The 2012 Michigan spring game is Saturday, April 14 at the Big House, and there are several players for fans to keep an eye on as the biggest scrimmage of the year is almost set to get underway.
Ranging from early-enrollee freshmen who are turning heads to veterans in new roles, Michigan fans will have plenty to watch this weekend on the field, even though it's not a make-or-break game for either the players or the team.
Here are five players I'll be keeping an eye on in the stands as a fan on Saturday:
5. Desmond Morgan, LB - His play has been strong so far in the spring, and recent videos show him flying around making plays in practice. He was unheralded as a freshman starter but played fairly well until late in the season when a lack of sideline-to-sideline speed became a bit of an issue. Fans should watch to see how well he pursues the ball in the open field and how good he looks in coverage.
4. Joe Bolden, LB - He could challenge for playing time either outside or inside, as he has been the top early-enrolled freshman so far. Bolden has great instincts and physicality and is probably a better athlete than Morgan. Perhaps that's why Morgan's spring has been so strong; he must be feeling the heat.
3. Will Campbell, DT - The big man in the middle has NFL size and talent but hasn't put it together yet. This year is his last chance to create a legacy as a Wolverine defender, and he has a lot of expectations on his shoulders. We won't know a ton from this game, but it will be interesting to see how many plays the coaches leave him in for as endurance has always been an issue for him.
2. Devin Gardner, QB - Denard Robinson will be worth watching as always, but Gardner has more questions at this point, of course, due to lack of playing time. He looked good on some early spring practice videos and should have a big game on Saturday using his natural talents. There's also the little matter of him potentially playing some wide receiver or at least being used in special packages.
1. Ricky Barnum, C - Here's a guy from a position that usually goes unnoticed, but fans will definitely notice if he messes up on the snaps. Barnum is playing a new position, but he has said that coaches have told him often that he is a natural center rather than a guard. If the change works out well, Michigan will have its replacement for David Molk and another top notch offensive line. Barnum may not be a household name, but he is certainly one of the keys to another successful season that fans should keep an eye on.
Nick Meyer is a lifelong Michigan fan from Metro Detroit.