Michigan football team's Brandin Hawthorne promoted to starter at linebacker, where 3 others are uncertain for EMU
Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com
The linebacker position is a good news, bad news sort of thing for the Michigan football team.
First, the good news: After a 35-31 victory Saturday against Notre Dame, junior Brandin Hawthorne has been elevated to the top of the depth chart at weak-side linebacker for the Eastern Michigan game (Saturday, noon, BTN).
He replaces Mike Jones as the weak-side starter. Jones was dropped to fourth on the depth chart behind Hawthorne, freshman Desmond Morgan and senior Brandon Herron.
Michigan coach Brady Hoke was impressed with Hawthorne's instincts in the dramatic win against the Fighting Irish. Hawthorne finished with six tackles, one for a loss.
“I thought Brandin got in there and did a nice job and made some plays," Hoke said. "It was good to see him be productive in that role. I think he did a nice job of reacting, and seeing the ball and focusing in on keys and that kind of thing, and then finishing plays. That was good to see from him."
Even better, Hawthorne showed he is inching toward full health.
“He was banged up the last week of camp a little bit,” Hoke said. “He could practice, but had an ankle problem and still does to some degree. But, it was good to see him play at full speed.”
The emergence of Hawthorne will be needed because of the bad news at linebacker: Cam Gordon, Herron and Marrell Evans all remain questionable for the Eastern Michigan game after not playing against Notre Dame.
Gordon is dealing with a back injury and has yet to play this season. He made progress last week during practice, but not enough to see the field against the Irish.
Herron was the hero of the opener against Western Michigan when he returned two turnovers for touchdowns, but did not play against Notre Dame because of a leg injury.
Hoke said he will evaluate Gordon and Herron on Tuesday, and is "hopeful" but not certain of their statuses.
Last week, he discussed his philosophy for dealing with injured players.
“I need to see him go out there and run around and play football (on Wednesday),” he said. “Because if not — you pretty much have to do some things on Wednesday on a full-tilt level, or Saturday, you’re not going to be effective anyway.”
Evans’ situation is even more uncertain. Hoke said the issue that has precluded the senior from playing this year remains unresolved. He wouldn't elaborate on what that issue is.
"I don’t know when it’ll clear up,” Hoke said. “But he’s doing a great job being the best scout-team linebacker in the country."
Evans began his career at Michigan before transferring to Hampton in 2009. He transferred back to Michigan before this season and is a redshirt senior.