1. Michael Fletcher, DE
Michael Fletcher is the top name on this list for a few reasons. To begin, our defensive end room has been ransacked with injuries already, and now three more players are suspended indefinitely. Tank Brown has also been flipping from defensive end to linebacker throughout the last two seasons, and he is among those suspended for his role in the altercation.
With talented freshman Ken Talley also ineligible this year due to his mid-season transfer, the Spartans’ edge rush room consists of two veterans dealing with injuries, Khris Bogle and Jeff Pietrowski, linebacker Aaron Brule, and a horde of unproven freshman such as the aforementioned James Schott.
Fletcher, a Flint native, was the No. 425 ranked prospect in the 2019 class and a top 10 player in the state of Michigan, per 247Sports composite. He picked the Spartans over a host of other major schools, including Michigan, Wisconsin, Georgia, Alabama, and Iowa. While not the highest rated prospect, this was a major recruiting win for the Spartans. His results, however, have not lived up to his offer list.
Per Sports Reference, Fletcher has appeared in five games this year, recording seven total tackles, including an assisted tackle for loss. He has three career sacks, but they all came in the COVID-shortened 2020 campaign. Fletcher followed his 2020 campaign up with only seven total tackles in seven games as the 2021 Spartans had a ton of senior depth along with the emergence of Jeff Pietrowski.
After his performance in the 2020 season, I thought Fletcher had the chance to be the next breakout defensive end for the Spartans. He has the size and has made the plays but has been buried on the depth chart. Whether the coaching staff buried him, or Fletcher did not show out, there is no depth chart to hide behind anymore with injuries and suspensions decimating the edge rush position.