Michigan football over-under: Will Kyle Kalis be the Wolverines' 1st freshman OL to play since 2006?
Cleveland Plain Dealer
Now, the Wolverines are replacing two starters and add only one redshirt freshman to the mix in Chris Bryant.
So the question becomes, will Michigan have to burn the redshirt of a true freshman next season to bolster the depth up front? And if so, who will it be?
Kyle Kalis is the most highly regarded player of the incoming class. The five-star prospect from Lakewood, Ohio, already has the size -- he's 6-foot-5, 302 pounds -- and his technique is considered by analysts to be the most "college ready."
Yet, college coaches typically try to redshirt offensive lineman if at all possible, since they typically are outclassed in both physique and technique against veteran defensive lineman. It also is difficult to pick up schemes and assignments.
So, will Kalis play?
We'll drop the bar at five games and discuss:
Over-under: Freshman Kyle Kalis plays five games on Michigan's offensive line
Kyle Meinke: Michigan has started only four true freshmen offensive linemen in its modern era, and hasn't played one at all since Justin Boren saw the field in 2006.
And we're talking about not whether Kalis will play, but how much?
Exactly -- and that probably speaks more to the Wolverines' woeful depth than what Kalis could potentially do as a freshman. But that depth could necessitate he plays anyway.
Offensive coordinator Al Borges said earlier this summer he expected to call upon a couple freshmen next season, and said Kalis was one of the leading contenders to see time. From what offensive line coach Darrell Funk told me in the spring, it seems the staff already has found a place for him.
Kalis projects long-term as a tackle, and could still end up there, but Funk said the freshman will begin his career as a guard. Left guard seems to be the natural fit for him, considering the job battle that is currently being waged there is between a fifth-year senior who has played only sparingly -- Elliott Mealer -- and a sophomore walk-on -- Joey Burzynski.
Prediction: Michigan's perilous depth almost certainly will require it to burn a redshirt. Factor in the possibility of injuries, and the fact the Wolverines have walk-ons as backups or starters at both tackles and left guard, and it's not difficult to envision a scenario in which Kalis is called upon for duty.
And if you do burn that redshirt on a player with so much potential, there's no sense in playing him in just a couple games. So, take the over on five.
Nick Baumgardner: This has been the toughest incoming freshman spot for me to peg this offseason. Normally, offensive linemen fresh out of high school aren't ready to take on elite-level college football physically or mentally.
On paper, it looks like Kalis could have both. He's got the size (6-foot-5, 302 pounds) and the pedigree with his father, ex-NFL lineman Todd Kalis.
He may have all the tools, he might not. Either way, if Michigan has to play Kalis more than five games this season, it might not be because he's the best player on the field -- just that he's better than the alternative.
And that might not be an overwhelming positive.
Realistically, the only position he could see action at is guard. Taylor Lewan and Michael Schofield have the tackle spots locked up, Ricky Barnum will be the center and Patrick Omameh will anchor one guard spot.
The other? That was a battle in spring ball between Burzynski and Mealer. Massive redshirt freshman Chris Bryant (6-foot-4, 341 pounds) is also expected to compete for time at guard, and it would be foolish to rule out redshirt freshman Graham Glasgow -- two players who both have one year on Kalis.
The true freshman will have to beat out all four of those players, in my opinion, to play more than five games. I don't see Michigan burning his redshirt for a spot-duty role. If he plays, he'll be a starter.
It's big or nothing, in my opinion.
Prediction: We won't really know how ready Kalis is for this until we're into the throws of fall camp. If Hoke and Borges start mentioning him day after day as a surprise player, then my opinion changes. But for now, he wasn't an early enrollee, he's never played a down of college football before and he's playing one of the toughest spots on the field.
I think Michigan tries everything in its power to hang onto his redshirt year and let him develop, with the hopes he'll become an all-conference performer by the time he's through in Ann Arbor. I'll go under.