Last year, many fans and experts agreed that Michigan would have its best squad since Harbaugh arrived, and because the matchup against Ohio State was at the Big House, many predicted the Wolverines to win the Big Ten and advance to the College Football Playoff. But their 9-4 season, which ended with beatdowns at the hands of Ohio State and Alabama, suggested otherwise.
Nonetheless, there's a lot to be excited for in 2020, and Wolverines fans need to keep an eye on these three underclassmen.
3. Zach Charbonnet
Running back Zach Charbonnet came into the Wolverines' program in 2019 and many were under the assumption that he would have a great opportunity to play right away as a true freshman due the departure of Karan Higdon and the season-long suspension of Chris Evans. Charbonnet took advantage of his opportunity, to say the least. In his second game with the Maize and Blue, Charbonnet rushed for 100 yards against Army. Later in the season against Illinois, he rushed for a career-high 116 yards. By the end of the season, the true freshman had rushed for a total of 726 and 11 touchdowns. He also accomplished these numbers while splitting carries with teammate Hassan Haskins, who showed great potential late in the season. With Evans returning to the backfield, Charbonnet may not feature as heavily as he did last season, but with another year of development he could certainly make it count every time he has the ball in his hands.
2. Daxton Hill
Safety Daxton Hill had one of the craziest recruiting cycles in recent memory. The 5-star recruit from Oklahoma originally committed to play for Michigan in Sept. of 2018, but then flipped to Alabama the following December. Then, later in December, when it came time to send in his final commitment, Hill flipped his loyalties back to Ann Arbor. Due to Hill's lightning speed, it was assumed that he would get playing time right away, and he did. In 2019, Hill registered a total of 36 tackles, two fumble recoveries, and one interception. While those aren't outstanding numbers by any stretch of the imagination, Hill did play in 11 games as a true freshman and his speed was needed to help the Wolverines from getting burned on the deep route. As Hill enters his second year, he will look to continue to develop with his natural athleticism and become a top safety in the country.
1. Mazi Smith
With Michigan having lost defensive tackle Michael Dwumfour as a grad transfer, former 4-star recruit Mazi Smith will have an opportunity to make his own impact on the Wolverines defensive line. Smith got limited playing time in 2019, making his debut against Maryland on Nov. 2 before playing against Alabama in the Citrus Bowl. Although his time on the field was very minimal, Smith was still able to flash some potential at Michigan in 2019. Before the Wolverines' first game last season against Middle Tennessee State, Smith was named the Scout Team Defensive Player of the Week for helping the team prepare. Smith certainly has not proven himself on the field, but his raw talent, which made him a coveted recruit for Michigan, could start to shine in 2020.