Photo by Brandon Brown
Michigan offensive line coach and offensive coordinator Tim Drevno, along with newly hired tackles and tight Ends coach and run game coordinator Greg Frey, have a tough task ahead of them in finding replacements for departed seniors Kyle Kalis, Ben Braden, and Erik Magnuson. Drevno talked about helfpul it is having Frey on staff when it comes to shaping a new offensive line.
"It’s been great with Greg," Drevno said. "It frees me up with more coordinator duties. Coaching five guys can be a lot so with Coach Frey helping out on the offensive line, really me in the game plan and play calling and overseeing it all, it’s going to be very, very helpful."
Drevno and Frey are trying to pick up where U-M left off earlier this year and of course take a big step forward too. The spring is a great time to try and do that while bring along some younger players.
"We want to build on what we did from January in terms of winter conditioning," Drevno said. "If guys need to lose weight, lose weight and if guys need to put on weight, put on weight. Anything with a football player you want them to be at their peak performance. Guys know if they need to put weight on or lose weight. The body is their moneymaker.
Freshmen Ben Bredeson and Michael Onwenu both saw the field a lot last year and Drevno is excited for where they are right now. Early enrolled freshman Cesar Ruiz is another player who could factor in to that top five.
"You can see Ben’s maturity and the way he understands things," Drevno said. "Michael is the same way. This spring is going to really help both of them. You definitely see a difference in maturity. It’s really nice to see that growth.
"[Ruiz] has done a really nice job. He’s done a good job since he’s been here. He’s got really good initial quickness, I like the way he moves. He’s a student of the game and can really process things quickly."
Returning three-year starter Mason Cole has also seen good things out of the young guys and is very excited to be a part of what could be a solid, yet young, offensive line.
"We’re just trying to find the best five and wherever those five fit," Cole said. "Guys like Kugs [Patrick Kugler] and these younger guys that are coming up are smart and talented. However it works out it’ll be fine. Everyone is playing a little bit of everything so we’ll see how it works out.
"Everyone had a really productive offseason. They got strong, faster, and leaner. They can see how that makes them a better player. It’s good to see all of these younger guys getting better. Onwenu got stronger and leaner. It’s just good to see guys buying into the program and the strength and conditioning and put it to show out on the field."
Returning quarterback Wilton Speight is also excited about the talent level of Michigan's 2017 squad.
"There are a lot of young faces, a lot of new faces," Speight said. "There are a lot of guys who were waiting on the 40-some seniors to move on so they could kind of step in and compete for a job.
It’s exciting — it’s always exciting with new faces. It’s challenging but I embrace it and I like that."
Drevno and Frey do have their work cut out for them but Drevno likes where the team is after a couple of spring practices. Cole too is confident and believes the unit is in great hands with Drevno and Frey.
"Guys have worked really hard and done a nice job in the classroom over the last few days," Drevno said. "We’re rotating guys through there and we’ll see who the best five guys are.
"I think it’s really good having Coach Frey and Coach Drevn. It's just another set of eyes," Cole explained. "He’s another great voice and he brings a little different personality and identity. They come from different backgrounds but it’s good to have two different styles. It’s two great coaches with great opinions working together to help out. At this point it’s all about making the most productive offensive line."
Cole, Onwenu and Bredeson figure to have three fifths of the line shored up but the other two spots are certainly up for grabs. Ruiz, along with Nolan Ulizio, Jon Runyan Jr., Juwann Bushell-Beatty, and even injured Grant Newsome could all factor in to the final rotation. Incoming freshman Chuck Filiaga also has a massive body and college-ready strength so he'll be an interesting youngster to watch come this fall.
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