Updated Scouting Opponent: Michigan loses two key players to NFL

31
1388
Michigan linebacker Devin Bush is skipping his senior season and entering the NFL draft. Bush announced his decision Wednesday on Twitter and Instagram. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)
ANN ARBOR, Mich. — In the same hour, Michigan had an expected departure and a surprise signing.
Star linebacker Devin Bush announced Wednesday he will skip his senior season and enter the NFL draft. He shared his decision on Twitter and Instagram on Wednesday shortly after the Wolverines welcomed five-star defensive back Dax Hill to its 20-plus player recruiting class .

The 6-foot, 190-pound Hill, who is from Tulsa, Oklahoma, had committed to play at Alabama after previously planning to attend Michigan. He is the younger brother of Oklahoma State running back Justice Hill.

The Wolverines, whose recruiting class is ranked among the top 10 in the country by 247 Sports, appear to have playing time available for their top freshmen next season.

Hill, one of the top players in the country at any position, appears to be talented enough to slide into the starting safety spot vacated by senior Tyree Kinnel.

Michigan also landed two other players — Zach Charbonnet and Chris Hinton — ranked among the nation’s top 50 by 247 Sports.

Charbonnet, a 6-1, 222-pound running back from California, and Hinton, a 6-4, 285-pound defensive lineman from Georgia, also seem to have a clear path to earn playing time next fall. The Wolverines will lose their leading rusher, senior Karan Higdon, and the defensive line has to replace three starters.

Michigan’s offensive line will be bolstered by at least six recruits, including three players ranked among the top 20 at their position: Ohio’s Nolan Rumler, Trevor Keegan of Illinois and Georgia’s Trente Jones.

Bush leaves a huge hole in the middle of the defense, which will also be without defensive end Rashan Gary and also may lose cornerbacks Lavert Hill and David Long before their senior seasons to the NFL. Junior quarterback Shea Patterson insisted earlier this month he hadn’t thought about whether to stay in school or pro, adding he plans to discuss his future with coach Jim Harbaugh and family members.

The eighth-ranked Wolverines will play No. 10 Florida on Dec. 29 in the Peach Bowl.

Bush earned Associated Press All-America second team and Big Ten defensive player of the year honors this year. The junior also finished third in voting for the Butkus Award as the nation’s best linebacker. Bush led the Wolverines with 79 tackles and ranked second on the team with nine tackles for losses and five sacks before his season ended with a hip injury against Ohio State.

“Despite getting treatment every day, I have not been cleared to practice or play in the Peach Bowl due to the hip injury I suffered in the last game,” Bush posted on social media. “Due to this injury, I have thought hard about my future in football. Having been injured I realize how fleeting this sport can be. It has always been a dream of mine to follow in my father’s footsteps and play in the NFL.”

Devin Bush Sr. was drafted by Atlanta in the first round in 1995 draft and started in 71 of 116 games over eight seasons with the Falcons, St. Louis and Cleveland. He helped the Rams win a Super Bowl.

Michigan has given permission to defensive tackle Aubrey Solomon to speak with other schools, giving him the opportunity to transfer.

Solomon signed with the Wolverines in 2017 as a highly touted recruit from Leesburg, Georgia. He played in every game last year as a freshman and had 18 tackles, including two for losses. Solomon’s sophomore season was stunted by injuries, limiting him to five games and six tackles this year. He missed a five-game stretch during the season and didn’t travel with the team for the regular-season finale at Ohio State due to injury.

Michigan’s roster took another hit Thursday when senior running back Karan Higdon announced he will not play in the Peach Bowl as he continues preparation for the upcoming NFL draft.

Higdon, voted a captain by teammates earlier this season, became Michigan’s first running back to break the 1,000-yard mark since Fitzgerald Toussaint in 2011.

“These past four years (have) been nothing less than an unforgettable journey. I’ve come in as a young man with little knowledge and I now leave as a Michigan man full of advice and wise words to share,” Higdon wrote Thursday via his Instagram.

Without Higdon, the team’s leading rusher, U-M will likely turn to junior running back Chris Evans, along with classmate Tru Wilson. Michigan can also get more work for true freshman Christian Turner throughout the month of bowl prep and possibly in the Peach Bowl.

He has run the ball 471 times for 2,616 yards and 27 touchdowns in four years at Michigan.

The Detroit Free Press contributed to this report.

 

31 COMMENTS

  1. Michigan’s starting RB is now also skipping the Chick Fil A Bowl game. More reasons for the NCAA to dump the old and worn out bowl system and go to an expanded playoff system where every game played in the offseason means something to both the individual programs playing in them and to the players putting it on the line for something that truly means something for those programs. No less than a 16-team playoff that includes every conference champion (both Power 5 and less 6 conference champs) and the top rated second place finishers. The current bowl system has truly outlived its purpose and value. Time for the NCAA presidents and ADs to change things. A win in Atlanta by Florida is now meaningless. A loss will be embarrassing. It should never be that. Period.

    • I agree with everything you said regarding changing the bowl system, but as a Gator fan, I don’t care who’s on the field for Michigan. It’s no different than if they had some of their better players out with injury. A win will definitely mean something to me and it should mean something to every other Gator fan out there, as well as any of the players coming back next season. A bowl win will not only cap off a great first season for Mullen, but it always carries momentum into the next season. You think UGA felt their win against the Gators was meaningless because pretty much the entire secondary was out with injury? Even if they don’t expand to a 16 team playoff, at the very least they need to eliminate some of the bowl games. Having 41 is just ridiculous. Cut that number in half or by more than half and raise the dollar values for the existing bowls with the money that would’ve gone to the eliminated bowls and raise the difficulty of getting in, and then they become more meaningful and you might have more players wanting to play in them. I mean to only have to win 6 games to get in is a joke and at that point it becomes the equivalent of a participation trophy.

      • Aside from the playoff games which I like, the fact that there are about 41 regular bowl games is decided by the marketplace. They wouldn’t be there if it wasn’t beneficial for the sponsors or communities. Since most are local events, they are not going to cancel theirs and send their money to some other place to make the other place’s bowl more meaningful. I like the expanded 16 team playoff. As far as the number of post season games they have to play, 12 teams will be out of it quickly (8 teams only play one game and 4 teams only play 2 games). The FCS already does this.

        • I like the idea too….especially with conference champions against one another. I realize that’s a minority opinion, but if you don’t win your conference — no matter how great you and everybody else thinks you are — then it just simply sucks to be you and try harder next year.

          I get it on the bowl games, but I for one am not ever going to carve out the time to watch two teams play, that I wouldn’t watch during the regular season anyway even if I had all the free time in the world, and especially not if they are 6-6 teams or worse. Not a factor, but that’s just me and I love college football so much that the distance between January and September is pure agony!

          • Regarding your second paragraph, I would say the same thing. However, if you are an Eastern Michigan or UAB fan and your team is in a bowl game, you’ll be watching. There is a good number of those fans out there as I’ve seen at Florida games, so they are everywhere. These bowl games are local events anyway, so the locals are happy with the Tulsa’s vs Fresno State, so let them be happy.

    • Beating Michigan in a Bowl Game is far from meaningless. It gives the Gators a 10 win season and a lot of momentum heading in to 2019. Michigan is still a solid team and a 7 point favorite. It isn’t like Michigan is rolling out a team of walk-ons. Michigan has a lot to play for. We should expect their best effort.

      • If Florida now wins, they beat a weakened Michigan team (no big deal win for Florida). If Florida loses, they lost to a weakened Michigan team (therefore, an embarrassing loss). That defines a lose/lose game. Period. So, maybe “meaningless” was the wrong choice of words. But the game sure lacks the attraction and meaning it would have had if Michigan was coming to the game with their best players planning to play and play with interest. And I doubt the Mercedes Stadium will be filled with very many Michigan fans because of the lack of interest in their best players wanting to play in the game. A lot of luster is gone from this game nationally.

        • No one’s debating with you that it loses some luster. But that’s only with fans and bragging rights. Rashan Gary has actually missed several games this season and they didn’t miss a beat. Michigan has the number 1 defense in the country and it certainly wasn’t because of only 2 players. There’s still a lot of good players that are going to be on that field. That’s why you recruit and Michigan has been doing it pretty well the last few years. Next man up. Michigan fans are pretty loyal, I have no doubt they’re going to show up in force. The thing is, this isn’t just a Florida/Michigan problem. You can say the same thing for pretty much every bowl game that isn’t part of the playoff as top players aren’t playing in them all over the country. WVU has to trot out a new QB. They all lose a little luster.

        • I just went over to twitter and looked at some of the comments on the posts about the RB sitting out, and Michigan fans don’t seem very worried at all. They’re claiming the backups have seen significant minutes and played well this season. Of course there’s a few Debbie downers, but I’m not seeing a fan base that expects to lose.

          • Joe. Michigan sorely missed Gary vs. OSU. Bush got hurt in that game and that really hurt their defense in the game. And they just happen to be, by far, the two best players on Michigan’s defense. The DE (the white guy with the long hair) is going to play. But Michigan will miss Gary and Bush big time in the game. It changes the aggressive nature of their defense by them not being able to apply as much pressure on the QB through blitzes and Gary penetrating the line of scrimmage to blow up plays. The loss of those two is big for Michigan in the game. And would Florida be as good if Perine or Scarlett was missing the game? No, they would not be as good. And Michigan fans were not thrilled by another Florida bowl matchup way before the three players even announced that they would not play. I have no doubt they are less thrilled about the game now overall no matter how a few on twitter are posting. But I agree to disagree with you based on that perspective. I know the game will have a bunch of people at the game because most of the tickets (those not allocated to the two schools) sold out before the bowl even announced who was playing in the game. I just do not believe it will be a loud and excited crowd at the game due to the players from Michigan not playing by choice and the fact that there will be a lot of people attending that are not either Florida or Michigan fans. Just fans of college football. We will see.

        • And yet, you don’t see OSU claiming their victory over Michigan was meaningless. Players miss games all the time. That’s part of the game. That’s why it’s a team sport. Are they a little less good without them? Sure. Are they still very good? Yes. Have we been a little less good when missing good starters? Yes. Do we use that as an excuse for a loss and say the game is meaningless? No. Frankly, it is part of sports. You recruit new players and lose old players all the time. As usual, Swampy, you are overreacting. But would I like an expanded playoff and less bowl games? Absolutely.

          • Patrick. You missed the point. A regular season game is not comparable to a non playoff bowl game. And if you do not see the impact of players skipping non playoff bowl games, you clearly missed the point, and boat. It is having a huge impact, and it impacts the Florida vs. Michigan game in a big way. On point. Period.

          • Yeah, Swampy, the difference between a non-playoff bowl game and a regular season game is that the non-playoff bowl game is never as important. It wasn’t as important before those players quit, and it isn’t as important after. That’s not anything new. So why is it hugely impactful? Bowl games like this are nothing but pride. That doesn’t change. The only possible impact I would see from this is if it starts happening in mass, in which case it would most likely help bring about the playoff scenario you want. So it is a good thing. But it doesn’t make this game meaningless for the fans of these teams and the players. That was your statement- that a win for Florida is now meaningless simply because two players quit. It was a stupid statement. It won’t be meaningless. It is still pride on the line, and they still have a good team that may very well beat Florida.

          • Yeah I’m pretty sure Swampy is the only one downgrading the game. Apparently Vegas doesn’t feel the same way as the line hasn’t moved much.

  2. For us old guys it’s easy to think we wouldn’t ever skip a game. Try to imagine the position these young guys are in. Instant millionaires on draft day. Sadly, money drives people more than anything. It’s going to get worse. Players will soon be stopping playing after a 2nd loss, if that knocks them out of the playoffs. Why chance an injury if it could possibly cost you millions?

    • Sparky. If players stop playing after a 2nd loss during the regular season, NFL teams will take note of that and those players doing that will drop substantially in the draft pecking order. Not the case after the season and for regular bowl games. You do not see players doing that now who’s teams do not and will not make the playoffs. So I disagree with your perspective on that.

      • There were NFL experts that thought Clowney should have sat out his entire JR season. Bosa from Ohio State shut down his college career midseason this year to concentrate on “getting healthy for the draft”. There are NFL guys that think it would be better if Bama RBs got a lot less carries while playing college ball. At the end of the day, NFL teams are going to draft guys based on what they believe their talent is. We will just have to disagree about how much missing college play effects their draft ranking.

        • Sparky. Clowney did not do that and he was drafted number one overall. And Clowney and Bosa were and are not typical college football players. They were exceptional college football players. And most people believed Callaway was a first or high second round talent. He was. He got drafted in the fourth round by a desperate team. Attitude impacts the status of most college, draft eligible players. But there are exceptions to the rule, as with almost any rule.

    • I’m not so sure it’ll get to that point. These guys still have to prove themselves worthy of having a franchise invest millions of dollars in them. Having one good season and shutting it down half way through the next doesn’t guarantee you’re going to be good at the next level. You have to prove you can have consistency. Not playing in a bowl game is one thing, but not playing half a season by choice is a completely different story.

        • Well yeah, there’s really not that many players though that come in and have such a huge impact as a freshman and sophomore that scouts won’t care if they don’t play their junior seasons. Suffering an injury midway through the season like Bosa did and then deciding to shut it down is one thing, but just choosing not to play after a 2nd loss would not be a good look at all. That’s when your character and attitude will start being questioned.

  3. Any win against a top ten team with a top ten recruiting class is valuable, regardless of the circumstances. When recruiting high school students, who might be considering both UF and UM, how many times do you think the coaches will hear, “Yeah, but what about the players who skipped the game?” It might not be a big deal in the big picture, but it will go a good way to show that UF is back on the map as an elite program.

  4. Here’s a solution to making Bowl games more meaningful and to encouraging all players to play in Bowl games regardless of their draft status:
    Award an extra scholarship to the winning team of each Bowl game. This would be a huge incentive for team’s
    to “show-up” and win the bowl game. Another idea would be that each winning Bowl team gets a bonus “win” and starts the new year at 1-0. What an incentive that would be.

    • Currently the players all receive a large bag of bling (cool stuff!) from the Bowl sponsors, though the value of the bling bags is pretty much established by the NCAA and varies by bowl;.Bigger Bowl; Bigger Bling! Why not just scrap that and give every player a paycheck. That would be an incentive. Of course, this would cause about half of the current 41 Bowls to get out of the business which might just be an added bonus.

  5. Why do bowl games have to be “meaningful”? Can’t they just be fun for the fans to watch, and fun for the players to play in? I understand the desire for a larger, more inclusive championship play-off system. But why does that have to drive the bowl game system at all? Only in America would we look to college football for “meaning”. It is a “game”, and despite the money and the hype, it is still “played” by “players”. Can’t we just sit back and open a few cold ones and enjoy the games? I love college football, but I find meaningful life in activities that don’t involve young men knocking each other down over an inflated pigskin. GO GATORS!