Brian Jean-Mary breaks down younger Michigan football linebackers

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As new Michigan football defensive coordinator Wink Martindale has waxed ecstatic about how bright the middle of the defense is with the established players — going from the interior defensive line to the linebackers to the safeties — there will be some smaller challenges in the very middle.

The Wolverines lost the linebacker duo of Junior Colson and Mike Barrett to the NFL draft but they have a solid combination coming in to replace them in junior Ernest Hausmann and Maryland transfer Jaishawn Barham. New position coach Brian Jean-Mary is very excited to work with them, but like any defense, the maize and blue are going to need production from beyond just the starters.

Speaking to Jon Jansen on the In the Trenches Podcast, Jean-Mary broke down the players he feels are most ready to step in behind the expected starting tandem of Hausmann and Barham, noting two familiar names who have a ton of potential and have flashed but haven’t yet made names of themselves on the field.

“I can go through names, we’ve already talked about Ernest and we talked about Jaishawn, but I think Jimmy Rolder who has got some good snaps, has played in some games last year, I think he’s got a chance to be a very, very productive player,” Jean-Mary said. “Like what I’ve seen from him. We have another veteran in the room in Jaydon Hood who has patiently waited his time. I think he’s got a chance to really help us next year because he does have the experience and he’s been in some critical situations in some games, too. Those two guys are some of the older guys that played a little bit last year.”

Of course, the room is much deeper than that, and it’s continued to get deeper throughout the past few years.

For a while, the linebacker room had been bereft of elite talent, but now we’ve gotten to a point where we start to forget about four-stars and high three-stars because they’ve had to wait their turns behind players such as Colson and Barrett.

Jean-Mary went on to discuss the rest of the room, noting that there’s a lot of talent that he predicts could find themselves getting major playing time this season. Much of it will depend on spring ball and fall camp, but he likes a lot of the potential of his inherited group.

“Really excited about some of the younger kids,” Jean-Mary said. “I think Christian Boivin is a high-level special teams guy that I really think he’s going to carve his niche in that linebacker room. I know another guy that I think the fans will be excited about, has shown some flashes but has to be more consistent in Micah Pollard. He’s a great athlete, still trying to learn the linebacker position but you can see some of the growth just off tape and what I’ve seen these last couple of weeks watching him run around and being at meetings with him.

“I’d be remiss to mention some of the guys who haven’t played that are kind of newer to the program in Semaj Bridgeman and Jason Hewlett, two young guys who are very, very active. Very athletic. We’re going to throw them in the fire and see how they react this spring.

“We have two midyears that have a chance to be really, really good in Cole Sullivan and Jeremiah Beasley. We have a good group and I always try not to miss anybody. Another kid that’s been good that comes up and we’re expecting a good spring from is Hayden Moore. I think he’s got a chance to do some positive things to see if he can be one of the guys that get on the bus and help us play a high level of defense but also helps us on special teams.”

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