Michigan counting on young guys to provide depth at safety


With so much attention on Michigan's returning cornerbacks, including All-America Jourdan Lewis, not much has been paid to the new starting safeties.

Jarrod Wilson was the stable presence there, starting for three years, and Jabrill Peppers was the explosive addition there last year.

Yet they've both moved on _ Wilson to the NFL and the Jacksonville Jaguars' camp and Peppers is now listed as a SAM linebacker but will shift around the field from play to play.

Seniors Dymonte Thomas and Delano Hill should get the jobs, if only because they are the only ones with significant experience.

They're prepared as Hill and Thomas combined to start eight games and were active as Hill is the second-leading returning tackler and Thomas is third on the team in pass-breakups. But unlike last year where they were great insurance, there's not much behind them.

"Every job's open with coach (Jim) Harbaugh and the way we play, but the young guys are doing really well, they're pushing us and helping Delano and I step up our game," Thomas said Friday.

He called them the young guys because that's what they are.

Sophomore Tyree Kinnel is the experienced one as a sophomore and is joined by true freshmen Khaleke Hudson and Josh Metellus. Fifth-year senior walk-on A.J. Pearson is there as well but he has played primarily on special teams.

Hudson has the potential to be a playing reserve, already noted by a few Wolverines this week.

"He's a great athlete, great kid, he's smart, he's going to be a good player, a really good player for us," Thomas said.

Especially if some of the early-season games get out of hand, playing the young players may be essential to get them game experience.

If there's a significant injury, Peppers has the ability to step back in on a more permanent basis, but that's a plan they'd prefer to avoid, keeping him as a rover.

Given the attacking style of U-M's defense under coordinator Don Brown, man coverage skills are required. While there is a possibility of some zone this year, the primary coverage puts it on each individual player to hold his own.

"We like playing man, we enjoy it," Thomas said. "You and the man, one on one. It's fun to go out and compete."

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