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After missing a whole season due to injury, the right tackle will need to adapt.
There are many uncertainties surrounding college football right now. The 2020 season is still in jeopardy, and even if a season does occur it might do so with empty stadiums or a limited schedule. Still, it is never too early to take a look at the Michigan depth chart and the players slated to contribute whenever football does resume. Join us as we comb through the roster and answer key questions heading into this fall.
Andrew Stueber, RS JR
247 Composite Ranking: 3 stars (OT 35, Overall 365)
2019 Stats: n/a
One of the biggest position battles heading into the 2019 season came at the important right tackle spot. The sole opening across the offensive line (perhaps not so coincidentally the opposite of right now), the camp competition appeared to be pretty even between Jalen Mayfield and Andrew Stueber . The decision was made by default when an ACL injury knocked out Stueber for the year, and the rest is history, as Mayfield ran away with the opportunity.
Obviously, Mayfield is not giving up his starting position after breaking out last season and posturing himself to be a potential first round pick next spring. That means a fully healthy Stueber is now likely in need of a new position along the offensive line. His quality should give him a starting spot somewhere, and there are plenty of options for him to choose from, but sliding him over to right guard likely makes the most sense.
Can Stueber find a home at a different spot on the offensive line?
After a freshman season with little action, Stueber was pretty involved as a sophomore, making two starts at right tackle and appearing at the position in 11 games in total. Those two starts came in The Game and at the Peach Bowl, giving him plenty of momentum heading into the offseason. While there were reports that the impressive Mayfield may have been gaining an upper hand in the position battle before Stueber’s injury, it was impossible to say how it would have ended up.
If Stueber were to stay at tackle, his likely competition would be Ryan Hayes , who made some emergency starts at left tackle at the beginning of last year. The two would be an interesting battle for the starting spot on the left side of the line, but they also could both play right tackle should Mayfield make the switch to the blind side. Either way, both players have a comparable level of in-game experience and would create a similar situation for Stueber as he experienced last summer.
However, Stueber’s best path to playing time is probably at one of the open guard positions. As the starting guard next to Mayfield, the Wolverines would have a pretty nice combo on the right side of the line. He looks like a tackle, and that is probably the position he plays best, but he should be athletic enough to make the move inside. He came into college with good physical maturity and was ready to see plenty of action in his second year, so he would be a good candidate to try a positional adjustment.
It just seems like the best option for the team would be putting him at right guard. There are so many question marks along the offensive line, and finding players with positive, tangible experience is a big plus. Stueber would be a capable tackle, but with not a lot of proven options at guard, it would probably be best to at least try him out there. Either way, he has a great shot at starting this fall, wherever the coaches decide is the best place to use him.