pick. He's due for something, right? He's had a taste of No. 1 duties.
Michigan happy with how Kyle Kalis has handled benching, still needs him down the stretch http://t.co/9YxKnjMpS5— MLive Sports (@MLiveSports) October 23, 2013
The 6'5", 298-pound redshirt sophomore must be among those who take ownership of the trenches. If not him, perhaps Jack Miller, a 6'4", 299-pounder, will be the one.
Or maybe Mason Cole, a 6'5", 292-pound freshman, has what it takes. In the spirit of keeping things interesting, I suggest that the coaches draw names out of a hat.
Frank Clark on Michigan frosh Mason Cole: 'He's developed faster than I've seen a kid develop at 18' http://t.co/W1xMbookLA— Wolverines News (@WolverinesMLive) April 9, 2014
Follow Bleacher Report's Michigan Wolverines football writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81