By JERAMY STOVER, Staff Reporter
Frank Clark is entering his senior season for the Michigan Wolverines. Last year, Clark was expected to have a breakout season with the potential he showed in his sophomore campaign. The All-Big Ten second teamer accumulated 43 total tackles, 4.5 sacks, 12 tackles for loss, and two fumble recoveries in 2013, including one which he returned for a touchdown against Penn State.
Clark has come a long way since he first stepped foot on campus back in 2011. He was a 3-star recruit out of Cleveland, Ohio, listed as an outside linebacker.
After Michigan’s defensive line dominated Saturday’s open scrimmage, head coach Brady Hoke said the team is looking for someone to separate from the others. Hoke mentioned Clark, who’s become a conference force but has dealt with inconsistency.
“When you talk about the front, I really believe we want to see someone separate,” Hoke said. “Who’s a guy you’re going to count on? I felt Frank (did that) a little bit tonight, but like I told him, this is really the first scrimmage where I’ve felt him having some consistency.”
Peppers shines but still in competition
Jabrill Peppers received a lot of attention with Michigan followers since committing to the program on May 27, 2013. The highly touted 5-star recruit out of Paramus, N.J., has entered summer camp with high expectations.
The question many have wondered is where would he play? Some insight on where that might be was given Saturday. When the first-team defense was on the field Peppers was lined up as the nickel back, mostly covering the slot receiver.
After the scrimmage, Hoke was asked if Peppers is moving into a starting role at cornerback.
“The evidence for making decisions is on the film. It’s evidence bases decisions based on film, based on production,” Hoke said. “He’s playing very well. He’ll have learned some things today. Some man coverage that I think you saw. Again, we’re competing and he’s doing a nice job.”
Hoke has been impressed with Peppers, but acknowledged competition remains amongst the defensive backs.
“From the secondary perspective, safeties I think are really improving. I think the competition at cornerback with Ray (Taylor), and Blake (Countess), and Channing) Stribling, and Jourdan Lewis, and Peppers, that’s real. And it’s good.”
Ryan still brings force from middle linebacker
Redshirt senior Jake Ryan has experienced change before during his time at Michigan. As a freshman he wore No. 90. But during his sophomore year, Ryan was given the Bennie Oosterbaan No. 47 Legends jersey.
This season however, Ryan is experiencing a different and much more serious change. Defensive Coordinator Greg Mattison made the decision to move Ryan from outside linebacker to middle linebacker during this off-season.
Making a position change, especially late in a college career, can be difficult. Ryan’s performance in Saturday’s scrimmage showed promise that the change has been a success. He displayed good pass coverage and the ability to stop the run. Ryan leveled tight end AJ Williams on a red-zone pass attempt towards the end of the scrimmage.