ANN ARBOR, Mich. - The Michigan football team has gotten contributions from several unexpected sources this season, but there are still players waiting to break out ahead of the game against Maryland.
Nico Collins, Aidan Hutchinson and Will Hart have been three of Michigan's best players in 2018. despite playing little or no role last season. Even players such as Josh Ross and Brad Hawkins could be considered breakouts as they grow into bigger roles.
But there are still players who have been quiet through five games and have a chance to turn into significant contributors for Jim Harbaugh this season. As games against Wisconsin, Michigan State and Penn State loom, this weekend's matchup with Maryland could be an opportunity for those players to get on a roll.
Here's a look at five players who could break out against Maryland and carry that success into the rest of the season.
Season stats: 15 tackles, 0.5 tackles for loss
Hudson was a game-changing defensive player last season, both in the backfield and in coverage. He racked up a team-leading 18.5 tackles for loss, broke up 11 passes and caught a pair of interceptions.
This year, Hudson only has one half-tackle for loss through five games, though he's missed more than four quarters of game time due to a pair of targeting calls.
Maryland is the type of opponent Hudson could really dominate. In a similar matchup last season against Minnesota, Hudson made 15 tackles, eight tackles for loss and three sacks. It was an historic performance in the middle of a terrific season for Hudson.
When Michigan lines up against dangerous offensive teams such as Penn State and Ohio State, it needs Hudson to be a playmaker in the backfield and the secondary. He's still searching for the level he reached last season.
Season stats: Six catches for 62 yards and one touchdown
With Zach Gentry emerging as one of Shea Patterson's favorite targets and Nick Eubanks making a pair of critical catches in the comeback over Northwestern, McKeon seems to be falling under the radar in terms of Michigan tight ends.
But McKeon led the Wolverines with 31 catches and three receiving touchdowns last season and was one of only three players to top 300 receiving yards. Yes, he had a near-costly drop against Northwestern, but he's proven to be a sure-handed target in his Michigan career.
Last year, McKeon made 13 first-down catches for an offense that struggled to put drives together. Patterson has stabilized the passing game, but that doesn't mean McKeon can't be an important part of the mix.
McKeon doesn't have more than two catches in any game this season, but that could change against Maryland.
Season stats: 11 rushing yards, five receiving yards, three tackles, one kick return touchdown
Thomas has done a little bit of everything for Michigan this season, but he has the potential to do a lot of some things before the year ends.
Since keeping Michigan alive with a kick return touchdown against Notre Dame, Thomas has flown under the radar, playing sparingly on offense and defense while averaging under 20 yards per return.
His 99-yard touchdown showed how electric Thomas can be in the open field, but Michigan hasn't had a big kick return in the last few games.
Field position is a big part of the equation for Michigan, and Thomas can be a major weapon in flipping the field. He's also the first line of defense when the Wolverines give up a score and start to lose momentum.
Harbaugh likely won't expose what he has up his sleeve for Thomas on offense this weekend, but he could get more action in the weeks to come. In the return game, however, Michigan could use a spark.
Season stats: Six catches for 72 yards
Michigan's 2017 recruiting class was praised for its elite receiver depth, and that has come to fruition in 2018. Donovan Peoples-Jones and Nico Collins are the team's top two receivers as sophomores, and Tarik Black came into the year as the No. 1 option before suffering another foot injury.
Martin took a redshirt last season and has gotten his first taste of college action early in the year. He's sharing the slot duties with senior Grant Perry, but it would be best for Michigan if Martin wins the majority of the snaps.
A four-star receiver out of high school, Martin has speed and reliable hands out of the slot. He could be a perfect compliment to the big-play potential of Peoples-Jones and Collins.
Michigan has several targets in the passing game because of its depth at receiver and tight end. Martin is still searching for his role in the offense, but once he settles in, he could be a valuable third or fourth option on passing downs.
Season stats: Nine tackles, two passes defended
Long, like Hudson, is coming off a season in which he was one of the most critical pieces of an elite Michigan defense. Long and Lavert Hill made up one of the most dangerous cornerback duos in the nation, and both will eventually play in the NFL.
Long has been solid this season, but he hasn't quite gotten into the rhythm that made him a lockdown man-to-man defender in 2017. Like most of Michigan's downfield defenders, Long's been called for a few defensive holding and pass interference penalties.
Michigan still has some prolific passing offenses on its schedule, and Long and Hill need to be at the top of their games for the Wolverines to have a chance. Long is an excellent man-to-man defender, and Don Brown will keep testing him with aggressive blitz calls.
Long took to Twitter after Saturday's comeback win over Northwestern to express his frustration with the criticism. He certainly wasn't to blame for Michigan's slow defensive starts against Notre Dame and Northwestern, but he set the bar very high as a sophomore, and fans have gotten spoiled by the Long-Hill tandem at corner.
Long is primed for a big game, and that could come against Maryland.
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