VOTE: Who is Michigan’s most improved player in 2017?

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — As the 2017 season approaches, the Michigan football team has plenty of holes to fill.

The Wolverines are ranked No. 11 in the Associated Press preseason Top 25 poll, but they lost 18 starters from the 2016 team. This year is a chance for players not just to shine but to make key contributions.

Michigan opens the season against Florida Sept. 2 at 3:30 p.m. in Arlington, Texas.

Here are Land of 10’s top three candidates to become Michigan’s most improved player in 2017: offensive lineman Juwann Bushell-Beatty, linebacker Khaleke Hudson and tight end Tyrone Wheatley Jr.

Juwann Bushell-Beatty, OL

Juwann Bushell-Beatty started in place of the injured Grant Newsome when Michigan played at Rutgers last October. However, he didn’t make a great impression in his first half-reps, and he didn’t start another game. Last season became a learning experience for the senior, who is expected to contend for the starting spot at tackle. This year will be Bushell-Beatty’s chance to maximize his time on the offensive line.

Khaleke Hudson, LB

At first glance, Khaleke Hudson has big shoes to fill; he takes over for Jabrill Peppers at the viper position in Michigan’s linebacking scheme. However, Michigan defensive coordinator Don Brown said earlier this summer he doesn’t expect Hudson to be Peppers — or anybody else to be Peppers. Michigan’s coaches will tailor the linebacking/pass-rushing position to maximize Hudson’s strengths to make him effective in the role. Michigan linebackers coach Chris Partridge also used specific words to describe Hudson, a sophomore: “Violence. Aggression. Hammerhead. He’s a guy that just loves contact.”

Tyrone Wheatley Jr., TE

Tight end is another position where Michigan has a big gap to fill with the graduation of Jake Butt, an All-American who is with the NFL’s Denver Broncos. Tyrone Wheatley Jr., the son of former Michigan running back Tyrone Wheatley, is 6-foot-6 and lost 20 pounds in preparation for his junior season. He is one of several candidates to start at tight end, along with Ian Bunting, converted quarterback Zach Gentry and Sean McKeon. Wheatley had three catches for 35 yards and a touchdown in 2016.

Related: Who will be Michigan’s unsung hero in 2017?

Coming Saturday: Three candidates to become Michigan’s MVP in 2017.

The post VOTE: Who is Michigan’s most improved player in 2017? appeared first on Land of 10.

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