Michigan football shoots up preseason ranking after retaining Taylor Lewan, adding Derrick Green
And its stock is now rising.
The Wolverines jumped from No. 23 to No. 12 in ESPN.com's "way-too-early" 2013 rankings. That 11-spot climb was the most of any team.
Mark Schlabach explains:
With the way Michigan coach Brady Hoke and his staff have recruited the past two years, the Wolverines aren't just going to concede a Big Ten championship to hated rival Ohio State. Hoke landed a top-10 class for the second consecutive year, hauling in perhaps the country's best crop of offensive linemen. A few of the freshmen might have to provide immediate depth after the Wolverines lost three starting linemen. It would have been worse if star left tackle Taylor Lewan hadn't surprised many NFL scouts by deciding to return to school for his senior season. Michigan signed six offensive line prospects, including No. 2 guard David Dawson. They'll help pave the way for No. 5 running back Derrick Green, who might see early action, especially if Fitzgerald Toussaint is slow in recovering from a broken leg. Junior Devin Gardner takes over at quarterback after Denard Robinson departed. Gardner went 3-2 as a starter, completing 59.5 percent of his passes with 11 touchdowns.
Michigan's biggest offseason move, certainly, was retaining Lewan. He's a three-year starter at left tackle, and became an All-American last season.
He was expected to declare for the NFL Draft, considering he was projected as a top-15 pick. But he unexpectedly returned to school, giving Michigan a second returner on an otherwise youthful line.
The addition of Green also is a major plus for the Wolverines. He's ranked by Scout and Rivals as the nation's No. 1 tailback, and fits the power-running mold that Michigan desires.
He should create greater competition in the backfield, and could eventually unseat Toussaint as the starter, especially if he picks up the protection schemes.
Schlabach mentioned Michigan's 2013 offensive line class as having an impact -- yet that's unlikely to happen for at least another year. But the Wolverines also had a terrific 2012 class that could pay dividends next year, notably with Kyle Kalis, who is considered a leader to start at guard.
Paired with the known commodities -- Gardner at quarterback, Jeremy Gallon at receiver and Jake Ryan at linebacker, among others -- Michigan has the makings of a Big Ten elite in 2013.
Only Ohio State is ranked higher than Michigan in the ESPN poll, pegged at No.3.
Check out the full rankings here.
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