While most of my thoughts on the following players will largely be speculation, Campbell has already felt the sands of change. After coming out of high school as a 5-star defensive tackle recruit, Campbell has puttered around on the bench before being moved to offensive guard late this year. But when your new head coach is a former defensive line coach, and you have a should-be-star defensive tackle in the mold of Gabe Watson--who Hoke coached during his freshman year at Michigan--sitting the bench (on offense, no less), you're bound to see some changes.
Prediction: Not too much to speculate about here. Hoke has already announced Campbell's move back to the defensive side of the ball, which bolsters a fairly thin defensive tackle depth chart. Campbell's move also likely signifies a shift back to the 4-3 defense that Michigan ran under Carr.
I was relatively excited about Campbell coming into last year. After watching him at the Spring Game, he looked like he had finally come into his own as a nose tackle. But Greg Robinson and company saw something different and Campbell rode the bench most of the year. My guess is that Campbell becomes a significant contributor sometime during the season next year, if not immediately.
Slot Ninjas (Kelvin Grady/Terrence Robinson/Drew Dileo); SR to CB
Prediction: At least one of the three players mentioned above moves to the defensive side of the ball. The most likely seem like Dileo, who was brought on primarily to return kicks, and Terrence Robinson who has seen the bare minimum of playing time. The chances any one of these players actually contributes to the defense are slim, but their presence will bolster the defensive back core and give Hoke more options should he need them. If any of the position switches prove to be contributors, Michigan may even be able to redshirt one or two of the incoming defensive back recruits, building experience and depth for the future.
For the last three years, Kevin Koger and Martell Webb have spent their time clubbing unexpected linebackers and blocking for tiny quarterbacks. And for the most part, Rodriguez's offense had little or no use for tight ends, using them sparingly as H-backs and rarely slipping them out of the backfield as receivers. But Hoke's pro-style offense will utilize Michigan's talented tight end frequently. While much of it will be spent on the offensive line blocking for whoever is under center, we're also likely to see a lot of pass plays where the tight ends head upfield as receivers.
Prediction: Koger will see a significant increase from the number of snaps they saw this year. Not only that, but his receiving numbers will improve significantly. Last year, Koger netted 14 catches for 199 yards, and 2 TDs. I fully expect those numbers to at least double next year (should the offense not implode). The concern for Michigan's tight ends is that there's not enough of them. Michigan will need to recruit tight ends heavily and get a few more on campus should they have any stability at the position (not to mention that Koger will be a senior).
John McColgan, FB
one pass: a touchdown strike by Tate Forcier early in the year. Otherwise, McColgan was mostly a nonentity.
Prediction: Like Koger, McColgan's skillset and position is more frequently utilized in Hoke's pro-style offense than Rodriguez's, and should see a significant boost in playing time. But like Michigan fullbacks before him (see: Mark Moundros), McColgan was a walk-on and may not be the kind of player that is built for more frequent playing time. Regardless, unless Michigan finds another option at fullback in this recruiting class, you can be sure that McColgan will see a serious bump in playing time.
There are a few players that could take time away, however. Koger spent time this past year essentially as a fullback, when Michigan went to their heavy formation and the tight ends were lined up as H-backs. But the depth and injury concerns surrounding Koger will probably mean that McColgan retains most of that playing time. The only other player that might see time as a fullback is current Michigan mooseback Stephen Hopkins, who could moonlight as a FB when not playing tailback. Speaking of which...
Stephen Hopkins, RB/FB
Prediction: With Vincent Smith too small to consistently run between the tackles and Mike Shaw's frequent injuries, don't be surprised to see Hopkins take the first handoff next year. If he can cure his case of fumble-itis and improve in both the weight room and add a bit of speed, Hopkins could be the kind of every-down back Michigan hasn't had since Brandon Minor (minus all of the injuries *knock on wood*). Most likely, Hopkins will split time next year between Shaw and Mike Cox (who will also see more playing time).
It's safe to say that neither of these two are going to be switching positions this year, but who takes the reigns as the starting QB is something of a question mark (at least in my mind). Denard is the one with the experience and record-setting season on his resume, but he lacks the prototypical pro-QB size and accuracy that may be demanded of him in Hoke's system. Gardner has the size and certainly more touch on his deep throws than Denard, but he also had an awful tendency to throw wobbling ducks and do general freshman-y things. Gardner has had a full season to correct his throwing motion, and if his talents come to fruition during spring camp, there's a chance he could be the starter come fall.
Prediction: This probably isn't as much of a debate as I think it is, but I can't help but think that Gardner has a shot at starting next year. In the end, I'd bet that Denard is your starter next year, but Gardner is close on his heels (and looks competent either in clean-up duty or when Denard inevitably gets injured). However, if Gardner's throwing motion is much improved--and it's likely it could be--there's a very real possibility that his size and arm strength are more important to Hoke's offense than Denard's running ability. That said, Denard is almost certainly The Guy next year.